SPIDERMAN & ME
A PERSONAL REFLECTION
BY Elmer Ponce-Castro
If there’s anything more cliche than saying The Godfather is the greatest film or Eminem is the greatest rapper of all time, it’s saying Spider-Man is your favorite superhero. For me, he obviously was. The character taught me every life lesson imaginable. From being morally right to learning how to do deal with relationships and everyday problems, Spidey has always been there for me. As an only child to a family in Mexicali, I never had a brother or sister to entertain me or have fun with. Instead, I had the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man on a VHS and a copy of the Amazing Spider-Man for the Gameboy. I watched the original film everyday up until the tape obviously wore out.
Luckily, its sequel Spider-Man 2, was right around the corner and I finally had a new web slinging adventure to dive into. Seeing that film in theaters was not only the most epic moment of my life at the time, but it’s the last time I shared a dad/son memory with my biological father; which makes this film so much more special to me. Seeing the impeccable action sequence of Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus kicking each other’s asses on a moving train fold out on the big screen is a childhood memory I will always cherish. To this day, Spider-Man 2 continues to be the peak of comic book sequels due to its rich and relatable characters, splendid storytelling, and mind blowing action sequences. It also introduced me to the band Train, so that’s definitely a plus.
My parents separated in 2005 and I ended up coming with my mom here to the states where I had no idea I was about to began a whole new life. I was introduced to the various runs of his comic books that I obviously couldn’t initially read because I didn’t know any English as well as the 90s series that I watched it religiously every day after school. My favorite antagonists were obviously the great Doc Ock, Mysterio, the Green Goblin, Lizard, Chameleon, Kingpin, Sandman, and course, the symbiotes; Venom & Carnage. My favorite writers aside from Stan Lee were obviously Steve Ditko and David Michelinie and Todd McFarIane and John Romita Sr. and Jrs. illustrations were excellent and very much inspired me to create my own art. I later introduced myself to the Ultimate Spider-Man video game that I never managed to finished because it was so unnecessarily hard.
My mother bought me a 2-pack DVD set of both Spider-Man 1 and 2 that came to great use. As a child that had no idea of the English language, I watched these films repeatedly with Spanish subtitles and it taught me a lot of words and phrases. Believe it or not, Spider-Man helped me learn English. Embarrassing enough, one day I ended up losing both sets of DVDs over at my mother’s work for about half a year until her co workers found them. Tears of joy happened as I held those DVDs in my hands again.
At the time, the release of Spider-Man 3 was my most anticipated event of my life. I saw every trailer and watched every TV spot as many times as I possibly could. Hell, I even made Burger King a little richer by buying their Big Kid’s meals like crazy solely so I could get some cheap Spider-Man 3 toys. The film opened to very mixed reviews (compared to the previous two films) but at the age I was, I obviously had no idea about it and loved it regardless of its flaws that didn’t become clear to me until I matured more as a person as well as a fan of film. To this day, I believe it’s a film that gets way ridiculous hate from fans. It’s one of those films whose positives (the action sequences, the score, the visual effects, the arc and portrayal of Sandman) outweigh the negatives (the mishandling of Venom, story flow, and the infamousdancing emo Parker).
The year 2012 brought the character’s first reboot on the big screen (as well as the first time I kissed a girl on the lips but that’s’ another story for another time). The duo of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone was an instant win for me as I loved Garfield’s work on The Social Network and Stone has been my crush ever since Superbad. The film was way better received than Spider-Man 3, with critics and audiences praising Garfield and Stone’s portrayal of the web slinger and Gwen Stacy respectively but criticizing the unnecessary subplot of Peter’s parents. Minor issues aside, The Amazing Spider-Man is my second favorite film of the Web Head. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tried to get in the superhero shared universe game that Marvel Studios initiated in 2008 with Iron Man and Warner Bros.& DC later followed with Man of Steel in 2013 but it unfortunately backfired critically. While the film was mixed with critics, audiences claimed it to be as bad as Spider-Man 3 (the reception of that film got worse as time went on). It’s flawed, oh boy, it’s flawed. But it’s such a fun and entertaining film. The film is the equivalent of seeing a Spider-Man comic book unfold on the big screen. The web slinging has never been better and the franchise has never been glazed with such beautiful and vibrant colors.
I remember the day I read about the news of Spider-Man joining the ever successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was after work and I remember vividly freaking out that I was going to see my favorite comic book character interact with other Marvel characters I grew to love on the big screen. The character was set to debut in Captain America: Civil War with Tom Holland portraying him. Spider-Man was absent from the marketing of the film up until the last trailer. Seeing him in that trailer steal Captain America’s shield was awesome to say the least. Civil War was the very first advanced screening I attended in the city of San Francisco. It was quite an exhausting experience getting to the theater, but finally seeing the film was very rewarding. The film obviously floored me and Holland’s portrayal of the web slinger impressed me immensely. The suit, that is obviously inspired by Gil Kane’s art, really impressed me aside from it looking way too computer animated. The casting of Michael Keaton as Vulture (I wanted him for Mysterio but oh well) was a very unexpected surprise. From this moment on, my hype for Spider-Man: Homecoming was in full gear… up until the marketing began to drop.
If Spider-Man: Homecoming is as good as critics are making it out to be, then the film will join the “great movies, bad marketing” club that Dredd and Edge of Tomorrow are a part of. From each trailer that seems to be cut together by myself in middle school to posters that seem like covers to straight to DVD films you could find at Walmart’s $5 bin, the marketing has been continuously terrible to this day. What has been promising throughout the marketing is obviously Holland. He seems to be having a complete blast and from the reactions so far, it appears he has hit this role out of the park.
I’m 20 years old and Spider-Man continues to be a staple of my life. While almost everything that has been coming out of Spider-Man: Homecoming has strongly disappointed me, I’m still excited and very hopeful that the film will be amazing. I’ll be seeing the film in Cinemark XD this weekend in hopes to have a blast, be pleasantly surprised, and have my love for the character expand much more.