Spider-Man vs. The Amazing Spider-Man
So I am just now posting about this, because it wasn’t until I re-watched the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man from 2002 yesterday that I finally realized why I was disappointed with the Marc Webb reboot. I’ll try not to be completely negative about The Amazing Spider-Man and begin with the things I did like about it.
First of all, Andrew Garfield was a great Spidey. He was much more like the comic book version of Peter Parker, more of a loner and misunderstood than a full-on nerd. Tobey Maguire‘s Peter Parker was a little goofy and a caricatured nerd, always picked on and made fun of. I enjoyed that, but Garfield gave Parker layers. He was better at the emotional, tortured soul thing than Maguire for sure.
Second, I enjoyed that the screenplay-writers kept this new version of the film closer to the comic books. The mystery surrounding Parker’s dad with Dr. Connors, dating Gwen Stacy instead of Mary Jane, the mechanical web launchers, etc. Which by the way, while re-watching Spider-Man, when Peter walks into his apartment and Harry and Norman Osborn are waiting for him, they ask him where he’s been and he says, “I was late this morning, and Dr. Connors fired me.” Easter egg! Anyway, to re-iterate my point, keeping it closer to the comic books is the second thing I like about the reboot.
Lastly, the special effects were awesome. It has been 10 years since the first Spider-Man, so obviously special effects have come a long way. The Lizard was pretty crazy, and Rhys Ifans did a good job of not being inherently evil, just a little obsessed with getting his arm back. I also almost forgot to mention that I noticed Peter Parker took his mask off more and way more people knew he was Spider-Man in the reboot than in the original, but I didn’t want to make a whole paragraph about that. That was about it for that point.
Okay, so now that I’ve listed the things I enjoyed about the reboot, here are my criticisms. One of my favorite things about the original was when Peter found out he had radioactive spider powers and toyed with his new abilities and created his Spidey suit. In the reboot, I feel like all of that was fast-forwarded. There was not nearly enough time spent on it, and Andrew Garfield could definitely have done great stuff with that material. To top it off, the 5-second montage of Peter testing out his new-found powers is set to “Til Kingdom Come” by Coldplay. Don’t get me wrong, I love that song, but really? The last time that song was relevant was back when it was released in 2004, and even then, it was a closet hit. My point is, it really felt like everything that made Peter Parker into Spider-Man was just thrown together like the last-minute Power-Point presentations I used to give in college after staying at the PCL until 2 a.m. perusing Facebook.
My second criticism is still related to story development. Peter’s relationship with Aunt Mae and Uncle Ben was not given nearly enough time to build. SPOILER ALERT: When Uncle Ben died, I hardly felt sad, unlike when I wept like a baby watching the original on a field trip with my eighth-grade class. Martin Sheen was a good choice, and he could’ve been a great Uncle Ben had they given him enough script and screen-time. Unfortunately, they spent more time developing Peter’s romance with Gwen than they did the relationship between Peter and his aunt and uncle.
I guess my beef with the reboot is that it seemed so much more superficial than the original. I was thinking it would be the opposite. My expectation was a “Dark Knight”-like reboot, darker and more realistic than the cartoon-ish originals. While Garfield does a great job of giving Peter Parker/Spider-Man emotional layers, the rest fell flat and forced. It was entertaining, though, and I did enjoy it, just not as much as the original. I like them both for different reasons, and I would recommend Spidey-lovers everywhere give the reboot a chance. This was just my personal opinion! Below are some visual comparisons.