The new rebooted Spider-Man franchise has failed to live up to all the expectations brought on by the fact that a) both movies thus far have been directed by 500 Days of Summer’s Marc Webb and b) star Andrew Garfield as the titular hero. Despite the fact that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 was viewed as enough of a failure (creatively, not financially) to warrant rebooting the entire franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man movies have either felt invariably stale and/or too familiar, or have reprised so many of that picture’s colossal mistakes that it’s hard to know how to take it.
Spider-Man is arguably the most popular superhero of all, so it’s surprising that – with so much brilliant source material to work with and such an eager fanbase – so much of the new franchise has felt entirely lackluster. The [The Amazing Spider-Man 2](movie:508593), for all its successes, felt too similar to Spider-Man (2002), whereas The Amazing Spider-Man 2 felt like a hodgepodge of half-realised ideas and underdeveloped plot points.
Before Sony saddles up for the third outing in this blockbuster series, then, here are 10 lessons the studio needs to learn to ensure that the movie is actually worthwhile…
10. A Villain We Care About (Or Understand) Is Essential
What arguably allowed for Spider-Man 2 to thrive as what is arguably the best superhero movie ever made (and without a doubt the greatest Spider-Man movie of all)? Its villain. The reason that Spider-Man 2 resonated with audiences to such a degree stemmed from the fact that we could empathise with bad guy Dr. Octavius, who starts out as a man trying to do some genuine good, and turned “evil” as a result of a tragedy (his beloved wife his killed and he’s super angry about it).
Cut to The Amazing Spider-Man, and we’ve got the Lizard, whose motivations – as Dr. Curt Connors – were muddled to begin with: we didn’t like him much when he was human, so we’re not emotionally invested in his story arc. Same goes for Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2: he was so underdeveloped, that it was hard to care about anything he said or did.
9. A Single Villain Is Enough, You Know
Speaking of villains, it’s amazing to ponder as to how – given that it was the major criticism associated with Spider-Man 3 – Sony ended up approving THREE VILLAINS for the likes of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It makes so little sense as to how something like that could have actually happened, and what do you know? It did! The movie felt as uneven and bloated and undeveloped and messy as Spider-Man 3 did on account of having so many bad guys on show.
What seems to be occurring, essentially, is that Sony are trying to implement as many characters as possible as quickly as possible, presumably so that they have a shot at competing with the already massive Marvel Cinematic Universe and the soon to be realised DC Cinematic Universe. The problem is that these things take time, and [The Amazing Spider-Man 3](movie:671279) already looks like it’s going to suffer with Spidey going up against – erk – [Sinister Six](movie:1274281) .
8. Slow Down
Which brings us to our next point: Sony, quite simply, need to slow down. There is absolutely no point trying to cobble together a cinematic universe as quickly as possible – the villains in the Spider-Man mythos deserve to be dealt with delicately, preferably in their own SEPARATE pictures. From the looks of things, the upcoming Sinister Six film will bring together a few of iconic villains – a cool idea, perhaps, but are we going too fast?
The answer is probably yes. By having all the iconic villains in Spider-Man’s world coming together at once, we’re literally zapping the potential from each and every one of them. It will certainly be cool to watch several of the big bads dealing with one another and plotting against our favourite webhead, but the idea is also very risky: in one movie, there’s a chance you might ruin their reputations simultaneously with a single picture. Can’t we just go straight to Spider-Man 3?
7. A Spider-Man Movie Should Be Fun
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seemed to exist in a state of melancholia – it wasn’t exactly Requiem for a Dream, but there was something of a drab tone covering the whole affair, almost as if the filmmakers felt they should make an ultimately serious picture but still insisted on moments of “fun” now and again. As a result, the whole thing felt like a bit of a mess – the inconsistent nature of the film’s tone meant that the scenes felt constantly at odds with one another.
What the franchise is really missing, then, is a sense of actual “fun.” Like, Spider-Man being Spider-Man and enjoying the hell out of it; action scenes that aren’t insanely crucial to the storyline, but exist just to make Spidey look cool; a generally lighthearted kind of picture. It’s true that The Amazing Spider-Man was a little more like that in style and didn’t have so many tonal issues inherent to it, but already there’s a sense that this franchise is becoming a bit too “serious” for its own good. Make it super fun, guys.
6. We’re Over The Peter’s Parents Thing
One of the most infuriating things about The Amazing Spider-Man was in its inability to follow through on the promises of its trailer – that’s to say, the movie was teased as something it actually wasn’t, and fans were a little confused when the movie debuted, given that the associated marketing campaign had suggested that the picture centred around some great mystery regarding Peter’s parents. And then all we got were a few hints about their mysterious disappearance. Huh?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did what it needed to do, though, and filled in most of the details regarding the whole Peter Parker’s parents thing (though, let’s face it, the answers were not particularly interesting, nor were they crazy or exciting enough to warrant us waiting to find out in the sequel). Now we’ve been briefed, then, it’s safe to say that we’re pretty much over the Parker origin story; the filmmakers would be wise to leave this thread alone now, and to move onwards and upwards.
5. Spider-Man Needs Developing, Too
Despite the fact that he’s played brilliantly by Andrew Garfield, doesn’t the actor’s version of Spider-Man feel a little… underdeveloped? At least, compared with the likes of Tobey Maguire’s incarnation, there’s something missing, isn’t there? Like we don’t quite “get” our favourite web-slinger, or we’re not entirely sure what he thinks or feels. This presumably comes down to the fact that his motives aren’t really all that clear – he’s Spider-Man, sure, but why is he Spider-Man?
We’re not just talking about the fact that Uncle Ben died and thus Spider-Man was born out of the guilt associated with that – we’re talking about Peter Parker himself. Who is he? Why is he the way he is? Why does he get out of bed every morning to fight crime? As it stands, the whole thing feels a little vague. In other superhero movies, like Batman Begins or Iron Man, character motives feel established and strong: we don’t question them. In this franchise, not so much.
4. Ensure There’s An Actual Story In Place
“Hodgepodge.” That’s the best and most accurate way to describe The Amazing Spider-Man 2. There were a bunch of potentially interesting story elements, all of which could have been expanded into far meatier chunks, that came across in an underwhelming way. Why? Lack of focus. There was so much to deal with (Electro/Harry Osborn/Peter’s Parents/Aunt May/Gwen Stacy) that absolutely nothing satisfied; and as a result, there wasn’t really very much of a story happening.
Seriously: try to summarise the actual “storyline” inherent to The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s a lot harder than you think, because there were so many random elements flying around, some of which were explored in too much detail, whereas others weren’t explored enough. Instead of a collection of vaguely linked scenes, then, The Amazing Spider-Man 3 needs to give Peter Parker a storyline that he can truly sink his teeth into. Something with an actual beginning, middle and end.
3. Stop Forcing It
There was something icky about the way in which Peter Parker referred to Harry Osborn as his “best friend” at one point in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, because that just didn’t feel right at all, did it? After all, there had been no mention of such a friendship in The Amazing Spider-Man, nor had Peter ever brought up the fact that he had a best friend at any point before. It’s as if the writers thought they could get away with: “Oh, yeah, uh… these guys are best friends, by the way.”
And because of the pre-established connection between Peter and Harry that has been built into our subconscious through the Spider-Man mythos, we just sort of accepted it. The problem with this, however, is that – from a screenwriting perspective – it’s cheating and it’s lazy… do this too many times and you threaten to lose your audience’s trust. Sony need to steer well and truly clear of “forcing” the story into place, because it feels awkward and contrived. Just let it flow, guy!
2. Keep The World Consistent
When movie franchises switch directors between pictures, they often tend to feel a little “different,” which makes complete and utter sense, but the results can be a little jarring. Remember when Alfonso Cuaron took over from Chris Columbus for the third Harry Potter movie? It was the best movie by far, but the world in Cuaron’s movie felt different from the world established in the first two pictures – objects moved, locations differed, and the camerawork got a lot more innovative.
These sorts of problem shouldn’t occur, however, when two movies in a given franchise are directed by the same person. In this case, Marc Webb has helmed both The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and guess what? He’s in line to direct the third installment, too. And yet both movies so far feel completely different from one another: the first felt more grounded in reality, whereas the sequel was too heightened, too comic-y. A balance is needed!
1. Let Marc Webb & The Writers Have More Control
Given the mixed to poor reviews that met The Amazing Spider-Man 2 upon its release, the general consensus seems to be: “it’s the studio’s fault.” At least, according to Andrew Garfield anyway, who recently revealed in an interview that studio interference caused a lot of issues. Of the movie, Garfield said:
“For me, I read the script that Alex [Kurtzman] and Bob [Orci] wrote, and I genuinely loved it. There was this thread running through it. I think what happened was, through the pre-production, production, and post-production, when you have something that works as a whole, and then you start removing portions of it—because there was even more of it than was in the final cut, and everything was related. Once you start removing things and saying, ‘No, that doesn’t work,’ then the thread is broken, and it’s hard to go with the flow of the story. Certain people at the studio had problems with certain parts of it, and ultimately the studio is the final say in those movies because they’re the tentpoles, so you have to answer to those people.”
I'm not saying that the Amazing Spiderman 2 sucks or its the worst movie ever,I'm just saying that Sony and the rest of the studios should reconsider these things that I've mentioned above.The director and the actors are doing just a great job,except maybe for the studios.
For the next movie, then, we need the studio to have better faith in the people it chooses to make it, instead of just picking at the bits and pieces that they want and hoping that whatever they’ve selected just comes together as a fluid whole. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the proof that such an approach doesn’t work (and so was Spider-Man 3, in fact) – Marc Webb needs is able to lead the movie, and the studio need to learn that the less involved they are, the better the final product will probably be.