Entertainment Weekly’s Amazing Spider-Man Requiem

ASMAG1“Patient Zero for encroaching Origin Fatigue…”

Entertainment Weekly has posted a requiem of sorts for the Amazing Spider-Man reboot. Some highlights:

Long live Spider-Man; Spider-Man is dead! For this news almost certainly sounds the Sad Funeral Trombone for The Amazing Spider-Man, a preboot saga that Sony had once envisioned as a megafranchise to rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Amazing Spider-Man was supposed to produce spinoffs, sequels; there was a time when Sony boldly announced Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4 before 2 had even arrived in theaters. But last year’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 underperformed significantly at the box office, proving decisively that people maybe only needed two movies where Spider-Man fights some kind of Green-ish Goblin-type.

We hit upon this in the most recent podcast, covering the Marvel/Sony news. And on this EW is quite correct. Sony played with the Goblin toy until they broke him so hard even glue couldn’t put him back together. Unfortunately, the same can probably said of Electro after the horrific job done with Electro in the Amazing Spider-Man 2. With the savage hatchet job done on these two characters we may not see them more accurately portrayed – ever. At least the first Raimi film gave us a great Norman, even if the Green Goblin costume was laughable.

More from EW:

There are already some reports that Amazing star Andrew Garfield is definitely out as Spider-Man. Sony did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment, but even if Garfield does keep the job, it’s a fair bet that Spider-Man’s future will pretty much ignore the tone and plot of the Amazing sub-franchise. Best-case-scenario, Sony and Marvel decides to just skip a decade of Peter Parker’s life and let the 31-year-old Garfield act his age. Most likely scenario, Marvel Studios pays about as much attention to The Amazing Spider-Man as it does to any movie with the word “Hulk” in the title.

I disagree strongly with that last part. Not to take anything away from the Hulk but Spider-Man is far more powerful in terms of popularity and especially when speaking of that sweet, cold hard licensing cash.

Continued below the fold…


The first film was an awkward attempt to simultaneously transform the Spider-Man franchise into both The Dark Knight and Twilight. Here was an explicitly darker-realer-grittier Spidey than the Raimi films—Peter Parker wears a hoodie, bro!—but that realness was already approaching sub-Poochie market-tested Xtremity. There is a scene where Peter Parker demonstrates his new powers by doing rad skateboard tricks; the scene is set to Coldplay. Spider-Man, Skateboard, Coldplay; Spider-Man, Skateboard, Coldplay: Repeat it 10 times and it still won’t quite make sense.

In director Marc Webb’s defense, the films looked pretty—especially Amazing 2, which was shot on 35 mm film in some actual New York locations. The locations look great in Amazing 2: Your eyes turn to them, desperate to get away from whatever is happening in the actual movie. The Amazing sequel tried to pack a lot in: Electro, the Green Goblin, the Rhino made appearances; there were ending teases for Doctor Octopus and the Vulture; Felicity Jones played a character who was maybe kinda sorta the Black Cat, which if you’re counting makes two future female Oscar nominees just utterly wasted. Jesus Christ, BJ Novak had a cameo as Alistair Smythe, a B-minus level villain who built anti-Spidey robots!

Very valid point about the second film trying to pack way too much in. It’s also something that Spider-Man 3 suffered from.


Amazing 2 ended with a tease for future films: A mystery man walking through a laboratory filled with evil supervillain hardware. Remarkably, insanely, this was almost precisely where Amazing Spider-Man 1 had ended. The intrinsic message of both movies seemed to be: “Stick with us! We’re almost about to start getting to the good stuff!” In that sense, the Amazings could be Patient Zero for encroaching Origin Fatigue: The sense that people might finally be getting fed up with the story before the story. How many more times do we have to see Uncle Ben get killed? How many more times do we need to watch Peter hanging out with his best pal Harry Osborn, blissfully unaware that anybody named Osborn will probably go Green sooner or later?

This was a big gripe about Amazing Spider-Man 2; that it was a set-up film. One of the doomed reboot’s pitfalls was focusing too much on trying to make Spider-Man into some sort of conspiracy thriller. Especially when you consider the deleted footage of Peter meeting his father, suddenly alive, when visiting Gwen’s grave. Then again another of the second film’s failings was all the time spent wasted rehashing Peter’s parents.

The EW article concludes:

And it will always be interesting to wonder just what, in the end, the Amazing Spider-Man movies amounted to. “The Untold Story Begins” promised the posters for The Amazing Spider-Man. “His Greatest Battle Begins” promised the posters for Amazing 2. The irony is that it feels like the Amazing movies never began at all: They were endless teases, promising something really big on the next horizon. They weren’t good, but they were ours, a snapshot of a movie era borne forward ceaselessly into the next sequel.

Again, quite correct on the “too busy setting things up” point. It’s true, though, that Marvel also seeds future stories in their films. But when Marvel does it they don’t waste half the damn movie doing it. They seed it with a key scene or a teaser and then focus right back on the main story. The Spidey reboot didn’t seem to know what that story really was; it was mainly concerned with selling future movies it hadn’t made yet.

Darren Franich wrote the Spidey reboot requiem, which I know some of you will agree with, semi-agree with or flat out hate. He’s soliciting counterpoints from readers to address in a future EW mailbag article and can be reached at darren_franich@ew.com.

–George Berryman!

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(22) Comments

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  5. Hobo-Goblin

    @16 Cool, he printed my letter. Or part of it. It's the one that begins with "You mention the decision to include the wrinkle about Peter Parker’s parents being spies" I understand his response, but I'm not so convinced by it. His feelings seem governed by the wrongheaded (at least to me) notion that the core of Peter Parker's character is that his life sucks...the same notion that seems to govern Dan Slott and many of the "Brand New Day" braintrust. I've always felt that the core of Peter Parker's life is tragedy...which he perseveres over. I think that's very different from being frickin' Charlie Brown or something...

  6. George Berryman - Post author

    Darren Franich has posted a follow-up mailbag article where he replies to readers responding to his eulogy column. http://www.ew.com/article/2015/02/15/entertainment-geekly-mailbag-amazing-spider-man-talkback

  7. Thomas Mets

    Bane was the big bad of The Dark Knight Rises, despite Batman and Robin. I think Electro could recover. A Spider-Man relaunch will be a bit tough since we've seen the origin twice relatively recently, and the two versions so far have been different enough that viewers can't be expected to pick up on the status quo without guidance (IE- Does anyone know who Peter is? Has he met Harry Osborn/ Gwen Stacy/ Mary Jane yet?) But I'm sure it's doable. I guess they're sticking with High School Peter because it's a better contrast with the rest of the MCU.

  8. Ben

    Some stuff I’d like to see in the reboot - If Peter has to be in high school base it on the Ditko-Lee run (with obvious updates). Preferably with an accurate Midtown High supporting cast, no MJ, Gwen or Harry as high school friends. - Peter to spend a good amount of time at the Daily Bugle. The Bugle has been criminally underused in the recent movies. - Someone other than the Osborn’s as the villains, they’ve been the featured in four movies, let another shine. I’d like to see Doc Ock on screen again, or maybe Kingpin or Mysterio. - More interaction between Peter and Aunt May. - Make Spider-Man look competent as a crime fighter, just because he’s a ‘nerd’ and a joker doesn’t mean he’s a pushover in a fight. - No reference to Spider-totems, Peter’s Parents, or Mephisto.

  9. Cheesedique

    @12, true, and there's plenty of Lee / Ditko / Romita stuff they haven't got to. I would love to see big screen takes on Mysterio, Scorpion, Chameleon and the Prowler. Even a loose adaption of Marv Wolfman's run up to ASM #200 would make for a compelling movie.

  10. Danbbqman

    @11- good points. There are a lot good stories written post 1970, but those Lee- Romita stories were good! I mentioned the Juggernaut story. Another fun movie would be a take on Spider Island...but man I could take the entire day listing great Spider-Man plots. Why isn't anyone asking me!

  11. Cheesedique

    It's just that focusing on and foisting a young Peter Parker on us kind of ignores the great possibilities for stories that came well after HS age / early college age Spider-man and could be good onscreen. They could introduce Carrion Do the Hobgoblin saga (or a Goblin war) Do the black costume / Venom properly They could explore the spider-totem / Morlun stuff Adapt the Death of Jean DeWolff Adapt Kraven's Last Hunt / Grim Hunt Revenge of the Green Goblin / Peter as Norman's heir Introduce Black Cat Do Carnage in a compelling way Build up to a proper Sinister Six story They never get out of the Lee / Ditko, Lee / Romita eras story-wise because they end up rebooting the character in the movies. Keep it going with a long-term storyline that can withstand the inevitable recastings.

  12. Danbbqman

    @1- I totally agree with you. It would be great if some of you state was used in the comic each month! I also agree that they don't need another origin re-boot. People, even non comic fans know the origin by now. They can retrace it in the credits and comment about it during the movie. Two stories I think would make for fun movies would be: A) Steal the plot from ASM 41 & 43, the intro of the Rhino had it all: excitement, Peter using his brain and brawn to stop an unbeatable foe and a free-spirited M.J. (The Rhino is not ruined too is he?) B) Another is to take the general concept of the Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut storyline. Spidey fighting for his life to save his city! Anyway those are my thoughts. Either of these would have to be adjusted to fit a .90 minute - 2 hour movie.

  13. Rama

    Just do what they did with the opening credits of Spider-Man 2 and you won't have to tell the origin. Well maybe not with Alex Ross paintings since that has been done (although I wouldn't object either), but the basic idea of it. People get it at this point....

  14. Gary

    I'd like to see the version of Amazing Spider-man 2 that Andrew Garfield said they filmed. That was why Sony was mad at him last fall. He bashed the producers by saying that they had filmed a great movie but then the producers had to start hacking at the movie to make it what they wanted it to be. I'd love to see a directors cut and see the original vision of the film. And I love how people are whining about how we are having to see Spidey go back to high school. Sorry, but Miles is in High School too. So even if everyone got their "only cool because he's diverse" movie, it'd be a Spider-man who is a high school student in his private life. Personally, I think Marvel and Sony should have went with the idea bat around in those e-mails. Where the MCU Spidey would have been around for a while, out of college and married to MJ. They could have done a story where Spider-man is essentially an urban legend that many in New York could think was fabricated by the Daily Bugle to sell papers. Then Spider-man is revealed as a real person to the world during the events of Civil War since it's been revealed he's debuting there. They could have done like Incredible Hulk did, where instead of actually doing the origin again, the opening credits show glimpses of the origin. It'd be a little reminder in case people don't know or remember how he got his powers, then his MCU solo movies could have him doing his thing without being bogged down with the origin story.

  15. Iron Patriot

    I still believe there's an incredible 100-120 minute movie in ASM 2's 144. Remove all traces of the parents subplot, keep Dillon's scenes and Electro's lines to a minimum, add more Harry Osborn and you've got it.

  16. Hobo-Goblin

    I also don't really think Electro or Green Goblin were "broken" in that movie. The plot just misused them. Electro would have been a good B-villain, but Jamie Foxx is just too big of a name for that. Add in all the Batman Forever Riddler goofball stuff, and no one was gonna take him seriously. I thought Dehaan was fine in the role, and that if they absolutely wanted to do something new and different and START with him as the Goblin, they did a good job under that mandate. I get the feeling that many people prefer Norman to Harry in the comics because Harry was often portrayed as weak-willed and in Norman or Peter's shadow. Dane Dehaan's Harry was antagonistic with his father and longed to be out of the shadow, instead of basking in it. He had the makings of Spider-Man's greatest villain for this franchise, but I guess that isn't to be.

  17. Hobo-Goblin

    @2 I agree with you about Harry. If anything, Electro should have been the B-villain, and Harry given more time. But Jamie Foxx is too big of a name, I guess... As far as Peter's parents go...I think his relationship with May and Ben was actually explored to a more interesting degree thanks to the constant "shadow" of his parents. Sally Field's big scene in 2 ("you're MY son.") certainly made for a striking moment.

  18. Al

    So...five-six years after we heard rumblings that the next Spider-Man film will be a reboot can we now and forever definitively say it was a BAD idea to do that?

  19. Frontier

    I might get some flak for this, but I think DeHaan's Goblin, much like a lot of the Amazing franchise, had a lot of potential but just wasn't used effectively. Getting randomly introduced as Peter's best friend with a debilitating disease and then getting turned into a Supervillain all in one movie, and being a sideshow to the main plot, just didn't do him many favors. Another consequence of ASM2 taking on more than it could actually handle and focusing more on set-up for more movies than creating a movie that stands well in its own right. And I don't think it was wrong for the Amazing movies to focus on Peter trying to connect with or understand his parents, since I think that's something that I could understand being important to him or drive him somehow, or is a relevant issue with the character. But the problem is that it came at the expense of his relationships with both Aunt May and Uncle Ben.

  20. Ryan3178

    He hits on all the points very well. The movies were too busy trying to be "modern' get those high school "angsts" and trends that are around today. Let's face it, Marvel is saying right now they want high school Peter Parker. Not adult, not a nice mixture of the two with college age but high school Peter. I think Stan Lee said it best, if he knew the book was going to be around as long as it was. He would have kept Peter in high school a few more years and then had him graduate but said himself that Peter was meant to learn and grows as both a hero and as a person. Something both films did was they did add in Peter learning but at the same time, it was set up here, set up there and trying to pack more and more in and focus on too many "subplots" instead of what the main story was. Saw what you will about Spider-Man 2 it hit all those notes right. ASM 2 and SM3 were bogged down with too many subplots, villains, wasted acting and so forth. Having Peter showing up at the end of Age of Ultron or even Ant-man would be perfect set up and then go from the new hero who doesn't get how the big boys play or how politics work in Captain America: Civil War but don't look at it as a high schooler who needs to know how the world works. We have been down that road in comics, film and animation. The audience doesn't want that Peter Parker or Spider-Man. They want a quippy fun loving hero who tries to escape the pains of real life and when the mask comes off, he still faces them. Not by going through unemployment, reveals of secret identities, how he can't get a date or how many girls he can land but real problems. His father figure gone who he tries to honor. His aunt who is in good health but the only family he has left. With friends who don't know what to think of him since he ditches or misses appointments and stuff because he is busy being Spider-Man. Villains who have more petty motivations not over the top rule the world and burn the city because my view is the right view. Enough of the goblins, corporate or alien villains. Get the ones who are in it for the big haul, the show casing the ones who would rather profit from causing pain or have a personal beef with the hero and go to great lengths to get their wins. Bring in Mysterio, Kraven, Shocker, Vulture, Chameleon, Molten Man and Scorpion. Villains from all walks who aren't trying to turn people into lizards, blowing up former employers or wanting to just be normal. Have those who blame Spider-Man for their situations or for getting in their way.

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