spiderman 3

A Movie Meme

(image from here)

I found this prompt meme at coffee, classics, & craziness and I’m joining in! Yay!


#1 Use a different movie for each prompt
#2 Add photos and/or explanations of how your choices fit the prompts
#3 Tag a few friends to play along

Let’s see what we got.

1. A Partridge in a Pear Tree — movie that involves agriculture

OH NO. Okay… Hmm. WAIT! My husband just HANDED ME the most obvious answer. The Martian, a space movie which I love, all about a guy who survives on Mars by growing potatoes. (It’s much, much more interesting than I make it sound there.)

Home to a really good line about humanity and the world:

“Every human being has a basic instinct: to help each other out. If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”

2. Turtledoves — movie about a long-lasting relationship

Back in 2007 this movie ripped my heart out, stamped on it, put it back in, then kicked it upwards through my brain and out my head.

I speak of course of Atonement, the tale of a doomed romance and some beautiful, beautiful dresses. In the end, Robbie and Cecilia can’t survive World War II or the British class system. (Yeah, the British class system, not Briony, is the villain of this story.) But Briony ensures via her writing that they have a long-lasting relationship anyway, and I cry.

3. French Hens — movie that takes place in France

Okay, it’s a toss-up between two movies here, both based on works by Victor Hugo: Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables. And… despite the fact that it has virtually nothing at all to do with the book… I think Hunchback juuuust takes it, because it’s a gorgeous, interesting, progressive-for-Disney film, and I love it.

I can’t even choose one shot from this movie so just have the opening one. And hey! The titular church didn’t burn down this year! It’s still there!

4. Calling Birds — movie where people talk on the phone

Okay, I’m gonna stretch the definition of “phone” a bit here and show you something from The Phantom Menace:

Qui-Gon’s space phone (commlink, sorry) is actually a Gillette Ladies Sensor Excel Razor, or a close approximation of. THIS MOVIE COST 115 MILLION DOLLARS. I love it.

5. Golden Rings — movie with multiple romances

There could only ever be one choice here.

I’m sorry I knoooooow Love Actually probably isn’t really all that great as a movie and it’s so cheesy and corny and up-itself but I love it. It’s like a warm Christmas hug. (And I don’t even really like Christmas, so…)

6. Geese A-laying — movie with a birth or that features babies

So before there was Baby Yoda, there was this equally adorable fella:

And I think his presence is enough to qualify Guardians of the Galaxy 2 as a film that features babies. No births though, unless you count the birth of a god or the birthing chamber stuff on the gold planet or various “rebirths” of characters. Wait… GOTG2 is surprisingly birth-metaphors-heavy actually. Who knew.

7. Swans A-swimming — movie where someone goes swimming

Okay, so maybe this isn’t so much “someone goes swimming” as it is “someone tries to swim and nearly drowns” but…

I can still remember the music from that bit in Fellowship of the Ring after all this time. My god, the last quarter of that movie kicks all kind of ass and tramples on my feelings, I love it so.

“I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee. And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”

8. Maids A-milking — movie with cows

Okay, this can only be Children of Men. (A film that I very nearly put at #6.) Why? At the film’s pivotal moment we get this beautiful, striking scene featuring a whole lotta cows.

I think it’s meant to be reminiscent of Mary in the manger. And I love it so much. Please watch Children of Men, it’s so harrowing but so good, it’s amazing, I promise.

9. Ladies Dancing — movie with a dance scene

AM I GONNA DO IT? YEAH I’M GONNA DO IT. I’m gonna put Spider-Man 3 in here. Yes, that one.

But not for that dance scene… or even that one. You know the much-derided ones I mean. The one I like is this one:

Harry Osborn (in his various incarnations) is my Second Favourite Fictional Character Of All Time, and Mary Jane is pretty high up the list as well, so it was nice to see them have a moment of happiness before one of them dies. Honestly, that’s it. (I unapologetically love Spider-Man 3, even if only for Harry. I admit it. I’m sorry. No wait, no I’m not.)

10. Lords A-leaping — movie about athletes

Aw dang… I’m not good at this genre. But I do really like Noel Clarke’s Fast Girls and no-one else seems to have seen it, so I’m putting it here. I really need to watch it again actually. It suffers from Unnecessary Forced Heterosexual Romance In An Almost All-Woman Film Syndrome but eh, what doesn’t.

(Yeah, the Noel Clarke from Doctor Who. And yes, that is a pre-mega-fame Lily James.)

11. Pipers Piping — movie with someone playing a musical instrument

Wait, NOW I can get Les Miserables in here. During the very start of the “Drink With Me” scene Grantaire (my First Favourite Fictional Character of all time) starts running his hands over a broken piano.

It doesn’t make any sound of course, but that’s so much more poignant than if it had.

12. Drummers Drumming — movie with characters in the military

I don’t really get to go to the cinema much these days but one film I did see this year was Tolkien, which kinda delves in a little into how Tolkien’s experiences in the First World War inspired his writings.

It didn’t get very good reviews, to my surprise, and I suppose the dispute with Tolkien’s descendants definitely didn’t help, but I liked it. It definitely didn’t shy away when depicting the horrors of World War I.

And that’s that…

You should definitely do this meme if you want to! In fact, please do!

I spotted a rare Spider-Man 2 post in the wild,

This one to be exact:

and it reminded me of how much I love, love, love that movie, and particularly this scene.

Throughout Spider-Mans 2 and 3 I’ve noticed Ursula serves as a sort of stand-in for how Peter treats women. I once did that PUBLISHED PIECE (aaaaaah) about how that much-maligned dance scene in Spider-Man 3 is actually Peter Parker straight up partaking in street harassment. He’s not trying to catch the attention of men, just women. Bothering them in a public place.

And throughout that whole infamous montage Peter mistreats Ursula, too, demanding she bring him stuff and generally being totally rude to her. He’s stopped being a gentleman and turned into an obnoxious, inconsiderate douche. Before, she brought him food because she clearly wanted to make a connection with him, and now he’s taking advantage of her good nature.

I know, I knoooooow. Spider-Man 3 is considered one of the worst films of all time, was disowned by its own director, etc etc etc. But I still really and truly love it for its “every mistreatment of women is UNEQUIVOCALLY WRONG” streak.

(Also because it’s the only good film adaption so far of Harry Osborn, BUT THAT’S ANOTHER STORY)

Anyway! I’ll be seeing Spider-Man: Far From Home this weekend, probably, but no matter how good it is I don’t think I’ll ever love a Spider-Man movie as much as Spider-Man 2. Does it have a chocolate cake scene? Does it have Ursula? Does it?!?!?


Spider-Man 3 (2007) dir. Sam Raimi. Whatever comes our way, whatever battle we have raging inside us, we always have a choice. My friend Harry taught me that. He chose to be the best of himself.

OKAY SO remember that essay about the Raimi Spider-Mans and misogyny that I said I was working on a while back? I’m still working on it. And I think the movies really do have quite a lot to say about nice-guy-ism (via Eddie and Gwen), and about violent misogyny (via Norman). But they have a lot to say about more casual forms of sexism too! Surprisingly so! Which brings me to –

No-one likes the dancing scene. Even I don’t like the dancing scene. But there’s something interesting about it: the reactions of the women on the street around Peter. Even in those gifs, you can see it – women hurrying past him, or giving him dirty looks, because he’s making them uncomfortable. When Peter starts pulling dance moves on women on the street, they look disturbed and change direction.

Then the dancing montage cuts away to him ordering Ursula, his smitten next-door neighbour, to make him more cookies. Then he starts harassing MJ while she’s at work. And so on and so forth…

Which is interesting, because Peter up to this point has been the model of respect towards women. He‘s like the least likely person ever to harass women on the street, he can barely talk to MJ at first! But suddenly he’s been possessed by a symbiote that gives him aggression and bad hair. Okay, let’s go with that – except it’s clearly said in the movie that the symbiote enhances the existing characteristics of its host. That embarrassing, annoying guy who thinks he’s entitled to women’s attention? Apparently that’s as much Peter, in some sense, as Spider-Man himself is. Man, that’s saying…something kinda awkward about the Everyman Peter’s meant to represent. We just got a whole montage of him making women uncomfortable and basically non-verbally catcalling them, even before we get to the bit where he starts picking fights with his ex-girlfriend.

Like, whatever you think of that scene, I think it’s interesting that the movie went out of its way to show that. It’s a totally cringeworthy scene, but I sometimes wonder if maybe it was meant to be, just not for the reasons we thought.



The original Spider-Man trilogy is campy and cheesy and it probably hasn’t really aged well, but I love it so much and will absolutely recommend it to anyone who likes the MCU simply because (as seen above) it is just so thoroughly uncynical and virtually everyone from Peter to Gwen to Aunt May to Peter’s neighbour to random bystander #563 is SUCH A GOOD PERSON

Me personally, I think it has aged well, sheerly because it never deliberately anchored itself to one particular generation/demographic (unlike one particular reboot which I will not name), but rather it was just an incredibly earnest representation of the source material.

What I loved so much about this series is that it never tried to run away from the “comic” aspect of it being a comic book movie. When I say that, I don’t necessarily mean that it was overly hilarious or was filled with zingers like a Joss Whedon production, but it was never afraid to embrace levity and even more camp aspects, and as the OP stated, it was just so incredibly UNcynical.

It took bits and pieces from canon and melded it with modern storytelling that allowed for a fresh and contemporary narrative throughout all 3 films (yes, even Spider-Man 3). It never tried to cut off any of its potential audience, it never tried to appeal to just ONE particular clique through the use of fumbling dialogue and an indie soundtrack, but rather it’s story focused on the people involved. Underneath the costumes and superpowers, these were honest-to-goodness lives that people were living, from trying to hold down a steady job to getting the rent paid, these were stories that anyone could get on board with, which is why I find myself incredibly disappointed when people just dismiss this franchise sheerly because they might not consider it “relevant” anymore.

It’s an incredibly human story, unafraid of depicting moments of weakness, unafraid of showing us that even our idols can fail, but also unafraid of being disarmingly sweet to show that people are often inherently valuable and kind, thus imbuing the series with a simple, yet undeniable humanity that never had to be forced, but rather we just naturally rooted for and gravitated towards.

It was light-heartedness, solemnity, and gravitas all rolled into one, and it is a tone that I have not seen in any vein since Christopher Reeves’ Superman films, and I don’t think I’ll see again in a superhero series to come, which is why I hold the original Spider-Man films in such high regard.

You nailed it, darn you!

I have a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff from these movies (books, DVD extras, that sort of thing) and they all come back to “We loved this story, we loved these characters, we loved this city and we loved the folks we were working with”. Sure, you can’t really count on any part of the blockbuster-making machine to be 100% sincere…but I really like to think they were.

Few things have disappointed me more than the recent backlash towards these movies.  Even the universally mocked Spider-Man 3 has a hell of a lot to offer (more than a lot of other superhero films, actually), and if I’m being honest, no other franchise – not even Star Wars, not even Lord of the Rings – has had the sheer effect on me that the original Spider-Mans had. As much as I love the MCU (and I do) it’s never quite nailed the “there’s a hero in all of us” theme that was so integral to the Spider-Man trilogy. Like, you know that headcanon post going round about Brooklyn residents sort of adopting Steve Rogers and standing up against his enemies? An idea like that is what the entire climax of the first Spider-Man hangs on! (I’ve actually seen quite a lot of MCU and ASM headcanons that just make me think “The Spider-Man trilogy already did that. Go watch it!”)

S’like, yeah, these fims are about superheroes, but they’re also about goodness, really. Illustrated in Peter, of course, and illustrated in MJ and Aunt May and Harry’s sacrifice and Otto’s redemption, but (crucially) also illustrated in Ursula, the shy young woman who brings Peter food even though she can barely talk to him without awkwardness, and in the train passengers who put themselves at physical risk protecting Spider-Man from Doc Ock, and in Gwen who’s so sweet and nice she apologises to another woman for something that wasn’t her fault, and in Peter’s landlord who was really far nicer to him than he deserved at that point in time, and…I could go on, but you get the idea. Basically? When I was sixteen – and still, ten years on – I finished watching Spider-Man 2 and I wanted to be like Spider-Man.

But I also wanted to be like Ursula.

The Mary Jane Watson of the original Spider-Man films gets a hell of a lot of flak. She’s usually labelled a ‘no-personality damsel in distress’, before then being called some variation of ‘a clingy, whiny, self-centered two-timer’. Quite aside from the fact that her detractors accuse her of having no personality before immediately going on to describe her personality (well, a small part of it), they’ve somehow managed to miss why she’s ‘clingy, whiny and self-centered’:

Because she was abused!

This isn’t a minor detail, either: it’s very clearly shown that MJ’s abusive father affected her self-esteem massively. In a scene between Peter and MJ in Spider-Man 3, she’s upset – really upset – because of a mildly critical review. Like, really mildly critical. Peter can’t understand why. “That’s a critic, that’s just something you’ll have to get used to.” But MJ can’t understand why he can’t understand. “I look at these words and it’s like my father wrote them.” She’s been told her whole life she’s worthless, why should it stop now? It’s an overreaction, but it makes perfect sense.

Know what else makes perfect sense? MJ’s tangled relationships with men, especially Peter and Harry. She dates Harry straight out of high school, and hey, I love Harry, I really do – but he wants a say in how she dresses, for God’s sake. He loves her but (probably due to coming from a loveless household himself) he’s a terrible boyfriend. And MJ’s doesn’t even quite trust him to accept her- she’s sensitive about the social divide between them, between ‘trash’ and people like the Osborns, but she sticks around anyway, because, like I said, Harry loves her, he thinks she’s beautiful, and he’s rich and good-looking and if someone like that (or John Jameson, another rich and successful young man) wants her how worthless can she be? MJ wants a man in her life, she wants to prove her father wrong, prove she is loveable – if one man lets her down, maybe another one won’t. As soon as Harry fails her she turns to Peter; as soon as Peter fails her a movie or two later she turns back to the now more grown-up Harry. And before you ask, yes, I’ve lost count of the amount of times she’s called ‘slut’ or ‘skank’ for this by fandom, whereas the boys get away with virtually every instance of unpleasant behaviour towards her.

I’m not saying MJ is a saint, mind. Actually, that’s pretty much the point: she isn’t. Leaving John Jameson at the altar with a note was really quite cruel; when she lost her job she should have told Peter about it; she should also have had a proper conversation with him about the Gwen situation; and she shouldn’t have prejudged Gwen herself (a totally innocent party throughout all of Spider-Man 3) so harshly. MJ fucks up, you know, she really does – but that’s okay. The movies don’t judge her for her sex life, her rough patches, her frequent need for reassurance, or her ambition. When Norman behaves in a downright misogynist way to her (remember him leering at her chest mere minutes before he calls her a gold-digger? She’s nineteen at most at that point. I think he deserved that stab in the dick) we aren’t meant to think he’s right, we’re meant to think he’s horrible. Yet I’ve seen an unnerving amount of people agree with him. Which is absolutely endemic of a wider problem, but anyway – back to MJ as a person –

There’s more than one kind of female character, and I am absolutely, absolutely here for the flawed, messed up, not-really-all-that-kickass ones. MJ’s clingy because she wants to be loved, she’s ‘whiny’ (sigh) because people treat or have treated her actually really badly, and she’s self-centered because you know what abusers try to do? Deny their victims a sense of self. Almost every part of MJ’s life is trying to prove her father wrong, trying to fight back against her abuser by succeeding in life and loving others (and herself) the best that she can, and I think that makes her easily as good a role model as Spider-Man. The movies themselves seem to agree with me. How about you?