Spider-Man Reviews: How the Critics Panned It

Jacob Cohl

The troubled $65 million production "is not only the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway; it may also rank among the worst," writes one reviewer.

Seems that Spider-Man on Broadway's five delays haven't done anything to improve the $65 million production, the most expensive in the Great White Way's history.

The first round of reviews hit the web Monday night, Feb. 7, the date Spider-Man was supposed to officially open.

And they weren't kind.

The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney called the show, directed by Julie Taymor and featuring songs by U2's Bono and The Edge, "chaotic, dull and a little silly.

Rooney cited the "borderline incoherence of its storytelling" and a "underwhelming score," but pointed out a promising scene 10 minutes in "during a song appropriately titled 'Behold and Wonder' -- as aerialists suspended from saffron-colored sashes weave an undulating fabric wall that fills the stage.

"When this amount of time and money is tossed at a show, even demanding theatergoers should be awed, not bored," he asserted.

After all the cast injuries and media coverage surrounding them, "The big shock when sitting down finally to assess this $65 million web-slinging folly, is what a monumental anti-climax it turns out to be," he wrote.

New York Times critic Ben Brantley wrote, "Spider-Man is not only the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway; it may also rank among the worst."

"I'm not kidding. The sheer ineptitude of this show, inspired by the Spider-Man comic books, loses its shock value early. After 15 or 20 minutes, the central question you keep asking yourself is likely to change from 'How can $65 million look so cheap?' to 'How long before I'm out of here?" he added.

The New York Post's Elisabeth Vincentelli found the show "equal parts exciting and atrocious…. constantly seesawing between the galvanizing and the lame.

"The flying sequences can be thrilling, as when Spider-Man first takes off over the orchestra; other times, they look barely good enough for Six Flags, the harnesses making the movements clunky," she wrote.

She also didn't mind the music too much.

"Though Bono and The Edge seemingly recycled a few old lyrics and riffs, they've also written some solid pop songs. The best are performed by Peter and Mary Jane, and they soar with U2's trademark grandiose angst," she wrote.

Gawker's Richard Lawson thinks the show can't be saved, calling it, "really, truly horrendously and unfixably bad down to its bones."

"The book is a travesty, the music is lazy and awful—it's like listening to the scraps left on the floor after U2 recorded "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me"—and the actors, including the voice-cracking lead Reeve Carney, are just not up to the vague, sloppy task set before them. If every flying element worked pretty much perfectly, as it did when I saw it, the show is still one of the worst things, if not the worst, I've ever seen on Broadway," he added.

The Los Angeles Times' Charles McNutly blames Taymor's "run-amok direction" for the show's downfalls.

"This is, after all, her vision, and it's a vision that has been indulged with too many resources, artistic and financial... The investors of Spider-Man have inadvertently bankrolled an artistic form of megalomania. The book, by Taymor and Glen Berger, is an absolute farrago, setting up layers and subplots before the main narrative line has been established," he wrote.