Mechanical Web-Shooters vs Organic Web-Shooters


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

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.

Web Shooter

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.

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.

Your Star Trek Personality

If Spaced taught us anything, it's that every odd number Star Trek film is crap. But the greater question, perhaps the unanswerable question, is who is the best Star Trek captain? Friendships have ended over this, brothers against brothers, wives against husbands, good men have lost their lives over this. We can spit out endless data, figures, countless fake histories, and Kobayashi Maru results ad infinitum, and it won't change a thing. Some people simply gravitate to Kirk, some people gravitate to Picard, and some people are even partial to Janeway. Your choice of Star Trek captain says more about who you are than who they are as a captain.

What does your favorite Star Trek captain say about you?

Captain Christopher Pike – The Antagonist

Pikes are a distance sort with little in the way of communication besides the odd beep and blip. Liking Captain Pike says you have little self confidence. You are so closed in and sheltered that you identify with the most obscure captain possible. If Trekkers have problems relating to everyday life, Pikers have trouble relating to everyday Trekkers. And most likely Pike fans just like to argue for the sake of argument, when they do muster up social courage, it's mostly just so they can pick a fight.

Captain James T. Kirk – The Go-Getter

Kirk fans are a bit of a contradiction, they like to live life and they like to live it hard, but in the most out-of-date, predictable ways possible. Chauvinist? Yeah. Drunks? Probably. Pudgy? Almost always. The one thing about Kirk fans that you have to admire is they are not quitters, they are not afraid to fall and they are not afraid to get back up again. And don't get into an argument about who the best Star Trek captain is with them because they will not give an inch. They would rather cheat, lie, and go down in flames than give up.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard – The Problem Solver

The thinking man's captain, or, at least, the captain of the men who think they're thinkers. During Star Trek debates, they're cool and calm, 100% sure of Picards awesomeness. They take their time, analyze all sides of the problem, but once the decision is made there is no wavering. They say, “Engage,” or “Make it so,” and it's done. They're not always right, but they're always well thought out. Side not: whereas Captain Kirk fans think they're great loves, Picard fans actually are great lovers. The reason Picard was bald was because he was over brimming with such raw animal sexuality.

Captain Benjamin Sisko – The Humdrum

Captain Sisko was the captain of a space station, which means if you like Sisko, you are someone who is going nowhere. Star Trek as a series was about boldly going where no man has gone before, Deep Space 9 was about boldly staying in the same spot. Sisko fans are not bad decision makers necessarily, as long as all decisions maintain the status quo. Captain Sisko fans work the same job year end and year out, eat the same foods, go the same places (which are all roughly within walking distance of their apartments). Choosing Sisko also says you are a black nerd, or you enjoy sleeping with black nerds, or the thought of sleeping with a black nerd has crossed your mind.

Captain Kathryn Janeway – The Kiss Up

Not too many fans walk the way of the Janeway, not even hardcore feminists. In fact, most feminist would probably pick Picard. Janeway fans, for the most part, either don't have fully formed penises or do not have fully functioning penises. Mostly Janeway says that you're either a hermaphrodite or have erectile dysfunction. Seriously, if you're a fan of Janeway it's only because there is a cute little trekkie girl you're trying to impress with your open minded Janewayness. They are not impressed. Those type of girls only go for Kirks or Siskos.

Captain Jonathan Archer – The Optimist

Paramount executives would like to believe that Archer fans are nostalgic for the future, that was probably the pitch of Enterprise. Not so. Archer fans really, really, really loved Quantum Leap. In fact, they're still looking forward to all those Quantum Leap made-for-TV movies NBC promised us. Better get cracking Donald P. Bellisario. Archer fans also saw Necessary Roughness and Lord of Illusions in the theater, and are still pretty upset about that, too. Scott Bakula ... B+. Jonathan Archer... F-. Archer fans lived in the hoped Enterprise would get better just as they lived in the hope that Quantum Leap would return.

Even as a confirmed Asianphile, picking Sulu (Captain of the USS Excelsior) is just wrong and sad.

The Last Hiro Meter!

All bad things must come to an end and this is our final Hiro Meter. And I do mean final because chances are Heroes ain't coming back.

So, how much did Masi Oka shame the Asian race in 4th season finale? Not too much actually.

Hiro is a Zero

Hiro Meter

1. Hiro has not learned a damn thing... -1. The whole season was about not going around effing up the time line, and what's the first thing Hiro wants to do? He wants to go back in time... again. And mess things up... again.
2. Charlie just wants to be friends... -1. When old Charlie says she doesn't want Hiro to go back in time and get her, she's basically saying, "I'm sorry you misunderstood. I just want to be friends." She didn't even wait for Hiro to rescue her, she got busy in the past and she got busy hard, popping out little red head babies. If she thought of Hiro as her true love she would have had him go back for her, regardless of grand kids. He didn't even get an old lady kiss, which would have been awesome in a Harold & Maude sort of way.
3. Hiro got his banana peel... +2. Did I call it, or what? I didn't know exactly how Hiro was going to get his banana peel, but I knew he was going to save the world in the most insignificant way possible. Peter gets the big battle, even though Hiro was much more emotionally invested with confronting Samuel, but it was Hiro who ultimately saved the day through mostly shear goofiness.

And that's all she wrote for poor Hiro.

Though, one thing that did bother me about Hiro this season was him saving Charlie to being with. A lot of fans wanted Hiro to save his "true love" Charlie, but the problem I had was Charlie was not his true love. Charlie died in season one, but it was made clear that she was going to die anyway, so going back and saving her from Sylar was an empty gesture at best.

Hiro's actual true love was Yaeko, the blacksmith's daughter, who was presumably raped and tortured by Adam Monroe the second Hiro went back to the future. That's a far worse fate than death. But he leaves poor Yaeko to that and rescues Charlie instead... why? Because the actress who plays her, Jayma Mays, is on the show Glee. So, in the end, Hiro doesn't really even get a real romantic connection, but just a little fluff around a cheap walk on.

Cartoon Clean Plate Club

Kobayashi who? Joey Chestnut what? The best eaters have always and will always come from cartoons. Great eaters aren't made, they're drawn. Cartoon characters can eat massive amounts of food, often in one bite, with little to no ill after effects. Cartoon eaters came in two sizes: ultra fat and model skinny. Most are super strong, but all of them are supernatural eaters.

Great cartoon eaters come from all corners of the world, and represent different things to different cultures. In Japan, huge eaters are heroic... often lumped together as the good natured, slow witted strong man. Innocent, invincible, and with insatiable appetites. Large meals apparently fuel their punching power and fireballs. American and western animation often depict the big eater as the total opposite. Fat, slovenly, and cowardly, often clumsy and almost always comic relief. When bad guys attack, nine times out of ten they're cowering in closet clutching a hoagie.

Top 12 Cartoon Eaters

Wayne Gretsky

12. Wayne Gretzky (ProStars) – Not much is known about the mythical Wayne Gretzky. We know he skates, on what or for what purpose anthropologists still have no clue. We know he's blond and possibly Canadian. And that's it, that's all the data available. So, when they made ProStars (a cartoon about athletes who for some reason have to save the children) the producers had to make up all kinds of Gretzky tidbits like some fictional sport named “hockey” and his incredible appetite. I presume they made Gretzky such a big eater because of his vague resemblance to Shaggy.

Winnie the Pooh

11. Winnie the Pooh (Winnie the Pooh) – Winnie got his honey filled butt stuck in a tree trunk trying to eat more honey. That pretty much sums it all up. The view of most Winnie the Pooh fans is that heart disease is ok because it's just plain adorable. Pooh bear (as they call him in the hood) ate so much honey, I assume that real bears must love honey. If a bear attacked me in the woods, I would throw honey at it and assume I'd be just fine as it gets its head stuck in the pot. Winnie the Pooh's stomach has ruined my chances for wilderness survival.


10. Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece) – Luffy is perhaps the dumbest and hungriest fighters in anime. Perhaps the dumber an anime character is the more he has to eat to make up for said dumbness. Luffy has a rubber body and stomach that makes it easy to stuff in vast quantities of food (powers he got by... yes, eating. A magic fruit in Luffy's case). Rubbery arms also makes it easier to steal from other's plates. Luffy even eats when he's sleeping.


9. Nibbler (Futurama) – Nibbler is actually not much of a nibbler. He's more of a swallower. A swallower wholer... of mostly living animals. With skinny eaters, the joke, of course, is that no matter how much they eat—2x, 8x their body weight—they stay razor thin. Nibbler isn't merely skinny, Nibbler is tiny. He makes a great pet though since you don't need to cook his food (a whole zebra will do), his stool is dark matter, and he's sentient. Let the The Feast of a Thousand Beasts begin!


8. Naruto (Naruto) – Naruto is a ninja and a ramen eating machine. Naruto is another simple minded, yet powerful Japanese character. And as eaters go, he's just a couple of steps beyond what a real person eats, but he has a demon fox sealed in his stomach, so that has to count for something. The reason Naruto is so high is because he's so indelibly linked to his food of choice. As ninja turtles are to pizza, Naruto is to ramen. His favorite ramen dish involves hard boiled eggs... that sounds like a great fat kid bet (as in, I dare you to eat this, fat kid). Remember that ramen is super high in calories, so it's extra impressive he manages to stay so thin.

Monterey Jack

7. Monterey Jack (Rescue Rangers) – Monterey Jack has a fever and the only cure is more cheese. Monty actually has a pretty bad cheese addiction, a Chip N' Dale intervention is probably in order. His severe cheese withdraws cause sweats, hallucinations, and the shakes. Not to mention, the mere scent of cheese makes Monty float, a quality of all good fat cartoon characters... that and sucking the meat off of chicken bones.

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Wes Anderson's Spider-Man

Great parody by Jeff Loveness and Prussian Sunset. I love Wes Anderson and I love Spider-Man, so I would have no problem if this movie actually existed.

I'm a Sam Raimi fan, but the project has to move on, and Sony and Marvel could actually do worse than Anderson. Rushmore is one of my favorite movies, and Spider-Man 2 is my favorite comic book flick, so let's make this happen. I'm serious. He did a fun job with Mr. Fox, I'm sure he could handle Spidey. Maybe, the big face off is a bit of a let down, but the entire Spider-Man 3 was a let down, so who cares?

I felt after Spider-Man 3, Raimi seemed kind of done, his webshooters were dry as they say. I don't think it was his fault it was awful though. The person I would love to see banned from a new Spider-Man franchise is Avi Arad, chief creative officer of Marvel Entertainment. He's the one who pushed Venom into Spider-Man 3. If he's involved it will just be about making toys and selling merch.

Of course, the other problem with Spider-Man 3 is the lack of respect for the source material. One problem with all comic book movies is that the screen writers think they're better than comic book writers, so they feel confident that whatever trash they put together will be inherently better than a comic book simply because they themselves are better than comic book hacks. It's this hubris that is ultimately the undoing of most comic book films.

Comic books have a vast mythology and legend associated with them, and whether or not it's intentional or by accident is irrelevant. To ignore this mythology is giving a middle finger to every comic book fan that ever lived. And, of course, Spider-Man 3 is just one gigantic middle finger. The essential problem though is that Venom is a promotional character created for the sole purpose of dollars and cents. There is no myth worth telling. Here's the comic book back-story on the symbiote in case you didn't know. During the Secret Wars (A mega Marvel cross-over pitting every superhero vs. every supervillain created by marketing douchebag, Jim Shooter), Spider-Man tore his costume up and needed to use a costume making machine, but went through the wrong door and found an evil symbiote machine instead. No lie, that's the story. There is lots of substance to the Eddie Brock character and Venom, but still at the end of the day he's just a wrong door.

But anyway, no matter who they tab to revive the Spider-Man franchise, whether it's Marc Webb or whoever, let's hope it's someone with the right balance of goofiness and reverence, and with the gnards to say, "Avi Arad, you're kind of an idiot." My vote's for Anderson :P

Hiro: The Scrappy Doo of Heroes

Masi Oka Meter

Another no show for Hiro, and since it's the second week in a row, that's an automatic negative two. Pat Morita was on Happy Days more than Masi Oka has been on Heroes. I guess the only alternative to work him on the show would be to pop his head up and say, "Me so horny." Because they can't work him into the show through clever writing or anything like that.

What's more though than his absence is that there's no hope for more appearances. No Masi previews, no integral Masi story line. I hope Hiro's story line this season didn't end with that terrible dream sequence. However, all seasons of Heroes basically end the same way.

The Scooby Doo Ending

Scrappy Doo

Although, he bears a striking resemblance to Scrappy Doo, Hiro actually plays the Shaggy of Heroes. See in every season, Hiro plays some small, mostly wacky yet vitally important part to the seasons climax. The gang has set up the trap, Fred/Peter Petrelli tries to lure in the Monster/Sylar, the net doesn't spring, and Daphne/Claire does something girly in the corner. This is when Shaggy/Hiro slips on a banana peel and collides into the Creature/Sylar thus foiling his plans. And, of course, we reveal the twist that monster is really Linderman or Peter's dad or whoever in a cheap Sylar rubber mask.

Hiro never has a big role in saving the world, but give him his god damn banana peel, NBC. It's all he has.