Why The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Could Be The Definitive Spider-Man Film
Reasons why The Amazing Spider-Man 2 could get it perfect
So from what I can judge, reactions to Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man were very, very mixed. Some people preferred it to the Raimi version, some people thought it was a piece of s**t and others are just “meh” towards anything Spider-Man related arguably due to the character’s over-exposure these days. Being probably one of the biggest Spider-Man fans on the planet, I personally can’t get enough of Spidey on the big screen but I feel that a movie incarnation has yet to be perfected, although I do think that the first two Raimi films and Marc Webb’s reboot all came very close to hitting the nail on the head.
My personal stance on Spider-Man as a character is that he is the greatest superhero ever created without a doubt. This comes down to one factor for me: he’s relatable. When Stan and Steve first debuted the Webhead, readers immediately took to him because underneath his mask he was just a regular guy with regular problems like them, unlike characters like Superman that were essentially archetypes. I know that everyone loves Batman because of his dark, tortured, badass persona but come on, even if he has no superpowers he’s a billionaire playboy at the peak of physical perfection with a genius intellect and unlimited wealth and resources, who can relate to that? I see Batman as the cool kid at school that everyone idolizes whereas Spider-Man is the underdog that constantly gets overshadowed. That analogy was certainly represented at the box office last year, as while The Amazing Spider-Man was a success, it wasn’t the highest grossing superhero film of 2012, getting overshadowed by the admittedly awesome The Avengers and the somewhat overrated (in my opinion) The Dark Knight Rises.
Say what you will about Marc Webb’s reboot but I feel that it’s the best Spider-Man film to date. This is because it retained all the elements that the Raimi films got right while also adding new elements that those films were lacking. For example, they made Spidey a wise-ass like he is in the comics (hallelujah!) and the addition of mechanical webshooters allowed Peter to display his intelligence and ingenuity. The reboot also generally handled the characters a lot better than the Raimi films did, particularly the love interest; Gwen Stacy was intelligent and could handle herself without needing Spider-Man to save her all the time, whereas Mary Jane, while having some depth to her character, was much more of a typical damsel in distress. Also, Peter's transition into a hero is fleshed out a lot more, giving us more understanding of his character and motivations. All the other characterizations were spot on as well and the casting was pitch perfect. Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man had a lot of things going against it; not least of which was the terrible marketing campaign that spoiled far too much and promised an “untold story” that the film ultimately didn’t deliver. In addition to this, the rushed script development meant that the villain and overall story were a little generic and the fact that the Raimi films were still fresh in audience’s minds made people feel like they were being fed the same stuff.
So why do I think that the sequel to ASM could turn out to be the ultimate Spider-Man film (I may have intended a pun there)? Well from what we’ve seen from it so far, it definitely appears to be on exactly the right track. For starters, the new costume design seems to be pleasing fans across the board. When I first saw the new suit, I had very mixed feelings. I felt that although it was more faithful to the design seen in the comics than any movie suit so far it was a huge step backwards stylistically. A lot of people disliked the suit from The Amazing Spider-Man because of how different it was but I thought that the new modern take worked really well and the texture of the suit made it look incredible on screen. With the sequel, it seems as though the studio have reacted towards the negative criticism the first suit attracted and have forced Webb to go back to a much more traditional design, harkening back to the Raimi years. It doesn’t look to me like much imagination went into this design, although one thing I find interesting is the fact that the new design incorporates the much larger eyes that are often seen in the comics, especially in the Ultimate series. Whether or not they’ll look too cartoony on screen remains to be seen but they look pretty cool in the set photos. Overall, while I still feel that the suit from the first film looked way cooler, the new Spidey definitely resembles the one we all know and love from years gone by (despite the fact that his new radically different duds will create a rather distracting continuity issue).
Now onto the cast and characters: well the first major new addition we heard about was Jamie Foxx, hot from his marvelous performance in Django, as the supervillain Electro; a very interesting choice. While the character of Electro in the comics has never been particularly interesting and has usually been a throwaway villain who works for other, more prominent baddies, I think Foxx is a really good actor and should be able to make the character his own (and it’s been made apparent that he’ll be based on the Ultimate version of the character so thankfully he won’t be wearing that silly green and yellow outfit). Another earlier piece of casting information was that Martin Sheen would be returning as Uncle Ben, which raises a few questions: will his appearance be in flashback or will he return from the grave? (I think it’s safe to assume flashback) How will it fit into the story? Well as they say, only time will tell.
The next piece of casting news that raised eyebrows was the casting of Shailene Woodley as none other than Mary Jane Watson. This got fans thinking that her character would be set up to be Peter’s next love interest after Gwen inevitably kicks the bucket. Interestingly, Woodley’s shoot only lasted for a few weeks meaning that her part will be pretty small. This is probably a good thing as it means that the plot hopefully won’t get too caught up in the love triangle business, which was one of the many problems people had with Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. Then we heard that another blast from the past character from the Spidey mythos was being cast in the new film-verse, Harry Osborn, and that he was to be played by Chronicles’s Dane Dehaan. Admittedly I’ve not actually seen Chronicle but his character looked pretty brooding in the trailers which could work well for Harry Osborn, especially if they explore Harry’s tortured, self destructive side as seen in his drug addiction arc in the comics. It was rumored for a while (due to a misinterpreted Marc Webb tweet) that Harry would become Venom in this film but this has since been debunked, which I was glad to hear as I’d hate for the film series to start taking cues from the terrible Ultimate Spider-Man animated series (don’t know if any of you have seen it but it really is an abomination of children’s entertainment).
Then things started to get rather intriguing. Paul Giamatti was reportedly cast as the Rhino, which caused some people’s heads to explode. While people generally view Giamatti as a brilliant actor, some question his suitability for the role as the dimwitted, thuggish villain (although a theory that I support is that he’ll be playing a Rhino similar to the Ultimate version, which would offer a very different take on the character). Apart from the pretty novel casting choice however, this info got people concerned that the second film could end up suffering from villain overload just as Spider-Man 3 did. These fears were only made worse when Oscar winner Chris Cooper was cast as Norman Osborn, adding a possible appearance of the Green Goblin to the mix. Thankfully though, it has since been made clear that Norman will not become the Goblin in the second film so we’ll only have two villains to focus on, and it’s likely that the Rhino will simply be a throwaway villain that Spidey tackles before Electro arrives on the scene. We’ve also got Colm Feore (how the hell do you pronounce that name??) and Felicity Jones cast in as yet unspecified roles which adds an air of mystery, although they will most likely be very minor parts (Felicity Jones couldn’t be playing Black Cat, could she?) In any case, with such stellar actors being added to an already impressive lineup, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing a lot of first class performances in this flick.
Performances aside however, the aspect that should hopefully make this film will be the story. While very few plot details have been released so far, what we do know is that it will be around the time of Peter’s graduation from High School and he will be battling Oscorp employee Max Dillon when he becomes Electro after some kind of accident. Up until recently that was all we knew, but someone reporting on ComicBookMovie.com has revealed a supposedly legit plot detail that while many of us would have probably seen coming is still a pretty major spoiler: apparently Gwen is gonna be pushing up daisies (dead) by the end of the film. My first thought was, “what?! Surely it’s too soon, shouldn’t they be saving that for the third one?” However, I think if they construct the narrative well enough, it could add some real depth to Spider-Man’s onscreen journey and capture the more tragic side of his story seen a lot in the comics. Also, very interestingly, if she does get killed off in this film it means that the Green Goblin won’t be the one to kill her (at least not directly as Norman may very well be pulling strings from behind the scenes). This is yet another indication to me that Webb is taking a lot of cues from the Ultimate comics as Gwen was killed by a different villain in that series as well (Carnage, to be precise, although I’m 99.99999999% certain he won’t be in ASM2).
To sum up, I love what Webb did with The Amazing Spider-Man; although it wasn’t exactly an untold story, I personally feel that he told it better than Raimi did as he explored parts of the hero’s personality and psyche that are integral to his character and that were not fleshed out enough in the original films. And now that the retold origin story is out of the way and he’s got freedom to explore new ground I think he has the potential to deliver us a web-slinging masterpiece (as long as he doesn’t f**k up by copying Spider-Man 2). So what can we expect from ASM 2 if all goes well? I’m holding out hope that we’ll get a movie adaptation that is very faithful to the source material and will give us the fully-fledged Spider-Man character we’ve always wanted to see on film.
Whatever the second installment in this refreshed Spidey franchise holds in store for us, one thing is certain: we could not have asked for a more appropriately named director.
Please let me know what you think in the comments.
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