With the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 last weekend, nerds all over the place are screaming/crying/cursing due to what is already a divisive plot and ending. Even here at the Nerd Swole HQ, this movie is causing fire. Instead of a traditional review, we’re here to discuss the good, the bad, the ugly, and even the genius of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and hopefully by the end, we’ll come to a consensus of where this movie lies on the superhero-movie-scale spectrum.
Your Spidey-sense should be tingling. AHOY, SPOILERS!
Erin: Whew. I saw the movie on Friday, and I still need a little breather from everything that happened in the last hour of that movie. Obviously, we have to talk about the ending and the decision to give the second movie of this series such gravitas, but more on that later. Related to that though, the one thing I love about this film is how ballsy and ambitious they were, in terms of the plot, the action, the emotion, and the characters. Obviously, not everything worked out perfectly because there was too much going on, but you have to give Sony and Marc Webb credit for their confidence.
Alex: I had mixed expectations coming in from the first movie. There were too many branching stories without definitive closure, such as with the story of Peter’s parents, his grief over Captain Stacy, and even his relationship with Gwen. However, like you said, the movie takes on a lot, addressing these conflicts and adding a whole host of new ones. In the end, I felt the direction of the films takes on the tone of the Ultimate storyline while retaining the major events in Amazing. I have a lot to gripe about initially, but looking back after taking off the new goggles, I respected how much the film accomplished in a short amount of time. Also, the action is incredible and I have never seen such a perfect take on what makes Spider-Man a hero in his own class. His villains were all unique (while lacking equal screen time), Spidey’s movements were perfectly lifted from comic to film, and I think I can speak for everyone that they finally nailed the costume.
What a cast (and look)!
Erin: You’re completely right on them nailing that comic-vibe. I think a lot of that success though has to be attributed to the stellar cast they got for this series. I know you had a lot to say about Tobey Maguire being Peter Parker/Spider-Man and even James Franco taking on a deep Harry Osborn, but I’ve actually fallen in love with these new young people taking on the roles. I loved Andrew Garfield in the first movie and I still do here, although his Peter Parker characterization is still muddled. Emma Stone does a great job too, and their chemistry gives this movie most of its emotional punch. I was really surprised by Jamie Foxx, not because he isn’t a great actor, but because he was able to give meaning to a character villain whose development seemed a little rushed and convenient for the sake of plot. But Jamie Foxx made Electro believable. The only real issue I had was with Dane DeHaan when he was first introduced as Harry. I thought his attitude and voice came off with too much of a “West Coast surfer/stoner” vibe. But definitely near the end, as his character started to get desperate and angry, I thought Dane pulled off that evil/diabolical Harry Osborn that we all expected really well. By the time he becomes Green Goblin, no matter how creepy and weird it looked, I was really impressed.
Alex: I had my initial doubts about Harry, starting from his look and demeanor, then a forced relationship to be introduced with Peter, and a Harry Osborn who has actually not been developed alongside his father. These were all points that seemed to stray from all canonical comic book appearances of Harry Osborn. However, it wasn’t until Harry became desperate inside Oscorp that I saw him branch out into his maniacal self that feels betrayed and alone. While Jamie Foxx and Emma Stone made the best out of their characters, I feel Andrew Garfield fell a bit flat. Whether he was stuttering over his words, being un-Parker-like suave, or even making coherent sentences, his Peter Parker was out of character and did not even remotely stick to being the same guy throughout the movie. In comparison, his Spider-Man was spot on. His combat was fluid, his quips were on the spot, he showed compassion to the people he saved and even humored the people he fought. Spidey even joined New York’s finest by fighting alongside fire fighters. It was a perfect representation of Spider-Man, only to be hindered by his alter ego. I relate this back to the first Iron Man movie, who was played by Robert Downey Jr. While this was the first appearance of Tony Stark to a majority of the general public, this Tony Stark was the same one in the comics. Arrogrant, but kind hearted. Cocky, but intelligent, cunning, and aggressive. Whether he was in or out of the suit, we saw the same character all the time and that’s what I feel is lost from Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker.
Action Scenes and Iconic Moments
Alex: By film number 5, they finally has Spider-Man looking, feeling, and fighting like he does in the comics. He swings everywhere. He fights with quips, saves lives, and gets the bad guy. He’s late to everything but makes up for it with terrible lies. He’s the Spider-Man we’ve been waiting to see on the big screen and for that I am incredibly pleased. The mix between Ultimate and Amazing storylines gives us the new looks for Electro and the Rhino, and it’ll be a sight to see for what comes next for Venom and the Sinister Six.
When it comes to the fights, Electro got most of the show, with two major battles and a whole electrical city at his disposal. These fights showed us Spidey’s versatility as a hero, and showed Electro’s growth as a villain. Unfortunately, Goblin and Rhino did not get the same treatment. Aleksei Sytsevich’s initial Osborn robbery leaves a lot to be desired and Harry’s goblin doesn’t create a sinister sense of evil. The vengeance he wants from Peter doesn’t correlate to the death of Gwen or even a full fight scene. A big problem comes from the broad scope of the film and I guess it can’t accomplish everything. However, reigning in some of the characters would have left more time for the proper action. I think we could have waited for a Rhino in the next movie, who would get at least 5 minutes of lines and action.
Erin: Yeah I totally agree with the lack of balancing for each villain/character. Though, I think you have to approach this situation as less of a comic-book fan and more of someone who might not know anything. Arguably, Rhino doesn’t even need that much screen time because they could have been just introducing the character now to get ready for the next few films. Partly, at least, the reason we expect so much is because we already know so much about these characters and want to see that portrayed on film. No matter what, the execution was not perfect, but I still think about the movie and can’t help but give major kudos to Sony and the creators for how ambitious they were. You’re right, a lot of exposition and character development seemed rushed, but at the same time, it made some sense. A lot of plot points and action sequences kind of just happen, but in that sense it resembles a lot of the short story arcs we’ve read of these characters in the comics. The characters do look great though, and the action is flawless.
Spider-Man’s Tangled Web
Alex: Sometimes the aftermath of a crucial event is more important than the actual event itself. For Spider-Man, the death of Gwen may have been just a moment in time, but this death will resonate with him forever. In the comics, and what I suspect will happen in the future, we see an even more hesitant Peter. Even in the latest Superior Spider-Man finale (OOOPS, more spoilers), Peter saves Ms. Marconi from a fall by being more precise with his webbing, protecting her limbs and giving her sufficient support. This was because he learned from his iconic mistake in attempting to rescue Gwen (END Superior Spider-Man Spoilers). Peter’s sickening images of Capt. Stacy are not going to compare to his guilt and anguish over Gwen and we can only predict so much. He may have a new lady in his life. Could it be Mary Jane? Possibly, but there’s always so many possibilities. Namely…
Black Cat loves Spidey, but can’t see herself with Peter. What will come of her character? Who knows. But if she becomes a major player, a romantic plotline could stem from Peter’s return to the tights versus the Black Cat donning her own suit and loving the web-slinger. As for Peter’s villains, we have a sinister six apparently on the way, along with a venom film. Whether this will become Amazing Spider-Man 3 or something else has yet to be revealed.
Erin: See, and that’s exactly why I love this movie more than I hate it. They set stuff up like crazy. Unlike the end of the first Amazing Spider-Man, I am actually incredibly excited for the next movie in this series. I’m excited for the Sinister Six, I’m excited for this inevitable pitfall that Peter is going to go through after Gwen’s death, and I just can’t wait to see how the final showdown goes. We’ve read these stories for years, and I keep saying, just like in the Dark Knight trilogy by Nolan, all of those iconic moments, specifically Bane breaking Batman’s back, just have so much resonance with us comic book fans. Gwen’s death in this movie had me breathless for about 10 whole minutes. There’s that scene where Peter and Gwen talk on top of that bridge, and right then and there I knew we could expect that iconic death that we know from the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #121. Brian talked about the death of Aerith in Final Fantasy, and this moment is exactly the same. Gwen’s death is perhaps the most important and pivotal death in the history of comics, and to see that executed on the big screen so well was just a huge rush for me. I couldn’t believe my eyes, even though during the fight scene in the clock tower you could tell it was going to happen. And the thing is, they made you love Gwen arguably more than the comics did. Gwen in this movie/series is no victim or typical love interest who gets targeted. Gwen, and again Emma Stone’s amazing portrayal of her, is just as much a hero as Spidey is because of all of those reckless and rebel decisions she made at the end to help defeat Electro. And that’s super interesting because Peter is going to go through this emotional pitfall again, but it’s not necessarily all his fault. She wasn’t captured, she died being a hero, and I think that has a lot of potential for the upcoming internal strife that we will see from Peter in the next movies. So again, was this movie executed perfectly? No, definitely not. But man, the weight that it has makes up for a lot, and the decision to bring Gwen’s death and make it so emotional, while rushed, gives this movie and series a step up. It’s like reading about her death for the first time all over again, and it’s one of those emotional punches you hate, but resonate so well.
Have thoughts about what is sure to be another controversial comic book film? Let us know what you think about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 below and fire away a discussion!