'The Amazing Spider-Man': We are PRO mechanical web-shooters. You?

Back in 2001, I had the opportunity to visit the Los Angeles set of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and watched the director and his star, Tobey Maguire, shoot the scene in which Peter Parker locks himself in his bedroom and plays with his newfound web-spinning powers. Raimi was a stickler for perfection that day, filming many, many takes of Maguire pretending to fire jets of silk from slits in his wrist across the room, ring and middle fingers bent back to his palm, the other three fingers extended like prongs. The webs erupting from the actor’s hands had to be imagined, but the floor of Parker’s bedroom — built on a soundstage on the Sony lot — was littered with hundreds of little pieces of kinky pasta-colored silly-stringish stuff. I swiped a strand when no one was looking — I didn’t think anyone would miss it — and it occupies a spot on a shelf in my office. I treasure it like a trophy… even if it most visitors to my office confuse it for a piece of trash.

This memory came to mind today as I found myself drooling all over the newly released pic of the web-crawler from director Marc Webb’s Spider-Man reboot, which now has an official title (The Amazing Spider-Man), and doting in particular on what appears to be a major point of departure from Raimi’s movies. Whereas the Tobey Maguire Spidey had organic web-shooters, it looks like the Andrew Garfield Spidey is packing mechanical web-shooters on those wrists, a la the Spider-Man comics. Many Spider-Man fans screamed “Heresy!” over Raimi’s deviation from the source material; it even inspired a protest site, the now non-existent no-organic-webshooters.com. The director’s famous explanation (and I’m paraphrasing here): He couldn’t quite believe that a teenage kid — even one was bright as Peter Parker — could be so smart as to invent something even the 3M Corp. hasn’t yet invented.

To be clear, EW can’t yet confirm that Webb is going mechanical. (When asked about them, Sony had no comment.) But I hope he is. Despite my romantic attachment to that Raimi-era web-prop, I did kinda side with the anti-organic crowd on this issue. With all due respect to Raimi, I loved that Peter was smarter than a 3M genius; it spoke to Peter’s character, and it imbued Peter with a hard-earned human ability that had nothing to do with the dumb luck of getting bitten by a radioactive arachnid. My mechanical web-shooter allegiance is also rooted in another nostalgic Spider-Man memory, one older and more deeply rooted. I vividly recall when the local newspaper in Seattle began carrying the Spider-Man strip written by Stan Lee and drawn by John Romnita when I was a wee lad, and the panel that seared into my brain is the one that often led the color Sunday installment — an image of young Peter working feverishly in his basement lab, cooking up web fluid and launching a torrent of synthetic string from his high-tech wristbands with the touch of a finger. The caption: “Possessing incredible ‘spider-powers,’ Peter Parker uses his scientific wizardry to operate an artificial web-shooter…” Goosebumps. At least for me.

So here’s me hoping Webb gives us a science stud Peter with THWIPPY! accessories on his wrists. (Not that I’m one of those fans who’ll cry “Heresy!” and wage a World Wide Web jihad the new film if those bulbous looking thingies on Garfield’s wrists actually aren’t what I think they are. In fact, they could be something else — like, say, a guidance system, designed by Parker, that allows him to better direct his organically-generated webs or create different web effects, from ropes or nets. That could be a compromise that pleases both the organic and mechanical camps.) How about you, Spider-Man fans? Organic or mechanical? And what do you think of the new costume in general? Some are saying: “Spider-Man 2099″ most because of the darker colors — which I like. A lot. You?


More on The Amazing Spider-Man:
The new ‘Spider-Man’ movie gets an ‘Amazing’ title — and a first look at Andrew Garfield in full costume
‘Spider-Man’ first look at Andrew Garfield in his costume: Why so serious?
Andrew Garfield cast as the new Spider-Man
Emma Stone officially cast in Spider-Man…as Gwen Stacy!
Rhys Ifans to play villain in Spider-Man
‘Spider-Man’ reboot taps Martin Sheen to play Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben
‘Spider-Man’: Denis Leary in talks to play Gwen Stacy’s dad
‘Spider-Man’: C. Thomas Howell joins the reboot


Comments (145 total) Add your comment
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  • therealeverton

    I thought James Cameron came up with the organic webs?

    I also never liked the web-shooters in the comics, even though Spider-Man was my favourite superhero for many years as a kid and the old I’ve run out of web fluid plot device was useful.

    It was never that believable the ” spider(s) imparted a knowledge of how to make web fluid” idea was kinda lame.

    • Julie Anderton

      The spider didn’t “impart” any web-making knowledge to Peter. As Jeff noted above, he came up with the webs all on his own.

      • BG 17

        There were some narrative threads in the Spidey-verse that had Peter explain it this way (that the radioactive spider imparted knowledge that helped him create the web fluid). I remember the ’90s cartoon in particular using this explanation.

      • therealeverton

        Like BG 17 says the “impart” web fluid chemistry has been mentioned in the 90s cartoon. It was also used to explain how Parker, very intelligent but NOT on the super genius scale of Reed Richards, Tony Stark or Black Panther, managed to create web-fluid at age 16 – 17.

        It’s out there and to be honest it’s lame. Some people like the original web shooter idea, some people don’t. Because people have been reading Spidey for nearly 50 years there are more people that prefer the Web-Shooters, because nostalgia and the idea that what was there in the beginning should never be changed, and some people will just think it’s better that way; but there’s also plenty, new fans and old (like me, Sam Raimi and Mr. Cameron) who just never fully embraced the web-shooters and felt the Organic webs in the movies.

        But let’s face it, it never stopped me reading Spider-Man, it hasn’t stopped me reading Ultimate Spider-Man and if the new Spidey film isn’t going to succeed or fail because Spidey does or does not have web-shooters. Anyone who gets too worked up about it either way needs to look at themselves really.

      • David

        I hope it’s still organic… There has been times in the movies where peter needed to quickly shoot some web for something out of costume, if it’s mechanical then obviously only web shooting when he’s in costume which is dumb..

      • Brian

        @David…doesn’t that make things tougher for Peter, and thus better dramatically? It raises the stakes if he can’t depend on always having webs at the ready.

      • Raheem Hosseini

        Right. A lot of Spidey writers like the idea of webshooters because they can malfunction or he can run out at inopportune times, adding to the peril of any given situation. Plus, the ingredients to make web fluid are pretty pricey, meaning the perpetually hardluck Parker is always hustling to make enough money to pay for them and other necessities.

        Personally, I thought organic web shooters were a more realistic touch, but this being a new movie, it’ll be nice to see how the makers differentiate themselves from the previous iteration. In other words, there’s room for both!

      • jordan

        I support mechanical web-shooters, but I disagree with your “better dramatically” argument. Raising the stakes should involve higher consequences rather than harder means.

        The organic vs. mechanical argument basically just maps out two completely different stories: Peter Parker is chosen by fate, or Peter Parker makes it happen himself. I personally love both, but for this trilogy to be different it needs to go mechanical. The fate story (as seen in Raimi’s Spider-Man) is the story of somebody who is acted upon, reacts, and eventually learns to act on his own accord. The make it happen yourself story jumps straight into the protagonist’s action without reaction. The unfortunate part of this is that the protagonist might fall into reaction too late in the story with regards to the antagonist, slowing things down.

        Meh, enough with story structure talk. Basically, I don’t think one is better than the other–but since this is being done so close to the “Fate” Spider-Man, I’m leaning towards a “Does It Himself” Spider-Man.

    • myprettypony

      Peter was a smart guy who invented the webs. And if Peter had “organic” webs, wouldn’t it shoot out of his butt?

      • therealeverton

        Biologically speaking most likely from under his tongue, but we’re talking about a guy who was turned into a super strong person with “spider-sense” and the ability to stick to walls, why not assume the webs would come out where they would be most useful.

      • Space Jam

        I recall an interview with Stan Lee where he said that is the reason he had him create the web shooters, rather than it being organic.

    • dom

      I though Raimi’s point was more along the lines of Peter not being able to afford to invent them rather than not being smart enough. And even if he did, how could an average teen afford to keep producing the webbing all the time? I’m sure they can write their way around that, but I think that was where Raimi was going with that thought.

    • Brian

      I’m for Mechanical shooters. They allow for some tension-building in the plot since he can run out of them and they show off his genius potential. Also, inventing the webs doesn’t make him too smart because he did try to sell them in the comics to get rich, but no one would buy them because he could never figure out how to make his webs last for more than an hour. So his web shooters show off his smarts yet only work well enough to screw him just a little bit more, which is a big part of the “Parker Luck.” haha
      That said, I do think it’s odd Peter didn’t get the one power that’s uniquely “spider” from the bite, though on the other hand he didn’t get multiple eyes or eight legs either.

  • ^..^

    I’m for the mechanical webshooters. If this was reality-based and Peter Parker really had organic webshooters after being bit by a radioactive spider, wouldn’t he be making a mess everytime he farted? Wouldn’t he be swinging by his rear end?

  • Dave

    Kind of hard to argue that one is more believable than the other.

    • Rob Grizzly

      This.

  • Jeff

    That’s Romita, not Romnita.

    • Tim

      true dat

  • Willa

    Wow. No wonder nerds are so ridiculed. A website dedicated to “protest” organic web shooters in a fictional character’s major film debut? Really?

    • DUH

      how is it any different than when a movie doesn’t follow a book correctly? people are passionate about things. give them a break.

    • John

      People love fantasy. Have you never noticed how many churches there are?

      • Jose

        Hahahahahahahhahaha so true.

  • Fred

    How about a compromise? The spider silk is organically generated, but Peter has to invent mechanical shooters that “relocate” it, as web flying out of his butt would be useless.

    • Psac

      Nice one.

    • Brian

      Because the film would be ridiculed to no end for giving Spider-man “butt webs.”

  • darclyte

    I agreed with Rami in that, even as a kid, I didn’t think it made sense that Peter would be able to come up with the webbing. If you buy into the world in which they live, it still didn’t make sense. I did like the organic better, although, yeah, why would it come out of his hands and not behind? Again, it’s a conceit for the story. They could have “fixed” that by explaining that the hybrid spider that bot him had been modified so that the webs came out of it’s front legs (but I don’t recall that they said that.) I do like the limiting aspect of the mechanical (if he runs out of fluid,) but on the whole I like the organic better.

    • AC004

      Ur all idiots… it’s not peter parker who invents the web fluid, it’s basically hid dad! yes his DAD! the little boy stumbles upon an old box in the basement full of his deceased dad’s research notes (he was a scientist), and there it was! the chemical formula for the “glue”, which wasn’t created because he died before he wanted to…
      And this is the part where his son steps in…!

  • Jamaaliver

    Doc Jensen is a nerd…

    I mean that in the nicest way possible.

  • steph

    I never even realized they were supposed to be mechanical – I thought having spiderlike capabilities would include making a web. I guess it only means he can climb around places? That seems kind of lame to me…but then, I’ve really only exposed to the Tobey Maguire Spiderman, not the original comics, so I don’t really know what the heck I’m talking about!

    • ^..^

      He has advanced strength and agility too.

      • steph

        yeah but when you think of a spider, the web is the big deal! And the 8 legs and innate creepiness.

        This is why I don’t read comics lol.

  • Kevin

    Is there a “Don’t Care” option? I LOVE Spider-Man and he’s probably my favorite comic book hero but this whole mechancial vs. organic webshooter debate made me realize that it doesn’t matter which route they go with just as long as they remain true to the character. I loved all the Raimi films (yes, I even have a soft spot for the third movie) and I will no doubt love the new reboot.

    On a separate issue, I want to thank Jeff Jensen for writing these “nerdish” articles. I used to read his analysis on LOST episodes all the time as well as his thoughts on the third Batman movie. Keep up the good work, Doc!

  • Jon

    Pro-Mechanical. One of the most intriguing elements of Peter’s spider-powers is that they derailed what would have been a more successful life. This guy would have been a hero of science – putting astronauts on Mars or curing cancer – but for the spider-powers that compel him to spend his free time (and not-free time) swinging around the city and punching The Scorpion.

    Plus they’re a cool plot device, and reinforce the fact that Peter’s powers aren’t really spider-based. It’s just his motif.

    • cheese

      but then there is the forced conflict. I guarantee you that there is probably going to be a part in the film where he is either flying around or fighting and he is like “oh no! I’m out of web!” It happened a lot in the 90s cartoon and it just got dumb after a while.

      • Jo

        I am actually looking forward to the scenes of “oh no! i’m out of web!” I am already swimming in the nostalgia from the 90s cartoon…

  • Rolo Tomasi

    Organic makes more sense, since what are spiders really known for? Do spiders have a spider sense that alerts them to danger?

    • Joe

      some do

    • Brian

      Spiders are also known (though not as much as for webs) for multiple eyes and for having eight legs, neither of which Peter got.

  • geek salad

    Because that’s what the other movies were missing…WEB SHOOTERS! Dislike. Dislike. Dislike!

  • Derek

    I have a certain nostalgia for the mechanical webshooters but it always begs the question: If Peter Parker is a scientific genius, why isn’t he using that ability for the betterment of mankind… or at all? “With great power comes great responsibility.” doesn’t just refer to spider powers!

    • allan21

      @Derek, You, like many others are using the phrase “begs the question” incorrectly. It does not mean what you think it means.

      • A-K87

        too right. you darn North Americans ruining OUR language. (joke)

      • Johnification

        Inconceivable!

    • Brian

      Peter can’t use his that specific example of his genius, because he never figured out how to make the webs a permanent solution, since they dissolve after an hour.

  • Galecki

    Definately mechanical. I was a HUGE fan of the comic books as a kid and young teen, and I quietly hated the organic wab-shooting of Raimi’s films (Although I think the films themselves, are spectacular)

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