Swinging from Hemisphere to Hemisphere

From the Island of Formosa to the Land of the Free, Spiderman's Web Catches our Hearts and Minds

A boy is abandoned by his parents and raised by his aunt and uncle. He excels at photography, but isn't exactly Mr. Popularity in school. One day, he is bitten by a radioactive spider and develops superhuman powers. Upon gaining these powers, he sets out to fight crime. Splat! He now shoots spider webs out of his wrists. Flashes of red, black and blue flash through the air as this newly uniformed superhero swings from building to building. Through his intuition and determination, he is ready to save his city and the rest of the world, because for him, "the choice to lead an ordinary life is no longer an option."

You don’t have to be the world’s biggest Marvel comic connoisseur to know this story.  These are the ever familiar sights and sounds of the classic Spiderman since its creation in 1962. If you’ve read one issue or seen just one of its many film adaptations, you probably had a grip on this article’s topic from the second line in. Spiderman is a timeless tale of one of America’s favorite superheroes. As evident in the story, Spiderman transformed into this heroic cross-breed of a vigilante from a geeky, average Joe teen, which is probably why people from so many backgrounds can relate to it. Aside from the fact that Peter Parker uses his recently gained powers for the greater good, it is nearly impossible to not feel empathetic for a working class orphan who embodies the term “underdog” in so many ways. For this reason, the comic and movies alike have captured the attention and emotions of so many Americans, and the newest “Amazing Spiderman” has certainly been no exception. I was reminded very recently, though, that this common admiration for a boy turned bug is not by any means limited to the citizens of the story’s origin.

The world premier of 2012’s Amazing Spiderman hit box offices in multiple countries before making its debut in the States. Ironically, I saw one of my childhood heroes on the Taiwanese big screen five days before Americans had the chance. I had the pleasure of seeing it in Taipei’s Warner Village Cineplex. This is a massive movie theatre located smack in the middle of the Xinyi District. It is just around the corner from the shockingly skyscraping Taipei 101 building, and surrounded by a square of clothing shops, restaurants, tea stands and street entertainers. From posing fashion models to hula-hoop twirling acrobats, crowds always amass to watch such outdoor entertainment ensue.  If there is a Taiwanese version of Times Square, this is certainly it. It is a prime location in this country’s capital city, and the scene on the weekend of Amazing’s debut was nothing short of a madhouse.

Aside from the number of ticket sales and limited theatre space, I was surprised by the volume of excitement and appreciation for Spiderman's return. The endless lines to buy tickets were on the low end of the chaos. What were even bigger were the lines to take picures in front of Spiderman posters, figurines, framed photos and life size scultpures. I could not believe how many people I saw within such a giant age range scramble to have their photo taken in front of any form of advertisement of memorabilia. From ten year-old, sugar infused kids to cane carrying grandpa's, it was a must to not only grab a seat to see this film, but to leave the theatre with proof of having done so. Peter Parker was apparently not the only one who was bitten. It appeared that every customer in sight had some sort of Spiderman fever. At one point during the screening, a kid nearly fell into my seat on his way to the refreshment stand, as he tripped while doing a spider crawl through the aisle. Upon his return, he was once again imitading his idol, this time, to my relief, more gracefully.

It is hard to believe that ten years ago this remake with Toby Maguire debuted in our very own AMC Essex Green Cinema. It is even harder to believe that I was only fifteen years old. When I heard the news of the new Spiderman this year, I thought that it was going to be a fourth edition for the Maguire series. I was baffled to realize that Marvel was restarting the saga, as it was the ten year anniversary of its last remake, and the fifty year anniversary of its very existence. I can remember the hype in 2002 as a West Orange youth amidst a sea of crazed Spidermaniacs, but in all honestly my memory from the theatre is lacking some serious detail. Perhaps I took it for granted as a comic book bred American, or perhaps I am just getting old and forgetful. If one thing is for sure though, ten years down the road, if there is another remake of this timeless and apparently mapless comic book icon, I can safely say that I will clearly remember my experience in Taiwan. 



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