Here’s an old chestnut from my screenwriting days. Back then, for fun, I used to enjoy creating three-minutes-or-less editorial screenplays of movies I’d seen which strained my credulity, patience or sanity on some level. In other words, I’d mock those movies by rewriting them. This was my take on Spiderman.
INT. UNIVERSITY LAB – DAY
TOBEY MAGUIRE, KIRSTIN DUNST and JAMES FRANCO attend a high school field trip to a college laboratory where for some reason, scientists are using a scanning electron microscope to study genetically mutated spiders that are visible to the naked eye.
TOBEY MAGUIRE: Look, I’m wearing glasses and carrying a camera and I’m mooning awkwardly over Kirstin Dunst. I am a nerd, not someone you’ve seen on People’s 100 Most Beautiful People list and certainly not anyone you’ve seen boinking Charlize Theron in a John Irving adaptation.
KIRSTIN DUNST: Hello, Tobey. Even though I’m class princess, I’ll be friendly to you so everyone will know I’m actually a good person and worthy of your geek love.
JAMES FRANCO: Even though Tobey is my best friend, suddenly deciding to take an interest in Kirstin will set up a love triangle subplot and may enlarge my role in this movie. Hi, Kirstin. How you doin’?
A genetically mutated spider bites Tobey Maguire. Despite the fact that most spider venoms attack and debilitate the nervous system, this one just gives Tobey a 24-hour flu and then he wakes up with superpowers.
INT. ROW HOUSE – MORNING
CLIFF ROBERTSON: Hi, Tobey. I’ll be playing your Uncle Ben—no, not the rice guy. Let’s share a bonding moment, then you can tell me to f**k off, then I’ll get killed to provide you with a superhero ethos of defeating evil and to leave you with nagging doubts about whether or not you’re actually just a prick in red spandex.
TOBEY MAGUIRE: Cool.
Uncle Ben gets killed, Tobey acquires superhero ethos and nagging doubts.
EXT. SKYSCRAPER ROOFTOP – AFTERNOON
WILLEM DAFOE: I am such a whore. What happened to me? I won so many accolades and awards for my portrayal of Max Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire, yet here I am chewing scenery as the Green Goblin. Why, oh why did I take the check?
TOBEY MAGUIRE: Stop whining, and cackle your lines.
WILLEM DAFOE: Aha, Spiderman, my arch-nemesis! I will kill you before you can stop me from…from…well, I haven’t got an evil master plan yet, but when I work out all the details it’ll be really great. And evil, too. By the way, James Franco is my son.
Tobey Maguire, now dressed in a space-age spandex suit that appeared out of nowhere, and Willem Dafoe, now dressed in body armor that was lamely introduced as some kind of military product in an earlier, contrived scene, fight in a sequence of very obviously computer-animated encounters.
Much scenery is chewed. Lots of stuff blows up. Innocent citizens and Kirstin Dunst are saved. The Green Goblin is killed.
EXT. CEMETARY – MORNING
KIRSTIN DUNST: Oh, Tobey! Even though Spiderman is hot for me and he’s way cooler and sexier than you, I love you and not him. Pay no attention to the fact that I’m dating your best friend, James Franco. You are the one I love.
TOBEY MAGUIRE: Kirstin, despite the fact that I’ve worshipped you from afar since we were in the fourth grade together, I must pretend not to share your feelings because you are dating James Franco and I just killed his Dad. Wait, that’s not a good reason…
JAMES FRANCO: Thank you for killing my father, Spiderman. I have succeeded in enlarging my role, and my payday for the sequel is assured since I’m now a handsome young guy with money to burn and an axe to grind against you. And I think I’m still dating Kirstin Dunst.
TOBEY MAGUIRE: Okay. See ya in the sequel, then.
AUDIENCE: We’ve never seen such a blatant set-up for a sequel. We are outraged, and will not be taken advantage of!
Where can we buy the limited edition action figures?