Today the teaser trailer dropped for Spider-Man Lotus, a fan film project! It looks really good.
I’m absolutely OVERJOYED to finally have a live-action Harry who looks like his comic book counterpart! Love the shot of him standing in Times Square, which is one of my favourite places in the world. Love that MJ’s smoking, her counterpart in the mainstream films never got to do that. Love the suit! Love EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS in fact.
You can follow the creators on YouTube and Twitter if you wanna support them! I actually contributed a bit of money at the beginning and I think I made a good choice…
Harry and Peter chat 60s-style, except of course thanks to the sliding timeline none of this ever happened in the 60s! So we’ll have to imagine what era-appropriate sex symbol Harry “really” referenced at this point.
Ah this is all so sad to read fifty years on, knowing what will be changed and retconned.
Harry and Peter flirt with Gwen, Harry somewhat more successfully than Peter.
Oh here’s Kraven! (He was introduced in ASM #15 if I remember correctly so readers of the time would’ve already known him.) But more importantly: romantic entanglements! I still don’t know what the relationship between Harry and Gwen really was at this point because dating just seemed to be different in the 60s? I think these days we’d call it like, a non-exclusive casual relationship I guess.
Whether or not they ever hooked up hooked up is up to you really but honestly I imagine they probably did.
In these panels! Harry reminds us he’s rich, the boys are awestruck by the girls dressed up, Gwen looks jealous of MJ in the background there and wow there used to be a time where women could hang out wearing short skirts in the middle of the street and not get sexually harassed so much they went back inside?
Uh, one way in which the early Marvelverse differs from ours I guess.
MJ and Gwen participate in a dance-off which the boys, ur, appreciate. Then in bursts a man wearing a dead animal and he wants Harry!
Flash attempts, with endearing bravado, to save Harry. Harry gets in a few punches but to no avail.
Ah, the days before Harry’s hatred for Spider-Man set in. Also awww, that panel of Gwen and Flash helping Harry is sweet. The Flash-Harry friendship is almost completely forgotten about these days but it was a nice one.
Huh Norman sure got there quickly.
Ahh if only Peter had tried that same technique with Gwen. (Too soon?)
Annnd there ya go, back in the days where Marvel could tell a story in one issue instead of six.
I have a feeling this story was given a retelling of sorts at some point in a much later comic, but we’ll deal with that when we get to it.
Now at the end of the last one of these I said, since Vietnam is coming into the story now let’s find out what Stan Lee actually thought about the Vietnam War. And that’s the thing, that information is kinda hard to find. There’s an extent to which Lee has sort of I guess been a bit lionized over the years and plenty people think he was labelled more of a progressive than he really was. But I think he was progressive for his era, it’s just that that doesn’t always mean, “was good.” It means… well, it means they were progressive in the original sense of the word and that’s that. So that Washington Post article linked to there, here’s the cached version which isn’t behind a paywall, it says,
In the midst of the antiestablishment riots of 1968, he convened a panel for a failed talk-show pilot in which he repeatedly denounced radicalism; asserted that Black people needed to respect the law; and said the Vietnam War may have been immoral, but had to continue for the greater good.
But we don’t have any direct quotes from this so it’s still hard to pin down his exact opinion. Now on this Marvel site I found this quote from Lee:
Now it’s important that you bear in mind that this yarn [Iron Man] was written in 1963, at a time when most of us genuinely felt that the conflict in that tortured land really was a simple matter of good versus evil and that the American military action against the Viet Cong was tantamount to St. George’s battle against the dragons. Since that time, of course, we’ve all grown up a bit, we’ve realized that life isn’t quite so simple, and we’ve been trying to extricate ourselves from the tragic entanglement in Indochina.
And these comics we’re talking about here were written in 1967. Enough time for Lee to have grown up, I guess. And in the Stan’s Soapbox columns he apparently expressed hopes the troops would come home. Do any of the characters in these issues serve as his mouthpiece re Vietnam then? Does Harry? Well, let’s find out.
Here’s issue #44, where Harry and MJ meet for the first time. This one little scene and everything within it is going to have massive ripples throughout the Spidermanverse, many of which continue to this day, for better or worse. (Usually worse, let’s be honest.)
Harry is friendly here and Flash is…Flash, as has been the case for the past 4 or so issues. But the spectre of Vietnam is hanging over all this.
On to #45. Awww, all the boys have colour-coordinated their outfits, that’s nice.
Here we begin a long, nice tradition of Harry being super generous dude frequently prone to giving out jobs and, as we’ll see in a minute, apartments. Yes this lasted into the ’00s comics which I was always glad about, it’s a very intrinsic part of his character.
Now Harry appears to be dating MJ, or at least getting close to her. The first days of the Harry/MJ romance are actually something I don’t think ever got delved into that much in later comics, despite all the potential for great character moments there. The 1963 audience didn’t know it at this point and possibly neither did Stan Lee, but both are abused and damaged children frantically putting on masks.
This one little panel here sows the seeds for so much stuff that happens later. But more on that (and more on how even to this day MJ and her percieved shallowness is blamed for Harry’s downward spiral) in the future.
Now we’re in #46 and Harry has now secured Peter a job offer and a free apartment. Nice. Their friendship is cemented by this point, as you can tell, and it took under 15 issues! God I miss the much, much faster pace of Old Comics.
The gang exchange some wonderful 60s slang and plan a going-away party for Flash. “He’s the first one of the crowd to be drafted,” Harry says. But that makes me wonder, and bearing in mind that this is an era I know very little about except what I got via cultural osmosis… Did Harry and Peter expect to get draft notices too?
So, time to cram my brain with information about the draft system. The draft lottery didn’t start til 1969, so going back from that… If you were in full-time education, as Harry and Flash and Peter all are here, you didn’t neccessarily have to serve… if you were a good enough student.
These thousands weren’t selected at random. Instead, the Selective Service System (SSS) instituted a system of academic evaluation under which local draft boards would defer students based on intellectual ability. This ability was determined by two factors: class rank, and score on a national aptitude test known as the Selective Service Qualification Test. Undergraduates with a high class rank, or a test score above a certain cutoff, were draft-exempt. Everyone else could be sent to the front.
So I suppose the implication in these Spider-Man comics is that Flash wasn’t a good enough student to avoid military service. Peter as a science genius I guess probably would have been. (Remember this panel from a couple issues back?)
But Harry… was Harry a fortunate son?
“It ain’t me, I ain’t me, I ain’t no millionaires’ son…”
But Harry probably was. Norman’s exact wealth wasn’t actually stated in the early days I think, but it’s safe to assume he’s pretty dang rich. And, says the New York Times (surprisingly one of the sources of Vietnam War draft info not outright blocked or paywalled in the UK, christ I hate the modern-day Internet)-
It was no coincidence that those men who already fit the middle-class mold of domestic masculinity — those men who were college students or teachers or scientists — received deferments.
It was a very classist, racist system. I feel like writing anything more along the lines of “So how did Spider-Man and his best friend avoid the draft?” trivalizes that in a way, so we’ll be back to business in a minute.
Now comics-wise Spider-Man: Life Story tackled Vietnam quite a bit, but due to the Marvel sliding timeline Vietnam just doesn’t factor into the Spider-Man story anymore. Flash didn’t fight, Iron Man wasn’t there. And I sort of think that’s a shame, and one of the reasons I have very conflicting feelings about ongoing comics as a medium. If you’re going to tackle very real, very bad things that happened in real life you should commit to them, you know?
So back to Harry. For whatever reason you want to have in your head – his status as a student, his father’s wealth, something else (it actually feels pretty in character, at least eventually, for him to be an objector?) – he’s not going to Vietnam and neither is Peter.
But of course, even that one specific part of the story is far from done.
Since today is Spider-Man day I decided to watch Spider-Man 3 for the first time in years, along with two spiders who came in to watch their hero.
Spider-Man 3 is VERY uneven, you can see all over the place where rewrites were hastily done. I would kill for a version of this film that was actually how Sam Raimi intended it, but it’s probably not coming. (despite my occasional pleas on social media)
I still like it though! I still really like it, because I love all the characters and always will.
Some thoughts! Bearing in mind the last time I saw the movie all the way through must’ve been at least five years ago. If you wanna read thoughts from the past (most of which are still my present thoughts) on this DUMB BEWILDERING BEAUTIFUL CHEESEFEST, check out the tag marked “raimispidey”!
-Rosemary Harris/Aunt May is the beating heart of this movie. She puts in such a good performance and god I hate how underrated May is in more recent Spidermovies. Why did you make a Spider-Man movie where Iron Man is more important than Aunt May and Uncle Ben put together, Disney. Why.
-Speaking of things Disney fucked up, Peter is poor in this movie, which is what Spider-Man is supposed to be. He doesn’t have immediate access to fancy tech, he lives in a crappy apartment, he can’t afford nice things. I hate the MCU’s thing where all the heroes have to be flashy and rich, gaaaah. It feels like such a betrayal of Spider-Man’s importance.
(I’ll shut up about the MCU Spideys now. My apologies.)
-Peter at the beginning of this movie is so obsessed with himself he’s basically this meme come to life:
-I like all the little subtler things this movie did to highlight Peter’s descent into darkness. One of the police reports Peter ignores in favour of pursuing Sandman is something about “an elderly man in the middle of the road” which is the same way Uncle Ben died…
-Mary Jane is a jealous, resentful, petty, overemotional mess of a human being and I LOVE HER SO MUCH.
-Harry Osborn is still one of my favourite fictional characters ever (Go read The Child Within or the Son of the Goblin collection) and oh MAN I wish he wasn’t played by James Franco, since James Franco is a massive creep and all. Sigh.
-I appreciate that this movie doesn’t actually retcon Peter being partly responsible for Uncle Ben’s death. If Peter hadn’t let Dennis Carradine escape Carradine wouldn’t have surprised Flint Marko and the gun wouldn’t have gone off. It still all leads back to him.
-Of course, if Marko hadn’t had to steal money in order to save his daughter’s life he wouldn’t have been there in the first place, so the biggest villain in all this is really the American healthcare system. (I’m not joking, I’m really not.)
-Peter cries A LOT in this movie, and I approve. Honestly he’s the first action-movie hero I can remember actually crying.
-How have I not mentioned Ursula yet? I love her and her five minutes of screentime. She is the most MINOR of minor characters but she is a MAIN CHARACTER IN MY HEART (and fanfiction)
-I also love her dad, I remember in Spider-Man 2 he seemed like kind of a seedy douche and I wrote him so in fanfics but in this one he’s just a nice wacky dude.
-You know when the cops are hunting Sandman in the sand truck? When that one cop thinks he’s found him he raises his shovel right up to strike and if he’d actually hit human-Sandman he would have probably killed him instantly. When I first saw this movie back in 2007 I remember thinking, “Wait that can’t be right, a cop wouldn’t aim to just casually kill someone like that.” Well. Sigh.
-Harry’s death scene is legit very sad. The music and the fact he dies just as the sun comes up, oh man my heart. It’s also taken pretty much directly from the comic:
(the kid is Harry’s kid, who has yet to make it into a movie)
-Gwen is so sweet and nice in this film. (She was much more bad-tempered in the comics, which no-one ever remembers.) She even apologises to MJ for something that wasn’t remotely her fault! Hey if you wanna see Raimiverse MJ and Gwen interact more you oughta read this fic I wrote.
To celebrate the occasion, here’s some of my favourite ladies from fiction!
Row 1: Amy Pond (Doctor Who), Sephy Hadley (Noughts and Crosses), Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Rose Tico (Star Wars), Elsa (Frozen/Disney), Melissa Chartres (The Last Man on Earth)
Row 2: Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings/Middle Earth), Quinn Ergon (Final Space), The Thirteenth Doctor (Doctor Who), Princess Bubblegum (Adventure Time), Jane Foster (Thor/MCU), Amy Santiago (Brooklyn 99)
Row 3: Brook Soso (Orange is the New Black), Nebula (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Erica Dundee (The Last Man on Earth), Kitty Winter (Sherlock Holmes), Rose Tyler (Doctor Who), Briony Tallis (Atonement)
Row 4: Meredith Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Missandei (Game of Thrones), Rey (Star Wars), Donna Noble (Doctor Who), Carol Pilbasian (The Last Man on Earth), Esmeralda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame/Disney)
Row 5: Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones), Ash Graven (Final Space), Tiana (The Princess and the Frog/Disney), Sophia Burset (Orange is the New Black), Misty (Pokemon), Clara Oswald (Doctor Who)
Row 6: Bill Potts (Doctor Who), Mary Brown (Paddington), Mako Mori (Pacific Rim), Gwen Stacy (Spider-Man), Jackie Tyler (Doctor Who), Ursula Ditkovich (Spider-Man)
Row 7: Yaz Khan (Doctor Who), Mary Jane Watson (Spider-Man), Marceline (Adventure Time), Michelle (10 Cloverfield Lane,), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow/MCU), Mantis (Guardians of the Galaxy (MCU)
I’m really behind on 616 continuity but I’ll do my best!
general opinion: fall in a hole and die | don’t like them | eh | they’re fine I guess | like them! | love them | actual love of my life hotness level: get away from me | meh | neutral | theoretically hot but not my type | pretty hot | gorgeous! | 10/10 would bang (but it varies from artist to artist really) hogwarts house: gryffindor | slytherin | ravenclaw | hufflepuff best quality: Is SO MUCH BETTER than his circumstances could’ve made him. Also is generous and kindhearted and mostly a good friend worst quality: I want to say he has none but he has plenty. He was pretty horrible to both Peter and Liz in his Green Goblin days ship them with: PETER, also Liz, also sometimes MJ, he’s a very shippable dude brotp them with: also PETER, and MJ, and Gwen misc. thoughts: Please MCU writers if you include him don’t fuck him up please please please
Mary Jane Watson
general opinion: fall in a hole and die | don’t like them | eh | they’re fine I guess | like them! | love them | actual love of my life hotness level: get away from me | meh | neutral | theoretically hot but not my type | pretty hot | gorgeous! | 10/10 would bang hogwarts house:gryffindor | slytherin | ravenclaw | hufflepuff best quality: Overcame a shitty upbringing to be confident and brave and compassionate worst quality: Used to be kinda flighty and immature but soon got over it ship them with: PETER, sometimes Gwen every now and then brotp them with: Gwen and Harry mostly misc. thoughts: Why, why why wasn’t Zendaya cast to play her instead of a kinda amalgamation character who shares part of her name, she’d have been so good (I mean, she was good anyway, but still.)