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At Last! Nordling Reviews SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK!

Nordling here.

There's a reason AICN's been covering SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK, even though many of our Talkbackers have been screaming bloody murder every time we bring it up.  Spider-Man as a character has gone through so many types of media and so many story iterations that I shouldn't have to bring them up here.  The idea of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's character being brought to Broadway for a major production is just something a site like ours can't pass up.  We're a geek site, after all - we cover film, television, comics, and it just goes without saying that any kind of new show or presentation old Webhead gets is going to be covered.  But throughout all the controversy, throughout all the tumultuous staff and writing changes, throughout every bad review written on the play, I haven't read one yet that's come from the perspective of our readers - the geek perspective.  I'm not saying it's the right perspective, either.  I'm a firm believer that at this point in our media saturation studios and artists might do some good and listen to geeks less.  That way we can still be surprised and amazed.  A filmmaker or artist should give us the art we didn't know we wanted, and not the art we expected.

So the idea of Julie Taymor tackling this classic story from a Broadway musical standpoint shouldn't be automatically dismissed.  Now I realize she's been released from the production, so what I saw tonight may be drastically different from what we'll see in June.  This was a preview performance, one of a record many at this point, and I have no idea what's going on behind the scenes and what changes are being made.  But I don't know how much they can change at this point, because even though the play has all these amazing action pieces and beautiful scenery and set design, the play I saw tonight is a disaster of epic proportions, a complete evisceration of the Spider-Man story, and full of songs written by two guys who have no idea how musicals work in any way.

The thing is, the moments in TURN OFF THE DARK that made me the angriest were when the play worked.  The action setpieces and set design are transcendent, and I really mean that.  When Spider-Man fights the Green Goblin 50 feet in the air, or when the sets change at a moment's notice, it's breathtaking.  Every penny of the reported $65 million spent on this play is on stage.  Visually, I've never seen anything like it, not live, not like this.  I'd recommend it on those things alone, but not to this crowd, not to you readers, because the things Taymor and company do to the Spider-Man story here will have you reaching for a tomato.

The play starts with four of the most annoying characters first, which turned me off on the play pretty quickly.  They're trying to write a Spider-Man comic and it's obvious from the very first moments that whoever wrote their dialogue has no idea how comic geeks communicate.  It's stilted and cliched, like Nerd 101.  Too many of the characters in TURN OFF THE DARK are written like that - they aren't written with an ear for any kind of natural dialogue, and at first I thought it was Julie Taymor writing the way she thought comics are like instead of what they actually are - like something out of the BATMAN TV show.  We're even treated to a few BAMS! and THWOKS!  And then one of the characters adds some context to the story by talking about the Greek Arachne myth, because someone read it in Ultimate Spider-Man, and so a character that doesn't fit in any way contextually to the story is shunted in.  I get the feeling that they threw in the Ultimate line because they thought they could score brownie points off the geek crowd.  There's a lot of decisions in TURN OFF THE DARK like that, utterly cynical to the audience.  And then we're treated to yet another version of the origin story, filtered through the Raimi films, like we didn't already know this story, like we hadn't read it or seen it half a dozen times.

That's the most egregious thing about Julie Taymor and Glen Berger's play (and I know they've been replaced as writers) - they don't respect the character of Spider-Man.  For example, in the play, the death of Uncle Ben isn't because he was shot by a robber, but instead he is run over trying to stop a thief from stealing Flash Thompson's car after Peter failed on purpose to do so.  It may seem a minor difference, but it's a key one.  In the comic and film, Uncle Ben died violently and cruelly because Peter not only failed to act, but Peter was directly responsible for letting the robber get away.  Here, Ben's simply run over as the thief drives off.  Uncle Ben's murder was a shock to Peter and it propelled him to become Spider-Man - here, it's simply inevitable because otherwise the plot couldn't move forward.  The moment is completely devoid of pathos and instead of Peter deliberately making a terrible mistake, the play treats Peter's failure to act as something minor.   There's lots of moments like that where the writers either fail to understand the pathos and truth of Spider-Man as a character, or they just don't care.  I'd prefer the former, because the latter means that this play is just a cynical cash grab, and I'd like to think the better of people, even when mangling a well beloved character like this.

I'm a U2 fan.  But there is a fundamental difference in writing a rock song and a song in a musical, and Bono and the Edge have completely missed the boat on that.  Songs in musicals have goals in mind from the first note to the last.  They are meant to transport the audience to the character's emotional state of mind and to move the plot, even if by a couple of inches.  Someone once said that characters in musicals sing because they simply can't do anything else at that moment.  In that regard there's only three songs in TURN OFF THE DARK that meet that criteria.  Those songs work perfectly in the context of the play and for those brief moments the audience is moved.  But those moments are few because Bono and the Edge haven't written songs that work.  All of the most memorable pop and rock songs work because they mean something different to everyone.  Everyone writes their own story to fit what they're hearing.  But when thrusting songs like that into a contextual story, you can't write generic songs to fill the space - you have to propel the plot and make an emotional connection to the characters, and Bono and the Edge are simply not equipped to do that with the majority of these songs.  It's nothing against their songwriting abilities - they just don't write music for musical theater, and they don't know how.

But there's moments - fleeting, but they're there - when everything is working - the music, the set design, the acting, the stunts - and we as an audience are simply transported.  The action setpieces are amazing.  The various stuntmen playing Spider-Man in the various fights are to be commended, because at times it really does seem like a comic book come to life.  I think Reeve Carney as Peter Parker/Spider-Man does tremendous work here and he could very well become a star after this.  If Taymor doesn't get the character, Carney certainly does, and he strikes the right balance between the pathos of the character and the moments where he just transcends the material and shows us something amazing.  It's because of him that three of the Bono/Edge songs do work - "Bouncing Up The Walls" when Peter discovers his powers for the first time, and he literally bounces off the ceiling and walls, with the help of some really innovative set design; "Rise Above," when Peter decides to become Spider-Man after Ben's death, and the play's signature number, "The Boy Falls From The Sky" as he takes up his mantle again after he quits being Spider-Man (many of the plot points of this play were stripped directly from the Raimi films, even including lines of dialogue!).  Carney's damn good in the part.  So's Jennifer Damiano as Mary Jane Watson.  Carney and Damiano's duets together are quite good, even if the songs are fairly clunky.  They both have terrific voices.  The villains in the play look incredibly silly and are given lines of dialogue that are just terrible.  The only villain that even comes close to working is the Green Goblin, and Patrick Page seems to have fun with the role, but the character's written so awfully that all Page can do is mug for the audience.  Some days I think Jack Nicholson has a lot to answer for, with his Joker performance, because everyone seems to copy it now.  We're given two new villains - Arachne, who haunts Peter in his dreams, and Swiss Miss, who looks like the Silver Surfer fucked the Statue of Liberty.  Swarm, a guy made of bees, sounds a lot cooler than he actually appears.  Carnage looks awful, and Kraven just as bad.  We're given the Sinister Six, along with Green Goblin, as villains, but they act stupidly and feel shoehorned in.  It's embarrassing how silly their costumes are.  I get the feeling that with those character designs Taymor is actively giving the finger to the comic fan audience.  That's how bad they are.

I've written far too much on this thing.  SPIER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK, in the form I saw tonight, is a cynical, mean thing that didn't have the guts or the faith to stick to the source material.  That's the thing - instead of trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole, Taymor and company should have trusted the source enough to make it instead of this overly glamorized and stylized take on the character.  I got no beef with the action or the set design.  Like I said, the show looks like they spent the money they did on it.  But this thing can't be fixed.  There's no way.  You'd have to break it down completely to its foundations to do so and start from the bottom up.  As for this version, all that money and all that talent can't seem to find, except in fleeting moments, what we Spidey fans have known and loved about the character since his inception - the strong, joyous heart.

Nordling, out.

Readers Talkback
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  • March 19, 2011, 12:15 a.m. CST

    Actually, Swarm's a real Marvel villain...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...not much of one, but he's not original to the show. All he's got going for him is his look, which could work in a movie; but it's hard for me to imagine it could work opnstage.

  • March 19, 2011, 12:17 a.m. CST


    by Nordling


  • March 19, 2011, 12:18 a.m. CST

    Thanks for the review, Nordling

    by smittylancearthur

    Now will people PLEASE stop paying for this piece of shit? Fueling something out of train wreck fascination is still fueling it. Makes no difference to the producers. Why not go see a badass show like War Horse instead? Or even Harry Potter skipping around in the How to Succeed revival? Not to mention theatres around the country and their geek-friendly product.

  • And at the end, the entire cast and crew commit mass suicide in front of an image of Bono.

  • March 19, 2011, 12:28 a.m. CST

    That was quite a good review nord-dog

    by Simpsonian

    i appreciate it when someone takes the time to explain why something does or doesn't work; good job.

  • March 19, 2011, 1:15 a.m. CST

    Going to check to this out....

    by BlackBriar

    Good Job!

  • March 19, 2011, 1:39 a.m. CST

    I Loved It...

    by tomandshell

    It was better than Cats. I'm going to see it again and again.

  • March 19, 2011, 1:42 a.m. CST

    Replacement Director

    by tomandshell

    Maybe they can bring in Terry Gilliam or Guillermo Del Toro. Those guys have great luck with stalled productions.

  • March 19, 2011, 1:51 a.m. CST

    riley - for Nordling, this was a good review

    by justmyluck

    "Silver Surfer fucked the Statue of Liberty" was pretty ace, actually. I'm trying to think of pop/rock stars who made a successful cross-over to theater...the ABBA boys did CHESS, then MAMA MIA....The Who with TOMMY...Elton John courtesy of Disney with LION KING...I guess Pink Floyd's live shows were 'theater-esque'. Basically, not too many spring to my mind. From the bulk of preview reviews, it DEFINITELY seems like they have to scrap the U2 songs.

  • March 19, 2011, 1:53 a.m. CST

    That was a good read

    by theblackvegtable

  • March 19, 2011, 2 a.m. CST

    I have a friend that saw it...

    by Chuck_Chuckwalla

    She said that it had some great moments but was disapointed in that the sets looked like cardboard cut-outs and too cartoony. She thought the sets should be more 3 dimensional and realistic to match the 3 dimensional actors flying at the audience. So, what Nordling is saying supports her criticism. Taymor's sensibilities were not in sync with Marvel, whose greatest strength is how they write and draw their stories and characters to have a real world 'feel' and not like the campy 60s Batman show. Now that she's fired, I hope they can make it right.

  • March 19, 2011, 2:19 a.m. CST

    Nordling - great review...

    by BiggusDickus

    ...and sorry you had to sit through that! The only thing that bothers me is that the idiot money-men will look at this and think that there is no point greenlighting any future stage-based superhero productions, because "the kids didn't like it when we gave them Spider-Man."

  • March 19, 2011, 2:44 a.m. CST

    The great Lady weeps

    by Roger Moon

  • March 19, 2011, 2:54 a.m. CST

    No surprise

    by 2LeggedFreak

    Remember seeing the rehearsal clips with Taymor and U2 and thinking the songs sounded shit and that these pretentious idiots didn't have a clue. Must have been psychic.

  • March 19, 2011, 3:39 a.m. CST

    Yeah well it's raining in LA. A nice sorta weird invasion of the

    by UltraTron

    of the body snatchers kinda sorta perfectly timed with the arrival of the harmless plume this evening sorta get that shit out of the air and make sure it gets nice and embedded in the fabric of existence kinda rain. Got cold as shit all of sudden last 2 nights to make it extra nuclear wintery. When it stops I'm going out in the yard and trying to get radioactive spiders to bite me.

  • March 19, 2011, 4:39 a.m. CST

    Keep reporting on this!

    by BookhouseBoy

    Not only do I love a good train wreck but the coverage is irritating a lot of people on this website, win-win.....

  • March 19, 2011, 4:50 a.m. CST

    Good Read.

    by Richard

    Nice Work Nord.

  • March 19, 2011, 5:09 a.m. CST

    Wonderwoman! The new one, right here:

    by Righteous Brother

  • March 19, 2011, 5:33 a.m. CST


    by BiggusDickus


  • March 19, 2011, 5:33 a.m. CST


    by BiggusDickus


  • March 19, 2011, 5:50 a.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    Viggeo, I don't know whether you're homosexual but you're definitely an attention-seeking little bitch. Keep on spamming troll. Keep on spamming.

  • March 19, 2011, 6:07 a.m. CST


    by Roger Moon

    Just in case, but I do need a house boy for the summer. And I'd like to book you. Get in touch please. I love a good trainwreck too.

  • March 19, 2011, 6:09 a.m. CST

    as they are scrapping the show

    by john

    what is the point of this review? nothing against nordling, but after they go dark for a month, there is likely to be an entirely new show, with some new songs they may stick with the set pieces...but thats about it the basic problem with the entire concept is that no one who worked on the show, gives shit one about the character...or comics it was just is a cute idea...lets do a show its like cop rock...make hill street blues into a musical...why? i dont know...cuz we can? and for anyone in los angeles...stay out of the acid rain...sean hannity is reporting that we are all gonna die how about making fox news...the that would be great that channel is all fiction...shouldnt be that hard

  • March 19, 2011, 6:11 a.m. CST

    Looks like they need Matt and Trey as writers

    by zacUpquark

    Now THOSE are a couple of guys who KNOW how a MUSICAL works. Proven conclusively. They may not "know" Spidey, but I'd trust 'em anywho.

  • March 19, 2011, 6:12 a.m. CST


    by Roger Moon

    Can you do ikea stuff?

  • March 19, 2011, 6:13 a.m. CST


    by john

    the original grease, once upon a time on a mattress, pippin, hair, camelot, west side story, annie, little shop of horrors....i could go on and on musicals are great but musicals arent really a part of geek culture like nordling said...its trying to fit a round peg in a square hole

  • March 19, 2011, 6:13 a.m. CST

    Those things are a bitch to put together

    by Roger Moon

  • March 19, 2011, 6:16 a.m. CST


    by Dr. Egon Spengler

    Now, can we please move on, and never speak of this rotten thing again?

  • March 19, 2011, 6:34 a.m. CST

    The bar is set pretty low, and even so

    by Mike Connor

    It wouldn't take much for this show to start getting positive reviews. All it has to do is be a little better than the advance billing. If it can't even meet that standard... The whole thing reminds me of The Lord of the Rings: The Musical? Anyone else see that? I got free tickets so went, stayed to keep my friends company. Four (five? it felt like ten) hours of my life I'll never get back. A Spiderman musical, orcs on powerbocks, some things are just wrong.

  • March 19, 2011, 6:38 a.m. CST


    by BookhouseBoy

    No but I'm always down for learning new things...

  • March 19, 2011, 6:43 a.m. CST

    Actually, nordling....

    by DarthDooku

    Myself and another fan of this site wrote a review after the first preview a few months ago.

  • March 19, 2011, 6:49 a.m. CST

    Good review

    by DarthDooku

    But it's unfair to fault the play for ripping off of Raimi's films. That's like saying Raimi just ripped off the comics. You can't really rip the plot off a movie that's based on a book. But I agree. This play needs a serious plot overhaul. How it got through as far as previews without someone noticing is rather sad. Let's hope it changes soon.

  • since it will be u know- all different and shit.

  • March 19, 2011, 7:03 a.m. CST

    As bad as it is

    by mascan42

    People will still flock to it because of all the publicity it's getting.

  • March 19, 2011, 8:07 a.m. CST

    It's about fucking time someone reviewed this show!


    We haven't heard ANYTHING about this, so it's a good thing someone with balls actually took it down a peg.

  • March 19, 2011, 8:09 a.m. CST

    Such a timely review, too.


    Now that it appears they've found the final form of the thing.

  • March 19, 2011, 8:27 a.m. CST

    Glad you hated it

    by MaliceHighload

    I was actually afraid the official AICN review might somehow be positive, just to be contrary. But there's a reason everyone hates this show. It's a mess. It's offensive to people who like Spider-Man (or comic books in general) at all, but even if you don't give two shits about Spider-Man -- it's a terrible show. Someone who doesn't like comic books trying to figure out why people like comic books.

  • March 19, 2011, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Writer/director Neil Jordan on Taymor's S-MINO:


    "I remember meeting Bono and Julie at Bono's house in the South of France and discussing ideas for the book," Jordan recalls. "But it rapidly became obvious to me that Julie's ideas were not very sensible. She was not headed in, let us say, a coherent narrative direction." Jordan says Taymor was fixated on the now infamous Arachne character from the very first meeting. The character comes from Ovid, but Taymor clearly modeled the spider woman on herself, turning her into an all-controlling artistic genius who manipulates the other characters and dominates, incoherently, the second act. "These comic-book stories are really quite simple and should make for a fun musical," Jordan says. "But she was talking on and on about Arachne, and I thought the whole thing was losing its focus." (From an interview he had with the NY Post's theater columnist)

  • March 19, 2011, 8:35 a.m. CST

    Remember when AICN ran that obvious PLANT review on the front page?


    It was in the top news column, and then, once the talkbackers started calling bullshit on it, they moved it to the regular news column where it was quickly buried under an avalanche of other "news" and "reviews." Ha! Thoooooooose weeeeeeeere the daaayyyyyyys!

  • March 19, 2011, 9:39 a.m. CST

    So after all the "against the grain" defense and "Don't judge it!" posturing,

    by The Reluctant Austinite

    it's EXACTLY what it looks like, what we feared and what we expected. No surprise, really.

  • March 19, 2011, 9:45 a.m. CST

    50 years' worth of Spidey villains

    by buggerbugger

    ...and they pick Swarm?! Hahahaha.

  • March 19, 2011, 9:50 a.m. CST

    Good review, Nordling

    by Detached

    Thanks for the time and the effort. As I read the parts about 'not respecting the character,' I wondered how often that also applied to movies we've seen about comic characters... I could certainly think of a few...

  • March 19, 2011, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Should have seen Lombardi instead...

    by Nick

    At least you would have enjoyed yourself.

  • March 19, 2011, 10:07 a.m. CST

    Respect the Source Material.

    by canucklehead

    It's ALWAYS the same argument when a "super" project craps out. When has the Hollywood machine EVER taken the source and reinvented into something better? Raimi's Spiderman is referenced so much because he even took PANELS for blocking. Of course, he'll never be forgiven for what he did with the Goblin. (You get Willem Dafoe, and put a cheesy mask over it?! Imagine if they just went with makeup!!) Superman Returns, Catwoman, Spiderman 3...

  • March 19, 2011, 10:20 a.m. CST

    i was asked to work on this...

    by Mr. Waturi

    Nordling is right about the disrespect Taymor shows for the story and comic book fans. I saw some of the original character designs, which were laughable. When I saw the "Swiss Miss" character, I asked who she was and was told that Julie Taymor created her because Spider Man has no female villains. When I mentioned the Black Cat, the response I got was confusion.

  • March 19, 2011, 10:49 a.m. CST


    by Movietool

    That's all I can feel for this production. Anyone who saw the costume designs could recognize the clear disdain for comics that the creators of this show had. Costume design is the measuring stick we can hold up to any comic book movie to see if the creators have any respect for the source material. It happens every time someone who is not a genuine fan of comics gets their hands on a comic property. There are 3 possibilities: 1) They go ultra "realistic" in order to save the audience from all of those "silly comic-book ideas" or 2)they turn it into an absolute cartoonish parody, or 3) they "fix" the costume by paying lip service to the original design but with an abundance of over-designed tchotchkes, such as rubberized, raised emblems and either needlessly shiny or needlessly leathery fabrics.

  • March 19, 2011, 11:20 a.m. CST

    I have no doubt this is a complete piece of garbage

    by Shepard Wong

    but have you looked at the box office numbers? It grossed 1.3 million last week. 3rd for total gross behind only Wicked and Lion King. And it managed that with an average ticket price 15-25 dollars lower than those two shows. Just like a bad movie series, ::cough:: Transformers ::cough:: if people keep buying tickets, this turd is not going to get flushed.

  • March 19, 2011, 11:44 a.m. CST

    Sounds fixable to me.......

    by Righteous Brother

    Keep the sets, keep the leads, re-write around the action set-pieces, ditch some of the rubbish villains, don't worry about the songs, all broadway songs are shit anyway.

  • March 19, 2011, 11:46 a.m. CST

    I am making the call that within the next two years

    by BlaGyver

    After this has finally played out and either opened or just been shut down, there's gonna be a spoof musical on Broadway. Basically Tropic Thunder but a musical.

  • March 19, 2011, 11:50 a.m. CST


    by the Green Gargantua

    My music is for Phoenix. Only she can sing it. Anyone else who tries, dies!

  • March 19, 2011, 11:54 a.m. CST


    by the Green Gargantua

  • March 19, 2011, 12:09 p.m. CST

    re: Uncle Ben and Sony's new epic fail

    by mrgray

    Nordling, if you hate how they treat Uncle Ben's death in this and think it essentially misses the point of the character, you're going to hate the new movie. Something similar happens that makes it not really Pete's fault that Ben is killed.

  • March 19, 2011, 12:53 p.m. CST

    I saw this on Thursday, and got some INSIDE information...

    by aicnmscott

    The new director joined the cast in a circle backstage right before the Wednesday night performance this week. And then former director Julie Taymor joined the circle. The guy that plays J. Jonah Jameson (a veteran actor) told me and the people I was with that the show is certainly plagued by problems, and that's why they're shutting down for three and a half weeks soon. He and the rest of the people I got to talk to at the front of the theater after the show were obviously trying so hard to make everything work. 20 or so people got to do a one-time exclusive after-show talk. The guy that's the stunt guy inside the Green Goblin suit was there. So was one of the nine Spider-men. The guy that's the head of the mechanics when everyone flies around talked some. The girl that played Arachne (not sure if that's the right spelling) was there. They all seemed to think and express that the show has potential, but that money and greed has put too much emphasis on what looks good, rather than what helps the characters and story. If you put in $7 million of your money into the show, you expect to have a little creative control, and that's the problem. It was an enlightening 20-30 minute talk with them, and certainly NOT something you aren't seeing on the news here in New York. It was the story the local media has been wanting to find and shoot with a camera for months. If you have any questions let me know. Wish I had recorded it with my phone.

  • March 19, 2011, 1:05 p.m. CST

    So much for Taymor's "uncompromising vision"

    by DunderMifflinIntern

    Eh Nordling?

  • March 19, 2011, 1:09 p.m. CST

    anyone see that Parking Lot movie

    by IWasInJuniorHighDickhead

    wow that was fun

  • March 19, 2011, 1:09 p.m. CST

    Good review indeed

    by david starling

    I don't have a spider's hope in heck of seeing it, but its a good review. First Lord of the Rings as a musical, now Spiderman - I wonder how long it will be before someone decides we need a musical of the Matrix? Please, no!!

  • March 19, 2011, 1:17 p.m. CST

    what the hell does "Turn Off The Dark" mean?

    by Ripper99

    I mean really??? Can someone tell me?

  • March 19, 2011, 1:46 p.m. CST

    Did George Lucas name this? It's that stupid

    by High_Guy


  • March 19, 2011, 2:17 p.m. CST

    U2 Are Shit

    by D o o d

    they haven't always been, they just are now. Bono's arrogance alone is a reason to dislike them, but the music is very middle of the road, gas station purchase at the most!

  • March 19, 2011, 2:23 p.m. CST


    by djscott95

    The satire version already exists. I forget the title (something like "Spidermusical") but it opened at a little hole in the wall theatre almost right next door to the Foxwoods. The concept being that you could do a Spidey musical with almost no money, and actually make a better show than the $65 million abortion down the street. It definitely got better reviews anyway.

  • March 19, 2011, 2:39 p.m. CST

    I loved No Line on the Horizon

    by proevad

    Still listen to it. 3 albums before that were dogshit tho. Downfall started with Pop. No Line gave me hope they might still have something relevant to contribute.

  • Rape dance and song on skayes bitches! YEILD.

  • March 19, 2011, 2:47 p.m. CST

    Good review nordling...

    by Six Demon Bag

    Didn't Harry give this two blobs up?

  • March 19, 2011, 2:59 p.m. CST

    Nordling's prob my favorite.

    by Count Screwface

  • March 19, 2011, 2:59 p.m. CST

    Good review.

    by Count Screwface

  • March 19, 2011, 3:17 p.m. CST

    Spider-Man Turn Off The Geek

    by Zurge

    Yeah I'm turned off alright. But my girlfriend loves musicals, and if I have to endure this awful show, she'd better Turn On My Geek.

  • March 19, 2011, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Break a leg, Spiderman performers!!

    by Andy Pandy

  • March 19, 2011, 4:37 p.m. CST

    Good luck, Spiderman: Turn off the Dark performers...

    by Arafel

    ...and yes, I know it's "unlucky" to say that. Fuck this show...

  • March 19, 2011, 4:49 p.m. CST

    yes...phantom of the paradise would be perfect

    by john

    for broadway why no one has done it yet is beyond me

  • March 19, 2011, 4:49 p.m. CST

    This Shit Is The Catwoman Movie In A Spider-Man Skin...

    by Grimmjow Jeagerjaques

    In other words something that probably shouldn't have been attempted. Maybe in the hands of a good director it could've been interesting but this is ri-goddamn-diculous. And that's a big maybe at that. I just read the Wikipedia synopsis of the plot (a synopsis of both acts), and I don't see how Marvel let this shit happen. I can only assume they had some kinda say in how this thing was executed. Something. I can't believe someone could just come in and do this to their flagship character without Marvel having any say in the matter. If you thought "One More Day" was bad, get ready for an absolute fucking NIGHTMARE. I was casually interested in seeing this but there's no way I'd spend my hard earned cash on this shit. The sooner this crashes and burns the better.

  • March 19, 2011, 5:53 p.m. CST


    by HansBubi

    From everything I've read about this production, I have a feeling at some point a Spiderman fan working on the show talked to Julie Taymor, and she said something about the show similar to what Jon Peters said to Kevin Smith about his ideas for a Superman movie: "He's got to fight a giant spider in the third Act."

  • March 19, 2011, 6:37 p.m. CST


    by GrapeFruit

  • March 19, 2011, 7:30 p.m. CST

    Zoo Station

    by seansarto

    U2, if they had any brains left, would have brought "Zoo Station" and Bono's "Macphisto" to Broadway....Not Spiderman..They could have involved Albee's "Zoo Story" somehow... But when I saw Edge talking about how the show's original producer DYING in the office the day they started discussing this project I knew they had been fully retarded by their environs..Edge's reaction to the death was to be tough and go on with the project...I would consider the death a pretty fair omen....But these idiots thought, "We Shall Overcome!"...For "Spiderman"?...Pretty much tells you U2 have switched camps in the fight for a better world...

  • March 19, 2011, 7:35 p.m. CST

    Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya


    Watched that again recently. The first hour is still really good. But I had forgotten how much it descends into a big-budget A-Team episode by the end...rather dull extended shootouts with clunky editing. I guess that marked the moment where Barack Obama's destiny lay in policies that were more about action than drama, for much of the next decade. I was so hopeful when the U.N. resolution came out that it heralded the return of both France and Britain as genuinely powerful nations. But it was a false dawn for both.

  • March 19, 2011, 8:54 p.m. CST

    Very detailed review

    by jazzylg

    great depth and detail. I had a bad feeling about this show anyway.

  • March 19, 2011, 10:55 p.m. CST

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt announced in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES as...

    by Meadowe

  • March 20, 2011, 12:26 a.m. CST

    Galactus: The Musical

    by kiwicanuck

    I read somewhere that even if it is going through this unsurpassed pre-production hell, tickets are still selling like mad. Can anyone confirm that? I ALSO read that if this eventually takes off (and upcoming Avengers films are a hit), other Marvel superhero musical properties being considered for Broadway include Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk. Thom Yorke of Radiohead has reportedly already penned Hulk's heart-wrenching first number: "Green Cock, Blue Balls," which will be performed by Celine Dion. Producers have confirmed that Dion would play the Hulk throughout the play, and her costume has been described as a seamless blend of make-up, special effects wizardry and gigantic rubber gloves.

  • March 20, 2011, 9:50 a.m. CST


    by lead_sharp

    ANYONE get a fucking camera in there and get a bootleg online before it changes.

  • March 20, 2011, 11:44 a.m. CST

    Just another bad idea...

    by notcher

    in the historically long list of bad ideas. Should have asked my advice for 30 mil, I would've told them it was a waste of time and they would've saved 35 million.

  • March 20, 2011, 12:19 p.m. CST

    And I get to see it April 16th...

    by tonagan

    Two days before they shut it down for its major overhaul. Bought the tickets back in August when I thought "Hey, that sounds interesting." I wish I had a time machine...

  • March 20, 2011, 1:01 p.m. CST


    by Ender's Jeesh

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe SWARM debuted in my beloved "Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends" early-80's Saturday morning cartoon show with Iceman and Firestar. Character was actually pretty cool for that setting. "Swarm... swarm... swarm..." Played well with my pathological fear of bees. As for this show... I've been a musical theatre actor for 20 years and have seen all the big ones, I'm also a 70's/ 80's Marvel comics nerd, but I can't imagine anything making me want to see thus piece of shit. From the first stills of the costumes you could tell they just didn't know what the hell they were doing. Still, it's probably better than that fucking Green Day show.

  • March 20, 2011, 1:30 p.m. CST

    ender's jeesh, Swarm first appeared in The Champions...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...a brief-lived Marvel team book set in LA. Swarm was designed by John Byrne and looked pretty cool; but a swarm of bees in the form of a man, held together by a an otherwise disembodied human intelligence, is not going to translate well to the stage. What are they going to do, stick dead bees all over somebody? Plastic bees? Trained bees?

  • "The world is watching the situation in the talkbacks with alarm. We join the international community in strongly condemning hey_kobe_tell_me_how_my_ass_tastes. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been endlessly annoyed, and with their loved ones. kobe_tell_me_how_my_ass_tastes has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of talkbackers, including the right to free expression and assembly. Now is the time to stop this unacceptable assholery. We are working urgently with friends and partners around the world to convey this message to hey_kobe_tell_me_how_my_ass_tastes."

  • March 20, 2011, 1:49 p.m. CST

    The CHOPPAHawk missiles are in the air. Hallelujah.


  • March 21, 2011, 3:44 a.m. CST

    Iron Man: Turn Off the Stark

    by Time Duncan

    I'm writing a Broadway musical about everyone's favorite shellhead called "Iron Man: Turn Off the Stark," with songs by Hall & Oates.

  • March 21, 2011, 6:14 a.m. CST

    I Saw It Back In January

    by wampa_one

    These were my thoughts at the time. I was one of the people pulled off the crowd to participate in an hourlong focus group with the producers after the show. From the sound of it, they haven't changed much aside from giving the "Geek Chorus" some focus. As bad as they are now, 2 months ago, it was entirely unclear what they were doing there: OK, so to say I have mixed feelings about Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark would be an understatement. The Music So much of it was instantly identifiable as U2. A guitar part that could only be crafted by The Edge. Lyrics with an earnestness that only Bono could deliver. Bombast. Energy. Propulsive grooves. While at times it is played at such a volume it drowns out the lyrics or draws away from the action, overall, it's so much more suitable for this show than any orchestral score would have been. That being said, every Broadway show needs an overture. This does not have one. Two musicians (the bandmates of the show's lead) are seen throughout the performance, playing along with prerecorded music (there was no orchestra pit). They also manage to throw in a few "Easter Eggs," with "New Years Day" being pumped from the stereo as we see Flash Thompson's hot new car & Vertigo being played in a dance club scene. The Lyrics Unfortunately, while the music is clearly U2's sound, lyrically, I think Bono's efforts are missing something. Forget the fact that there were several numbers where they were drowned out by the music, which while it may be typical for a rock concert does not work for a Broadway show, there's not a single full verse I can remember. I can remember word for word songs from Wicked, Camelot, The Producers, Oliver!, Spamalot, Cabaret, whatever, not just because I've heard them so many times, but because not only were they witty & catchy & clear enough that they stuck in my head after the show. These songs were gone almost immediately. In one ear & out the other. That's not to say that there weren't some moments where everything gelled - from the music to the lyrics to the staging (songs like Bouncing off the Walls, Sinisterio, I'll Take Manhattan,Rise Above & The Boy Falls From The Sky work very well), but there were just as many points where one piece of the puzzle is missing & it's usually a big piece. The purpose of songs in a Broadway musical is to serve the story - to move it forward. Too often, that's not the case here. Look at the recent three movies, let alone the 50 years of comics - to a degree, those formats have the luxury of time to develop a plot, to explore new roads forward while at the same time drawing back on familiar elements. A Broadway musical has 2 hours & 45 minutes to present its case & prove its entertainment value. Lyrically, this show fails to serve some all too important elements of the story - the relationship between Peter & Mary Jane, Peter's status as an outcast & the motivation of the villains, whether it's the Green Goblin or Arachne, a character created specifically for this show. Using a line from the movies (which this show is certainly not afraid to do), it's all about a girl. Peter & Mary Jane share a few duets, whether they're just trading verses or singing to each other, yet these moments that should cement for the audience why they are so right for each other almost entirely fall flat. Maybe it's the skill of the performers, but if I am going to be convinced of their chemistry, they better at least look at each other while they sing & sing something meaningful. Peter asks her to marry him almost out of nowhere. It's almost silly. Peter's relationship with his aunt & uncle is only glossed over. He has only one real scene with them before his uncle is killed & when we see May later in the show, she adds nothing. She's actually kind of worthless as a character. When I think of May, I think of Grams from Dawson's Creek, or the cartoon version from Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, but even that actress from the movies brought something to the table beyond that one big speech she gives in each film. These are the people that are supposed to have given Peter his core & we never even hear Ben offer the "with great power comes..." even though Peter references it later. Peter's school life is also given the short shrift. It's established quickly that he's an outsider, from his weird curiosity & intellect to the way he dresses. However, there's a song with Flash & the other bullies delivered while Peter is beaten up that seemed like it'd have been the perfect opportunity to inject some much needed humor & personality into the show & that doesn't happen. These are stererotypical high school bullies - dumb jocks with nothing to offer, which was wasted. Even a line from Peter like "after class, they kick my ass" delivered with typical Broadway seriousness would be something fun you can remember would & have been appreciated. And then you have the villains. The Green Goblin & the "Sinister Six" & Arachne. More about them when I talk about the plot, but aside from Sinisterio, which is just all about the mayhem they cause, there's not much going on. The guy who plays Norman/Goblin is the best actor of the show & gets one good song, but unfortunately it's not the number he's introduced with. The Plot The show begins with a pivotal scene we later find is near its end where Mary Jane is hanging on for dear life & Spider-Man has to dive & rescue her. Fair enough, but then we go to this "Geek Chorus" of 3 guys & a girl who are talking about how cool Spider-Man was/is but it's unclear who they are & how much they know. Are they making a movie? Staging a play of their own? Is this in the distant future? The know of Spider-Man's dual identity. If I remember my high school drama correctly, a Greek chorus is there to comment on the action of the story in a way that links the different scenes & moves them forward. When I first heard of this, I thought it'd work well if it played like some Batman story I remember - might have been Gotham Night? Where you had 3 or 4 kids talking about Batman as seen through their eyes. It's almost like they're trying to do that here, but then abandon that approach midway through the show. The Geeks get no closure. No epilogue. They introduce the character of Arachne, who was cursed & transformed into a spider/woman eons ago & then became some sort of cosmic entity. After being established as a dorky outsider, Peter goes with his class on a field trip to Norman Osborn's DNA research center. When we're introduced to Norman, he's married & seemingly noble, although also out for a profit & dressed like a hipster Wizard of Oz. It's here that Peter is bitten by a spider. He goes home & wakes up the next morning with his newfound powers & starts noticing changes. Girls are looking at him, including MJ. He makes short work of some bullies. Peter is still inferior in his own mind to Flash, so he uses his newfound abilities to enter a wrestling match & wins. Tragedy strikes when a carjacker steals Flash's new car & kills Peter's uncle in a hit & run. Peter then begins his career as Spider-Man & as his efforts are reported in the papers, we are introduced to JJ Jameson & the Daily Bugle, where Peter gets the job as a photographer. News of Spider-Man attracts the attention of Osborn, who realizes that these abilities sound like something he was working on. He wants to catch up to what he perceives as competition & experiments on himself resulting in the death of his wife & transformation into the Green Goblin. Spider-Man becomes a hero to all but Jameson & defeats the various villains. A year passes. Arachne learns of Spider-Man & is drawn to him, wanting him to become more of a spider & fall for her. She enters our realm & causes all sorts of illusions - the return of the villains that Peter had previously conquered. Peter is anxious over this & troubles with MJ - missing her performances as an actress, missing dates, etc. He loses his powers. After haunting his dreams, in a final effort to seduce him, Arachne kidnaps Mary Jane & confronts Peter. His powers gradually return & he saves MJ, but at the same time, freeing Arachne from her curse. If I could offer suggestions on the plot, they'd be the following: Either completely ditch or re-imagine the Greek Chorus to the point that they're more geeky & less annoying. Geeks can be charming & funny & they're not here. You at least want them to be likable by the audience & maybe even serve as someone we can identify with & see the action as if it's through their eyes. If they ditch them, build up the part of Arachne - she's essentially a goddess - make the audience see & feel that. Her range should be seductive & operatic. Establish parallels between her story & Peter's. Give Peter a moment where we see him change into (or out of) the Spidey costume - the Superman 'S' reveal. The audience wants to care about these characters - wants to see them rendered in a compelling way. They're not here. Also, while it's arguable visually interesting, they need to commit to a time period. While there's talk of the Internet & one of the geeks has a MacBook, the Daily Bugle staff use typewriters & notepads & dress like they're from the 1940s. Acting: Spider-Man/Peter Parker - he does just fine, although you never really see him playing two roles. Show me a physical & emotional transformation. And Spider-Man needs wisecracks. There aren't any. Mary Jane Watson - a pretty redhead? I'm good. Osborn/Goblin - the best on the stage. Arachne - acting was fine. I think all of the actors were well cast, but the book is the problem. The story, the dialog between songs & the lyrics all need serious attention. Sets, Stunts, Effects & Costumes The best part of the show. The stage setup is made to look like a pop-up comic book. Pen & ink drawings of buildings & props like cameras & typewriters. Costumes have shading worked into their patterns as if they're pulled from the page. The costumes of the villains, from the Sinister Six to random thugs, were exceptionally well-conceived. They have multiple Spider-Men handling the stunts, which are fairly impressive - battles between characters on wires hanging above the audience. Although as Peter Pan has been staged for 60 years with significant wirework, I don't get what all the trouble has been here. Granted, there's a lot more action here (Spider-Man jumps onto the Goblin in midair at one point), which might be one of the tougher scenes. For whatever else that went wrong, it's more likely a matter of sloppy staging. Before the show, one of the producers even came out to introduce everything & read something from the Department of Labor to assure us that we were (probably) safe.

  • March 21, 2011, 7:07 a.m. CST

    question on villains

    by nametaken

    why so many? it doesn't seem so many could possibly work.

  • March 21, 2011, 8:15 a.m. CST

    Swarm was just a cheap knockoff of Sandman...

    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    ...bees instead of sand. He was in the comics, but he sucked there, too. Why no love outside the comics for such Spidey villains as the Rhino, Scorpion, Puma, or Morbius? Hell, Raimi killed his Spidey career when he wanted to use the Vulture! IMO, even the Spot would be a better villain than Swiss Miss.

  • March 21, 2011, 8:46 a.m. CST

    I bet you Harry loves it.

    by knowthyself

    I bet.

  • March 21, 2011, 10:12 a.m. CST

    English 101: Verb/noun agreement

    by thot

    English 101: Verbs must agree with their nouns, e.g., "There ARE moments", not "There's moments". And "There ARE lots of moments", not "There's lots of moments", etc, etc. Seems like a nitpick but it is basic english. Otherwise, good review! The play has seemed pretty ridiculous from the start. Like Taymor, Raimi also deserves a slap on the wrist for changing the dynamic of Uncle Ben's death in SM:3. That was a BIG no-no.

  • March 21, 2011, 11:56 a.m. CST

    Re: Question on Villains

    by wampa_one

    The majority are essentially there in a montage scene. There's one musical number where Spidey does battle with them & busts them all. Goblin & Arachne are the only two with any real part in the show beyond a quick "Hey look at that - there's a bad guy on stage!"

  • March 21, 2011, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Taymor is not a writer

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    The reason for her success has been her visual sense. I don't know why she felt the need to express herself through the story of the musical. Should've gotten an old pro to write it then go apeshit with the presentation

  • March 21, 2011, 1:07 p.m. CST


    by nametaken

    thanks, was beginning to wonder if the show was 10 hours long fleshing out all those bad guy backgrounds.

  • March 21, 2011, 1:11 p.m. CST

    Who Has the Rights?

    by Jack Shepherd

    Why would Marvel allow the producers/director of this show to change the death of Uncle Ben like that? It's sort of, you know, ESSENTIAL TO SPIDER-MAN'S ORIGIN. Dumbasses. Makes me wonder if Marvel even controlled the Broadway rights going into this show. Is it possible that Sony had the rights and just let Taymor, Bono and the Edge do whatever the F they wanted?

  • March 21, 2011, 2:18 p.m. CST

    Bad writing is epidemic

    by captzeep

    The reason the entertainment industry has to recycle things is the people doing the writing have lost touch with human experience. All a person can write about it what they know, and all these people know is trying to hustle the industry in New York and LA. This works great for "Seinfeld" but not anything else. If they *respect* the source material, they can make something decent- I'm looking forward to "Thor". But here they seem to think Spiderman is pretty silly. Which is too bad because while a Spiderman musical isn't how I would spend $100 or whatever it costs to see a musical these days, it sounds like if they had stuck to the basic story this would have been great entertainment. But watching expensive failures is part of being an entertainment consumer these days. But money is its own curse. The "Sarah Connor Chronicles" was better than all the Terminator movie sequels because it was about the *people*.

  • March 21, 2011, 2:51 p.m. CST


    by Thunderbolt Ross

    Yeah I get the impression their approach to the material was "Hey there's some stuff here we can make something cool and interesting out of" instead of finding it cool and interesting in and of itself

  • March 21, 2011, 2:57 p.m. CST

    Why does the title of this thing make me want to punch a baby?

    by Clavius

    Seriously, it just irritates the living fuck out of me. Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark POW! Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh.

  • March 21, 2011, 3 p.m. CST


    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    C. Thomas Howell confirmed that the main villain in the rebooted The Amazing Spider-Man movie will be The Lizard. Geez, I dunno... when you get scooped by the friggin' Huffington Post... why even bother?

  • March 21, 2011, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Ifans to play Lizard, eh?


    Somewhere Dylan Baker weeps, dabbing his eyes with a one-armed lab coat. CHOPPED.

  • March 21, 2011, 3:35 p.m. CST

    Screw this!

    by archer1949

    The real entertainment is the behind the scenes turmoil. The more I read about the making of this boondoggle, the more I am convinced that that is the real story. It would make a fascinating documentary. THAT'S what I want to see. That said, I quite like that "Boy Who Falls From The Sky" song.

  • March 21, 2011, 4:11 p.m. CST

    Just found out this musical has an official twitter page

    by BlaGyver

    I feel like most of the posts are just "No, seriously, EVERYTHING IS FINE."

  • March 21, 2011, 4:16 p.m. CST

    Better Title: "Spider-Man...

    by thisismyonlyjoke

    ...Turn On By Dicks" Because it is gay. This has been my first-ever talkback comment. I will now retire at the top of my game.

  • March 21, 2011, 4:18 p.m. CST


    by thisismyonlyjoke

    I get one shot at a joke, and I blew it. So did Spider-Man. No? Fine, I'm still retiring.

  • March 21, 2011, 4:35 p.m. CST

    WOW!!! They got a "Dave & Buster's!" (nt)

    by Triple_J_72

  • March 21, 2011, 5:18 p.m. CST


    by Snookeroo

    You know you want it.

  • Sad to hear that after 4 months of previews the show is virtually unchanged. It was a huge disaster then and apparently it still is. An insult to the Spider-Man legacy, and to those of us who actually appreciate theater. If you want to see something theatrical and worthwhile that has some geek appeal, go see the broadcasts that are happening around the country in cinema's by the National Theater of London's production of "Frankenstein" directed by Danny Boyle. It was fantastic.

  • March 22, 2011, 6:18 a.m. CST

    You want the geek perspective on this show?

    by Grandpa Bunche

    Here it is in a blow-by-blow report from early December.

  • March 22, 2011, 8:42 a.m. CST

    Dave and Busters... in New York...

    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    ...goddamn Giuliani!

  • March 22, 2011, 8:47 a.m. CST

    In other AICN-ignored comics based project news...

    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    ...Lynda Carter states she really likes the new Wonder Woman costume worn by Adrianne Palicki. If David E. Kelley were smart and knew what he was doing with a comic book-based character (he isn't and doesn't) he'd get Carter involved ASAP to play the role she almost HAS to play, Hippolyta, WW's Amazon mom. That'd earn back some of the geek cred he lost with the crappy costume design.

  • March 22, 2011, 9:54 a.m. CST

    I Just saw this in NYC on Friday

    by PeanutButterSlut

    Not sure when Nordling saw it, but I was the one chaperoning the group of theater kids from Scottsdale Arizona that had the talk back with the cast after the show. maybe Nordling saw me there! It was hard to miss all those screaming god damned kids I was babysitting. If anyone cares, I picked the brain of several cast and crew after the show on multiple subjects. I won't take the time to right it up if no one cares though. I learned some cool shit though.

  • March 22, 2011, 6:28 p.m. CST

    Is there anywhere online where I can see the costumes of the villains?

    by Detective_Fingerling

    I really am curious.

  • March 22, 2011, 10:29 p.m. CST

    overly nitpicky

    by freak2thec0re

    how is Uncle Ben getting hit by the thug's car different than getting shot by the thug, they're both indirectly caused by Peter and carry the same guilt. I had no problem with that change. And I thought the geek characters were fun and had the same enthusiasm of average kids who love superheros

  • March 23, 2011, 6:59 p.m. CST

    Who's Nordling? Been asking that for a while now

    by Brody77

    Guy seemed to just "fall out the sky" with the oh-so-cool in & outro* and rather high horsed reviews. I'm becoming less & less a fan of this site after several years, think I'll just slink off into the sunset. A bit annoying, as I still rate Quint. * - It's not cool at all, Mr Nordling here/out. Sheesh.

  • March 23, 2011, 11:42 p.m. CST

    by Michael

    Peanutbutterslut (can't believe I just typed that), I would definitely be interested to hear about it.

  • March 31, 2011, 10:02 p.m. CST

    Saw it last Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by Bob Cryptonight

    It's am ess...but the flying effects are amazing!!!!!! But they are only AMAZING because you are shocked that they are allowed to do that to human beings! I mean, Jesus, Spiderman landed two seats away from us in the aisle, and he waves at everyone and then takes off again!!!!! It was mind-boggling! He actually flies up to the THIRD LEVEL in the theater and lands on a platform in front of the audience and then flies back!!! And then, at some point, he lands on the back of The Green Goblin and hitches a ride while fighting!!!!! Fuck, during the curtain call, we all gave the cast a standing ovation for being ballsy enough to undertake all that! It's like Vic Morrow in THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE waiting to happen all over again! Of course, the play is a mess. The story is stupid. They change so much from the comics that it really makes you wonder why they chose Spiderman in the first place (in my opinion, a new Superman musical would have worked better given their penchant for shoe-horning Greek mythology into the story). A few songs a great, but most are boring. Given the book they are working from, it's hard to imagine a GOOD series of songs that would work. But, WOW! Those wire effects...!