Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Mary Jane Equation

Some days back, pictures of Shailene Woodley walking the New York set of Amazing Spider-Man 2 surfaced, causing a bit of an uproar. Without pretending I know the minds of the people, I'll just say there is one loud group of people who saw Woodley, probably out of makeup, and declared her unfit for the part. Mary Jane IS a model, after all. Another group is rushing to Woodley's defense, offering encouragement, compliments to her looks and acting ability and even going to far as to say if we don't think she is pretty enough for the film, we don't deserve the film. It's a bit extremist, I know, from both sides, but so is the internet. Allow me to state my side of things.

I am a nearly 40 yr old male who grew up with comic books. When I first started reading comics, they looked like this...

When I was on my way out from reading comics (a brief 12 year hiatus), they looked like this...

Everyone was jacked up, super cut with exxxxxtreeeeme abs. Where you could once identify the ethnicity of any character, now, most folks looked like the same race in different shades ...and there was no such thing as an A cup anymore. Skin tight for the tight for the women..all things being equal.

Now, we aren't going to argue that comics are nearly complete fantasy, right? Surely, they have the ability to be anything the writer and artist want them to be, speaking for the people in times of turmoil and such...but for the most part, we are talking ladies and gentlemen in tights, correct?

Marvel Comics always spoke directly to me, as they seemed unafraid to inject that level of realism in topics mirroring my life. Spider-Man is a great example of this, as our hero struggled with doing what is right, masking his identity to keep his loved ones safe while painfully keeping new potential loves at a distance, and all the while working a job to support himself. No Hall of government bankroll or rich parents...just Peter Parker and a camera set to capture the action as Spider-Man takes his licks against Rhino, Electro, Doc Ock, etc...and more often than not, trashing his gear in the process. You could feel for a hero like that, and so when your downtrodden super-type scores a vivacious woman like Mary Jane, we cheer. We laugh that she is WAY more woman than someone like Peter Parker can handle, but we pull for him none-the-less.

That right there is an element that makes us love the Peter Parker/ Mary Jane scenario so much more. PETER PARKER IS TOTALLY OUT OF HIS LEAGUE. He is out played in looks, out classed in style and out maneuvered with the merest wink. Mary Jane knows it too, but with the words "Face it Tiger, you just hit the jackpot", she gives him a shot, perhaps seeing something in him worth holding onto...and keeping her around long enough for that feeling to turn into love. Now, I've gotten all mushy and am blatantly wearing my geek on my sleeve, but this does not diminish the facts at hand.

1. Peter Parker is a poor shlub that struggles with nearly EVERY choice.
2. Mary Jane is a knockout.. and she knows it, and to give a kid like Peter a second glance is a kindness we can all smile about.

So while this is a bit extreme...

So is this.

And so is Wolverine with his shirt off for 20 issues of any given X-Men run I can recall. They are comic books. If everyone looked real, fought crime in pleasant fitting clothing and depicted a realistic average body type, I think you'd have way less readers. It is all fantasy. I don't watch Die Hard to see John McClane wrestle with taxes.

That said, I will begin my rant. In a world where any pasty, overweight or doughy physique'd funny guy can have an insanely hot girlfriend or wife, why oh why is it so hard for Hollywood to give Peter Parker the Mary Jane that knocks him out of his shoes like Charlie Brown on the pitching mound??? Kirsten Dunst is a beautiful girl and a fine actress, but I found her lacking the fire to set Peter's world ablaze, not to mention the measurements to bring him to his knees. In that same regard, Shailene Woodley is a beautiful young woman who may be an excellent actress, but I see her and wonder why they paired a 14 yr old looking girl with a 20 yr old looking, nearly 30 yr old actor. Worse for her, she is being brought into a world where Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy (who irritatingly DOES look like Mary Jane when she has red hair) is already capturing all of Peter Parker's attention. ????!!!! comes down to this. Are we making THIS Spider-Man movie...

Or this one.

I know the word WE once again has me showing my geek, as WE have nothing to do with the film, and I will have no say in the final cut just like the pretty Shailene Woodley will not be recast any time soon. I'm just forever perplexed by the choices made in these moments. What makes one studio look at this young woman and say THAT is our Mary Jane...and another studio look at ..saaay...Megan Fox ....and think THAT is April O'Neil?? (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rant coming soooon)  Like the old Tootsie Pop commercial says...the world may never know.


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