Why? To start with, Spider-Man has one of the best origin stories in all of comicdom. He’s not a god of thunder who helps humans because he feels for them. He’s not some rich guy genius who’s parading as a superhero in a high-tech suit because he gets a kick out of it. He’s not even a Russian super-spy. He’s just plain ol’ Peter Parker, a geek who just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time and got amazing powers. And, just like a real guy, he first put those powers to use trying to make money. But when things went wrong and his Uncle Ben got killed due to a single act of negligence on Peter’s part, he learned the famous adage: “With great power, there must also come… great responsibility.”
Sure… we’ve seen Spider-Man’s origin on film before, both in cartoon versions and Sam Raimi’s 2002 blockbuster. And yes… Sony is only making a new Spider-Man reboot so soon after the last series ended in 2007 to keep the film rights from reverting to Marvel. But director Marc Webb says that he’s got something to say with Spider-Man’s origin in his “untold story”. What exactly that is remains to be seen. What we do know is that the new reboot focuses on Peter’s loss of his parents and a mystery that ties their deaths to Oscorp and one Dr. Curt Connors aka The Lizard.
A couple of weeks ago, NBC’s PopcornBiz caught up with Marc Webb and actress Emma Stone, who’s playing Peter’s love interest Gwen Stacy in the new flick, and got some inside tidbits about what we can expect that sets the new Spider-Man film apart from the last trilogy.
Here are some highlights from that interview:
On honoring the Spider-Man legacy:
Webb: Well, I think there are elements of Spider-Man that are just universal. I mean, he shoots webs and he soars through the sky and he’s a little guy who beats up guys that are bigger than him, or fights for the little guy. I think that’s a really important thing, but I think that for me there were a few things in the Spider-Man comics that I thought were really interesting. There’s this story about Peter’s parents and where he came from, and I thought that it was really interesting to explore the emotional consequence of someone who’s parents had left them at a very young age. I like that Peter Parker has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. In ‘The Amazing Spider-Man #8’ there’s this moment where Flash (Thompson) and Peter are sort of going at each other. They’re at a boxing match and you sort of hear what Peter is saying and he’s a little surly and I like that, but there’s this attitude, this sort of punk rock humor and trickster quality that I think probably comes from somebody who is a little distrustful of the world at times. In order for someone like that to become a hero, I think it’s a really interesting story and that was something fun. It was really fun to explore, and then of course there’s the Gwen Stacy saga, The Lizard. But I think what we tried to do was find something very emotionally grounded and that felt very real. That’s a challenge when there’s big lizards and soaring through the air, but that’s what was really fun about it.
On Gwen Stacy and her relationship to Peter Parker:
Stone: Yeah, her duty to her father and her duty to her boyfriend, because she’s a real confidant for him. Their intimacy is such an incredible element, and I think that Gwen has been in control her whole life. She’s the oldest daughter of a police chief, who is constantly terrified that her father is going to die everyday. She has to have an element of being smart because she has to be. She’s a valedictorian because she has to be. She has to take care of things and be responsible for her family and I think that being able to let go and trust somebody who puts themselves in the face of death of everyday, too, that’s like, great, now she’s drawn to another person that could die at any moment and she has to keep his secret and pick and choose between her first love which is her father, of course, like every girl. That’s the first man in your life and then her first boyfriend. So, it’s a pretty complex situation for Gwen, and there’s a lot of, I think, sadness and fear in her life combined with the fact that she’s outwardly confident and strong and smart and takes no bulls***. She’s soft and 17 underneath it all. There’s a great source of drama, and Gwen is at the center of this in a lot of ways – there’s competing ideas of what’s good. These people, everybody’s heart is in the right place, but they execute their plans in different ways and that goes for The Lizard and Curt Connors as well. Gwen in particular is stuck between [her father] the Captain and Peter Parker and Spider-Man who have different ways about going about finding justice in their lives. I think that’s a really fun thing to explore in the movie.
When asked about why he was retelling the Spider-Man origin so soon after the last film:
Webb: Well, we’re telling the story in a different way and I think it’s really important when you’re redefining a character for the audience to experience things that they haven’t experienced from the ground up. I wanted to build a character. There’s just something about the movies that I see, like, I feel like point of view is a really crucial thing in the story and that you need to build up the sort of emotional building blocks so that you can experience all the other emotions in a very specific way rather than just experience it in an intellectual way. I mean, that’s why at the beginning of the movie there’s a story of his parents. I think you want to feel what that sense of abandonment feels like as an audience member so that you can readily and appropriately identify. And we’re creating a different universe with different rules and a different tone and different villains. We’re very careful to honor the iconography of ‘Spider-Man,’ but we wanted to tell it in a new and different way.
On why Andrew Garfield is the perfect Spider-Man:
Webb: I remember there was a very specific moment when we were screen testing with Andrew, and I’ve told this story before, but he was eating a cheeseburger that wasn’t really in the movie. It was just for the screen test and he moved in a way that felt adolescent. He was eating a cheeseburger and he flopped his elbows around, and I didn’t know what I was drawn to initially until I watched it over and over again. I couldn’t stop watching it and I thought that it was so interesting and there were so many layers in the performance, but I was drawn to it. I just wanted to watch it over and over again. Then, beyond that, he’s emphatic about finding authenticity and emotional reality in a scene and he will not reach for jokes. He will not reach for any other kind of emotion that does not feel real or authentic. That’s an enormous gift. It’s a very difficult things for actors because they’re often asked to do things that are really crazy and when you have to react to a lizard that’s tennis ball, it’s a really, really difficult, tricky piece of craft. He could do that in a way that felt real, and I felt that was really exceptional. Beyond that he can do sort of emotional depth and sort of, like, heartbreaking scenes. There’s a lot of tragedy in the movie. He can do romance and he can do humor – as can Emma – but that’s a very, very rare combination to find in an actor and you become increasingly aware of how rare that is as you start to try to find that. He’s exceptional human in that regard, an exceptional craftsman in that regard.
For the full interview, head over to PopcornBiz.