With an all new Spider-man movie on the horizon, we get to go back to the age old debate of mechanical web-shooters vs organic web-shooters. With a second chance, do film makers go with the new or return to the old? Ten years ago the idea of anything but Spidey's mechanical web-shooters was blasphemy—something of venomous debate, at the least—but three Spider-Man films later (two of them good), and it really turned into something of a non-issue. The casual moviegoer just cares that Spider-man is web slinging and swinging around town, and not so much how he's slinging.
Oh, just thinking of it makes me want to strap on my web-shooters and swing like I've never swung before, swing, swing, SWING, feel the wind through my hair... No, no, back to web-shooters.
Mechanical web-shooters are the standard for all web-shooters. As a kid, I must admit that I didn't understand if Peter Parker had spider powers why did he need a device to shoot webs. The reason it's a mechanical device is because spider's in nature do not shoot webs, they spin webs much the same way your grandmother knits a horrible Christmas Sweater. The original idea Marvel was to shoot webs at bad guys, and in the first design by Jack Kirby, Spider-man had a web gun (he also had a web shield and was a little more than a Captain AmeriSpider). Steve Ditko changed the design to the wrist mounted web shooters we all know and love, why? Because it's cool, that's why. And also because if a Batman has cool gadgets, surely a Spider-man would have gadgets just as cool.
How do they work? Spider-Man's web-shooters are steel bracelets with a trigger on the palm that releases a pressurized stream of web fluid. Typically held in tiny web cartridges, all of which conveniently fit under his form fitting Spider-Man costume. The trigger is pressure gauged for his two fingers and that's why he does his little devil horns. This is so Spidey can make a fist and open doors and go to the bathroom without getting webs everywhere. Although a pressure spring shouldn't really be able to tell the difference between 65 pounds of pressure from two fingers or four fingers or leaning against a wall. The trigger causes web fluid to spray, becoming a hardened sticky string with exposure to air. Web fluid being a synthetic polymer adhesive not entirely unlike nylon, and its this web fluid that will eventually lead to creation of organic web shooters.
Back in days of yore, around 1991, James Cameron and Co. came up with the legendary “scriptment” that contained the now infamous “organic web-shooters.” Cameron might not have come up with the idea, but it was his will and fame that kept it in script after script until Sam Raimi arrived on the scene. The idea was that it's simply unbelievable for a high school student (as nerdy and science clubby as Peter Parker may be) to invent anything even remotely resembling the web fluid. It was Raimi's belief that if an actual scientist can't make web fluid then Parker would have no chance. So, instead of inventing a device, Peter mutated spinnerets in his forearms.
This is just another classic example of screenwriters thinking they're better than comic book writers. The real reason producers couldn't let go of the organic shooters was because it came down from upon the mountain... from James Cameron himself (Cameron's initials are J.C., Jesus's initials were J.C.... coincidence?). Film makers prodded Marvel so much about these organic web-shooters being better, that comic writers were actually forced to incorporate them into the comics! Yes, Peter Parker grew wrist spinnerets, and they worked exactly the same as the as original web-shooters, he even had to still use his devil horn trigger finger.
My problem with the organic web-shooters is the explanation. Raimi said they did this for believability, but if the audience was willing to suspend disbelief enough that a radioactive spider give a teenager super spider power, I don't think you'll lose them with mechanical web-shooters. In fact, wrist mounted web slingers are actually the most believable element of the whole Spider-man mythos. Other things that don't exist in real life: the Batmobile, adamantium, invisible jets, and jets boots, hand repulsers, unibeams, and just about every bit of Iron Man technology.
The organic web-shooters are actually far less believable because spiders do not produce webs through any of their eight legs. The spinnerets are located at the rear of the spider's abdomen, or, in the case with human/spider hybrid, on Peter Parker's ass. Yes, Spider-man would have to swing from his butt and fart at the Green Goblin. A biologist on the this History Channel's Spider-Man Tech, I think trying to be a little more discrete, suggested that our salivary glands could conceivably mutant to produce webbing, but definitely not his wrists. Additionally, the artificial webbing was designed to dissolve after an hour (great for cleaning up after spider parties), if Peter Parker produced his own webbing, there's no telling how long it would last. Spider-man would most likely poop out enough webbing to encase New York City several times over.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Wolfie G. Nards on 02/17/10 at 12:21:49 am . Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.|