The Franco Files — #5


Welcome to June, and the fifth edition of The Franco Files! The exploration of James Franco’s contributions to the cinematic world continues, with the oppressive summer heat kicking in with full effect. And man is it getting pretty terrible around these parts. With the sweltering temps we are reminded that the big blockbuster action films have come out to play.

Since roughly the turn of the millennium the task has pretty consistently fallen upon Marvel Studio’s shoulders to deliver those kinds of goods. With the exception of a rare few outsiders — that is, non-comic book revisitations, re-boots, etc — the summer season is really the three-month period we get to look forward to some of our favorite super-powered peeps taking on ridiculously huge problems we couldn’t possibly tackle ourselves. And of course there have been other studios contributing to the influx of caped-hero crusades. (For example, Sony Pictures proudly brings you this brand new edition of The Franco Files.)

I mean, someone has to. If it isn’t Batman or Superman or Spidey, who else is going to save us from randomly impending doom. . . in the form of migraines, cramps, and possible heat strokes? Again, it’s summer. It’s hot. Our ability to save ourselves or to even really react to anything when it’s 90 degrees and 80% humidity has gone out the open window. It’s a truly lethargic time in the year. Maybe it’s good there are so many superheroes making their way to the big screen. We’ll never be bored. (Theoretically.)


Francophile #5: Harry Osborn, Spiderman trilogy

Role Type: Supporting

Genre: Action/drama

Character Profile: As both best friend to Peter Parker and his sworn enemy, Harry is one of the more complex characters in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman. His father, devastated by the loss of his wife after giving birth to Harry, has henceforth looked upon his son with disdain and quietly blamed him for the tragedy by largely ignoring him for most of his life. A bitter divide between father and son has long since been eating away at Harry’s soul, and so it should be no surprise that the fate awaiting this ostensibly good kid would be anything but filled with happiness and success. Quite the contrary. Franco’s deeply embittered Harry would become heir to the Green Goblin suit, the twisted, vengeful alter ego that his father turned to in times of great despair. Doubling as a physical outfit complete with a hover-board and supreme cheese, the Green Goblin represents the darker (well, more mischievous) side of Oscorp as well as one of the worst things about being Spiderman: watching over the city 24/7 will mean not always being there for your best buddy.

If you lose Franco, the film loses: much of the trilogy’s emotional core. It could be argued the on-again, off-again romantic tension with Mary Jane Watson provided the more painful scars, or that Uncle Ben and Aunt May’s dedicated and loving care truly fostered the best environment for Peter to develop into the kind, benevolent young man he becomes. However, its clear the fall-out between best friends Peter and Harry is what provides Peter with the heaviest heart Rather than being a gut-punch, the decay is long and drawn-out, and quite sad. Franco’s charming yet smarmy portrayal of this storied character is plenty responsible for our endearment to both him and this friendship arc. Confusion, bitterness and despair are qualities that tend to define the man, and these are things the actor handles with confidence. Replace him, and who knows how the character would change.

Out of Character: “[The Amazing Spider-Man] arose even before there was time to bury the corpse of the old one and enshroud it in the haze of nostalgia.” While I do not necessarily endorse Mr. Franco’s sentiments, I think this statement is hilarious and somewhat ironic, considering he himself took part in the recreation process of a classic comic. It seems that the notion that there can be “too much Spiderman” is shared even by those in the business.

(Whatever. You and I both know the biggest thing Marc Webb’s version missed out on was the casting of J.K. Simmons.)

Rate the Performance (relative to his other work): 


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13 thoughts on “The Franco Files — #5

  1. Pingback: The Franco Files #11 | digitalshortbread

  2. I always liked Franco well enough in the Spidey films (aside from the third, which we will pretend doesn’t exist), but I have to say, going back and watching, I sometimes find him fairly…wooden. He’s nice eye candy, and he does an okay job, but after seeing DeHaan’s snarky interpretation, Franco’s seems to pale in comparison. But I still like Franco better than Maguire in all three Spidey films! Lol. 😉


    • Im still pretty on-the-fence about who I prefer in the role honestly. . .Yes, Franco’s very wooden. I think the whole script in the Sam Raimi versions were though. DeHaan was over-the-top creepy. But perhaps he is meant to be. You gotta give and take things from both films, I guess. Lol. I love how divisive this part of Marvel has become. 😀


      • Bahaha it’s the great Osborn debate! 😉 Yeah, Raimi’s scripts did tend to be fairly wooden, I guess. I think DeHaan’s great when he’s Harry, but I will admit that he gets a little silly when he goes all Goblin on us. I was disappointed that Goblin was introduced in ASM2, actually. Why couldn’t Peter and Harry just stay bros for a while? Lol.


  3. I thought Franco good mad important in the first and second flicks, more or less. The third? No one was good in the third.

    Does that mean I agree or disagree with you? I’m not sure.


    • Yeah the third installment was a little desperate. I had some fun with it and think that the general hatred launched its way borders on excessive but it was by far the weakest link. I’ve always liked Franco and so his performances here were suitable for the material even if I think these movies in general are just overstuffed with the cheese factor. I hoped to like DeHaan’s Harry Osborn better in the new one, but that actually wasn’t the case for me either. Lol


  4. I’d say he’s almost the best thing in Raimi’s trilogy. This is what switched me onto The Franc. That said, Dane Dehaan did a good job in the last Spidey film. Splendid read!


    • Haha “The Franc,” I like that.

      His Harry Osborn I much preferred over DeHaan’s. DeHaan to me was trying too hard, but good to know you got something out of his performance, though. I could take or leave parts of both franchises, but to me I’ve always thought Franco provided a lot of that untrusting, smarmy and two-faced kind of loyalty to these movies. He gave a lot to these films, and I might be inclined to say he’s one of the best things about Spiderman because of that. 😀


  5. Your description of summer, film-wise, was perfect! That’s exactly how it is. And I love it. I had no idea Franco was in Spiderman!


    • Hey thanks so much Elina! Yeah summer is a good time for the blockbuster fan in all of us, eh? It’s just a great time to grab a huge popcorn and drink, kick your feet up and gaze at some awesome special FX and drown in silly stories!

      That’s crazy you didn’t recognize Franco from Spiderman, I thought he was one of the bigger names in that movie! 😉


        • haha, oh no not at all. that stuff happens to me all the time. It wasn’t until only a few months ago I learned that Sofia Coppola (who recently made this thing called The Bling Ring, which I absolutely hated lol) made the movie Lost in Translation (not sure if u know that one) but it was a super popular movie from early 2000’s and eveyrone I knew had already seen it. Everyone but me, apparently. It’s fun finding stuff out like that


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