Poor, poor Spider-Man; the guy just can't catch a break.
He finally makes it through years of development hell and complicated rights lawsuits and is on his way to movie theatres for the very first time. But almost as soon as the announcement is made, the geeks come crawling out of the woodwork to piss and moan. "Oh, he's got organic webs." "Oh, Green Goblin looks like a Power Ranger." Boo-frickin'-hoo. Despite these piddly little complaints, Spider-Man was one of the most successful movies of 2002 and has become one of the biggest box-office earners of all time. Maybe that's why this time, fans seem to be cutting them a little slack.
There have been no complaints about Dr. Octopus's tentacles being rip-offs of The Matrix or that he doesn't look enough like Roy Orbison. Could it be that fans were so impressed by the first movie that they're - *gasp!* - actually waiting to see a movie before they judge it? Astounding!
While the nerds are behaving themselves, ToyBiz wasted no time getting up to its old tricks: variant after variant after variant. The first series of Spider-Man 2 toys featured about half a dozen versions of the wall-crawler himself, and absolutely nothing else. Series 2 another set of Spideys that won't sell, but we finally got a villain for all those heroes to gang up on.
Once he was Otto Octavius - a brilliant and respected nuclear physicist, inventor and lecturer. In pursuit of academic excellence, Octavius designed and constructed a set of highly advanced robotic arms to assist him in his research. A freak laboratory accident grafted the mechanical appendages to his body and granted him complete control over the artificial limbs. The mishap also altered Octavius' mind, transforming him into a criminally insane megalomaniac.
I must admit that when the first promotional images of Dr. Octopus were unveiled, I was a bit leery - I thought he was too thin and angular to suit the character. The first teaser trailers, however, showed that Alfred Molina does indeed have the right sort of stocky build to capture the comicbook version of Doc Ock.
The sculpt is decent overall, if slightly plain. The face looks like Alfred Molina, and the figure includes a pair of glasses that fit on his head. He's got a bit of a scowl on his face, which suits the usually unhappy Octavius.
The figure captures the look of the movie Octopus well: he's got the green overcoat, bare chest and dark pants that we've glimpsed so tantalizingly in the trailers so far. It's an interesting look, doing a good job of both hiding and showing off the tentacles - we can see the mechanism around Otto's stomach, but the coat conceals the fact that those arms are just special effects, not an actual part of the man. Clever!
The toy version uses the coat well, concealing the action feature mechanism within. Pull the lever on Doc Ock's back and a series of internal wires cause the tentacles to bend and grasp. This is a feature that's been seen on Dr. Octopus figures before, and while it does add a bit of motion to the figure, I would have prefered they just drop this and find a way to articulate the arms.
Wisely, the base figure is highly articulated. There's nothing worse than a company that shows it can do superarticulated figures and then drops right back into sub-par offerings. There's no reason not to make these things move as much as possible - you don't need an action feature if you've got an action figure. Dr. Octopus has all the traditional Marvel Legends joints, minus the chest and waist: those are static to accommodate the tentacle controls.
The arms are just as technologically detailed as what we see in the movie. There's no way that the traditional metal tubes of the comics would have been vey cool on film, so the good doctor got an upgrade. Now more like the grasping tentacles of The Matrix's Sentinels, the 6" arms are segmented and truly intimidating. The large, three-pronged claws at the end have six joints each, and moving the lever makes them react differently: the top two arms curl down over Doc Ock's shoulders, while the bottom two close their pinchers.
With Green Goblin and now Dr. Octopus taken care of, two of Spidey's biggest villains have already been adapted to film. Who would we see in Spider-Man 3? A lot of folks might say Venom, but he's a stupid character. Dr. Curt Connors has been mentioned in both films, so perhaps the Lizard? Or, hey, why not the Rhino? That impenetrable armor of his might be a good candidate for a Hollywood makeover. It might be too soon to have Harry Osborne take up his dad's mantle, but the other members of the Sinister Six could be good, like Electro or especially Mysterio - think of the special effects fun they could have with him!
It seems ridiculous that we've had to wait for Series 2 of this line to get the film's main villain, and it's somewhat disappointing that his arms are so blasť. There are no confirmed plans for a potential Series 3, however, so who knows if we'll get something better? This is a decent, if not highly impressive, offering.
What villain do you want in Spidey 3? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.