Of course, you all know your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. That cackling psycho who buries women up to their necks in sand, then slices their faces with a motorboat rotor? What the hell?! Welcome to 3 Dev Adam (Three Mighty Men), the wacky Turkish oddity that presents a radically different Spidey - a crazed criminal killing and stealing in Istanbul with his gang of hoodlums, including glamorous girlfriend Nadja. “What do you think of this Spider business?” a local cop asks Police Chief Orhan. By way of an answer, Orhan points to the newly arrived threesome of Captain America (Aytekin Akkaya), famed Mexican wrestler Santo (Yavuz Selekman) and their groovy gal pal Julia, strutting out the airport to music stolen from the James Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever (1971).
For those not in the know, El Santo was a real-life champion wrestler in Mexico who played a mythic exaggeration of himself in fifty-two movies from the late Fifties to the early Eighties. Notably, the cult favourite Santo vs. the Vampire Women (1962), the time travel meets Bram Stoker adaptation Santo In The Treasure of Dracula (1969) and the all-star wrestling rally The Mummies of Guanajuato (1970) which is widely considered the greatest luchadore (Mexican wrestler) film of all time. Here however, Santo appears sans silver mask (something no Mexican wrestler would ever do) as a suspiciously Turkish looking guy in a snazzy white polyester suit. Meanwhile, Captain America is a shaggy haired dude in a snakeskin jacket. Both heroes spend more screentime in civilian attire, but don their iconic costumes for one notable scene. Why? “Spider is a child-minded lunatic who wears a mask”, says Cap. “When he sees other men wearing masks he wants to destroy them.” Ah, so that explains everything.
There exists a parallel world, outside the realm of copyright law, inhabited by such fringe items as the Japanese Spider-Man (1978) (where Spidey drives a racecar and commands his own giant robot) and the Filipino parodies Alyas Batman and Robin (1991) and James Batman (1966) (where the caped crusader meets 007). 3 Dev Adam is probably the most notorious example from a country that also produced its own eccentric variations on Star Trek and Star Wars. Despite co-opting their superheroes, the Turkish filmmakers were evidently less inspired by Marvel comics than by the amoral exploits of Italian antiheroes like the trendsetting Kriminal (1966). Spidey, or should that be Spider’s unfathomable modus operandi boils down to murdering an array of glamorous women in increasingly gruesome ways. He strangles one in the shower, skewers two lovers having sex in yet another shower, then proves his violence is not restricted to the fairer sex (or those who enjoy showers) by shoving a flesh-eating guinea pig (?) down a tube onto one screaming henchman.
Insanely fast-paced, the film offers an amusing mix of juvenile superheroics and lurid sadism with added time-outs for saucy antics as our webslinging fiend shares a steamy love scene with Nadja and a nameless chanteuse performs a pink-lit striptease in one of those stylish nightclub scenes often found in Turkish cult cinema. Utterly incoherent on a story level, it is a blur of garish colours, zoom-happy camerawork and slapdash editing. The action is energetic but less imaginatively staged than more notable Turkish fantasy films such as the sublime Tarkan versus the Vikings (1971) or the equally nutty The Deathless Devil (1972), but has camp moments to savour: e.g. the evil henchman who admires Santo’s strapping physique (“Hmm, I bet you work out”), the drunken hobo who throws his bottle away after an encounter with Spider-Man, and the heroes' amusing habit of popping headfirst into frame. A notably bizarre and nonsensical twist seemingly can’t make up its mind whether Spidey is able to be in several places at once, can revive from the point of death or else has several fake Spidermen ready to leap out and taunt our heroes during the frenzied finale. It all adds to the film’s insane charm.