Opening July 3rd: The Not Quite Amazing But Still Pretty Good Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man Is A Classic Example Of What Expectations Can Do To A Movie

Before judging the new one
remember how bad this one was
The Amazing Spider-Man finds itself in a position akin to being the unlucky guy that has to follow a Hall of Fame Quarterback after he was forced out of town, and in the history of the NFL only two people have successfully followed a Hall of Fame Quarterback. Just like those unlucky QB’s, The Amazing Spider-Man is being forced to compete with memory, with legend, with fans being predisposed to not thinking the new one can possibly be as good as the old one. And, just like Steve Young or Aaron Rogers (the 2 guys that followed legends successfully) Andrew Garfield and the rest of the new Spidey team is almost being blamed for something they had nothing to do with. Why is Spider-Man being relaunched exactly 10 years after Sam Raimi and Toby Maguire first brought our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to the bid screen? Because Sony had to.

So, for those of you who don’t know, the reason we have a new Spider-Man is because Sony was going to loose the rights to the web slinger if they didn’t put out another movie (as is true of Fox’s agreement with X-Men, if either studio does not release a movie featuring those characters for a certain number of year the rights to those characters go back to Marvel). With Sam Raimi out and Toby Maguire out (and really getting too old to play Peter Parker) Sony was faced with a tricky decision, how do we introduce a new Spider-ManClearly the history of Batman played a big role in how Sony decided to move forward. In the 90’s Warner Brothers replaced the creative team of Batman and tried just keeping the franchise going and it almost destroyed the most valuable superhero property of all time. However, the two times Batman completely reinvented itself (in 1989 with Tim Burton’s Batman and again in 2005 with Nolan’s Batman Begins) they did so to massive success. Would Sony have preferred to wait another few years before relaunching Spidey? Probably, but that wasn’t an option and, to their mind, neither was acting like we are just keeping a franchise going with a new lead, a new director and an entirely new feel. So we are left with… we are left with the oddest feeling re-boot of all-time. A relaunching that feels confusing (I have honestly heard kids asking “what happened to Peter Parker and Mary Jane? Did they die?”) and absurd and yet, knowing the predicament Sony was in, entirely necessary.
Getting back to The Amazing Spider-Man, its success or relative failure seems destined to hinge on whether fans can let view it in a vacuum, can they appreciate what this Spider-Man is without perpetually saying “well, Toby Maguire really captured Peter Parker better.” And as I have thought about this predicament I believe I have come up with the perfect solution. Before going to see The Amazing Spider-Man everyone should watch Spider-Man 3 again. If your memory of Toby Maguire’s Spidey is him doing that awful dance down the street with the worst and dorkiest looking haircut of all time (don’t believe me, watch the clip below) Andrew Garfield will survive the comparison just fine.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Interest Level: 8
Interest Level for Spider-Man in 2002: 10
Just in the last month or so the stuff we are seeing (trailers, featurettes, etc.) is starting to look like the makers of the Spider-Man get it. Does Andrew Garfield still look too skinny? Yes. Am I worried they are not going to make Peter Parker dorky enough or Spider-Man funny enough? Absolutely. But the special effects look amazing and casting the endlessly watchable and engaging Emma Stone was a stroke of genius (Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane was always my least favorite part of the previous incarnation, I doubt I will say that about Gwen Stacey). Look, I’m not sure I remember the last movie that had this much comparison to overcome. It has to overcome our comparisons to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, it has to overcome comparisons to The Avengers, it has to overcome comparisons to The Dark Knight Rises, can anything totally overcome all of that? I doubt it. In fact the reviews, which have been coming in mixed, have shared as their #1 critique its failings in those comparisons. Having said that, if you can go in expecting little but a fun superhero movie I suspect this will achieve that standard and then some. So, can you temper your expectations? I hope I can.
Conclusion
Expectations, they can kill a movie. Would it be possible for anyone who hasn’t seen The Avengers yet to see it and not be a little disappointed? It’s so hot and the hyperbole is so over the top that anything other than the greatest movie of all time would seem like a disappointment (and I would argue that if you have not seen The Avengers yet than you are not the type of person who would find it to be the greatest movie of all time). How many people were disappointed with Prometheus just because it wasn’t the greatest sic-fi movie of all time? The Amazing Spider-Man is going to be a good, fun movie IF you can go into wanting nothing more than that.
But hey, what do I know, I’m fat.