2) Spider-Man vs Sandman
- Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man. Played by Tobey Maguire.
- Flint Marko, aka Sandman. An escaped convict with a heart of gold, Marko seems like a vicious thug but really commits all his crimes to help his sick daughter (awww). In a fan-maddening retcon, this movie “reveals” (i.e., invents) the fact that Marko was not only the partner of the crook who robbed the wrestling arena, but also the one who really killed Uncle Ben… then at the end of the movie they undo the retcon, but only slightly. Anyway, while on the run from Johnny Law, Marko fell into a suspiciously unguarded scientific experiment involving some sort of weird new radiation and a pit of sand, so of course now he’s a sand monster. In addition to being able to shift his body into pretty much any sand-like shape he wants, Sandman is effectively invulnerable against conventional attacks: the harmed pieces of his body just turn into sand, and eventually they re-form. He’s pretty much the T-1000, but with sand… and short of a handy lava pit, there seems to be no guaranteed way to kill him. It should be noted that composer Danny Elfman, at the behest of Raimi (as always, showing his campy roots), devised a musical theme for Sandman that’s something straight out of a 1950s monster movie. It’s simultaneously laughable and irresistible. Played by Thomas Haden Church, in the midst of a very unexpected career resurgence.
The Setup: After getting the hang of his abilities in a poignant scene, Marko decides to return his old past time of reluctant crime, in order to pay yet more medical bills for his cherubic little daughter. For his public debut, he opts for the tried & true route of attacking an armored car in broad daylight. He enters the vehicle while it’s still moving and takes out the security detail.
Unfortunately for him he didn’t try this in some nearby city that doesn’t have its own superhero, because New York’s current favorite son, Spider-Man, notices these goings-on and swings into action. Flint tells the vigilante to back off so he won’t get hurt, which Spidey brushes aside.
The Fight: Cocky as ever, the hero dodges the first punch and throws a devastating counter… which goes harmlessly through Marko’s chest.
Sandman retaliates by enlarging one of his fists (that’s a thing he can do) and knocking Spidey through the back of the vehicle. He only barely keeps up by webbing back on to it and getting dragged from behind on a piece of broken door he rides like a skateboard.
Marko gets on top of the van to escape (seems impractical), and Spider-Man launches a few web bullets at him. They form a few temporary holes in the crook’s chest, but mostly just seem to annoy him. A bigger inconvenience is when Spidey gets to the top, avoids Marko with some nifty spin moves and kicks Sandman’s legs right out from under him. Literally.
But even while just a torso, the villain is formidable up close, and knocks Spidey away onto a bus while he rebuilds himself. Undeterred, the hero comes back and clings to the side of the van, which unfortunately leaves him wide open to a hammer-shaped blow from Sandy that knocks him clear through the other side of the van.
Parker survives, but the vehicle is out of control. The hero just barely saves the two drivers from an impending collision, and when he checks back for Marko, his new foe is gone, though he had to leave the money behind.
Spider-Man retreats to dump sand out of a boot (who knows how many other crevices it got into. Somewhere, Anakin Skywalker nods understandingly) and wonders where the heck all “these guys” come from.
A short, varied introduction to what Sandman can do. Both characters behave believably under the circumstances, with reluctant villain Marko fighting intensely & but savagely, and Spidey adapting rapidly to the situation. Sandman’s practically intangible nature makes anything resembling extended fisticuffs laughable, so Raimi & co had to come up with some creative acrobatics in order to compensate. Setting the whole thing in and around a moving car during heavy traffic ups the ante as well. Nothing special but a respectable placeholder.
Coming Attractions: Spider-Man’s deadliest asset is the thing ability Sandman doesn’t have: the ability to change clothes.