John Gholson is a lifelong comic book fanboy who has previously covered all manner of superhero news at AOL. After dabbling with comic book self-publishing in the '90s, John moved on to study sequential art at the Savannah College of Art & Design. You can also read his Avengers Countdown here at Movies.com.
“Begone!! This swamp is mine!”
Those are the first words uttered in the first panel of Amazing Spider-Man #6 (1963) by the Marvel super-villain known as The Lizard. Already we can see how the movie will differ strongly from the first appearance of the character in the comics. While I’m not yet sure if The Lizard speaks in the upcoming Marc Webb film, I’m certain there are no scenes in the Florida Everglades, which is where most of Amazing Spider-Man #6 takes place.
The comic opens with The Lizard chasing a bunch of inappropriately well-dressed people from “his” swamp. Word is spreading pretty fast across the country about this strange creature, a brand new urban legend of a lizard-man terrorizing decent Floridians. Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson seizes the opportunity to cash in on Lizard-mania by putting out an open challenge to Spider-Man on the front page of his paper, despite not believing that the creature exists or that Spidey is brave enough to be interested.
What Jameson doesn’t count on is that Peter Parker is very interested. Seeing this as a way to provide some good exclusive photos for his employer, Parker puts on his Spidey gear and ambushes Jameson in the Daily Bugle offices. He’ll take on the challenge if Jameson sends a photographer down there to Florida for some good photos of the battle. Of course that photographer turns out to be Peter Parker.
Upon arriving in the Everglades, Spider-Man goes right to the location of the last reported Lizard sighting and, after a brief encounter with The Lizard, decides he’d be better off enlisting the help of local scientist Dr. Curt Connors. Unlike the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, where Dr. Curt Connors is one of Peter Parker’s teachers (played by Dylan Baker), or the new film, which finds Rhys Ifans’ Connors as a man with a link to Parker’s parents, under the employ of Norman Osborn, Curt Connors first appears as simply the closest reptile expert to the incidents relating to The Lizard (though we know why).
Spider-Man is shocked to learn from Connors’ wife that the good doctor is The Lizard. Haunted by the loss of his arm in a recent war and searching for a way to restore body parts and organs, Connors creates a regenerative serum derived from reptiles. After one successful experiment, Connors takes the serum himself, but transforms into The Lizard, leaving his family behind and sucummbing to more animalistic, reptilian impulses. These moments, scripted by Stan Lee, are highly reminiscent of the 1956 film The Fly, to the point where I have little doubt that Lee was at least subconsciously influenced by the movie (The Lizard even scrawls a goodbye letter to his wife and child, while he still has some influence on his human side).
Spider-Man, with the help of Connors’ notes, creates an antidote that should revert The Lizard back into a man again. Now Spidey just has to get close enough to the super-strong creature to get him to take it. Unfortunately, The Lizard has talked a few alligators into helping him rule the world. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but The Lizard plans on spreading his serum and creating a super-race of lizard-men that he can command.
Tracking him down to an “old Spanish fort,” Spider-Man narrowly avoids his mind-controlled alligators, and is able to nimbly avoid The Lizard’s attacks and goad him into a position where he can land directly on top of him and force him to ingest the antidote. It’s interesting to note that Spider-Man never lays a finger on Connors as The Lizard. It might have been a deliberate move on Lee and artist Steve Ditko’s part, but it’s played so subtly that it provides a real depth of characterization to this funky superhero story. Spider-Man knows this is just a man under an influence outside of his control, and acts accordingly, with haste and compassion.
Their confrontation ends with Connors restored to his human form and happily reunited with his wife and child. Is it a far different story than the one we’ll be seeing onscreen on June 30? Other than the change of location, I’m not so sure. Annie Parisse does play Connors’ wife, though how big of a role she has in the film remains to be seen. Judging from these toys, Connors’ serum and his ability to control other reptiles seems to come into play. Though I’ve already noted Connors’ direct connection to Peter Parker’s parents, there’s been precious little word on how The Lizard and his alter ego will be depicted in the film.
Will The Lizard speak, as he does in his first comic book appearance? Will he still possess all of the abilities of every reptile known to man and the strength to break Spider-Man’s webs with ease? Will Connors be an altruistic scientist or someone more villainous? And will Spider-Man still avoid getting into a physical battle with The Lizard? On that note, probably not. It’s hard to make an action movie where the hero just dodges the bad guy the entire film. We’ll all find out soon enough.
News from the Web
-- What’s next in Amazing Spider-Man comic when the current “Ends of the Earth” storyline ends? Well, the timing works out just right for the Lizard to show up in Spidey’s monthly title right around the time that he’s causing grief for the wallcrawler in movie theaters. “No Going Back” is the title for Dan Slott’s Lizard arc, and he’s joined by artist Giuseppe Camuncoli. The new storyline hits the stands in June. (via CBR)
-- And speaking of the Lizard, we’ve finally gotten an official look at him, through a poster from Trends International. I miss the purple pants and lab coat, but I’ll live. (via Coming Soon)
-- Someone in Japan was able to take a picture of some character posters for The Amazing Spider-Man. Interesting that they’re choosing to highlight Andrew Garfield as Parker and Rhys Ifans as Dr. Connor, instead of displaying them as Spider-Man and Lizard. Can we expect to see these one-sheets stateside? (via Superhero Hype)
-- CBR is counting down the 50 Greatest Spider-Man Covers of All-Time. It’s a doozy of a list, as I’d count many of the Spidey covers as all-time classics amongst all comics, not just Spider-Man ones. The list was submitted and voted on by Spider-Man fans, and it’s pretty hard to argue with their picks.
-- Looks like The Amazing Spider-Man got moved up by a couple of days. If you notice, the Countdown’s ticker now reflects a June 30 date, instead of the previously announced July 3. No doubt that this is to back away from the Dark Knight Rises just a little bit, and squeeze a few more days out of the Independence Day weekend.
There are 89 days until the release of The Amazing Spider-Man on June 30, 2012. The Marc Webb film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Rhys Ifans.