Never Before Scene: Doc Ock

BY JASON DAVIS

In Never Before Scene we take a look at the best scenes from our favorite superhero films. From moments that have transformed the genre to ones that made us jump right out of our seats, it’s time we take another look at these performances.

Let’s revisit Spider-Man 2′s classic Doc Ock hospital scene. After the fusion experiment had gone wrong Doc’s robotic arms had fused themselves to his body, not only physically but mentally as well given that they were equipped with an artificial intelligence chip. Knocked out, Doc was taken to the hospital where surgeons attempt to remove the tentacles… bad idea.

Through a series of jagged cuts, skewed angles and piercing sound effects, Raimi quickly takes the audience onto a roller coaster ride of pure horror. In just under two minutes we are exposed to the brutal force Doc Ock and his four skeletal friends have. Otto himself is blind to the violence his appendages are delivering as he lies blind folded on the operating table, but you can tell by the calm demeanor of his face and the controlled rocking that his body possesses, that he is indeed in charge.

Many cite Raimi’s earlier films, especially Evil Dead 2, as the inspiration for the scene:

It’s clear that Raimi’s horror and indie sensibilites came through in this scene – it’s also very evident in Darkman, a B movie film mixed in with a superhero. The point of view camera work (for points of view, one for each arm I might add), the extreme close ups, and swooping dolly work are all Sam Raimi trademarks – but the scene also works very well due to its editing. Shots are spliced together at a rapid fire pace and the right amount of screams and sound effects create an adrenaline rushed sense of fear and awe. It borrows a bit from the Saul Bass storyboarded and Hitchcok directed sequence from Psycho:

Both Raimi’s and Hitchcock’s scenes spare the blood but still provide the chills. What makes this scene truly amazing was that it was the first time a horror, almost creature feature like sensibility was brought into the superhero genre. If you think about it Spider-Man provides the perfect narrative for this style of film making. The arachno hero can crawl, and creep his way into any scenario, and can be startling to see at first – masked, unnaturally flexed and shooting webs from his wrists – many are already afraid of spiders, imagine if you saw a human one? How great would it have been if this style had been brought in to more of the film?

Of course the film shouldn’t have been completely shot in this style, but Spider-Man and his foes – from the Lizard to the Green Goblin, provide the perfect back drop for B movie thrills. Thanks to Sam Raimi we got at least two minutes of what could have been.

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