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Spider-Man: Your Friendly Neighborhood Sissy?

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Posted on January 14 2011 6:00 pm
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
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There are many who bemoan Hollywood’s tendency to cannibalize itself with endless sequels, prequels, and reboots. I am not one of them.

Film is a child of theater. Part of the pleasure in attending a new production of a play you have seen before is considering the take of a fresh group of artists on the same old material. We wouldn’t fault a theater troupe for yet another production of Romeo & Juliet. So why fault filmmakers for remaking an old film? Quality is certainly affected by source material, but not determined by it.

What annoys me isn’t the preponderance of rehashed properties in Hollywood, but the poor execution of so many of them. For every Batman Begins, it seems there are a dozen Superman Returns.

It’s only been four years since Spider-Man 3 hit theaters, and less than 10 years since the original. Yet we’re already about to see a reboot. Unfortunately, the more we learn of the forthcoming Spider-Man film, the less likely it seems to become that rare derivative which will transcend its predecessor. Spider-Man has a lot working against it, not least of all its wussification of the hero. Film critic Christian Toto points out the trend.

Tobey Maguire is no Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But the slight actor bulked up a bit to portray Peter Parker and his wall crawling alter-ego, Spider-Man, in three feature films(…)

Looks like [the producers of the reboot are] trying to paint ol’ Peter as a slip of a hero, one whose super powers don’t require physical bulk.

In all iterations, Spider-Man has been on the smaller side of the superhero spectrum. While the character is endowed with a degree of super-strength, his primary attributes have always been speed and agility enhanced by superior intelligence. Portraying these attributes does not require a body-builder so much as a gymnast. Regardless, as Toto points out, Tobey Maguire was something of a hulk compared to the wispy Andrew Garfield pictured above.

This downsizing of Spider-Man is reminiscent of the effeminate re-imaging of Superman under the direction of Bryan Singer. Production photos of the comparatively slight Brandon Routh were our first indication of the underwhelming tone which permeated Superman Returns.

And it’s hard not to fear the studio behind the movie thinking they can tap the “Twilight” crowd along with comic book geeks. Just look at Peter Parker brood!

Hopefully, that’s all this is, and not some attempt to advance the meme of the feminized American male.

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