FILMS BASED on comics are not always successful. But this summer's blockbuster, Spider-Man, is not at all bad. The original comic superheroes were Superman and Batman. Their adventures in the 1940s laid down rules that dominated the industry for the next 20 years.
Both characters existed in their own selfcontained universe, Metropolis and Gotham City, instead of New York. Their only concerns were, would Batman stop the Joker and would Superman beat Brainiac? In 1962 Spider-Man arrived to overturn the rules. His creators, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, tried to portray a more realistic superhero.
Their creation, Peter Parker, is a shy, bullied teenager who is given spider-like powers in an accident. His first response is to try and make money by going into showbusiness. Popular for the first time in his life, Parker becomes arrogant and that leads to personal tragedy. Torn by guilt, Parker becomes a vigilante trying to do good.
The Spider-Man comic became a bestseller. It was a soap opera in which Peter Parker had to fight money, work, family and relationship problems as much as exotic super-villains.
Fans could identify with a character who travelled by bus and worried about the rent, and the comic remains one of the industry's leaders today. Sam Raimi's film stays true to Spider-Man's basic premise as the 'everyman' superhero. At the same time it looks really good, with state of the art computer generated effects.
It's first and foremost an action film, but there's also a nice anti-corporate thread that runs through it.