I wanna talk about Norman Osborn from the very first Spider-man film and the thing that keeps ringing in my head. You probably left the movie with Peter’s narrative in your mind, but when I walked out of the movie, the thing which kept intriguing me was the bad guy of the story was much more of a victim rather than a villain.
Before you witness him becoming a villain, you witness him becoming a victim. It is only when his life’s work is threatened, that he decides to embrace his dark side by volunteering as the first human subject for his super soldier like serum. The serum then messes with his brain and the dark side fully takes over.
Then you finally see him as a villain with scenes like these where he kills the Army general and the board of directors of his company, Oscorp. But even though he commits these heinous acts, I was having a difficult time looking at him as a villain because these scenes felt like Norman was simply fighting to keep his company alive. The only problem here was the way he chose to do it with.
Even when Norman attacks the poor old aunt May, instead of believing that Norman is a villain, the scene when he is pushed out of his own company kept playing in my mind over and over again. It had me totally convinced that no matter what Norman does, I will never see him as a villain because the people who surround his business will always push him towards making villainous or controversial choices. But his war with Spider-man is obviously not business related, it’s just a little detour that the movie took.
The only time when I almost fell towards looking at Norman as a villain was when he tried to kill Mary Jane and a bunch of little kids while giving Spider-man the choice to save only one of these two. But in all honesty, it felt like there could have been a much more intense way of establishing Norman on the villain side to overpower his victim side so that I could finally stop empathizing with him and root for him to lose at the hands of Spider-man.
But by the time the final battle took place between Peter and Norman, I think the film kind of lost its way to becoming something even greater than it currently is. I don’t dispute the fact that Spider-man is a great film, but every time I think about the innocence with which William Dafoe portrayed Norman Osborn and the menace with which he portrayed the Green Goblin, it could have made this film far more legendary if only the filmmakers were aiming for the movie to be in that direction.
But maybe I’m wrong and it’s just my inner film director speaking because perhaps the director of the movie was making sure that it doesn’t leave a dark persona in our minds.
In contrast to Norman, when I look at Peter and wonder why a character like this never embraces his dark side, the only answer I see is that a man like Peter isn’t fighting for power or to keep his life’s work alive. He is always fighting to keep people safe and be around his loved ones.
So I don’t know how wrong I am, but I think a man’s dark side never takes over him when he’s simply fighting for love. It takes over when a man is continuously pushing to keep the one thing alive that makes him who he is.
So when you ask somebody to leave behind the woman he loves so he can fully take over the responsibility that he’s been given by God, you will root for the character to be in this scenario and become a super hero no matter how sorry you feel about it. But when you witness situations like these when somebody is thrown out of his own company, then you feel rage and you want the character to fight back by any means necessary and this is what Norman was simply trying to do.
But the fact that by the middle of the film he became a traditional super villain by threatening innocent lives felt just a little bit off course. Perhaps the character and the film could have benefited more by deploying Green Goblin to use his brains to wreak psychological havoc as oppose to using his tools to wreak only physical destruction over the city.
So in the end, I want to know what you thought about Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin. Do you see him simply as a villain or do you see him as a complex victim of complicated circumstances? Think about it and leave a thought provoking answer in the comments. Until then subscribe to this channel, so you can stay tuned to some film philosophy every Monday.
In the hopes of connecting with film lovers all over the world, this is Mr. Zeecon, in the making of a great story.
I would love to hear it from you guys in the comments if you can understand Norman's point of view and what mishap eventually drove him into embracing his dark side?