Video: Marvel Enterprises
In the complicated world of comic book superheroes, Spider-Man, a Marvel creation, starts his journey off in very much the same way we saw in the first film in this franchise, and in the 2002 adaptation. Later on, he joins the Avengers, but he didn’t appear in the 2012 adaptation of that mash-up because Sony own the rights to Spider-Man. Instead, the character has gotten his own huge franchise, and swings around his version of New York, where the Avengers portal disaster never occurred. It’s unusual ground to occupy, a franchise based on a single superhero amongst the Justice League being assembled by DC and Marvel’s fantastic series, and unfortunately coming out of this film my first thought was that I wish Spider-Man was part of the Avengers.
The perfect casting of Andrew Garfield forms the backbone of this film. Garfield radiates the charm and recklessness that is so present in the comics and was noticeably lacking in Tobey Maguire’s incarnation of the character. He whistles and jokes as he webs his way around New York City, getting plenty of genuine laugh out loud moments both in the suit and out of it. Despite being 30, Garfield still gets away with playing a teenager, lovesick and struggling to keep his alter-ego a secret from his aunt.
It is this charisma that leads Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) to become unhealthily obsessed with him after he saves Max’s life. Max is a nobody, not being recognised for his work at Oscorp, where he made to stay late on his birthday when everyone else is allowed to go home. The act of kindness Spider-Man shows him leads to Max become completely obsessed, pretending Spider-Man is there when he talks to himself in his apartment. It’s really quite odd, and when they meet again after Max has turned into Electro (he falls into a tank of electric eels), Spider-Man understandingly struggles to remember his name. This starts Max’s turn against Spider-Man, which feels a little weak; the shift from obsession to hatred is far too rushed.
Having said that, I went in worried this film was going to suffer from Spider-Man 3’s problem of introducing too many villains, and this was actually handled far better than I expected. The Rhino is the villain at the beginning of the film, Electro/Max is the main villain with the most screen time, and the Green Goblin is slowly developed for later films. Dane DeHaan is brilliant casting as Harry Osbourne, his sunken eyes and low, careful voice bringing a darkness to him James Franco never managed to muster.
But by far the best part of the film is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and Peter Parker together; Stone and Garfield’s chemistry is tangible, and their scenes hold an easy intimacy that just isn’t in other parts of the film due to its scale and action. It is these two which ground the film and make it feel unique, separating it from all the other superhero films around at the moment.
Unfortunately, it is also in comparison with other current superhero films that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 falls down. Because of the Christopher Nolan Batman films which attempted to imagine Batman in the real world, and the current Marvel films having been thought out so carefully and executed so brilliantly, this feels like a superhero film from ten years ago. It’s epic in scale, but not as epic as we’re currently used to. We’ve been spoiled by brilliant filmmaking in the superhero genre, and somehow this feels small, as its strongest feature is Gwen and Peter. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is by no means a bad film, with far better casting than the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films; it just isn’t the standard we’ve come to expect. If Spider-Man were part of the Marvel franchise his movies would have a bigger feel, becoming a part of the huge superhero movement. As it stands, this feels like an enjoyable visit to a world where the planning and the scale just isn’t there.