Peter’s Web, a series of full-length Spider-Man fan films, released its first episode on the web this week. Initially covered on FCT last fall, the 80-minute debut is subtitled “Issue 1: Becoming The Spider,” and follows the classic origin story before segueing into the famous “Death of Gwen Stacy” storyline.
A passion project for Roger King, work on the series began two years ago for the writer, director, editor, costumer and coordinator (I probably missed a title there), who also played Spider-Man, Peter Parker, Electro, Hobgoblin and Green Goblin in the flick. Much of the film is downright jaunty—everyone’s trying his best, but the main goal is clearly to have fun. No one is painfully serious about the production; they know it’s a fan film, not Sophie’s Choice.
That said, King’s put a lot of effort into the movie—the effects are pretty good, there’s lots of coverage (huzzah! A rarity for fan films), and the editing throughout—particularly during the fight scenes—is great, creating a cheerful, lighthearted pace. Prior to creating these films, King reportedly never owned or operated a camcorder, let alone worked solo on a movie project; as a result, he had to learn everything from directing to prop design. Did he learn anything as an actor? Well, he’s rough around the edges, but King gives his Peter Parker a likable gawkiness that sells the character, even though he looks nothing like Spidey’s alter-ego (and it’s only fair to mention that King is officially the most in-shape person ever to play Spider-Man, as proven by the scene where newly bitten Parker discovers he has muscles).
Putting aside the usual fan film issues of a low budget and variable acting skills on display among the sizable cast, the main obstacle that “Issue 1″ faces is that we know these stories too well. Fan films typically present an alternate view, telling tales that viewers haven’t seen before; in this case, however, the same two stories were the basis of Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man feature film, and in the fan film world, Dan Poole covered the same Gwen Stacy territory in his legendary 1992 effort, The Green Goblin’s Last Stand. In fact, a few scenes in Issue 1 seem to pay homage by intentionally replicating parts of Poole’s production. Thankfully, King doesn’t feel the need to swing off a six-story building like his predecessor; for the full, wild story of Green Goblin, check out my fan film book, Homemade Hollywood.
While Issue 1 may occasionally get sandbagged by the feeling that we’ve seen this before (because we have), that shouldn’t be a problem for upcoming installments of the six-part series, which will include Doctor Octopus, Bullseye, Mysterio, Chameleon, Eddie Brock, Kraven, The Lizard, Curt Conners, Vermin, and even some cameos from Reed Richards (Fantastic Four) and Bruce Banner (the Hulk). So if you don’t feel like getting caught up in Peter’s Web at the moment, wait a few months for those additional episodes to start showing up online. Things could get really interesting.
NOTE: The entire film can be found streaming from the Peter’s Web website (every visit is greeted by auto-streaming, which is slooooow due to demand). Those who want to simply download the flick directly for viewing can grab it at http://www.bagandboardproductions.com/Site/Media/medium-1.m4v