(In honor of the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Eric is looking back at the previous Spider-Man films. Today we continue with the first Spider-Man reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man.)
When I first heard that Toby and Sam were out, I was greatly upset. Sure, the third one was a bit of a mess, but it wasn’t unsalvageable (and I can prove it). When they cast Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, again, I was peeved. The thing that people always say about Spider-Man is how he could have been anyone–that Peter is the everyman. To that I have to politely disagree on technicalities. Peter is not an everyman, Peter is an outcast. A nerd. Someone you wouldn’t give two thoughts about if you passed him. He is not handsome. He is not sociable or confident at the start. Andrew Garfield is not these things. “BuT eRiC, iT’s CaLlEd AcTiNg.” Sure…but was I wrong? He got one less movie for a reason…well actually a lot of reasons. We can just group them all together and call them The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Prior to this, I had not seen the first Amazing Spider-Man. I thought it looked like they didn’t understand the character, his motivations, etc. After viewing it, I was right to have skipped it. How on earth was there not public outrage at this movie? How was there a sequel at all? This is, without a doubt, the worst Spider-Man film I’ve seen.
The beginning is a great place to start because I have no idea what I am supposed to get out of the Amazingly Unfortunate Series of Exposition Stolen from Lara Croft. His parents worked for Oscorp and they died…nothing ominous there, I guess, hope it comes up in the film at some point. Or not. Why would you open your film with something that never really comes up beyond pointing him to Connors? It’s off-putting and clunky (I know it comes up in the next film, but they do that badly too, and your story should be cohesive in and of itself unless we all know there is going to be more).
And then we meet the man himself. He’s cool, hot, young, and fast… he’s the American teenager. Girls talk to him, he carries a hipster camera, he skateboards, and he fights bullies…I feel like the real Peter is friends with whoever thought it was a good idea to hang this sign outside:
He’s not even the one being picked on, it’s some other kid. Peter actually goes out of his way to mess with Flash. Peter is the bully here. Flash actually tries to say sorry for Ben’s death.
Speaking of Ben’s death….Could we have found any better way to do it? Ben intervenes with a situation he knows nothing about because there’s a guy yelling and a gun. He could have been a legal carrier for all Ben knew. He died because he ran up on a guy on with a gun for no known good reason. There is no direct correlation between Peter not helping stingy discount Jorge Garcia and Ben dying…except the one he makes. Unlike the previous series, there is no real reason for Peter to feel he is responsible at all. He does, though, and it completely ruins the film.
Peter Parker goes down Frank Castle Highway and literally hunts down the man who happened to have a gun and get rushed by Ben. He openly mocks and tortures suspects and assaults a police officer because they were in his path of destruction. That’s right! With great power comes the ability to deliver your own personal brand of justice. That’s not Spider-Man; that’s not what Spider-Man is about. That would be like if Captain America joined Hydra or Batman starting killing people with guns…
That is just the start to ruining Peter though. They also try to make him seem super smart and tech savvy, which is good, but they do it in a way that they think is smart and isn’t actually smart. To be fair, at first glance, they do an okay job. He clearly knows coding and is smart enough to be familiar with a lot of things that go into his crime fighting. However, when you think about it, it’s all super dumb. He buys a ton of the super cable from Oscorp…it was an Oscorp project, that someone at Oscorp would probably recognize and go, “Hey, that Spider-Ass is using our product to beat up criminals that all look very similar. Did anyone buy a ton of it recently?” That’s why Peter in the comics makes his own; so it can’t be traced. Also, how does he afford to get something like that? They have like no money. The biggest look for something that seems like a nerdy thing to do, but is just stupid, is the lock he builds for his door. It’s a computerized motor that moves his sliding lock. It’s not like he has to move a ton to do it. It’s actually more work to sit down and run the code than to just use your hand like a normal person.
Another thing that just completely insults both ours and Peter’s intelligence is his lack of any sort of reason or logic. This dude is working with an esteemed bioengineer or cross-species geneticist and his first thought after getting attacked by a giant lizard is to go to the police chief’s house when you, yourself, are a wanted vigilante that you previously got into an argument with. …What are you doing?
The last point on Peter’s intelligence is that he realizes he needs to make a costume with a mask to protect his identity from criminals…and then never wears the mask. Seriously, just shouldn’t bother with how often his mask is off in this film. He even openly travels via web without wearing the mask. This is why Norman Osborn kills everyone you love, Peter. You are dumb, you are really dumb. For real. Despite all of this, Captain Stacy is one of two people who can’t connect the dots and see Peter is Spider-Man despite him making no real effort to hide this fact. When he finally is shown this though, it’s no longer his top priority to stop him because he knows him. He’s kind of the worst chief since anyone not named Gordon in Gotham.
The pacing and the villain’s motivations are just…odd? Doctor Connors wants to save people and grow an arm back, but he turns into a giant lizard and then suddenly wants to turn everyone into a giant lizard because…humans are weak and helping them is no longer one of my concerns because lizards are cold-blooded. Peter stops him and then Connors is remorseful because he regains empathy he didn’t have as a giant lizard. Also, Captain Stacy dies and tells Peter to stay away from Gwen so she doesn’t get hurt too. Which would be sound advice if you were able to pick up on the fact that he was Spider-Man and not have to unmask him.
In any case, Peter Parker, a guy who saves kids from bullies and walks them home, who calms down scared kids by showing them his face, a generally nice person just skips the funeral of his loving girlfriend’s father in her time of mourning and then has the audacity to break up with her when she confronts him on it. This version of Spider-Man is the worst. I don’t even think the Peter in Spider-Man 3 would do that. Dick move Spidey, dick move.
Honestly, if this wasn’t a Spider-Man movie but some other random superhero we don’t know a whole lot about, this movie might work. The first-person shots are new and bring a perspective to the film we haven’t gotten. Some of the technical elements were cleaner than the previous series. There are good things to take away from the film. This isn’t another hero though, it’s Spider-Man, and we have already been introduced to him in the last series. We know who he is and what he is about. To go against that is to go against your source material and I already wrote a ton about what happens when you do that last month. I really don’t know why Sony has had such a hard time making Spider-Man films or anything to do with the Spider-Man characters (i.e., Venom). People love them already, it should be cake. It would be like making a bad Star Wars Film…wait…
Bottom line, this film sucks. Don’t watch it or the sequel to get ready for Into the Spider-Verse. I’ll explain more about that sequel in the next article though.
Check back with us tomorrow for a look at The Amazing Spider-Man 2. And keep following Poor Man’s Spoiler all week for our coverage leading up to the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse this weekend.