At this point, the new Spider-Man costume has been shown from every imaginable angle even though actual footage of old web head in action had yet to be seen. Amidst such circumstances, it’s hardly surprising that the teaser trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man arrives with relatively little fanfare. The first Spider-Man film, released nearly a decade ago, was perhaps the defining event movie of the early 2000’s. That’s a hard trick to pull off twice, yet the abysmal reception of Spider-Man 3 demanded that the franchise start from scratch yet again.
The Amazing Spider-Man turns the clock back to Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) adolescent years. Parker exists on the low end of the teenage social hierarchy. A bite from a genetically altered arachnid blesses him with the proportionate powers of a spider. This event greatly impacts every aspect of his life, as he must endure his transition into a superhero while living with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). He must also conceal his new identity from Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), the proverbial apple of his eye. Elsewhere, Dr. Kurt Conners (Rhys Ifans) experimentation with reptiles yields similar yet far more hideous results.
Though Sam Raimi gave the world two perfectly good Spider-Man films (one of which is still regarded as a classic of the genre), such achievements did not engender much loyalty among fandom. Spider-man 3 erased any and all semblance of good will, prompting a muted yet collective sigh of relief when it was announced that Raimi would not be directing a fourth Spider-Man film. Marc Webb stepped into the vacated director’s chair, bringing a brand new cast along with him. Andrew Garfield, whose rail thin physique and bulbous head bear more of a resemblance to the comic book version of Spider-Man, was awarded the title role.
The teaser is a fairly competent representation of what has been promised by the filmmakers. The tone is noticeably more serious, and Garfield’s pensive scowl is a sharp contrast to the goofy charm of Tobey McGuire. Scenes that show Parker scaling the sides of buildings and sticking to the ceilings of subway cars haven’t an ounce of lightheartedness. The highlight is an extended POV shot where Spider-Man hops rooftops and swings through the canyons of NYC. The obvious CGI gives it the feel of a well rendered first-person-shooter video game. However, the novelty of the idea goes a long way in selling it. There isn’t a Spider-Man fan on the planet who hasn’t dreamed of what it would be like to see the world through the eyelets of his mask.
Greater fidelity to the source material notwithstanding, this new iteration of Spider-Man seems kind of indistinct. I’m all for a more faithful and “serious” version of the character, but I hope that will not come at the expense of fun and excitement. Whatever their flaws, the first two Spider-Man films were well attuned to the quirks and inadequacies of their hero. While Bryan Singer strove for something stoic and somber, Sam Raimi gave his superhero films personality and color. I’m not sure that a complete departure from his approach is the answer, yet I still hope that Webb pulls it off. I consider Peter Parker a cinematic kindred spirit, and I’d hate to see him fail yet again.