I was Published!

Ok, it’s a small milestone. It’s an article on Sequart’s website. But it’s a big milestone for me. I don’t have a lot of faith in my own work. I’m sat her re-reading it once it’s published, and all I can think is, “how does anyone enjoy this?”. So, when I started talking to Sequart and they asked to look at some of my stuff, I got self-conscious. I sent them three articles from this blog, including the Metropolis article, and was certain they’d tell me to contact them in a few months or year. That I needed more practice. To my surprise, they asked me to pitch something, and I pitched an idea I’d had for a little while. The relationship between time and panel borders. It’s a fascinating subject, and it spans much further than you would think. The piece I wrote for Sequart is intended to explain the relation, while giving some examples from different comics. Zero Hour, The Flash and Unbelievable Gwenpool. The more I researched this subject, the more I want to research it. I think this is what I want to study for my PhD.

Sequart Article Here: http://sequart.org/magazine/69493/breaking-panels-breaking-time-examples-of-the-connection-between-panel-construction-and-narrative-time/

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Infinite Crisis (2005 – 2006) by Geoff Johns and Phil Jimenez

Event comics can be a mixed bag when it comes to enjoyment. On the one hand, they are the equivalent of big, block buster events. While on the other, they are a culmination of character arcs, plot points, and devices from various stories that the reader may or may not have read, or even heard about. Infinite Crisis is very much a block buster when it comes to the scope of the book. But for someone just picking up the book, it can be somewhat confusing.

Infinite Crisis finds the Justice League at a very low point. The Watch Tower has been destroyed, members are turning on each other left and right, and villains seem to be banding together as people are going missing. Watching on as the world feels like it’s falling apart, are four figures. Survivors of the multiverse, lamenting about how they gave up everything in order for this world to exist. And how the heroes we know have become tainted and lesser. Breaking through the barrier, it’s time for the Earth-2 Superman, Earth-2 Lois Lane, Superboy Prime and Alexander Luthor to prove themselves the better heroes. But sometimes even when you have the best intentions, that doesn’t mean the outcome will be any better. And at the end of it all, what truly makes the perfect reality?

A lot of plot points lead into the story, from as recent as The OMAC Project from the same year. Right the way back to Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986. Geoff Johns does incorporate the plot points from these stories very well. He gives you enough context to understand what they are discussing, in the case of Wonder Woman and Maxwell Lord, a full conversation is given over to explaining it as well as flash back panels. But in others, you have vague references to mind wiping, without giving the reader context as to who was wiped and why. This also carries over to the Brother Eye satellite, as while it plays a major role, it can be confusing as to what it is and why it was made. The story is enjoyable without supplementary material. But it can still feel lacking without research.

The theme of the book does very much seem to be failure and perceived perfection. The characters are often confronted with what they should be, and what they should have done. While trying to figure out how to overcome the major mistakes they have made. This is most apparent in the cases of Connor Kent, Batman and Wonder Woman. Conner is struggling with his own identity after learning about his connection to Lex Luthor, to the point of letting his team mates down by avoiding battles where he is needed. Superboy Prime confronts him on this most heavily when it comes to how he feels life should have gone for him, and how lucky Connor should feel in his life. However, Prime is the one looking from the outside in. It’s his perception of Connor’s life, rather than the reality. Prime possibly personifies the underlying question of the book more than anything. What makes the perfect reality?

With Wonder Woman, it’s her then recent actions that put her at odds with the rest of the League, as well as the general public. Her actions in regards to killing Maxwell Lord are questioned by both her fellow teammates, and the public, who saw her actions without context. This distrust of her makes her question not only how she views herself, but her role in the world. Even when trying to help, she finds herself in a difficult position with those around her. Actions constantly being questioned, and people now in fear of her.

In the case of Batman, it’s his failure that plays a major role. A failure to keep the peace, to keep the hope alive. His actions to try and keep the world safe, have recently turned against them in the form of the Brother Eye satellite. Batman’s paranoia about how he would help save people if his comrades went rouge, falls into the wrong hands and causes more and more damage. This causes the rest of the league to keep him at arm’s length. Just before Earth-2 Superman shows up to talk to Bruce, he suffers a panic attack while confronting Brother Eye, as his previous failures playback in his mind. His actions in Infinite Crisis heavily rely on Batman’s paranoia and PTSD, while playing into the overall theme of failure, fear and perceived perfection. The first two especially in Batman’s case.

The book does give us our first look at the current Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes. A teenager who becomes possessed by an alien scarab. The books status as an Event Comics does allow us to see a large amount of characters interacting in exciting ways. Some new, some old. Though not everyone will make it out alive. Given the nature of comics however, death is not always the end.

The art of Phil Jimenez is stunning throughout. Very detailed and cinematic in its presentation. Though the benefit of the trade collection is that some previously incomplete pages have been allowed to be retouched and finished. There are a few sequences that include other dimensions, such as Earth-2, and for a very interesting contrast, all-star Superman artist Jerry Ordway, came back to the book to give that dimension it’s very own feel. One that very much fits the Era in time they are aiming for.

The story overall is very enjoyable. It’s on a grand scale that you would expect from an event comic. Particularly one written by Geoff Johns. But if you go into it blind, be prepared to do a little bit of research just to make sure you fully understand a few of the plot points and motivations behind actions. Otherwise it may leave a bit to be desired.

Research recommendations:

  • Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985 – 1986)
  • Identity Crisis (2004)
  • Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Insiders (2005)
  • The OMAC Project + tie ins (2005)

V for Vendetta – 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

Originally beginning publication in Britain’s Warrior magazine in 1982, and eventually finding itself finished in 1989 by DC and Vertigo. V for Vendetta is a hugely important and massively influential piece in comic book history. From its 2005 cinematic adaptation, to the adoption of the books iconic Guy Faulk’s mask for activist usage. Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s seminal work continues to be relevant, despite being written in the Thatcher era of politics in Britain.

“A frightening tale of the loss of freedom and identity in a chillingly believable totalitarian world, V for Vendetta stands as one of the highest achievements of the comics medium and a defining work for creators Alan Moore and David Lloyd. Set in an imagined future England that has given itself over to fascism, this ground-breaking story captures both the suffocating nature of life in an authoritarian police state and the redemptive power of the human spirit which rebels against it. Crafted with sterling clarity and intelligence, this ground-breaking story brings an unequalled depth of characterization and verisimilitude to its unflinching account of oppression and resistance.”

Extract from books blurb.

Extract from books blurb.

For the books 30th anniversary, Vertigo and DC have released a stunning deluxe hardcover. The overall presentation is very striking. Presenting a black and white image of V on the front, with his spray-painted logo over the top in red. The jackets material is a soft matte that makes the book very comfortable to hold. With both the text and the spray-painted logo in an embossed and shiny red that ties everything together very nicely. Beneath the dust jacket, happily carried over from more recent hardcover books coming out of DC, is an interesting wrap around image. An assortment of panels presented in a striking red and black, with text accented in white. The quality of the printing is very high, very clean and incredibly legible. The paper stock itself may turn off some people. It has a news print feel to it, almost imitating the print of the original Warrior magazine. It all feels very authentic, but if you are more comfortable with more glossy, modern printing, this maybe a negative factor for you.

In regards to the content. The book contains the entirety of V for Vendetta, as well as the standard 1988 and 1990 introductions from the authors, Alan Moore and David Lloyd respectively. The book also contains a section called ‘Behind the Painted Smile’. This contains a piece by Alan Moore from the original Warrior printing in 1983, as well as a gallery of art from David Lloyd. Ranging from work in progress sketches, to full coloured art, and unused covers.

For those looking for a good, high quality copy of V for Vendetta, then it’s hard to go wrong with this edition. It’s high quality, reasonably priced and a lovely edition to your collection.

The Man of Steel by Brian Michael Bendis

I’m not going to say, “I really wanted to like this”. Because in all honesty, I don’t know what I wanted from it. Man of Steel comes off of an amazing 45 issue run by one of my favourite writers and artist. Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Superman run is something I’ll probably be pointing to for many years as a fantastic example of Superman done right in the modern age. Anything coming after it, I’m going to naturally have high expectations for. But then you have a writer like Brian Michael Bendis. Bendis is a writer I very much grew up with. I read his Ultimate Spider-Man run for a long time. I didn’t make it to Miles being the new Spider-Man, but I spent a good few years of my life enjoying his work. I read a lot of his major events at Marvel. I really enjoy House of M, even revisiting it today. But as time has gone by, I’ve found problem’s with how Bendis writes that I just can’t ignore.

With a whole new universe and characters to work in. I’d hoped that Bendis would use this opportunity to change up how he writes. It’s not like he has an obligation to, but with how vocal some of his detractors have been with his recent work, it couldn’t hurt to try something new. Try and make a distinction between Marvel Bendis, and DC Bendis. And., I think he may have tried here. There is definitely something different about how he approached this project, but I’m having some trouble putting my finger on it.

The choice of calling the story Man of Steel is a very clever call back. I’m curious as to whether it was the DC higher ups, or Bendis himself. In 1986, DC released another 6-part series called Man of Steel. This came out just after Crisis on Infinite Earths, during a time when DC continuity was being almost completely re-written. A lot of origin stories were retold around this time or just after. Like Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, or Shazam; The New Beginning by Roy Thomas. But Man of Steel was written by John Byrne. Like Bendis, Byrne was incredibly well known for being a Marvel writer and artist. Being exclusively Marvel from around 1977 until 1985. When he suddenly left Marvel, DC signed him to an exclusive contract, giving him the keys to Superman. Starting with a 6-part series called, Man of Steel. Does that sound familiar?

Calling Bendis’s opening Superman Story Man of Steel is very clever, especially if you know that piece of history. Otherwise it’s a cute reference to one of Superman’s nicknames. As far as I could tell, this is the only connection between the two stories. Given Byrne’s story was 6 separate stories told at different points in time, all set around the time Superman comes into existence. Getting his costume, moving to Metropolis, meeting Batman, Lois and Lex Luther. Byrne’s story very heavily influenced other Superman stories in its structure. An example is Superman for All Seasons by Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb from 1998. While Bendis’s Man of Steel is a 6-issue story, that could have probably been only 4 issues at most and acts solely as a set up for what Bendis wants to do with the character immediately going forward.

To sum up the plot as best as I can. Bendis’s Man of Steel has a new villain arriving to Earth by the name of Rogol Zaar. He arrives with the intent of whipping out all Kryptonian life. Including Superman, Kara, and the people of the bottle city of Kandor. He reveals to Superman that the reason Krypton was destroyed was because of him, and that he plans to do the same to the Earth since it has been tainted by Kryptonian life. While the plot is going on, Superman is preoccupied by thoughts of his family. What has happened to Lois and Jon, as well as the sudden reappearance of his father, Jor-EL.

If there are two big problems with Man of Steel, it’s the pacing and dialogue. Bendis has been known for having a pacing problem for many years. With it being most noticeable when reading issue by issue, instead of waiting for the story to come to an end. Also known as trade waiting. He tends to front load an issue with information, and only hooking you in in the last few pages. However, when trade waiting, this problem is difficult to notice, as you have the payoff for the set up immediately. He knows how to pace a rise and fall. But in Man of Steel, he has a very different problem. His pacing is ruined through constant repetition. While action is happening, and the reader is engrossed in the story, we are thrown into constant reminders of what Superman is thinking about. A flashback to what’s happened to his family. A reminder every now and then can be very effective. But the way Bendis handles it, it goes from compelling story telling, to a constant annoyance. It becomes harder and harder to care what happened to Jon and Lois, as it’s the same information being parroted to us, right up until the last two issues. There’s a small line during a battle, where the Justice League becomes aware of what Rogol is planning to do, and Green Lantern asks Superman “Where is your son?”, the look on Superman’s face is all the detail that was needed to make that impactful. We don’t need to see a piece of the flashback for the 10th time.

When it comes to the dialogue, the problems largely come from how Bendis scripts his characters. Primarily, Bendis is known for writing younger characters. Typically, teenagers or young adults. He has a very specific way of writing them. The problem is, when he applies this to characters who shouldn’t act this way. For example, Jon is written to be a young teen. But the Jon we know at this point is around 9 or 10. A few off handed comments made by him towards the end of the story, feel very unnatural for the Jon we know. As is his worry. The worry that drives him in the story is already addressed in its original story, Super Sons of Tomorrow. Two more characters this problem really seems to effect are both Green Lantern and The Flash. Both at times act much younger than they are, and while it’s not out of character for either of them to be a little childish, it feels incredibly out of place.

The art work is strong throughout, even with the constant switching of artists. It can be jarring at times to suddenly be confronted by a completely different rendering. But all of the artists involved are very strong. With the stand outs of Ivan Reis, Jason Fabok and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.

A minor fault with the book, and I do mean minor, is the books use of font. When the book tries to portray information directly from a newspaper, the font drastically changes to a serif style. While this makes sense, it feels jarring and ugly. Very out of place. A minor annoyance at best, but still noticeable.

The book is a missed opportunity. This could have been a fantastic start to Bendis’s Superman career. Planting a flag into the ground and proving to his detractors that he knows who Superman is and is here to show his take on the character. What it ended up being is a very forced change that was blatant in what it was trying to do. A stretched out but thin experience. It’s blatancy is further scene when exploring the first few issues of Bendis’s new Superman run. Arguably what Man of Steel was the build-up too.

While Man of Steel was only Bendis’s first step with the character, it’s a step that inspires little confidence.

I finally sat through The Lord of the Rings trilogy

I vividly remember The Lord of the Rings films hitting the cinemas. I was very young, all three came out before I hit 10 years old. But I remember my mother, a few teachers, and adults around me being very excited. I’d seen the books on the shelf at home. The copy of the Hobbit that sits there is so well worn that it’s missing it’s front and back cover. When Return of the King came out, I remember my mother and a friend going to see it, and while they were out, I remember wishing I was old enough to go see such amazing films.

A few years later, I tried to watch The Fellowship of the Ring. I was interrupted so many times, I gave up. But I still kept hearing about how amazing these films are. I heard people passionate speak of it as though they had experienced it as one of the characters. As I learnt more about media, and media history, the films would continually be brought up. I saw video essays on YouTube that used the franchise as an example. It became part of my classes, and the older I got, the more friends of mine would bring it up as being hugely important to them. Come December 2018, and I’m bored. The franchise is bought up just one more time. And I cave in. I message a friend, “which version am I supposed to watch”, and in the space of a day, I watch all three extended cuts. Finally going to bed at quarter past two in the morning.

After all that build up, and a marathon viewing, was it worth it? Yes. Because I never have to watch them again.

I’m not sure if my reaction is because of all the build-up or are my own genuine opinions. If I had barely heard of the series, and just watched the trilogy because I’d stumbled upon them, would I like them more?

I don’t think so. And by saying “I never have to watch them again”, I’m not saying I hated them. I’m saying that I’ve seen them. I get why they are loved, but they are just not for me.

As one long story, it’s really fine. It is satisfying, and the story is good. But if you’d have asked me what I thought at the end of Two Towers, I’d have told you that I was bored. That the plot seemed to be going nowhere, and a significant amount of time could have been cut to make them better stand-alone films. I can definitely see the reason Amazon wants to make a TV series out of it, as a TV show would definitely fix a lot of the pacing issues I found with it. Return of the King is where it all did turn around. Plot threads came together, and it was a more enjoyable experience. To get to that, I was glad to sit through The Fellowship of the Ring, and The Two Towers. But it’s not a commitment I plan to make again. Or anytime soon.

During The Fellowship of the Ring especially, I found there were moments that were very much of it’s time. Especially in the editing, and even in the CGI. Even the opening moments of The Fellowship of the Ring, I found myself thinking of much older films. Legend, directed by Ridley Scott, in particular. It wasn’t until the last film that this really did seem to find its own feet to me.

I’d heard a lot of people mention the Helms Deep battle scene as a major highlight of the trilogy. When that point came up in The Two Towers, I found myself excited, because I thought I’d finally find something to enjoy in this film. Answer. I didn’t. I already have a major problem with long fight sequences. I find it very difficult to focus on who’s where, and who is fighting who. But if I empathise with the characters, and I want to see how they make it out, I do tend to still care about the action. However, I knew the characters would make it through this fight. I didn’t care about them enough to see how it would affect them, and because of the costumes and lighting, I couldn’t follow it properly. It felt like the entire scene was purposefully built to be make me want to turn the TV off in boredom.

It was the opening scene of Return of the King that did get me to push through those final few hours. The transformation of Gollum. It was impressive, it was impactful, and for the first time in an entire day, I cared about what was going on. I finally made it to the end, and while I felt satisfied that I’d finally conquered my white whale. I still felt like it was a day that could have been done doing something else.

As a plus, I do get a LOT of references now that had just gone over my head. I can see why people enjoy it from different perspectives. And there are even a few lines, especially in the last film, that did hit home.

In honesty, while I didn’t overly enjoy the film. It has seriously made me think about giving the books a try. That perhaps I’ll enjoy it’s original form far more. The pacing problem works differently in the printed media. The imagery is made up in my own mind based on description, and it’s unlikely I’d binge read the whole thing in one sitting. I’m too slow for that. As I said, now that I have finally finished these, I never have to touch these films again. I can revisit sections If I wish, but as a whole, it’s very unlikely. Problem here is. I did make a promise. The Hobbit trilogy. I wonder when I’ll get around to that?

Thoughts about Betraying Characters.

I have found myself thinking a lot lately about Star Wars. Possibly because I’ve finally gotten around to watching The Lord of the Rings, and that has always been among the pantheon of “Big film series in pop culture history”. But it’s gotten me thinking about The Last Jedi. I haven’t really watched the film since it was in cinema, though I did look through the special features when my steelbook arrived. Saying that, since it has come out, I have listened to a lot of video essays, as well as a good friend going on long speeches, about everything wrong with the film. Plot holes seems to be one thing, woman and SJW topics is another (though I’m still very unclear as to what SJW actually refers to). But the big point that seems to problem a lot of people is the character of Luke Skywalker. That “that’s not Luke”, “What the hell did they do to Luke!?”. Add a good amount of swearing to both of those statements. I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while, even asking a few people outright. I think I may have come to a conclusion, and I think the problem isn’t objective, it’s subjective. And my reasoning for this is another film that came out in 2018. Ghost in the Shell.

From my perspective, the film that betrayed a character the most last year was Ghost in the Shell and the character of Major Motoko Kusanagi. I don’t care that they changed her ethnicity, I don’t care that they changed her name (though the reveal of her real identity did piss me off, as it meant they understood what the character actually stood for and ignored it anyway), but through action, they fundamentally changed who she is.

There is a particular scene I’ve seen people point to in The Last Jedi that highlights that they ruined Luke Skywalker. The flashback scene in which Luke considers killing his young nephew because he senses evil in his heart and feared what would happen. This is about, maybe two thirds through the film. Possibly half way. I can do you one better here. Ghost in the Shell ruins the Major in its first scene. It’s clearly a recreation of the opening scene of Oshii’s 1995 film. The Major bursting into a room to kill her target. Here’s the thing. In the original film, and in the original book, the only person she kills is her target. No one else is killed in that scene by her hand. It is the outcome of other people’s actions. The Major is not an indiscriminate killer. She struggles with the idea of individuality, but she knows what she is. However, in the 2018 film, she is a very generic action heroin, who murders her way through the room. That doesn’t tell you anything about the character at all, it’s just violence for the sake of violence. A similar small detail can be seen in the side character Batou. In the film, we see him lose his eyes and need to have new prosthetic ones grafted. It’s a simple bar fight that goes wrong. It says nothing about Batou in the 2018 film, other than that he might be a bad shot and is a bit unlucky. In the original canon, his prosthetic eyes come from him serving in the military. They are a mark of his unit but had to be implanted when he saved the lives of his comrades. It says so much about him as a person and is a visual reminder of the kind of man he is. These are details I immensely care about. They are very minor, but throughout the entire film, stuff like this is done constantly. The choice of Kuze as the villain is also a massive “fuck you” to anyone who knows who he is, as they just turned him into the Puppet Master and expected you to still care about him the same way we did in the old canon. Problem is, it’s a 90 minute, poorly structured, middle finger of a film.

Now, why did I bring this up when talking about Luke Skywalker. Because of the response I get when I brought up how much I hated Ghost in the Shell (2018). It’s just a film, don’t worry about it. I care because it’s important to me. I don’t see the major problem with Luke the way others do, because Luke is nowhere near as important to me as The Major is. I like Luke. I like Star Wars, but I’m not as attached to it. So, to everyone who hate’s The Last Jedi and despises what they did to Luke Skywalker. I know how you feel. I’m sorry they did that to your icon. I hear the comics are better…

There is no bad Spider-Man movie. [Part One – The Raimi Trilogy]

For the sake of argument, when I say the Spider-Man movies.I am referring to Sam Raimi’s original trilogy, the two Amazing Spider-manfilms, and the MCUs Spider-Man:Homecoming. Maybe even 2018s Venom.

I’ve seen a lot of videos lately analysing the Spider-Manfilms. Whether or not the Raimi films hold up, how bad Amazing Spider-Man 2 is, how Tom Holland is the one true PeterParker. They are well argued, well edited, and well constructed. But through all the videos, I’ve come up with my own thoughts. Granted, this is built on my own opinions on each of the films. But I have to say, there is no bad Spider-Man film. They are all good, and all have bad qualities. But not one can be called THE bad Spider-Man film.

To begin, let’s talk about Sam Raimi’s trilogy. You have no idea how much I wanted to say, “to begin, a rabbit jumps over the moon”, but I’m unsure how many would get it.

Yes, it’s goofy. But it’s also 100% Sam Raimi. It’s as goofyas Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness, andeven Drag Me To Hell. But it’s toneis consistent throughout all three of its films. Studio mandates for the thirdfilm aside. It’s consistent. At no point do they do a complete 180 and start delving into philosophical diatribes about how much damage superheroes cause,with the exception of Harry’s hatred of Spider-Man over the death of hisfather. Given Harry didn’t know his father was the Green Goblin at the time, it’s logical to assume that he thinks Spider-Man caused his death through collateral damage or an accident, not so much that he jammed the blades into his chest. The tone for all three are consistent, to the point that watching them back to back to back feels more natural than many other trilogies. Yes, even Spider-Man 3.

All three suffer from actors playing teenagers that areclearly not. Over the top extras and hammy lines, and not to mention the overthe top, frankly comic book transitions. Though subtler than Ang Lee’s Hulk of 2003. But that gave us thememorable lines and moments of both the Green Goblin and J.K. Simmons’ J.Jonah Jamison. The speeches of both Aunt May and UncleBen, and so many moments burned into pop culture because of how strange butbelievable the tone is. Is Toby Maguire a perfect Peter Parker? No. I think it maybe fair to say there hasn’t been a perfect Peter Parker yet. It’s rare to findan actor that completely imbodies every aspect of a superhero. With theexception of perhaps Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, though that’s still debatable,I don’t feel anyone has done that before or since Christopher Reeve as Supermanback in 1978. If I was going to pick one actor who does completely embody their character like no other in these films, that would go to J.K. Simmons. Toby plays a decent dork, which Peter does need to be. But he rarely comes off as the true science geek Peter has always been. We are told afew times that he has an aptitude for science, but rarely does it show throughin his action. Andrew Garfield’s Peter did show this to a degree, though it needed to be integrated better. Tom Holland is perhaps the closest. Toby does give us a compelling dork at least. The loser of his school who never catches a break. Incapsulated by his introduction running for the school bus while even the driver laughs at him. He’s whiny, he cries, he’s a sensitive guy. Coddled by his loving aunt and uncle, in every sense of the word. Then he gains powers. It gets to his head, like it would any other person, and his own actions lead to the death of a deeply important person in his life. The infamous death of Uncle Ben. The Peter we see here is believable, but he still lacks something that would make him the perfect Peter Parker.

The character’s flaws as Maguire shows them, even leads naturally into Spider-Man 3. Yes, it does. Peter Parker, even with all of his powers, is a loser at heart. Tell me. When you’ve just had a good promotion. Some amazing news, or even just a massive ego boast, do you ever just do a little dance? Pull a goofy face as your smirking to yourself? Now, what happens if that happens to a complete loser like Peter Parker. Not Spider-Man, the hero of New York. But Peter Parker. It goes to your head to the point that you think you can do no wrong. That dancing in the street is the sexiest thing in the goddamn world, because you own it. Yes, it looks stupid to everyone around you, including us the audience. That’s why it is so stupid. We are not Peter in that moment. Not helped by being infected by a symbiont. That ego goes straight to his head because it is something Peter has never had. As Spider-Man yes, but not Peter. He doesn’t need the mask right now to feel like he owns it. The ego goes to his head so much, that he feels he can take another girl out to a restaurant where his ex now works. Dances for the crowd because he’s certain the crowd will love it, Gwen is even noticeably turned on by his confidence. And when it all goes sour, because expectation doesn’t line up with reality, he lashes out and hurts the person he loves the most. This is the breaking point. This is the point where Peter understands how far he’s gone. Where he looks back and sees exactly what we have just seen. A jackass dancing in the street and being the villain to those he cares about.

The villain’s in the third film are weaker. But it can’t be pinned on any one actor. The Sandman plays his part well, is emotionally resonant, and his creation scene could be a movie in its own right. Harry, though his amnesia moments are a little weird, though not problematic, concludes his arc here. He goes from being a guy who was never good enough for his father. To the inheritor of his company and man charged with avenging said father, to a man in his own right who stands up for what he believes, even if it means risking his life for a friend. Right up to the final third of Spider-Man 3, Harry is in the shadow of his father. A man that for all he was concerned, didn’t care all that much for him. The final act is where Harry gets to be Harry. The man his father would have been proud of, even though that’s not what matters.

Topher Grace is not to be blamed for Venom. As Eddie Brock, a foil for Peter Parker, he works well. What happened if a jock lucked into Peter’s position. Had the pretty girl without trying, got the job without trying and seemed to get everything. At the point where he does fail, something he’s not used to, he cheats and uses photo editing to get the job. Arguably you could say that Peter cheats too, given he always knows where Spider-Man will be, so he can set up the shots better than anyone could edit them. Yes, his actual Venom was somewhat of a misstep. Though this feels more related to the expectations the audience had for Venom. You know, Venom. A brain eating monster who arguably works best when he is allowed to be as violent and unleased as possible. This is something that worked better in 2018s Venom. No ties to the largely family friendly Spider-Man, meant that showing Venom in his violent glory was less out of place. If Raimi was allowed to go full Evil Dead, then yes, we would have gotten the Venom audiences wanted. But it wouldn’t have fit the trilogies tone as well as his sparing use of Doctor Octopuses horror elements.

YouTuber schmoesknow, points out that Spider-Man 3 does greatly carry on the feeling of power corrupting. In the first, it’s Norman Osborn, in the second, it’s Otto Octavius, and in the final film, it’s Peter. This is a good point. We did already see Peter get cocky and over his head during the first film, it lead to his uncle’s death. Now add fame, praise and now a power boast by an alien suit. With great power may also come great responsibility. But absolute power will corrupt absolutely. Again, something we do see in the more goofier aspects of the film.

A lot of the problems people do have with Spider-Man 3 does seem to come from studio mandates. To many cooks in the kitchen as it were. But there is a good movie underneath it all. Even an enjoyable one. Just as the first two certainlyhave their goofy moments that can take you out of it. All three films work as atrilogy. And that’s what they are. A trilogy of good Spider-Man films.