Hey, guys! So the other night I was taking a break from my cartoon marathon, mainly because I’ve been watching two new batman shows and Miyazaki films and wanted to be a Spirtited Away Batman, and decided to hang out with my friend Tim. Now, I did a video review of the Spider-Man TAS with Tim as well as help him out with a few movies, like my story Spirit of the Lake, and his Geek and Nerd podcast, Anything Goes! I was over his house to help him with his script for a “The Question” short movie as well as to watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Now, I was a Spider-Man fan before I was a Batman fan, and I will always be a little kid at heart when it comes to Spider-Man. However, I am not afraid to say when some things are crap in the world of Spider-Man, like I did in my review, but when the Amazing Spider-Man movie series came out, I felt like I was one of the few people that truly enjoyed the movies! And after watching The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I still hold firm to that they are probably better than most of the Toby Maguire movies. Now before you break out the pitchforks and the torches and storm my house, let me explain myself.
For those who have read my reviews before, they know I am not against defending movies or TV shows that are deemed bad, like Indiana Jones: The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but let me quickly break down the ranking of the 5 Spider-Man movies that came out in the 2000’s:
1. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
2. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
4. Spider-Man (2002)
5. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Now, notice that I am not against the Toby Maguire Spider-Man movies, I just favor the Andrew Garfield movies more. However, the fan base or non-geek movie goers did prefer the Maguire movies so much more than the Garfield ones that it gets awkward bringing up the series to other fans, because they try to make you feel like an idiot and act like you don’t know what you are talking about. Listen, I love Spider-Man and I have watched and read some horrible Spider-Man, so this is my rebuttal to you! So SHHH!
Let’s look at the facts though. When Sony released the Spider-Man movies, they essentially started the idea that Super hero movies can be cool and can survive as the Summer Blockbuster movies that we know. Most movies, as we know, are judged on the Opening Weekend draw worldwide, so below I have put those numbers up so you can see what happened!
1. Spider-Man (2002): $821.7 million
2. Spider-Man 2 (2004): $783.8 million
3. Spider-Man 3 (2007): $890.9 million
4. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012): $757.9 million
5. The Amazinging Spider-Man 2 (2014): $709 million
As you can see, the two Garfield movies were the weakest at the box office, which is a no brainer as to partially why Sony pulled the plug on the series that could have easily made a 3rd movie with the characters that they introduced in Amazing 2. But at this point, you are probably going, “where’s the point of this?” So, lets break down why I think the Garfield movies are better than the Maguire movies.
To start, let’s look at the main character: Spider-Man/Peter Parker. The Amazing Spider-Man movies brought in Andrew Garfield. Garfield was raised in the UK, and became an aspiring actor at the age of 19. He started off small time in a bunch of minor TV and movie roles. The first time I saw him was in season 3 of Doctor Who, when he played a New Yorker during the Great Depression who was kidnapped by Daleks. He didn’t get his big movie break until he made bigger roles in The Social Network and Never Let Me Go. So when he was casted as Peter Park/Spider-Man, he was essentially some unknown “kid.” Now, I’m not going to lie, I was not thrilled when I heard that some British actor was going to play Spider-Man, but, as you can tell, I got over that. And I say “Kid” because I honestly thought Garfield was much younger than what he is. He was 28 years old when he stared in Amazing and was 30 in Amazing 2. The guy looks like he was acting out of high school, so great casting on that part! His American/New York accent in the movies was actually greatly accurate as well. You can truly believe that he grew up in Queens and has that same attitude much New Yorkers, like myself, embrace where we talk fast and just want to get things done.
I was really happy to make Peter Parker as the closet scientist or under achieving genius. If you were a kid that was being raised by your aunt and uncle and you have no idea what happened to your parents. Also, he was weird and was being picked on and was just so overlooked by everyone that you would expect him to cop an attitude and be a little self-destructive. In my conversations with Tim, we both agreed that this Peter Parker is our generation of boy genius. Not to say that Maguire’s Peter Parker is bad, but he was pulling the Stan Lee’s genius of the 70’s. Plus, Maguire was post college outcast because he’s nerdy and to himself. Not that I say that this is bad, but it’s very Spider-Man TAS, minus the constant inner-monologue. However, I think that’s why people rejected the Garfield Peter Parker, because most of the lose or convenient fans remember Spider-Man TAS having a much older Peter Parker and the similarities between that and Maguire’s Peter Parker is just easier to make. Audiences didn’t realize that the early 2000’s had a comic reboot where it focused around a Garfield like Peter Parker which worked very well. Then again, I don’t think anyone wanted to see an underage super hero tap and underage romantic interest which brings us to the next part: Gwen Stacey vs Mary jane Watson!
Now most people don’t know this, but Mary Jane Watson wasn’t brought into the Spider-Man Universe until much later! It was always Gwen Stacey! With making the Amazing series, going with Gwen Stacey was definitely the better choice and making her a stronger character than Mary Jane was a must. Now about my comment above about the underage thing, in the first Amazing movie had them in High School, so 17 and under, aka Emma Stone was being Jailbait! Emma Stone, possibly the hottest Girl-Next-Door next to Zoey Deschanel. So when Stone died her signature red hair blonde and was going to play a 17 or younger year old girl, guys weren’t as inclined to think what they wanted to do with her later on. Or, the image of her later on. However, if you are familiar with Emma Stone’s movies, she has never played a weak female character. She brings attitude and intelligence to all her roles, even in silly movies. So, playing the tough police chief’s daughter that is also a brainiac and won’t take anything sitting down, makes the casting perfect for her. She defends herself against the super villains in both movies, she doesn’t let Peter’s strengths or skills over power her, she has a commanding force over him as in the way that she makes her help him and also conducting their relationship. She’s funny, cute, intelligent also known as the perfect girl!
Now, you can argue that Spider-Man 3 had Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) in it as well, but more as a prop for Spider-Man to save and make Mary Jane jealous. So, despite that Gwen Stacey being hot as well, especially as her role as Claire in Jurassic World, she’s just the stereo typical damsel in distress. Speaking of which!
Mary Jane Watson was the definition of a damsel in distress! Played by Kristen Dunst in Spider-Man 1-3, Mary Jane was essentially a plot device that made Spider-Man do what he did. Though I wouldn’t say this is Kristen Dunst’s fault, but bad writing. Dunst actually was going to quit the Spider-Man series because she was tired of being known as the hot red-head that just screams. Though, she was really hot, especially in that Kimono dress in the first movie (hubba-hubba). That being said, she was kind of a bitch when she wasn’t screaming. She was very vain and just made her looks go down when she was in bitch mode. Once again, not Dunst’s fault.
Now an essential part to any starring couple is the chemistry. When Garfield and Stone started getting googley-eyed at each other and making out, you believed they liked each other. This is especially evident in the serious dialogue between them. You can tell that they care for each other even though they are either angry or upset at each other. When you saw Dunst and Maguire interact in the same way, you knew they were acting. Not like obvious acting, but in a way that when the cameras aren’t rolling, they aren’t acting in the same way towards each other. Hell, apparently Garfield and Stone are dating each other after the Amazing movies! If I’m worng about that fact, I will blame Tim for that incorrect fact. But still, you felt there was a genuine connection between the two of them that you didn’t get from the other pairing.
Now the villains help make any good story. This is where Spider-Man 1-3 had hits and misses. Green Goblin, played by William Dafoe, was great because you saw how crazy he was. His origin wasn’t that far-fetched either! Maybe he was a little too acentric, but he did just take some serious mental changing drugs so I will let that pass. Now, Doc Ock, played by Alfred Molina, was great. You believed his struggle and his pain as well as the idea of revenge. Though his mind was altered as well through the a freak accident, he was great to watch. Now, Venom/Eddie Brock played by Topher Grace and Sandman played by Thomas Hayden Church… well, they weren’t up to par. Granted the director of Spider-Man 3, Sam Raimi, hated the idea of Venom and was forced to use him by Sony. So he hacked it and squeezed him in without fully understanding the weight of that character to the series. Also, the fact that there was multiple villains in one movie, Sandman, Venom, and the symbiont suit, got a little too hectic and forced certain things to be rushed. However, the Amazing series didn’t avoid that mistake in their movies. Amazing 2 sported Electro, the corrupt heads of Oscorp, Rhino, and Hob Goblin. That being said, I do feel they handled this better. Sony was probably feeling a 3rd movie coming up, which allowed for them to add these characters into the movie to have them payoff in the 3rd movie, like Rhino and Hob Goblin. However, they did leave the end with a gaping hole for a 3rd movie and they pulled the plug on it. Not cool. The first Amazing movie had Doctor Connors aka The Lizard. I loved this character and was waiting for them to bring the character to the big screen. He’s not a bad person and had to experiment on himself, in much the same was as William Dafoe did in the first Spider-Man.
I would say that the stories would be a huge factor in the movies, but they essentially revolve around the villains in all 5 movies so if the movie carried the villain correctly, the better the story was. However, the story also had to have Peter and his love interest interact and the conflict between Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Here, I just feel the Garfield movies were just handled much better when it comes to all of these things.
All of these factors make the movies either excel and fail in their own accord, but I do believe one other reason why the Amazing movies weren’t given a fair share. The key is marketing. When Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 came out, the ads were everywhere and everyone was talking about Spider-Man. Sony did the same treatment with Spider-Man 3 and for the most part, brought out a huge amount of fans, though they played up the angle of Venom being in the movie. However, the movie suffered from its confusing and boring plot and lack of use of the Venom character. This made Sony gun-shy about the Amazing series. You didn’t see as many ads out and even after being successful, the second movies was advertised even less. And after the opening weekend turnout, they pulled a Disney and yanked all ads and just let the movie coast.
Another factor that I believed made the Amazing series not do so well is the fact that both movies have a very heavy story and dialogue driven movie. Unfortunately, when you go to a super hero movie, you expect lots of fights and super hero stuff. They took a more intellectual approach to the series and made it more for the true fans of the series instead of the passive fans. This was also weakened by the fact that Captain America: Winter Soldier came out 2-3 weeks before Amazing 2. The expectations were set higher and the dialogue driven movie dropped the ball for most movie goers.
So, do I think the Amazing movies weren’t given their do? Yes, I believe they are the superior franchise of Spider-Man movies out there. When talking to Tim, he compared Garfield’s Spider-Man to Timothy Dalton’s James Bond. In both series, the darker and story driven movies were looked as negatives to the series and both were casted aside after two movies. Now, do I think that the Maguire movies are that much worst? Not at all! The second movie is still my favorite and the first one is a classic in my opinion. The third movie was a letdown, even though I saw that three times in theaters.
If I was going to give advice to the new reboot of Spider-Man, I would say this: Use both movies to your advantage. The Story and the chemistry of the Garfield movies definitely made them great, but the true comic book attitude of the Maguire movies are great, too. I would definitely look into hiring JK Simmons as JJ Jameson again! He honestly was the living characterization of the character! Give him an Oscar for that role, right now!
Thanks for staying with me on this one! Please look out for the next reviews coming soon: Miyazaki’s moves, Beware the Batman, and The Batman. Also, check out the podcast Anything Goes through the link below!