It is 2004, fans have been begging to see more of Tobey Maguire's portrayal as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and then we see this:
After a very solid launch to the character back in 2002, 2004's "Spider-Man 2" has very high expectations, but nobody expected it to become the critical hit that it was. Sure, it was expected to make just as much, if not more of the budget than it's predecessor, and it that regard it pretty much matched it. Taking in a little less, the film still went on to gross over 783 million dollars at the worldwide box office. To this day, I still believe it should have earned slightly more than that. Personal bias of the character of Spider-Man aside, I believe this to still be one of the greatest comic book films ever made. I will be doing my best to stay in this specific time period, and use very little references to the superhero genre of now, due to the fact that there are so many greats to choose from. Nevertheless, here is why I believe this to be a contender for best superhero film of all time, and easily the best Spider-Man live-action film we have ever experiences (so far).
The film opens with Peter Parker on a moped, rushing to work as a Pizza delivery boy. Right off the bat, audiences know from the first film that he hardly makes a dime selling paper's to J. Jonah Jameson, so this was a very nice addition to the character. Clearly not being able to focus on his job, he is fired from that job and almost from his freelance job at the daily bugle within the first ten minutes of the film. The one thing this film does beautifully, is being able to portray Peter's emotions, and making you hurt along with him. Living in a rugged old apartment, there is some fun to be had with the apartment owner. For every somber moment in this film, there is always a moment of levity, which I greatly appreciated.
Alfred Molina as leading villain Doctor Octopus staples the definition of perfect casting on himself and wears it with pride. From being a mentor to Peter in the first act, to completely wrecking havoc in the city throughout the second act, to viewers actually feeling sorry for him by the third, this performance carries the film to heights you do not expect it to go, all while Peter is in and out of his powers, dealing with his relationships and coping with his secret from his friends. This film is layered beyond belief, and depending on how many times you watch this film, surprises will always unveil themselves upon each viewing.
Onto maybe one of the best scenes I have ever seen in a movie period, there is a moment in the backyard between Peter and his Aunt May that has stuck with me since my viewing of the film back in 2004. Within just a few minutes, a child's love for superheroes is explained, the need for a hero in the city is conveyed, and Aunt May delivers such an emotionally moving monologue that I am invested even though I know it line for line now. Therefore, I am going to share it to all below:
This clip reinforces my love for superheroes in general, and every time I stumble across a poorly made superhero film, I always refer back to this scene in my head. There will always be a need for heroes in the world, even though powers do not exist. They can come in many forms, and personally, I believe this scene is subtly saying that, but that is just me.
"Spider-Man 2" benefits from an elevated screenplay, an even more charismatic performance from Tobey Maguire, and a deeper villain plot. With multiple extremely effective reveals and action sequences that will blow you away for their time, this film can do no wrong for fans of this genre. Aside from a few continuity errors here and there, some silly sequences with Peter Parker, and a couple annoying romance scenes, this is a masterpiece of a superhero film. Comic Book movies do not get any better than this, as far as solo films go. Down the line we would be getting films like "The Avengers," but it is impossible to compare a film like this to a scale such as that. "Spider-Man 2" is arguably the best superhero film, and more often than not, I refer to it as THE best. Truly great popcorn cinema.
Review By: KJ Proulx