Growing up I was the epitome of the comic book geek. I had no interest in sports and, as the proverbial 98-pound weakling, I was an easy target for bullies and such. Oddly, I wasn’t really into comic books though. I liked some of the mystery of Batman but big blue boy scouts like Superman weren’t something I could connect with – until I discovered Spider-Man.

Spider-Man provided the kind of hero I could easily relate to. He could save the day and defeat the bad guys, but nothing ever seemed to go right for the hero. He was public enemy number one as far as the press was concerned, and life for his alter-ego was even worse. Peter Parker was like me – picked on by bullies and the type who couldn’t get the girls to look his way, except to laugh at him. As I got older, I found solace in the idea that my favorite superhero wasn’t all that "super." Sure, he had the proportionate strength and agility of a spider, but that didn’t make life any easier. In fact, it probably made it harder thanks to his, now well known credo, "With great power comes great responsibility."

Those same traits that turned me into a Spider-Man fan growing up have been well maintained as the wall-crawler has transitioned to the movies. Typically, as stories are moved to other mediums, particularly film, things have to be changed, but instead of suddenly making Parker some dashing Casanova who always comes out on top, Sam Raimi and writers like David Koepp and Alvin Sargent stayed true to the character. Through Tobey Maguire’s performance, Parker is just as big an underdog as always, and Raimi makes sure life is never easy for the hero. That faithfulness to the things about the comic story that appealed to me ensured that I would quickly become a die-hard fan of the movies as well.

It is because of that that I approach Spider-Man 3 with both excitement and trepedation. I can’t wait for another episode in Spidey’s life, but I know this movie will be different. For starters, things are starting out on the positive side for Spider-Man and Peter Parker – a deviation from the previous storylines. Still, I have great hope for the character and his future in the movies. If nothing else, it has been a great trip so far.

Below is our guide to web-slinging, alien costumes, and other Marvel heroes, courtesy of your Friendly Neighborhood Cinema Blend:

Spider-Man 3
"Things may be going well for Peter, but that doesn’t mean he’s solved any of the problems created in the previous two films. They’re still there lingering and they come to a head in this film. For instance Peter has never really come to grips with the murder of his uncle, and then there’s his friend Harry (James Franco) who still blames Peter for the death of his wacked out, Green Goblin father. There’s a lot going on in Spidey 3, but at its heart Alvin Sargent’s script is about Spider-Man getting right all the things he’s been getting wrong."

Spider-Man 2.1 on DVD
"I still remember watching Spider-Man 2 in theaters vividly. The score, which I mistakenly once referred to as “forgettable” began as the Columbia Pictures torch lit up, giving me goose bumps by the time the Marvel Production logo started flipping by. The recap of the first film through images created by legendary artist Alex Ross set the stage perfectly for the film to come, the film that, in every way, upped the ante from the first Spider-Man movie and showed some arrogance by making it absolutely unquestionable that there would be a third chapter."

Spider-Man 2
"Spider-Man 2 is like stepping right back in to a familiar friend. It's not so much a new movie as just a continuation of the original, a visit back into a world which really hasn't changed so much, for which we're all the better. Peter's (Tobey Maguire) still desperately and secretly in love with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) while facing the consequences of accepting the great responsibility that comes with his great power. Responsibility also means he can't pay his bills and so he lives in a crappy, run-down apartment hounded by a landlord whom he can never afford to pay."

Spider-Man
"Surprisingly, even though the Goblin's costume resembles that of a Power Ranger reject, Dafoe's body language projects a threatening and deadly presence in battle with Maguire's Spidey. Each and every scene is a piece of crime fighting JOY as Spider-Man fights two-bit thug and super-villain alike with uncanny wit and an assorted variety of web slinging, fist slamming action. Nothing happens without reason though, as even these scenes serve to further develop the characters within them. Spider-Man fights for a city that has been told to hate him. Saves lives even when the cops are trying to arrest him. He battles the uber-techno Green Goblin high above the city in aerial combat the likes of which I've never seen, all while protecting the innocent and his one true love."

Spider-Man 3: Post When You See It
Talk about Spider-Man 3 after you see it, with fellow Blenders and webheads in this special thread on the Cinema Blend Forum.

Spider-Man 3 Trailers
Moving pictures. Of Spider-Man. To promote his new movie. Clicky clicky.

Spider-Man 3 Image Gallery
Spider-Man standing still for pictures of him in his third movie, and pictures of that guy Tobey Maguire walking the red carpet to see Spider-Man's movie. I guess he's a fan. If you have 3D glasses, they're not at all in 3D.

Spider-Man 3 Reviewed
Just not necessarily by us.

DVD: Friday Night Double Feature: Slam Evil
Our latest DVD column gets in the Spider-Man action by suggesting a superhero Friday night double feature.

CB Top 5: Superhero Movies
The Cinema Blend staff ranks their favorite Superhero movies. We guarantee you'll be surprised by at least one of the selections.

Launch Trailer for Spider-Man 3: The Game
For those who prefer your wall-crawler in video game form.

Sandman Trailer for Spider-Man 3: The Game
Same game, another trailer - this one featuring another butt kicking of the Sandman.

Spidey Will Swing Again
Find out out what your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is doing next. We've got the inside scoop on Spider-Man 4.

Spidey’s friends haven’t always gotten the best treatment on screen although quite a few of them have shown up by now. Here’s Cinema Blend’s take on some of the other Marvel Superheroes on screen.

X-Men
" Look back at the Superhero movies of the past couple of decades, the biggest being Superman and Batman. Both were entertaining, but one of the biggest complaints about the early Batman movies is that while they're riveting, they are almost too dark. Superman on the other hand, while enjoyable, lacked some of the edge that Batman had. X-Men has managed to successfully walk the fine line between these two. Not as disturbingly dark as Batman, but yet it still has the hard gritty edge that keeps the audience riveted to the screen. "

X2: X-Men United
"Second time X-director Bryan Singer has created an absolute masterpiece. A consummate blending of deep delving character exploration, team oriented action, amazing set pieces, and PERFECTLY done mind blowing, super-powered, special effects that rip the roof off of any previous effects efforts in the genre. What makes this effects magic so wonderful is that it isn't noticeable as Hollywood trickery. Everything blends together seamlessly. Nowhere does anything in the film look any less than completely and utterly real. At no point does bad cgi creep in, nor overambitious action directing, resulting in such unrealistic karate moves that the audience can no longer buy in. It's an absolutely slick and positively beautiful presentation. From Nightcrawler's trademark BAMF! as he teleports into battle, to the insane weather effects of Storm finally and fully unleashed, each moment of movie misdirection works to fullest efficiency."

X-Men: The Last Stand
"Perhaps what's most galling about X-Men: The Last Stand is that it's so full of flat melodrama that it's hard to work up much passion for it one way or another. They've completely squandered the amazing potential for a third film set up by Bryan Singer at the end of X2. They've utterly wasted one of the best storylines ever in the history of comic books in the form of Dark Phoenix. The film completely throws away the other best storyline in the history of comics by throwing us ten seconds of Sentinel hidden behind a dense fog on in the middle of a computer generated war re-enactment. This is a movie that tosses out everything the previous two movies have been building, and most of the character's previous personalities too. But none of that will make you angry. It's a movie without emotion. It can't connect with the audience emotionally, positively or negatively. Beloved characters are killed with little consideration, as if to make room for someone who costs less money..."

Fantastic Four (2005)
"The one thing the movie does get right is the relationships between the characters, along with the public life their team lives. The result is a kind of dynamic of interaction that you can't get with a solo hero like Spidey, and the movie hits on that really well. Ben and Johnny are constantly at each other's throats in a playful way, with Johnny usually the aggravator. You can tell Reed loves Sue, whether he communicates it well or not, and vice versa. Surprisingly, Jessica Alba is actually quite good in this, possibly the best, most realistic role she's played in her career, despite being a comic book character. The true standout is Michael Chiklis who, despite being covered in uncooperative makeup, really manages to convey the sorrow of his character, a monster with a heart of gold."

Daredevil
"After a brilliant opening credit sequence, perhaps the first I've ever seen to actually incorporate Brail, Daredevil settles in to the business of telling a story firmly from the perspective of a superhero who just happens to be very much blind. Cursed with sadly clich origins, pre-teen Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is splashed with Toxic Waste. No, he doesn't become a pizza lovin Ninja Turtle, but rather loses his sight. To compensate, the conveniently available sludge also enhances all his other senses, touch, smell, hearing (and I assume taste) pushed beyond the limits of normal human use. This gives him a sort of radar sense, a super-hearing that lets him see with his ears, rather than his eyes. With superpowers like that, you have to wonder if he'd have called himself Batman had the name not already been so selfishly taken."

Elektra
"Elektra is a massively boring disaster punctuated by bad dialogue and bad directing. The script is a mess and only seems to make sense when nothing interesting is happening. Luckily for them, that's a good portion of the film. Just once I'd like to see a movie where characters part and give each other a forwarding address. Alas, as if to add insult to my already mountainous injuries, Elektra ends the film by declaring "don't worry, we'll find each other" or something like that. It's not like I wrote it down. I was too busy running out of the theater."

Blade II
"Blade II is so far beyond the original, which was in its own right a good action film, that I fear the original may be quickly forgotten in this stellar sequel's shadow. The action is tougher, the shooting is sharper, the plot is tighter, the characters better. Director Guillermo Del Toro took Blade and made him twice the hero he was before. No, his personality hasn't changed, the tone of the series hasn't changed, nor has anything really tangible about the character or his surroundings been altered in some radical "make this my own" way. It's just better. Blade is everything he ever was in the first film or in the comics, just to the nth degree. As a result, the character, though he says little, comes off stronger, and more heroic than he ever did in the first film. Wesley needs this character. He IS this character."

Blade: Trinity
"Blade: Trinity is not a disastrous entry into the vampire hunter franchise, but it fails to live up to the slick excitement of its predecessors. With great performances from Snipes, Posey, Reynolds, and Biel, all the blame for that has to be laid squarely on the shoulders of the man of many hats, David Goyer. Goyer was in large part responsible for making Blade what it is, but that clearly didn't qualify him to direct. With Snipes becoming such a problem to work with on set, it's likely that this will be the last outing for Blade, unless New Line goes ahead with their proposed Bladeless spin-off featuring the Hannibal King and Whistler Jr. characters. Goyer tries his best with Blade: Trinity but ends up with an entry that is far too often flat and uninspired. It's a shame Blade's ride had to end in mediocrity."

The Punisher
"The Punisher will make you laugh. Unintentionally of course. Who will like this movie? Nerds. Huge flaming nerds who live in their parents basements and collect bad comic books written about superheroes that most of the world has never heard of or for that matter will ever care about. They'll buy into this thing because it turns all the right pages and hits all the right tickle spots that they'll no doubt sit and dissect as irony or subtle filmmaking, when in fact it is simply contrived stupidity. There are obscure comic-books out there that might be worth adaptation. With this, the second attempt at making a Punisher movie work, I think we've adequately proven that this isn't one of them. It would be a shame to see a fine actor like Thomas Jane shunned into Dolph Lundgren obscurity, simply for picking up the wrong script. Here's hoping no one sees this so we can all just forget. "

Ghost Rider
There’s a guilty pleasure aspect to Ghost Rider, but that’s the best it can offer to the average movie viewer. What it lacks in heart and depth it more than makes up for in special effects and outlandish action sequences. That’s all well and good for a comic book movie, but to cross over and offer non-comic fans something to really enjoy takes more than just copious amounts of pixel dust. Director and writer (and comic fanboy) Mark Steven Johnson has sharpened his skills somewhat since butchering Daredevil and Elektra, but he still hasn’t figured out how to breathe life into his characers the way Raimi did with Spider-Man.”


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