Home > Clement's Game > Superheroes Round 14: Spider-reboot 2

Superheroes Round 14: Spider-reboot 2


They just keep on making these things.  And, well, you know, I was on an airplane.

I might not have watched this otherwise, given that Spiderman 2 is a sequel of a reboot…

… Wait, so is Star Trek (sort of).

Eh, whatever. Which is roughly my opinion of the movie.

Yes, this character does show up in the movie.  But can't we come up with better titles than "Movie Title 2"?

Yes, this character does show up in the movie. But can’t we come up with better titles than “Movie Title 2”?

Why Do You Need So Many Villains?

It’s overkill. It really is.

We have Electro, the Green Goblin, and Rhino all showing up in the same film.

This was one of the reasons why I didn’t really like the third movie in the previous iteration of the franchise (with the Sandman, Venom, and, of course, the Green Goblin).

Let’s contrast this with the first movie, and the first movie in the reboot.

In the former, we spend the whole movie developing Norman Osbourne, his motivations, his good intentions and desperation eventually warping him into something evil, giving extra weight to his final words — “Don’t tell Harry.”

In the latter, we see the Lizardman, the good doctor meaning well, hoping to heal people, but forced beyond good ethics and harmed by his own medical treatment.

In both cases, we have the friend and mentor shifting into an enemy.  It’s fantastic — and we get to watch the villain slowly unravel, rather than suddenly turn evil.  It’s more believable and, I think, more effective than merely packing in as much supervillainous punch as possible.

Wow, That Went Bad Fast

Speaking of which, I really like the previous version of the Green Goblin much better.  The Norman Osbourne version, that is.  He was a little more subtle, and a lot more creepy. The development was slower, more interesting.  Step by step, he lost control of his life and his mind.

He got his own movie as the sole superpowered opponent of Spiderman.

So much better.  And, I think, more realistic — no one wants to think of themselves as the bad guy, and he works his way into it through his own choices, one at a time.  No truly evil person is made in a day.

Meanwhile, Electro. His powers are kind of cool, but I hate the general setup because it was so easily preventable, in so many ways.

First, Oscorp is clearly not OSHA compliant.  This is just plain stupid, especially given their earlier accidents.  They’re obviously very successful at making and marketing good products — why should they cut corners in ways that will inevitably lead to public relations nightmares?

Second, Max Dillon is really a decent guy.  He may be a loner who has trouble making friends and relating to other people, but he means well and tries to be good.

Third, the police are stupid and, come on, having a sniper in position during negotiations, and then telling said sniper to fire if the “bad guy” does anything untoward… when the “bad guy” is clearly scared, awkward and not fully in control of what he’s doing?  Not smart at all.  That has to be against procedure, somehow.

Fourth, why the heck does anyone assume that anyone other than Oscorp was responsible for this? I mean, Lizardman. Come on. Seriously.  Who else is going to engineer a monster like that?

But, frankly, I think the thing that bothers me most about Electro is that he’s not the rich executive trying to keep his hold on his company.  He’s not the gangster who wants more power, or the doctor who pushes the boundaries of ethics too far.

He’s an electrician, with no previous history of violence or crime, or dark tendencies aside from some fantasizing and hero-worship.  He didn’t deserve this — in any sense — and people just kept pushing, making his circumstances worse.  When he’s manipulated into attacking the city, he’s gone fully to the “dark side,” and it’s difficult for me to buy someone changing so much, so fast.

He’s abandoned all sympathetic characteristics.  There are no last words about how he used to admire Spiderman, no sign of regret or remorse to make the character more believable.  At the end, he’s nothing more than another two-dimensional bit villain driven by rage and revenge.

Magic Genetics

For some reason, the magic spider venom will only work on Peter Parker because he’s Richard Parker’s son.  Dr. Parker says he manipulated the spiders so that their venom will only work for him… or his heirs.

O-kay, let’s slow down here, and see if we can figure out what Dr. Parker did.  Assuming magic genetic manipulation tech as a given.

Option 1: The venom depends on some specific genetic sequence in Parker’s DNA.  In this case, Peter Parker is lucky that he inherited that specific sequence to match his father’s.  On the other hand, we could also expect that some significant fraction of the population also has a matching or nearly-matching sequence, particularly if it’s a piece of DNA that provides instructions for important proteins.  So, let’s say that’s out.

Option 2: The venom requires an exact genetic match.  In this case, Peter Parker would have to be a clone of his father for the stuff to work as advertised.  Given that human cloning doesn’t really happen, I’m going to say this isn’t it.

Unless we assume that Parker gets his set of skills from a limited genetic match.  We could assume that it’s matching on the Y-chromosome – in which case, it’s good that Parker the elder didn’t have any daughters, but Peter Parker still can’t necessarily pass the trait on, and again, there will probably be lots of other people in the population with very similar Y-chromosomes.

Alternatively, it could be some gene for which Parker the elder is homozygous (has two copies of the gene that are identical), which guarantees that Parker gets at least one.  In that case, you’d only need to be heterozygous in the trait… but again, how does Parker plant to prevent Oscorp from just doing a check for genetic matches among its employees?

Option 3: The venom requires certain specific proteins encoded by Richard Parker’s DNA to work, rather than the DNA itself.  Either he has an unusual form of some protein, due to a point mutation or some such, or he has an unusual admixture of proteins.  Again, there’s no guarantee that Peter would get these, and also no guarantee that no one else in the human population would be a good match — in fact, there’s less of a guarantee, since there are multiple possible DNA sequences that can produce the same protein.

In short: I have no good rationale for how this would work with Dr. Parker’s claim.

Also, when did the hounded and framed Parker the elder have time to set up a secret lab and computer bank in a hidden unused section of the New York metro system?

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  1. michaelbusch
    2014/08/24 at 12:06 pm

    There is a possible way to ensure that all of one’s descendants have a particular genetic marker: something that exploits intragenomic conflict to ensure that all gametes you, and eventually your descendants, produce carry the relevant alleles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intragenomic_conflict .

    There are such alleles, which can work either by coding for the production of a toxin to which the presence of the alleles also confers resistance (i.e. kill all sperm that don’t have the required alleles) or by biasing meiosis such that the alleles preferentially end up in ooctyes. You would need a set of genes that does both of those to ensure that all of your descendants carry the alleles.

    And in order for this to work, Richard Parker would need to either happen to have such an arrangement himself, one which was extremely uncommon in the population as a whole, or have done some far-more-than-usually-effective gene therapy on himself a few months before the zygote that would become Peter Parker was conceived.

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