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Feature: Spider-Man

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Tobey Maguire as the very popular hero, Spider-Man So many scripts, so many directors: would Spider-Man ever appear down the local multiplex? Finally, in the guise of Tobey Maguire, Marvel Comics' finest superhero is smashing box-office records…

The star and director get our spider-senses tingling…

"Spider-Man is a timeless character, and a very relatable one" insists Tobey Maguire. "Spider-Man is fantasy, obviously, and people love that. His experience is ‘relatable' in reality and ‘relatable' in fantasy, in an odd way."

Maguire definitely knows of what he speaks. The 27-year-old donned the Spidey suit for director Sam Raimi's big-screen, big-budget interpretation of the classic Marvel comic book and audiences are ‘relating' to it in droves. In its opening weekend the film shattered US box-office records by grossing an amazing $114 million, exceeding even the wildest forecasts in the hype-filled weeks before its release.

Everyone involved with making Spider-Man faced major challenges. No one, for example, thought Maguire, the star of Pleasantville, was right for the role. People could buy him as Peter, but not as the sleek and virile web-slinger. Maguire bulked up to set about proving his detractors wrong. "That urge [has been] pretty strong in me for many, many years" explains the actor. "Hearing people question the idea of my casting in this film did help as far as getting motivated. As I was three-and-a-half months in on my workouts, and I was a little tired (of them), but I thought about how I had to do it to prove that I could...

"I'd talked to Sam about getting in shape, not just aesthetically, but having the stamina and strength for the things I had to do. Also, the air sense and flexibility; there was so much I needed to work on. I said to Sam at the beginning, ‘I'm going to take care of it. That's the least of our worries.' I put the challenge on myself ..."

It was Sam Raimi, however, who faced the toughest challenges. To bring the comics to life in the live-action format would require a good deal of computer-generated animation magic. "That was a tremendous question: How were we going to get the images of Spider-Man soaring through the air?" Raimi acknowledges. "I had no idea. I was terrified. I was like Spider-Man in that I was filled with self-doubt, but without any of the good looks or the superhero thing going. I ran a lot of bad ideas through my idea board.

"Fortunately, I had John Dykstra, who's this genius of visual effects. John also did the original Star Wars. John said, ‘Sam, I think that we can do this with full CGI: the whole Spider-Man character.' And I thought, ‘Maybe in the wide, little pieces but not everything that I'm thinking.' He just said, ‘Yes, we can. Let's start our tests to prove to ourselves that we can do it.'..."

Spider-Man opens in the UK on June 14

by John Reading

Read the full feature, plus our Movie Spotlight review ("Start queuing right now!" says our critic Jason Caro) in this issue:
Film Review (Sum)

Image © Columbia Tri-Star / Sony Pictures / Marvel Entertainment
Feature © Visual Imagination 2002. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Film Review (Sum), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Sum)
#619, Summer 2002
ships from May 23 2002
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