The Not-So-Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2First impression of The Amazing Spider-Man 2: A weak film with too many villains, too many subplots, too little direction. Yet, entertaining nonetheless. Perhaps a good romp to watch on a rainy day when you have no other plans. Second impression of The Amazing Spider-Man 2: A weak film that espouses potentially damaging ideologies, about mental health issues in particular.

Max Dillon—aka Electro, the film’s primary villain—is characterized as an emotionally and mentally fragile individual. He has no social support and is incredibly lonely. Although he’s intelligent, his superiors take advantage of him, taking credit for his work while also bullying him.

Interestingly, Max’s mutation into Electro—into a volatile, violent individual—comes as a result of his boss’s negligence and bullying. Forced to work late and complete a dangerous task solo, Max accidentally electrocutes himself and falls a story or two into a vat of eels, subsequently morphing into the glowing blue villain. While the film initially seems to blame the corrupt C-Suite of Oscorp (the company where Max works) for his evolution from a mentally fragile human being to a dangerous one, it doesn’t call upon them to take responsibility. Instead, the film shifts the blame entirely to Max, forcing him to pay the full price for what he’s become.

You can read more about my take on the film’s handling of mental health issues at Vannevar 44 in the essay “The Not-So-Amazing Spider 2: The Problem with Lazy Writing.” To hear about the film’s other shortcomings, check out the new podcast series I’m participating in, Vox44.

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2 comments

  1. This movie was an overblown steaming mess, and I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of Max’s hamfisted treatment. It’s something that actively bothered me while watching it, so I don’t think you’re ‘overreacting to some silly comic book movie’. (Or who knows? Maybe we’re both just overly sensitive!) It’s a shame there were no comments on the actual article, as I’d have loved to see others’ takes.

    The film initially presented Max in a sympathetic light, but their treatment grew more and more haphazard as the plot progressed. At a certain point, I actually sat back and thought, ‘Wow, the movie now wants us to root for Electro’s demise.’ I couldn’t believe it. Then again, as you pointed out, talking him down would’ve been anti-climactic (that’s essentially Doc Oc’s fate in Spider-Man 2). Spider-Man in general is riddled with simplistic enemies who are either anarchistic for the sake of it or misunderstood. No room for nuance in this franchise.

    I think part of the problem with Amazing Spider-Shit 2 (other than the aforementioned lazy writing) is that — whether by studio interference or the misguided notion that audiences want overstuffed action set pieces — they attempted to cram too many villains and subplots in, so none are satisfactorily explored. Max’s deevolution into Electro (removing, for a second, my objection to the way they presented mental health issues as comedy fodder) was extremely ham-fisted — so much so that it undermined the entire film. Electro’s story clearly deserved to be the film’s central conflict, but all this other junk overrode it (Peter’s family, love life, Harry’s issues, Oscorp), cannibalising screen time. A similar thing happened with Spider-Man 3. More is not more, Hollywood!

    As a final aside (don’t know what it is with me writing ambling, overlong comments today), I despise when antagonists are born from hokey contrivances, such as a simple misunderstanding or slight ideological differences (particularly when the audience is privy to this fact). It’s really frustrating and screams weak writing. If your whole conflict can be averted by a five-minute rational conversation then it’s inadequately built and the stakes are completely shot.

    Anyway, waaaay too worked up over this. At least the movie bombed, right? Going to take my blood-thinning meds and put on a pot of chamomile tea. Thanks for another great post!

    • I love this! I really appreciate you reading my posts and giving them serious consideration. It helps to not feel like I’m just throwing all of my (often overly analytic) writing into a black hole. I don’t really have anything else to add — you’ve already said it all so well. Sometimes I wonder why I continue watching these blockbusters when I seem to only have horrible things to say. Do I hold out hope that they might surprise me with something fresh and creative? But in all seriousness, I do think there’s value in discussing these flaws. If it was just a matter of a poorly written, hollow script, that would be one thing; but too often, as Amazing Spider-Man 2 demonstrates, these films (inadvertently or not) send damaging, harmful messages and we have to call attention to them so that we don’t just absorb them.

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