New One Sheets, and Gwen Stacy
*Potential Spoilers Ahead*
I don’t know what’s in the air at the minute, but the last few geek-movie one sheets have been quite nice (John Carter especially). Here’s the latest two that have popped up online. They are definitely a cut above the usual Hollywood shit:
There’s been a lot of commentary online about the tagline “the untold story” especially since The Amazing Spider-Man is essentially a reboot of Raimi’s movies/the Spider-Man mythos. Given that the female lead is Gwen Stacy, and given that there seems to be the suggestion that Captain Stacy might meet a sticky end in this movie, I do wonder if this might be part one in a larger ‘Gwen Stacy’ story-arc (which was never told in the Raimi movies).
I have mixed feelings about this, as while I think it could be done very well and very powerfully, i would think it’s a tough sell for a movie studio that depends on merchandising as well. (If you don’t know the Gwen Stacy story, and don’t like spoilers, now is the time to stop reading this.)
So… the death of Gwen Stacy in a movie is a bona fide toughie to pull off. Having a movie that features the hero’s girlfriend accidentally dying from webshooter-related whiplash when she is launched from a bridge by the Green Goblin is going to be a tough sell to a movie studio. It’s morphed into a massive part of the Spider-Man mythos (and a not so wonderful part, with all the various clones and children running about), but at its core, it seems to say something fundamental about the character of Peter Parker: a) he discovers that has the ability to do something wonderful and heroic, b) the cost of his choice to be a super-hero is the accidental death of his girlfriend, and c) after this, and despite everything that has happened and all the pain and guilt he feels, he puts the mask back on again and carries on.
Pulling this off in a movie (or a series of movies) would be a very brave thing to attempt, especially given that the accidental death of the love interest of the movie, at the hands of the hero, isn’t conducive to selling action figures (I can see it now: “The Gwen Stacy Death-By-Whiplash Action Set”).
The other thing is that I am aware of the feminist critique of the ‘dead girlfriend’ cliche in comicbooks, of which the Gwen Stacy story is a prime example, even when done well. Thus, in the pictures above Gwen looks saintly-yet-sexy in her death throes, a virginal sacrifice required so that Spider-Man can shake his fist at the sky and do some soul-searching. Her character is reduced to a cypher, so that the plot is ultimately about how bad things can get for Peter Parker instead of how bad things are for an innocent girl sent to her doom because her boyfriend failed to tell her that he dresses up in pyjamas and fights super-powered psychotics who would gladly injure those closest to him.
Who knows? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, and “the untold story” is just some PR automaton treating the marketing with the usual contempt. I am looking forward to this movie though, and have liked everything I’ve seen thus far.
Update (16/12/2011): Devin Faraci over at badassdigest thinks that the untold story is really about Peter Parker’s parents, who end up as either spies or clones or robots, depending on which continuity you’re reading. Seems like a creative dead-end to me, but I’m still rooting for this movie to be good (although I hoped against all odds that the new The Thing movie would be good, so take my opinion with a grain of salt).
And finally, just to finish off a very self-indulgent post, here’s my favourite poster from Raimi’s Spider-Man II.The movie I can give or take, but this poster was beautiful, and I wish it had been the cover of the DVD. Very Mcfarlane-esque: