Internet reaction to Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark has oscillated between abject horror and Doc Brown's face when the model DeLorean catches on fire in 1955. But I'll be a contrarian and say that this musical will be transcendent.
The media blitz for Julie Taymor and U2's Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark has begun in earnest, what with its songs and regalia debuting on Good Morning America yesterday. Many an onlooker can't believe this is happening — the idea of Spider-Fosse on the Great White Way is giving everyone flashbacks to that scene in Spider-Man 3 where alien goo turned Tobey Maguire into an evil Cherry Poppin' Daddy.
But pardon me as I take my io9 hat off and put on my Armond White ten-gallon Stetson — there, that's better — because I hereby decree that Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark will be the best superhero musical ever. Simply viewing it will be like watching the birth of a neutron star and a baby fawn at the same time. It will be a dramatic experience on par with King Midas jamming his index finger in your eye and transforming your rods and cones into liquid aurum. It will be the musical equivalent of a deep-tissue massage from Flash Thompson or Felicia Hardy (or J. Jonah Jameson, not judging here).
Here is my evidence that this $52 million arachnid-and-pony show will rock your face. Just remember, "A TOTAL DISASTER?" is an anagram for "ES A LOTTA RAD S?IT" (that's a long E, by the way).
1.) It will be the best Broadway superhero musical ever.
This is implicit, as Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark's only competition is 1966's It's A Bird... It's A Plane... It's Superman. That show bombed, but it scored a couple of Tony nods. However, it will forever live in ignominy thanks to the dreadful 1975 TV adaptation that aired on ABC.
Also, let's not forget the foundered 1985 Captain America musical that was advertised in comics. Way to shatter thousands of 10-to-14-year-old girls' dreams of becoming the next Ethel Merman, Cap.
2.) It will also be the best Spider-Man musical ever.
This too is screamingly implicit, as the only previous Spidey song-and-dance revue was Spider-Man Rocks! that ran at Universal Studios Hollywood from 2002-2004. On the scale of quality, Spider-Man Rocks! fell somewhere between the The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Coming Out of Their Shells Tour and Stan "The Man" Griffin's Spider-Man sex groove. If you've ever thought the Spider-Man mythos needed more Ricky Martin (a bunch of muggers warble "She Bangs" before attacking Mary Jane), sleep easy knowing that similarly deranged people on this planet share your views.
3.) The set to the Oscorp lab actually looks pretty neat.
It looks the lab where Helmut Kohl built Kraftwerk or something.
4.) Julie Taymor knows her Spider-Man villains.
In a recent interview, Taymor announced that in addition to the Green Goblin, Spider-Man would be battling a whole slew of foes:
Then we have this thing in Act Two, where Spider-Man's powers keep rising and rising and you meet what we call 'The Sinister Six/Seven.' We have Kraven, Carnage, Lizard [...]
Also, a 2009 preview of the show included cameos from Rhino and the Swarm. Barring the Green Goblin, we've never seen any of these villains in a live-action adaptation. For those readers who aren't familiar with these villains, here's a quick rundown why they'll be perfect for stage:
Kraven the Hunter: A deadly gamesman who dresses like a lost extra from Julie Taymor's previous show, The Lion King.
Carnage: Like Venom, but rhubarb-flavored. Will appeal to that lucrative demographic of theatergoers who owned Super Nintendos in 1994.
The Lizard: Appeared as his alter ego, Dr. Curt Connors, in the Spider-Man films. Has green skin and purple pants. Is not the Hulk. Audience members will hopefully mistake him for the Hulk.
Rhino: Like Lennie from Of Mice and Men, but a rhino. Another excuse to confuse audience members into thinking they're watching The Lion King.
Swarm: A living swarm of bees in a fuchsia wimple! Everyone loves that! Also, let's give it up for the fact that this totally obscure D-list villain is making his debut in a multimillion dollar musical!
Also, here's photos of the costumes for the Green Goblin and a new villain created just for the musical.
This brings me to my next point...
5.) A Swiss Army Knife-themed villain was created for the show
Swiss Miss is a new, serrated villain created by Taymor and designer Eiko Ishioka. This is perhaps the first time in superhero history a character's powers are "toothpick" and "fish scaler."
6.) There's still room for a mystery villain!
Taymor has announced that a "Sinister Seven" will appear in the musical. Given that an obscure villain like Swarm made the cut, I hope is that the production team will appeal to the moneyed seniors (who'll actually have the scratch to attend this musical) and include Silvermane, one of the strangest Spider-Man villains ever. He's basically Robocop with an AARP card.
7.) The music sucking could be a meta-commentary on Peter Parker.
I have a tin ear for musicals. When show tunes hit my eardrum, they coagulate into some inchoate, jazz-hand fondue, which, in my mind's eye, resembles Julie Andrews if she played that unlucky henchman in Robocop. Ergo, I have no particular opinion on this song. If you don't like the music, just think of it as a subversive commentary on how Peter Parker's a really annoying protagonist.
8.) The above song sounds vaguely like that U2 song from Batman Forever!
That song's giving me flashbacks to "Hold Me Kiss Thrill Me Kill Me." Why is this a good thing? If the musical is a hit, then maybe this will inspire Seal to write a superhero musical in which every song sounds vaguely like "Kiss From A Rose." I would so pay to see 120 minutes worth of "Kiss From A Rose."
9.) In the end, a superhero musical kind of makes sense.
Musical theater fans possess a specialized, arcane knowledge that's not easily accessible to the uninitiated — so do comic book fans. Broadway musical theater tends to be overweeningly sincere, with the exception of works that "subvert the genre." The same goes for superhero comics. Musical theater deals in a highly mediated form of reality where people dressed in tights stop every 5 minutes to belt out a song. Superhero comics occur in the real-world, but tight-clad people frequently stop alien invasions, which are scheduled every 5 minutes. In sum, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark combines these two art forms into a cultural Voltron that will smush post-modernity into paste.
10.) If the show becomes a massive hit, a couple decades from now summer stock productions will be putting on their own hilariously low-budget versions of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.
And hopefully they'll look (and sound) like this.