Spiderhead had the potential to become the emotional substitute for The Hole and has remained a streaming blockbuster, a new genre with new peculiarities. The original ending of the story it was inspired by gave us a satisfying ending that made a lot more sense.
The ending of Spiderhead, which doesn’t have to be explained because it couldn’t be clearer, has left you a little disappointed/and it’s normal. As optimistic as the ending is. It has an explanation. It has absolutely nothing to do with the original story on which Spiderhead is inspired, a short story by the American writer George Saunders published in 2010 in The New Yorker magazine and later collected in his book of short stories Ten of December. The two endings have nothing to do with each other. The one in the story makes full sense of the story of Jeff (Miles Teller) and Abernati (Chris Hemsworth) and the one in the Netflix movie is more of the same. And it has an explanation.
Actor Chris Hemsworth, the protagonist of the Netflix film Spiderhead and the Tyler Rake saga, Tyler Rake 2 about to be released, has the honor, along with Charlize Theron, star of The Old Guard, also about to release The Old Guard 2, of having become the standard bearer of a new film genre: the streaming blockbuster. These are films directed exclusively to the Netflix streaming platform that adapt comics, stories, and books that are out of the ordinary and that treat them as Hollywood products with a happy ending, easy to consume.
In the case of Spiderhead, there is no possibility of a sequel, as in the rest of the films of this new genre, but if it were a success on the platform, they would give us a surprise. But let’s go with the original ending. The film offers a happy ending, one of those we are so used to when the original ending was dark. And consistent. Although we should have suspected by now when Chris Hemsworth’s character was changed from Ray, in the original, to Steve, in the movie.
The starting point and the skeleton of the story and film are the same. Jeff (Miles Teller) is in an experimental prison where he is nothing more than a guinea pig where a pharmacology genius, Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth), develops new pharmaceuticals. Just like in the movie, Abnesti brings Jeff and Heather (Tess Haubrich) together for an experiment that he presumably wants to determine the strength of love. That’s when the story begins to change. Because the next woman to enter the equation is Rachel, who would be the character of Lilly (Jurnee Smollett) and not a random recluse age to cause a certain impact on a certain type of modest viewers. It is between Heather and Rachel that she has to choose Jeff to administer Darkenfloxx, the drug that causes extreme mental and physical anguish. Then the experiment goes on like in the movie until we get to Heather’s overdose. There is no supply failure.
In the story, simply put, the Darkenfloxx is so damaging that Heather commits suicide to escape the pain. When Abnesti reveals that he will do the same thing to Rachel to determine if Jeff has a romantic attachment, Jeff refuses to participate. Abnesti requests a court order to administer a drug to Jeff to force him to follow his orders. To prevent Rachel from being tortured, Jeff administers Darkenfloxx to himself and, while under her influence, commits suicide. Jeff decides not to kill. It is a free choice that makes him die happy. In the story, all the focus is on Jeff, on the elections.
In the film, an evil Abnesti is built, a textbook antagonist: the sociopath who uses others. In the story, the sociopathy is from the Government that looks favorably on the experiments. The twist of the film is to discover that Abnesti is not looking for the drug of love, but the drug of obedience. Or rather: Absolute Obedience, a drug to guarantee that a person obeys an order against her will. That’s where Chris Hemsworth‘s character drops all that he wants “a world full of people who do everything they’re told.” And that everything is done for the common good. And that free will is eliminated.