Linux on Film: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Part 1

Ok, for dedicated fans of the latest Spider-Man movie (me included), Sony made use of this brilliant flick to advertise their Sony Vaio Desktop and support Microsoft Bing. Our hero, Peter Parker (played by the exceptional Andrew Garfield), uses his Vaio and Bing to search for clues about Richard Parker, Oscorp, and the spider-bite. So where's Linux?


To be fair, Sony provided Peter with an old-school Sony desktop and not one of those slick touch-screen Vaios.

Well, this blog entry is somewhat like the old Marvel comic book series, "What if. . .­". If Sony wasn't a major player for The Amazing Spider-Man (hereon referred to as TASM), Peter would have used a Raspberry Pi (a complete portable Linux platform) or Arduino microprocessor when he was designing his web-shooters. As it was, Peter used a video card's GPU processor to power/design/test the trigger control and reloading system of his fashionably smaller and less bulky web-shooters. The circuit board shown on the scene is possibly an old video card, more likely with an Nvidia chipset, as seen in the montage where Peter works on the web-shooters using Oscorp-provided materials (more on this later).


Realistically, Pete probably used an old board with an integrated processor (more likely a video card) as a testing platform. The VGA, USB, audio, and Serial port gives it away.


A small circuit board is visible on Peter's desk which resembles a Linux-powered Raspberry Pi.


Peter rigs a police scanner using his Sony Experia's transceiver with what could also be a Raspberry Pi. I'm pretty sure he could have just downloaded an app though.


Fans of Spider-Man during the 60s-80s know that Peter's original web-shooters were purely mechanical with a simple double-tap electrode, pressurized cartridges that held his web fluid, and a nozzle that Spidey adjusts on-the-go to create solid, semi-solid, and wet webbing that can be shaped and manipulated when exposed to oxygen.  

The original stainless steel web-shooters were actually bulky though artists never drew the odd protrusions on Spidey's gloves. Intelligent supporting characters and villains, such as Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, have noticed the web-shooters and even used them to their advantage (such as the Kingpin and the retarded Punisher). Later on, Peter would design plastic/ceramic web-shooters to avoid alarms in airports and places that make use of metal detectors (such as when he visited Flash Thompson in ASM#278, then accused of being Hobgoblin, in prison). This redesign didn't decrease the size of the web-shooters - the web-shooters still took up most of Peter's forearm when worn depending on which artist drew him.


Spidey's web-shooters take up a huge part of his forearm as seen in the classic story "The Boy Who Collects Spider-Man" (ASM#248)

One glaring scientific flaw in Stan Lee's concept of the web-shooters is the sheer amount of fluid Pete expends per webline, net, and makeshift weapon. Physics would tell you that even if Peter constantly replaced the cartridges in his web-shooters during his adventures, he would still run out (Pete often commuted and patrolled across New York city and the whole metropolitan area up to New Jersey).  Worst still, artists rarely drew Spidey reloading his cartridges, except for extreme cases such as Pete's climactic first encounter with the Juggernaut in the 80s (ASM#229-230). Ironically, Pete running out of webbing occurs more often in the animated versions of Spider-Man (e.g. Spectacular Spider-Man 2011 and Spider-Man 1981) than he did in the comic books.


In a rare comic book instance, Spidey runs out of webbing as he faces down the unstoppable Juggernaut in ASM#230

The movie The Amazing Spider-Man fixes many of these problems scientifically and though the concept is still farfetched, it was executed very well, upending Sam Raimi's notion that Spider-Man could not exist on film with mechanical web-shooters. As a grudging supporter of the Spider-Man 2099-style organic webbing approach by Raimi, I was impressed with TASM.

Osborn Technology

The properties and advantages of Oscorp's experimental genetically modified webbing is briefly described in a montage as "10x stronger than steel" and uses one pellet that "can safely store several hundred meters of webbing". A spherical form factor for storing the webbing in pressurized form is definitely a more credible explanation for Peter's wondrous web-shooters and solves the problem of web-fluid consumption.

Unfortunately, the montage focuses on the Oscorp packaging and the pellet video briefly and most of the audience would have likely missed it. There are a few questionable plot holes (such as Pete "stealing " the tech from Oscorp Industries and Curt Connors) but the science is pretty good.


Peter gets an Oscorp package of 24 units of modified webbing in pellets, more likely courtesy of Professor Curt Connors.


Peter would have to learn how to reverse engineer the webbing and the "pellets" especially now that Connors is in prison at the end of the movie and his department projects were shuttered.
     

Continued in Linux on Film: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Part 2: Piezo and the Spider-Tracer

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