Dr. Octopus In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four - Part Five - Part Six

The cinematic saga of Spider-Man was a long and convoluted story long before he arrived in cinemas on May 3rd, 2002. When Sam Raimi originally became involved he wanted two supervillains in the picture – The Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus. When pre-production fully started running however, he felt he wouldn’t have time to do both villains and the hero justice and wisely decided against Octavius in the original picture and chose The Goblin due to the unique situation of his son being Peter’s best friend. After the huge success of the original, one would be foolish to assume a sequel wasn’t on the way (especially after they announced a sequel before the original was released, they were certain it would be successful.)

Rumours flew as to who was going to appear in number two, with villains such as The Hobgoblin, The Lizard, Venom and another Green Goblin thrown around the internet but the smart money was on Dr. Octopus and a few months later, British thespian Alfred Molina was chosen to play Octavius. I remember being a little weirded out when I heard of this – I’d never seen the guy act before but he looked so… harmless. In retrospect, it fits perfectly. I continued to remain curious as to how they were going to use Doc Ock, mainly because I thought the arms would be really, really difficult to work on screen. I did my all to put my mind off it until the moment I sat down and watch the teaser trailer, which gave us our first real look at Doc Ock.

To this day, I have yet to see a better teaser. It brought back so many memories of what I loved about the first one, the perfect re-use of score, the question we all wanted to see answered, it was just perfect. There was something ungodly cool about seeing Doc Ock walking on his tentacles and crushing everything around him.

Then finally, after what seemed like decades worth of waiting, Spider-Man 2 was released in theatres, and in my opinion is still the very best superhero film ever made, with only Batman Begins really coming close to topping it.

Octavius here is similar to the one shown in armed and dangerous only much more superior. Alfred Molina is absolutely brilliant in the role and there’s an especially good scene in which he tells Peter that he needs to motivate himself in regards to his studies, as Dr. Conners tells him that Peter is brilliant but lazy.

“Intelligence isn’t a gift, it’s a privilege and you use it for the benefit of mankind”

Or, in other words “With great power, comes great responsibility”. The fusion dynamic is used once again with Octavius believing he can sustain a new energy source that is cheaper and more beneficial to the planet. With the experiment failing, Peter changes to Spider-Man, saves Harry from the resulting explosion and pulls the plug on the experiment, much to Otto’s chagrin. The experiment ends up attracting metal towards the reactor which breaks the windows in the building, hurdling glass towards Rose, Otto’s wife, killing her.

Upon waking up in the hospital, Otto realises that the arms now have a mind of their own and had killed the surgeons who were planning on operating on him to remove the arms. In a glorious B movie scene, Otto simply lies there unconscious as his arms kill the Doctor’s in brutal, horrific ways with only the sounds of screaming, the tentacles and of course, the almighty chainsaw to be heard. It was perfectly done without music (and I really liked the score for this film).

He later realised that he still had the responsibility of providing the world with this new power and decided to continue with his experiments, but of course, he needed funded. Realising that no one in their right mind would fund him, he (or more importantly, his arms) decided that he would have to steal it. Cue one of the coolest scenes in the history of cinema as Octavius robs the same bank which had just denied Aunt May a loan. The fight between Spider-Man and Doc Ock was simply glorious - it looked absolutely stunning. I think a lot of superhero films have struggled with the fight scenes, whether the staging isn’t quite right (Batman Begins) or the villains don’t quite match up the heroes (or visa versa, like Superman Returns or Fantastic Four) but the Spider-Man ones are usually up to snuff and Doc Ock made the perfect foil for Spidey. Simply brilliant.

The main point of the film was Peter deciding that he had had enough of the complications that Spider-Man caused and decided he wasn’t going to do it anymore – looking back, the film was really all about Peter Parker, which I think is how it should be done. I think one of the biggest problems with the original Batman franchise is that they barely bothered to develop Batman in the first one and all but ignored him in the sequels so that they could focus on the villains. Batman Forever was the only film which actually tried to make the main character interesting, but it was lost amongst a sea of bad villains, terrible visuals and the cutting room floor. As a result, Doc Ock wasn’t in the film all that much, but he did practically steal every scene he was in. In the end, he helped moved the plot along, he had chemistry with the hero and he starred in some outstanding scraps – he did everything that was needed of him and then some.

After realising that he couldn’t obtain his dream, he destroyed the fusion reactor and killed himself in the process. (You never did see his body though). I highly doubt we’ll see a cameo in Spider-Man 3 but the option is always there. Octavius was originally planned to star in two episodes of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon before it became a continuation of the movie according to star Neil Patrick Harris.

Spider-Man will return to animation next year with a direct to DVD series. Beyond Chris Yost’s involvement, little is known. 2D, 3D, 2.5D, it’s all anyone’s guess right now. Presuming it’s not based upon the movie, one would be foolish to dismiss Dr. Octopus’ presence. We can but hope!