**Superheroes Anonymous** Tragically I am a Batman. An obsessive Caped Crusader comic-book collector until 1972 when my evil mother tossed the entire bunch in the garbage. My cousin was Spider-man. His noble mother preserved his collection with plastic envelopes and to this day they remain in pristine condition. What's truly tragic about being a Batman is that, despite Nolan's recent attempts (and questionable sincerity), the best Batman movie hasn't been made yet. As far as we know, with Batman's fate resting with Warner Bros, David Goyer, Zak Snider and Ben Affleck, the best Batman movie will not be possible for another decade or two, maybe three. I await thee Dark Knight. Again to my cousin's good fortune, the best movie about Spider-man has been established for quite some time. In fact, as a benchmark, it is arguably the best comic-book super-hero movie ever made. I didn't much love Sam Raimi's first Spider-man, and wished my mother could have disposed of his last entry, but _Spider-Man 2_ was, and is, the ultimate movie adaptation from comic-books to the movie screen. I was living in Shanghai in the summer of 2004 where I had to commute 3 hours on a hot and dizzy day to see it in English, and was fully rewarded for the effort. I was thrust into a imaginary super-hero world far more pleasing than anything I could remember since childhood. The 3 hour commute back home seemed like a breeze because Spider-man 2 awoke the wonder-struck boy inside me. It reminded me of a happy youth I forgot I had. It felt like Spidey was on the subway with me and would protect me from any harm. And he was just a boy himself! Batman? Who's that? For a super-hero story, nearly everything is perfect in this movie. Doc Ock couldn't have been better. He looked exactly the way he did, at the height of Stan Lee's eminence, in the brightly coloured panels fighting Spider-man in 1968. And sounded just like I imagined he would. Peter and Mary Jane were in their element and their friendship and romantic undertaking actually mattered. The story and action played out the way a comic book should. It was both intimate and fantastic. Trippy, wonderful and scary. It was like growing up all over again. The climax was a bit too flashy, loud and over-the-top at that time, but by today's standards, when compared to climactic train-wrecks in _Man of Steel_, _Iron Man 3_ and _The Avengers_, it's perfectly splendid. We are now being helplessly bombarded with comic book movies attacking us from every direction, all of them trying to out-do each other, jumping one shark after another. Every marginal superhero from Dr Strange to Shazam is being dusted off and hurled onto the big screen for our insatiable happy-childhood-appeasing appetite. The Marvel of Disney is launching at us one theme-park roller-coaster ride after another. Sony, with their Amazing Spider-man abominations, has completely lost it. Fox's X-Men and Fantastic Four proliferations hit the wall long ago. And DC, under the reigns of Warner Bros, has transfigured into its own worst enemy. A wretched mutation not even the Joker finds amusing. Turns out Sam Raimi's _Spider-Man 2_ is the gold standard by which all comic-book movies, certainly those of the super-hero variety, are and, evidently, will be set. Lucky cousin.
I don't think anyone can review this movie better than what Roger Ebert said about it back in 2004: "It's a real movie, full-blooded and smart, with qualities even for those who have no idea who Stan Lee is. It's a superhero movie for people who don't go to superhero movies, and for those who do, it's the one they've been yearning for." I also don't think any film has so eloquently defined a hero the way Aunt May does in a wonderfully heartfelt and poignant scene half way through the film. I do think the villain of Doctor Octopus is underdeveloped in both logic and motivation (although Alfred Molina is great), Mary Jane Watson is too dependent on the men in her life, and the friendship arc between Peter and Harry is a bit contrived, but none of these flaws affect what is otherwise a beautifully constructed film and a worthy sequel to the original.
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