Movie physics

December 15th, 2005

Friends will know how disappointed and angry I was at the movie ‘Spiderman’. I hated it. It sickened me. I despised the coincidences that happened only to maintain the momentum of the story; I loathed the flag-waving U-S-A, U-S-A! post 9-11 people-power. But most of all I hated the impossibility of the physics.

I know, I know: “it was a based on a comic,” you’re thinking, “relax dude”. But (duh!) it wasn’t a cartoon. I’m prepared to suspend disbelief for fantasy films, but Spiderman claimed to be of our world; it was set in our reality. And when this is the case, certain rules must be obeyed. Rules like the laws of physics.

The abuse of real-world physics broke the illusion for me (the most greivious crime a film can commit), and forced me to remember that I was sat in a big room with lots of other people and a slowly numbing arse. It was insulting that they thought I wouldn’t notice; an affront to my intelligence that they thought they could get away with it.

Today, to my surprise and delight, I have discovered that I’m not alone. Insultingly stupid movie physics looks like a two-thumbs-up robotperson resource for the future.

Their critique of Spidey’s webs touches on one of my key points of annoyance:

“Spider-Man will lose 2.7% of his volume every time he shoots a 100-meter-long web. Web swinging a mere kilometer of horizontal distance would use up 38% of his body volume”

And my particular distaste for the cable-car scene is completely validated in a wonderful, clinical dissection:

“Even if we suspend our disbelief that the Goblin could hold on to the cable, there is no way his feet would have enough friction to keep him from being pulled sideways, yet the Goblin doesn’t even have to strain.”

Check out their review of Spiderman, and bring on the first real-world physics action movie.

One Response to “Movie physics”

  1. Stef Says:


    It’s time you got over this.

    I can’t say that I was a big fan of Spiderman (although it has always been rewarding to adopt that stance in your company) but you need to MOVE ON!

    Peter Parker got his superpowers after being bit by a radioactive spider! Stop worrying about his “volume” – his story of origin is enough to confirm that there’s no point quibbling over 2.7% or more.

    Sure, Sam Raimi got it wrong by insisting on the organic web, as opposed to the (I’m guessing) environmentally unfriendly strands that Parker produced in the comic. But I want to believe in a world in which The Hulk (gamma rays or no) can bench press 100 tonnes and no-one recognises that (spoiler) Clark Kent is Superman!

    What I do object to is insultingly stupid movie physics in woeful films…

    Or just woeful films full stop… like Black Hawk Down.

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