Watching Spider-Man: No Way Home a few days ago put me in a retrospective mood. I found myself missing the early 2000s, when the aches and pains of middle-age were still a distant reality, when great bands like Nickelback and Oasis were topping the charts, but most of all - when my favourite animated superhero finally found his way to a big screen blockbuster.
I have grown up reading Spider-Man comic strips in newspapers. Even as a child, I could connect in a way with the teenage Peter Parker’s angst and pain, his conflicted mindset upon being bestowed superpowers by the universe (via a radioactive spider). I cried when his lady-love Gwen Stacy died; I cheered when he defeated bad guys like Green Goblin and Chameleon. I looked forward to the daily strips, and often considered cutting them out and pasting them into a scrapbook (now wouldn’t that have been a great memento?)
Spider-Man has been the subject of many adaptations, on television, in video games and animation and on the big screen. I remember watching the animated series Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, broadcast on Dubai’s Channel 33. I was always intrigued by his teammates who fought with cold and heat - Iceman, an original Marvel Comics character; and Firestar - a female character created just for the series, who later appeared in the comics.
An older Spider-Man series also comes to mind whose theme song’s lyrics ‘Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can…’ will forever be my go-to for a top superhero tune.
Spider-Man has come a long way since his first appearance in a comic book in 1962 - who knew that this web-slinging crime-fighter created by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko would go on to become one of the most relatable superheroes ever?
2002 saw the release of director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (the first of a trilogy) with Tobey Maguire in the titular role. I’d always been a fan, having enjoyed films like This Boy’s Life, The Cider House Rules and Pleasantville and yet, I entered the cinema with trepidation - it was like the life of my favourite superhero was in the then 27-year-old’s hands. Wasn’t he too old to play Peter Parker, I wondered? But all my doubts were put to rest - I haven’t till date seen a better representation of Spider-Man on screen. Tobey reminded me of ‘Spidey’ from my childhood comic-strip days and I filed him away in a special memory.
Nearly 20 years later (spoiler alert) a visibly aged Tobey (I can relate deeply when he talks about his back) appears in No Way Home, his eyes and smile still giving me goosebumps. No Way Home while fast-paced and exciting, is forgettable; its multiverse would have been cooler and more of a novelty had it not featured in 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. But in the end I have the multiverse to thank for Tobey Maguire coming back as Spider-Man, a friendly neighborhood superhero who actually takes my breath away. Can we have a Spider-Man 4 with Tobey please?
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