A reboot to early or a money making scheme used by the studios to cash in on the superhero crazy which seems to be at its pinnacle right now; these are the two things that come to mind when I think about The Amazing Spiderman starring a brand new cast of Andrew Garfield (taking over the honors from Tobey Maguire), Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, and Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben.
Anupama Chopra, one of India’s leading film critics, suggests that we should go into the movie without thinking about the earlier franchise. While that would be the optimal approach to The Amazing Spiderman, I cannot help but compare the two at every level and for that very reason I find this reboot more and more unnecessary.
The angst that Maguire's Peter Parker brought to the franchise was something more relatable. Garfield, while doing justice to the costume, comes across as cockier and not so much of a "loser" as his counterpart from the earlier films. Unfortunately, as a result, the transformation into Spiderman has a much stronger impact and effect on Maguire's Parker than on the one portrayed by Garfield. The same is also visible in the actual transformation. While Maguire goes through a number of issues trying to discover his powers, Garfield almost eases through this process in a small ineffective montage. Spiderman, in both cases, at heart, starts off as a vigilante trying to avenge his uncle's death but it is his realization into a superhero that is once again brought together marvelously in Raimi's version whereas Marc Webb gives The Amazing Spiderman a more comic-bookishness in this new rendition.
The obligatory aspects of the Spiderman story; being bullied in school, death of Uncle Ben, are all present in The Amazing Spiderman. Unfortunately they feel repetitious due to the proximity of the film to Spiderman. The film also lacks memorable dialogues that were omnipresent in the earlier films. Who can forget "With great power comes great responsibility"? Furthermore, with nothing to compare the iconic upside-down wet kiss of Spiderman with Mary Jane, the new feature adds almost no memorable aspects to its story or characters.
As directors both Raimi and Webb bring completely different visions to the film. While Raimi's version is more story oriented focusing on the numerous emotions of Peter Parker, Webb, besides taking too long to get the story going, is more visual in trying to wow the audience with special effects. Granted there are scenes that are amazing to look at, but I have always found Spiderman to be more about the characters than just the look of the film. We also have to keep in mind the addition of the 3D aspect, which is always pointless in my view, in The Amazing Spiderman; something that was missing earlier, and something I was thankfully able to avoid this time as well.
The love interests of Peter Parker/Spiderman are different in both the films and that allows for the audience to look at them separately. Although, the fact remains that as love interests both the characters bring about a certain maturity to the story which is comparable. While the universally likeable Emma Stone, Playing Gwen Stacy, might be the best part about the entire film, she is unable to compare herself with the depth and conflict faced by Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson in the earlier films.Mary Jane is a more complex character facing family issues, a want to make a name for herself in acting, and of course discovering love in the most unusual of places. The love triangle in the previous films form an intrinsic part of the story and the on-off relationship between Mary Jane and Peter Parker added an entirely new dimension, something that was missing from this film. It's also pertinent to note that due to the structure of the film, The Amazing Spiderman misses out on the Peter Parker - Harry Osborn friendship aspect which took the dynamics of the previous franchise to a whole new level.
One thing that superhero films of the past have taught us is that the villain is almost as important as the hero. This is where The Amazing Spiderman gets squashed by a rolled up Daily Bugle. William Dafoe as the Green Goblin had such a strong presence in Spiderman that no matter how hard Rhys Ifans tries to regenerate himself as the Lizard, he falls short in comparison. Furthermore, The Green Goblin has been one of the few iconic villains which are known to non comic book readers, whereas The Lizard is someone relatively unknown to the same people.
The Amazing Spiderman could have worked much better had it been released maybe a decade in the future. Right now, the public that is going to view this film has in most cases already seen Spiderman and its sequels and thus this reboot feels forced, unless Marvel has plans to add Spiderman to its already successful Avengers lineup. Maguire's Parker was much grounded, something I appreciated in Spiderman. Garfield’s Spiderman is a comic-book hero with panache and takes away the innocence that forms an fundamental part of this teenage hero entrusted upon with a superpower unexpectedly.
With news of The Amazing Spiderman being developed into a trilogy, I honestly can say that my interest now lies in seeing Spiderman only as part of Avengers and not as a separate franchise.