Does the world need another Spider-Man movie?

Movies Blog

While talking to the missus last week, Yahoo! Movies mentioned some interviews we did for 'The Amazing Spider-Man'.

"Oh, I LOVE Tobey Maguire, will you be talking to him?" Umm, no darling. He's not in the film.

"How about Kirsten Dunst?" Her neither. It's a reboot.

"Er, what's a reboot?"

[Related story: The changing face of Spider-Man]
[Related story: The Amazing Spider-Man trailer explained]

In a nutshell, this is the problem facing 'The Amazing Spider-Man' - the brand new film outing for the webslinger that's out this week.

It has nothing to do with the previous Sam Raimi films (which, let's not forget, made more than £1.5 billion between them), stars an entirely new cast and begins the whole story from scratch. Again.

Life would be easier for Sony's marketing team if a lengthy period had passed between 'Spider-Man 3' and this… but it's only been five years.

Indeed the studio had originally planned to follow up their 'threequel' with a fourth entry in Raimi's universe, only for the development process to get mired in disputes over stories and specifically villains. Raimi wanted John Malkovich as a baddie, the studio didn't. Eventually he quit because, according to producer Avi Arad, "we didn't have a story that was strong enough and warranted... another movie."

With Raimi and Maguire gone, the studio rebuilt their most lucrative franchise from the ground up, starting with the leftfield choice of Marc Webb as director.

He directed ace bitter-sweet romance/drama '(500) Days Of Summer' and was tasked with taking Peter Parker back to High School.

Speaking to Yahoo! Movies UK, Webb said he was as surprised as the rest of us when he got the gig. "It was a shocking phone call to get! My last film was a very small, intimate story between two people and I wasn't expecting that.

"[But] It was the domestic dramas in the comics that I loved. The stuff with Gwen Stacy, and Aunt May. The little things we all experience set against the backdrop of massive action.

This approach, according to Arad, will make this version of 'Spider-Man' unique. "Marc did '(500) Days Of Summer' and that really was for us the best proof that we can make a relationship movie. In all fairness almost anybody can make an action movie. But an action movie that is driven by character, that's a big challenge."

Fellow producer Matt Tolmach agreed: "From the very beginning [Webb's] vision was a Spider-Man that lives in our world, a Spider-Man story with gravity… physical gravity and emotional gravity."

The approach sounds similar to the gritty reboots of Batman and James Bond seen in 'Batman Begins' and 'Casino Royale'. But while we do see a believable reason why Parker picks his red costume and the mechanical web-slingers this time round, this isn't 'Spider-Man goes dark', more 'Spider-Man goes awkward'.

British star Andrew Garfield plays Parker now (you might remember him from 'The Social Network') and his toe-curlingly shy chats with new love interest Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) are among the highlights of the film. They have Webb's directorial handprints all over them.

The relationship is another reason for re-visiting Spidey, according to Arad. "Gwen is like the true love story of Peter Parker. And what's unique about her, she fell in love with Peter. As you remember, Mary Jane fell in love with Spider-Man... It's an amazing love story."

Emma Stone, who stars as Gwen Stacy in the new film, told us that Bryce Dallas Howard played the character "brilliantly" in 'Spider-Man 3' (though not all critics agreed), but her version was so different it didn't feel comparable.

She said: "It's a movie about first love. That love you have before you know what it's like to have your heart broken, If only that was still the way!"

The 'Zombieland and 'House Bunny' star steals the film, and judging by her on-screen chemistry with Garfield, it's no surprise they're dating in real life.

Spider-Man's origins have also had an overhaul this time round. 'Peter Parker the orphan' is our major emotional arc, with his quest to find out why his dad disappeared when he was just eight-years-old fuelling the film. It also gives him a different reason to visit the Oscorp lab - home to Dr Connors (Rhys Ifans) - who of course becomes The Lizard.

Producer Avi Arad said: "[In the last films] we didn't know what made him Peter. So we went to the origin [of when] Peter actually lost his parents… Are they dead or alive? Were they good people, or bad people, all the things that form a character of a child. The previous reincarnation started with what made Spider-Man, so we started on the early years."

Garfield adds: "He's an orphan but becomes the father to a whole city."

It makes him a more dynamic lead than the Tobey Maguire version. Less blank-face introspection, more go-getting detective work and wise-cracking. "He's pro-active and looking for answers," said Marc Webb.

As Christopher Nolan's Batman films show, there's enough storylines and characters in these comic book series for dozens of potential movies, and the whole team behind Spider-Man are more than confident there's room for another new franchise.

Marc Webb said: "It's not like Harry Potter where it's a closed canon… There's [still] so many things that haven't been explored cinematically.

Garfield is even more bullish: "I am not scared. I am playing the same character that Tobey played [and] there will be comparisons… [but] there's no way I can control that. I respect what he did immensely and when I was nineteen, I watched that first Spider-Man and it… reignited my passion for it.

"So it's an honour to step into the suit after him, and I'm excited to then pass it on to the next person. The symbol is bigger than any actor playing it."

'The Amazing Spider-Man' is out now.