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Your 'Spider-Man 3' survival guide, with video

Since Spider-Man 3 is the summer blockbuster TR members most want to see, and it opens this Friday, I thought I'd cobble together a survival guide to the movie for the comic book-impaired. Above is the final full-length trailer to the flick, which has loads of eye candy and no less than three supervillains laying the smack to everyone's favorite webslinger. Here's your Who's Who:

  • Topher Grace as VenomEddie Brock, AKA Venom: This is the dude played by Topher Grace, the skinny kid from That '70s Show. Venom is one of Spider-Man's A-List baddies, though most comic fans have a love-hate relationship with the character since he's been badly over-used and has a complicated backstory (which everyone is curious to see condensed/made plausible in the new movie). In the comics, Brock is a reporter from a rival newspaper whose biggest story is revealed by Spider-Man to be false. His career ruined, Brock just happens to be in the same church at the same time when and where Spidey is divesting himself of an alien symbiote that forced him to be reckless, cruel and dress in a wildly popular black alternate costume. The symbiote and Brock hook up, sprout an anatomically impossible gator-grin, and proceed to seek vengeance against Spider-Man whilst wearing said wildly popular black costume. The movie version appears to have stripped down the character, though his visual look is more akin to Venom's comic-book offspring, Carnage. No word yet on where the movie version of the symbiote is going to come from, as the comic book version came about as a result of the first Secret Wars, which is way too complicated to explain in any brief setting. Suffice it to say, Spidey was at one point nearly naked on another planet and used an alien goo to fashion a hip new look. Rumor has it that John Jameson--Mary Jane's guy-left-at-the-altar in Spider-Man 2, who is also an astronaut and J. Jonah Jameson's kid--will bring the symbiote back from the moon. This is itself a nod to a different comic storyline, as in the funnybooks John Jameson is the Man-Wolf, who becomes a lycanthrope after bringing a cursed moonrock back from a space mission (which was also the symbiote's origin in the more recent Spider-Man: The Animated Series). Believe it or not, in comic book world, this counts as a simplified origin.
  • Thomas Haden Church as SandmanFlint Marko, AKA Sandman: This is the green-shirted dude played by Thomas Haden Church, better known as Lowell from Wings. In the comics, Flint Marko was an on-the-lam mob enforcer who, like a strange number of Spider-Man characters, got bitten by a radioactive [insert noun here]. In Marko's case, the noun was sand (seriously), so he became the world's most dangerous walking sandcastle (seriously). Think Imhotep from The Mummy, only without the power to summon zombies or the Ten Plagues of Egypt. In the comics, Marko has nothing to do with Uncle Ben's death, his dad does (sorta), but you gotta have a through-line somewhere, so the film Sandman is implicated in Ben Parker's demise. In the comics, Marko is obsessed with protecting his mother. In the film, Marko is trying to save his dying daughter. In the comics, Sandman isn't that bright and usually resorts to villain team-ups (including with Venom) to get stuff done, but he also tries his hand at being a good-guy now and again, with failed results. Even money says the movie Sandman has a moment of redemption, too.
  • James Franco as Harry OsbornHarry Osborn, AKA Green Goblin II: Played by James Franco, Harry has been in the last two movies, so everybody should know him. Based on the trailer, Harry decides to avenge his dearly departed dad, the Green Goblin (who died fighting Spidey in the first film). This syncs nicely with the comics, wherein the younger Osborn goes insane over the death of his father and takes up his mantle as the Green Goblin, eventually defeating and nearly killing both Spider-Man and Mary Jane. Only at the last minute does Osborn have a change of heart, and dies saving Spidey and MJ. Given director Sam Raimi's love and knowledge of the Spider-Man mythos--and the needs of the studio to kill off the the increasingly expensive Franco--its a good bet Harry takes a bullet for Spider-Man at some point in the new film. In various comics continuities, Harry Osborn is either the second Green Goblin or The Hobgoblin. No sure word on which moniker, if any, the film version will adopt. All we know is that the new villain looks more like a snowboarder (or Night Thrasher, one of the lamest superheroes ever) than a goblin.


Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...


The origin of the black costume came from Secret Wars comic limited series. Basically put a God called the Beyonder wanted to know which was stronger or better, evil or good. After watching the Earth play out this struggle he decided to kidnap equal amount of villians and super heroes. He commanded them to fight to the death and which ever side won got to go back to Earth. During the war Spidey's costume got destroyed and he ran out of webbing. The Beyonder provided both sides with bases that had food, servants, and a costume replicator. Spidey chose the wrong machine and a black orb hit and spreaded accross his body. Long story short the Beyonder realized that you cant have one without the other and he sent all combatants back home except for a few that escaped off the created planet. This was the first time the suit was introduced. He saw Spider Woman's costume and thought about it and it copied it. The idea of the suit and what it could do was the brain child of Todd Mc Farlane. The artist that revolutionized comics. He has had a bigger impact on comics than Stan Lee just in a different form. He is best know for his character Spawn and changing the comic paper from newspaper to high quality gloss paper. Todd likes his characters to be dark. He envisioned Spidey to be tested morally not knowing that the suit was infact alive. He was able to change his appearance through a mental command to any clothes he wanted, unlimited webbing, and increased strength. The suit was a symboite and needed to bond with him to be whole. The symbiote never experienced human emotion, love, fear, etc and didnt know how to control them because it was amoral. Eventually it took to crime fighting with Peter's body while Peter was asleep and ruined Spidey's name becasue it was hurting people. New York turned their back on him. Peter didnt understand and realized that he was having dreams of an internal battle between his old costume and his new. He went to see Reed Richard's Mr. Fantastic where he found out it was alive and the only thing that could hurt or kill it was sonic sounds. Peter was addicted to the suit and tried to stay away, but the suit escaped and found him and tried to bond with him. That is when he went to the bell tower to kill it along with himself. As the bells rang and his ears bled the symbiote fled and was wounded and needed a host. Eddie Brock saw Spiderman and followed him there witnessing it all. The symbiote latched onto him as Eddie embraced the power because they both hated Peter and wanted to destroy him. When the symbiote bonds wit hthe host they become one organism, they chose Venom as their new name. Eddie was no more. Later they had Venom have his inner struggle and when he talks he says we and me. The reason they got rid of the suit was the backlash of Marvel's flagship hero dressed in black and acting like a true vigilante, much like Batman in DC comics. Marvel caved into the reverting back to the original costume because parents were banning the comic book saying it was bad for kids. Venom is the only character that cannot trip Spiderman's spider sense because it almost bonded with Peter and masks his presence like he was Spiderman. That makes Venom one of the best villians for Spiderman. Harry was the Green Goblin, he just used all the formula and weapons that he found from his father's base to avenge his father's death. He went crazy from the serum and battled Spidey many times. The Hobgoblin was a mercenary that found Norman Osbourne's secret base of weapons. He was a joke. A great comic was the Green goblin limited series. It was a teenager that found one of the secret bases and said why not? It was realistic where someone didnt know what to do or how to do. Everyone thought he was a bad guy nad the last issue he saved the day destroying the suit.

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