Publicity has well and truly started for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and everyone seems so excited about the great trailer and great posters. I totally understand why people like the things that make a film seem so great. What I don’t understand though is why this film is even happening, and why people are falling for the excitement.
Think back to 2004, ten years ago now. Publicity had started for Spider-Man 2, directed by Sam Raimi. Now, in 2014, we’re on the second installment of a reboot. Blimey, I thought a reboot happened when a franchise was struggling, and usually was shown many years after the previous films. When I first heard of this reboot in 2012, I was very confused, but I’ll come back to that later. First, let’s go through what actually inspired this reboot; Sam Raimi (who directed the Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker) decided to take a break from the films, but promised to come back in 2011 for a fourth film , for release in Summer 2012. Sony –who own the rights to the Spider-Man films- were not happy and told Raimi that if he did take that year break, he’d be fired. As a result, Raimi left the project, which meant Sony had no new film and a danger of losing the rights to Marvel. Stupidly, they ordered a reboot.
“Why,” I hear you ask, “was the reboot you speak of so stupid?” Well, there are several reasons for this. The first of these is the one I mentioned earlier – too early. A reboot usually occurs a long time after the first series of films, but this one is only a decade later, which makes the new film look ridiculous as The Green Goblin is in it and that is still fresh in many people’s minds, including people who aren’t movie fanatics. I know that there will be villains who we didn’t see in the Raimi trilogy (like the Lizard in the first one for example), but eventually the reboot will feature the foes seen in the first three, meaning that it will look like these films are just changing the order, even if they are taking a unique take on Spider-Man.
Secondly, I have problems with the nature of this reboot; it didn’t come about because someone was really passionate about telling a new series of Spider-Man stories; it came about because they wanted to keep the rights to one of the company’s biggest money-makers. This is particularly ironic as they would have lost the rights to one of the best film makers of the moment – Marvel! Just imagine if they now owned Spider-Man – Peter Parker in Avengers? I can’t imagine it was what Sony was especially enthusiastic about it and it’s likely they treated it as a chore that needed doing.
Thirdly, people reboot a franchise because it is dying on its feet or is simply rubbish. This was not the case for Raimi’s films as they were three of the best comic-book films ever; Spider-Man is credited alongside the first X-Men for reviving the genre and made it into big business, while Spider-Man 2 is rated among all film fans as one of the best Superhero movies of recent times. And, before you go to the comments to tell me about Spider-Man 3, it is not a disaster. Even the film’s biggest fans like me admit it’s overstuffed, but it still provides fantastic action and great character development; we get to see Peter and Mary-Jane fall out as well as Harry Osborn finally realising who Spider-Man is, turning into a bad guy but then finally realising it was not Peter’s fault that his father died. In addition, it made loads of money at the box office, being one of the biggest-grossing films of 2007, so it’s not like the third instalment got none of its budget back.
Maybe though, this doesn’t matter; perhaps because The Amazing Spider-Man is a great film. It blows Raimi’s films out of the water. Sadly, it isn’t and it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good film, but not as good as Raimi’s. There are improvements though. For example, Peter’s love interest, Gwen Stacy, is written much better than Mary Jane because Gwen is intelligent and, unlike Mary Jane, isn’t always a damsel in distress. I also like Gwen’s dad being the head of the NYPD who want to put Spider-Man behind bars and when I was watching it I was looking forward for this to be carried on in future films like Harry Osborn mistaking Spider-Man for his father’s killer. However, this is resolved at the end, destroying some audience anticipation for the sequel.
Furthermore, Peter Parker’s character is also mishandled as the writers try to make him too much; for some reason, Parker is a social outcast which is the norm, but then he’s a slacker at school. But then he’s a skateboarding photographer. But then he’s really good at Science. But then he has a secret past. Consequently, the personalities clash and feel like a checklist made up by the makers of the film, meaning the likeable and relatable Peter Parker has gone.
Oh, remember Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben? You know, the man who forms Spider-Man into who he is and inspires him? The man who provides the phrase that sums up all of Spider-Man? The man who is an important character in every version of Spider-Man from the comics to blockbuster films? Well, that’s gone here. He provides no inspiration for Peter and, most importantly, never in the film is ‘With Great power, comes great responsibility’ mentioned! In a reboot, you can change a lot, but have to keep the things that are really crucial. Uncle Ben dying in Spider-Man is just as important as Batman’s parents dying or Super-Man’s planet being destroyed.
The second film in this ridiculous reboot seems to be a rip-off from all of Raimi’s movies; once again Peter is realising that he is making more enemies. You know in the trailer when he says “Every day I wake up knowing that the more people I try to save, the more enemies I create”? That is the same as Tobey Maguire’s “No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try…” monologue in Spider-Man 2. We also have The Green Goblin which already had a wonderful origin story in Raimi’s Spider-Man something which even casual film fans remember. Additionally, we have more than one villain like Spider-Man 3. Remember how everyone says that Spider-Man 3 is overstuffed? Well, this film has the Rhino, Electro, The Green Goblin, the introduction of Harry Osborn and what looks likes the Sinister Six. It’s like they wanted to put some of this stuff in the first film, but there was not enough time. Did they learn nothing for Spider-Man 3?
The fact is that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 might well be a great film, but all you will able to think of is that this could have been Spider-Man 5 with the makers doing it because they are passionate to tell a story instead of the makers doing it to rebuild a perfectly fine 12-year-old house and avoid it going to another company.
It’s such a tragedy that the Spider-Man films have come to this.