Right from casualgamer‘s list, another Spider-Man related character, an historical villain and sometimes hero: Sandman. The character made his live action debut in Spider-Man 3 as one of the three antagonists of the movie. In here, Thomas Haden Church portrays Flint Marko, a man who’s become a robber to pay for the cures of his beloved daughter Penny, and who’s revealed to be Uncle Ben‘s true (unwilling) killer. On the run from the police, he’s involved in an experiment with a particle accelerator and becomes the Sandman. A vengeful Black Spider-Man faces and seemingly kills him, but Marko survives and teams up with Venom, only to be defeated by the New Goblin in the final battle. Spider-Man eventually spares his life and lets him go, convinced of the man’s good heart. Sandman’s live action portrayal wasn’t half bad, but obviously there were some major differences from the original version: let’s see together.
William Baker didn’t have an easy life: when he was still an infant, his father Floyd abandoned him and his wife, leaving them on their own. William was raised in Queens, New York, by his mother only, but he ended up learning how to steal when he was still a child because of the poverty he and his mother lived in. The woman, depressed, soon gave herself to alcohol, and the only moments of happiness Baker remembered from his childhood were the ones in which his mother took him to the beach on Coney Island, where he enjoyed playing with sand castles. This talent with building things with sand earned him the esteem of his teacher, Miss Flint, whom he had a child crush on; it was thanks to Miss Flint and her art project that William stayed in school. In prep school, at first, William was tormented by a bully, Vic, who made him the favourite target of his gang. With time, however, the smaller boy learnt how to use his opponents’ strength against them, and he managed to defend himself from his assailants, overwhelming them and becoming, in turn, a bully of bullies. This new leaf of his school life earned him some troubles with the principal, but William noticed he also earned the respect of the boys and the admiration of the girls. Now the biggest and baddest bully in school, William befriended Vic, and he also became a football champion. When Vic ended up having heavy debts with local mobsters, William decided to sell a game to repay them; unfortunately, his coach found out what the boy was doing, and he angrily confronted him about it: in response, William attacked him and beat him, earning an expulsion from school. Grateful, Vic stayed to his friend’s side, and the two became petty criminals, making their way in the underworld. In this time, William’s mother started refusing any gift from her son, knowing where they came from. After a robbery, William Baker was arrested, and he was locked in the same prison that hosted Floyd Baker, his father. William wanted to know him, but he didn’t want to make him know he was his son: he introduced himself as “Flint Marko”, taking as a first name the surname of the only teacher who had believed in him. That name sticked to him, and when he came out of prison, he was known by everybody as the robber Flint Marko.
Out of prison, Flint found out that Vic was having an affair with his girlfriend, Marcy: enraged, he beat Vic, and then started venting his rage in a series of brutal robberies. He was caught once again, and this time he ended up in Ryker’s Island. While he was serving his sentence, Flint found out that his father had been released from prison: a reson enough for him to try and reach him. He escaped from prison, obviously starting a manhunt. On the run, he ended up near Savannah, Georgia…exactly near an atomic testing site. As a result of the raditations, Marko’s body bonded with the nearby sand, transforming him in a being entirely made of sand, able to merge with nearby sand as well to increase his body mass, and to modify himself in whatever shape he could imagine. Obviously, these new powers only gave Marko new means to immprove his criminal career. Back to New York, he named himself Sandman and resumed the robberies, being utterly unstoppable for the regular law enforcers. On his debut, Sandman was faced by one of the newest superheroes in town, Spider-Man…who had against him the same luck the policemen had, which is none: not a single punch from the hero managed to hurt Sandman, not even to slow him down, and the robber easily defeated Spider-Man, forcing him to flee the moment he broke his mask. Looking for a place to rest in peace after the robbery, Sandman took shelter in Midtown High School, where Spider-Man found him again: this time, the hero was prepared, and he managed to defeat him by sucking him into a vacuum cleaner. Beaten and humiliated, Sandman was sent to prison, but with his powers he easily escaped once again…only to be defeated by the Human Torch and imprisoned again. From that moment, however, Sandman started raising in power and fame among the supervillains, and he joined first the Sinister Six in a rematch against Spider-Man, then the Frightful Four in a plan from the Wizard to annihilate the Fantastic Four, then again he teamed up with the Mandarin to battle the Hulk. After some years of crime, however, a traumatic experience involving Hydro-Man brought him to reform, and he joined Silver Sable and her mercenaries first, and even the Avengers later. Of course, a guy like Flint Marko couldn’t stay a good boy forever, and it was just a matter of time before he broke bad again…
William Baker, aka Flint Marko, is quite a complicated man, scarred by a hard childhood and adolescence, venting all the rage he accumulated over the years in a life of crime and violence. Under the facade of a tough guy and a brutal bank-robber there’s an insecure man who struggles with a coscience never totally silenced, and his continuous jumps from a side to the other of the law speak about a fragmented personality in which good and evil, egoism and heroism battle in the effort of following the one thing Flint learnt as a child: always leave a mark. As the Sandman, he’s totally made of sand, and he can assume whatever shape he can think of; he possesses a nearly unmeasurable strength, augmentable along with his size with all the sand he’s able to absorb; he can freely control his density, becoming hard as rock or malleable as rubber. He’s a shape-shifter who can alter his appearance, stretch and deform his body, using this skill for both offensive and defensive purposes; he can even transform the sand of his body in glass, thus being capable of reflecting light and energy; the armor built for him by Wizard (using Mr. Fantastic‘s stolen tech) allowed him to use his powers in an extended way, mixing his sand with various chemicals for a variety of effects. Extremely powerful, Sandman can be both a formidable force for good or a highly dangerous threat for anybody, depending on how much he’s able to listen to his deep-buried conscience.