Saturday, March 24, 2007

Spider-Man and Batman

I watched the new Spider-Man 3 trailer yesterday (three times). You can get to it by following this link: This trailer gives us our clearest look yet at Venom. Venom is one of my favoritie villains in the Spider-Man universe. He is the mirror image of Spider-Man if the mirror is of the twisted, fun-house variety. Venom has all of Spider-Man's powers, only magnified and fed by a never-ending lust for revenge against Peter Parker.

That's what makes this movie so interesting. It promises to be darker than the previous two installments. Spider-Man's mantra has always been "With great power comes great responsibility," but what happens when the one with great power chooses to use it irresponsibly -- in the service of vengeance.

This is why I am fascinated by both Spider-Man and Batman. On one level, Batman is sort of a superhero version of Venom. Dark, obsessed, driven by the need for vengeance. Spider-Man and Batman have always been like distant cousins. On one level they are very similar: both possessing great power of a sort, cloaking it behind a secret identity, and prowling the rooftops at night in order to bring criminals to justice. Both are driven by similar circumstances: Bruce Wayne by the violent murder of his parents and Peter Parker by the violent murder of his surrogate father (Uncle Ben). But that is where the cousins become distant. Batman has always been an infinitely darker character than Spider-Man because ultimately what drives him is the need for vengeance. He might call it "justice", but in fact he spends his nights seeking to avenge his parents death by taking out his repressed anger on the criminal underworld. By contrast, what drives Spider-Man is not a desire for vengeance, but a desire for penance. He blames himself for his uncle's death so his campaign against evil is an attempt to make amends for his own perceived past crime.

Batman seeks to punish others for his parents death; Spider-Man seeks to punish himself. What makes Spider-Man 3 so fascinating, at least as far as the trailers suggest, is that it appears to be asking the question: what would happen if Spider-Man chose a different path -- the path of vengeance rather than the path of penance. In Venom, we see the end result of what a Spider-Man would look like when consumed by the need for revenge. Check out the trailer and enjoy.


At 1:53 PM, Blogger Jared said...

I never caught much of the Venom story line when I was reading the comics, I only read a few which included it. However, I do remember finding it extremely interesting. I'm looking forward to this movie.

At 9:39 AM, Blogger JIMMY h said...

thanks for the 411 on Spidey - i've only seen the first one & was sorely disappointed, but you've inspired me to watch the second one so i can gear up for the third!

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Yes, you must see Spider-Man 2. I really liked the first movie, but a lot of people I've talked to who did not like the first movie liked the second one.

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Patrick Mead said...

Have you ever read Andrew Vachss' take on Batman? He is a VERY dark novelist with a specialty in anti-heroes, especially the Burke series. He wrote an authorized and licensed novel in the Batman series with Bruce Wayne having been a victim of child sexual abuse -- and, of course, spending his life in pursuit of vengeance against child predators.

Vachss is a lawyer who devotes his life to hunting down child predators. The language and events in his novels make them hard to read -- fair warning.

And for what it's worth, I liked the first Spiderman movie better overall, but loved the interplay between Parker and his aunt in the second.

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Thanks for the info on that book. I hadn't read it.

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You saw the trailer yesterday? I saw it nearly a month ago.

At 9:47 PM, Blogger Greg said...

From here on out, "Anonymous" will be known as Dr. Keith Huey.


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