Despite a positive response from many viewers, The Amazing Spider-Man 2
was (for others) one of the biggest disappointments of the summer 2014
box office. Reviews for the film were equally divisive (read our Amazing Spider-Man 2 review)
– celebrating director Marc Webb’s principle cast and use of
blockbuster effects while criticizing the movie’s choppy and
underdeveloped storyline. As a result, in a summer where competing
superhero movies like Captain America 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Guardians of the Galaxy, all exceeded (or at the very least met) expectations, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had trouble living up to Sony’s “His Greatest Battle Begins” hype – even though the final film still provides an entertaining web-slinger movie experience.
The film went on to score over $700 million at the global box office –
solid money but still a disappointment for the studio. Worst of all, in
addition to being the lowest grossing Spider-Man franchise installment, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 undermined Sony’s push for Venom and Sinister Six
shared universe spin-offs. Both films are still on the production
schedule but the studio is now having to rebuild some of that shared
Earlier this week, series star Andrew Garfield opened up about how Spider-Man may (or may not) fit into the Sinister Six film plot and now the actor is offering his thoughts on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 backlash. Speaking with The Daily Beast, Garfield asserts that studio pressure is to blame for undermining Webb’s original vision:
It’s interesting. I read a lot of the reactions from
people and I had to stop because I could feel I was getting away from
how I actually felt about it. For me, I read the script that Alex
[Kurtzman] and Bob [Orci] wrote, and I genuinely loved it. There was
this thread running through it. I think what happened was, through the
pre-production, production, and post-production, when you have something
that works as a whole, and then you start removing portions of
it—because there was even more of it than was in the final cut, and
everything was related. Once you start removing things and saying, “No,
that doesn’t work,” then the thread is broken, and it’s hard to go with
the flow of the story. Certain people at the studio had problems with
certain parts of it, and ultimately the studio is the final say in those
movies because they’re the tentpoles, so you have to answer to those
Whether you enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man or felt the film was a disappointment, it’s public knowledge that the theatrical version was the victim of substantial editing room restructuring.
The film’s trailers outright hinted at plot threads that went mostly
unexplored in the final film – most notably development of villain Max
Dillon pre-Electro as well as the relationship between Peter Parker and
Harry Osborne. Some of the missing scenes can be found on the recent Blu-ray release, including a cut epilogue sequence featuring the return of a major character, but many remain lost to the cutting room floor (including a look at the mysterious black globe featured in the Amazing Spider-Man 2 theater first look).
The mixed response sent shockwaves through the studio, causing Sony to alter their production timeline for the spin-offs and previously announced Amazing Spider-Man 3. Furthermore, it was revealed that even though potential Sinister Six members were teased in the latest movie’s credits, the studio is still nailing down the final plan for Drew Goddard’s super villain team-up – which might feature a different roster of Sinister Six members.
Regardless of what filmmakers have in store for the future, Garfield offers an encouraging glimpse into how he’s processing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 blowback – specifically stating that it’s an opportunity to refine and improve the franchise going forward:
“But I’ll tell you this: Talking about the experience as
opposed to how it was perceived, I got to work in deep scenes that you
don’t usually see in comic book movies, and I got to explore this orphan
boy—a lot of which was taken out, and which we’d explored more. It’s
interesting to do a postmortem. I’m proud of a lot of it and had a good
time, and was a bit taken aback by the response.
“It’s a discernment thing. What are the people actually saying?
What’s underneath the complaint, and how can we learn from that? We
can’t go, “Oh God, we fucked up because all these people are saying all
these things. It’s shit.” We have to ask ourselves, “What do we believe
to be true?” Is it that this is the fifth Spider-Man movie in however
many years, and there’s a bit of fatigue? Is it that there was too much
in there? Is it that it didn’t link? If it linked seamlessly, would that
be too much? Were there tonal issues? What is it? I think all that is
valuable. Constructive criticism is different from people just being
dicks, and I love constructive criticism. Hopefully, we can get
underneath what the criticism was about, and if we missed anything.”
Without a doubt, we’ve been vocal about our criticisms of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – which have been featured prominently on the Screen Rant Underground as well as in our Summer 2014 Movie Awards
recap. However, many of our problems stemmed from unrealized potential
in the film – which featured an A-list cast, fan-favorite characters
(and plot threads), plus some of the best Spider-Man action to date. For
many viewers, like us, it was disappointing to see all of those assets
undercut by the studio’s interest in setting up a shared universe – rather than spending adequate time on every aspect of the story at hand.
For that reason, it’s encouraging to hear that Garfield and the rest
of the Spider-Man franchise crew are now in the process of discerning
exactly what they can learn from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Certainly, it’s more complicated than simply stating there were too many villains or people are just tired of Spider-Man
movies. After all, Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s most popular
characters – enjoying widespread appeal with comic book fans and casual
filmgoers around the globe. Instead, the film might just be a wakeup
call for Sony that, while they have a great character on their hands,
a memorable (and carefully developed) storyline is still essential –
especially with so many competing superhero films flooding the market.
There are plenty of dismissive voices out there but, even for those who enjoyed aspects of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there’s reason to be critical of some of the studio’s choices. Even if you enjoyed TASM2,
or any other sequel, there’s always room for constructive feedback and
improvement. As a result, it’s good to hear that Garfield recognizes
that the final film wasn’t the same one that he set out to make – and
that the filmmakers are eager to explore the root of any widespread
Hopefully, this will all lead to an even stronger Spider-Man franchise as Sony rolls out future installments.
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