Anticipation for Andrew Garfield's The Amazing Spider-Man is tepid, at best. No one's talking about it, it doesn't generate nearly as much hushed excitement as the impending Bat-fest or last month's Promethe-mess (sic).
Is this because it's a reboot too soon? I'm very proud that I have survived this blockbuster season without seeing a single clip, let alone the trailer, synopsis nor reviews of The Amazing Spider-Man, so I'm going into this as much of a virgin as Peter Parker himself.
I figured the only way to truly answer my question was to subject myself to a six-hour spider-marathon of the Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire trilogy to see if it still ran smooth, or if it was due in at the filmic body shop for a full-on refit.
I guess I can understand the studios thought-bubbles of dollar signs when they see the behemoth Bat hauling in the cash and accolades with Nolan's re-visioning. I wonder if bat-filled dreams have kept Amazing's director Marc Webb awake? I mean, if you were given the opportunity to try and make Spider-Man as awesome as The Dark Knight, wouldn't you at least try?
Spider-Man (I disagree with the hyphen, I would prefer it to be hyphen-less - Spiderman. Just saying) was released in 2002, still heavily in the shadow of 9-11 (does anyone remember the trailer where they had to cut out the Twin Towers?). Spider-Man was the true solid hero that Manhattan needed. Overly moral, determined and impervious to bad press - a bit like the then president, no?
But 10 years later in these recession years, we're not so much looking out for a moral, determined gentleman as opposed to one with deep cash-filled pockets - will Andrew Garfield be the answer to this? Will he soar from sky-scraper to sky-scraper taking from the rich and giving to the poor? Hmm, maybe Robin Hood was the franchise reboot needed for our worried times?
Whilst I realise the film is finished, and may well be showing by the time you read this, I still feel that I could give Mr. Webb some pointers.
Within seconds of starting the first film, it was clear in the opening sequence that the graphical design could do with a reboot - it's so basic and cheap, and the DNA animations feel soooo last century. So there you go Marc, there's a place for you to start making it better!
And with any film that's been on the DVD shelf for ten years, the visual effects begin to creak around the edges - the green screen action and the whole swinging CGI is certainly showing its age, and could benefit from a bit of a polish (and then repackaged as yet another Star Wars super super special edition, eh George?).
Ok. So, sure, technically, we could do with a reboot. But, come on, it's a great trilogy, right?
Well, I remembered again how much Uncle Ben's death annoyed me. It seems flimsy to base Peter Parker's uncle-guilt on these string of events that led to his death. I would very much like to see this refreshed and make Peter far more responsible than just letting a bad dude go, a full three blocks away.
And on the subject of Uncle Ben, he did give us the brilliant "with great power comes great responsibility" quote, tagline and mantra. So fantastically re-quoted and re-purposed ad infinum in the decade since. Will Andrew Garfield's Uncle Ben give us something as inspiring, or will he just wheel out the same old, firmly solidifying it as a cliche?
Masks. Ugh. There was nothing worse than the scene with the awesome Willem Dafoe trapped behind his Green Goblin mask taunting the web-faced Tobey. Oh, it fell so flat. So, best go easy on the masks, Marc.
And sexual chemistry. It just doesn't exist between Maguire and Dunst. Not that I can really see it zinging between Garfield and Emma Stone... And so I'm resigned to it still being slightly awkward. Spider-Man should be a geek-stud. For in 2012, the geek is king.
On the subject of the geeks in the Teenies (ugh, that decade-describer really doesn't work, does it?) - will newspaper editor JJ Jameson be sent back to the past where he belongs, and instead be replaced by an ironic and bitter online blogger? One can only dream.
Oh, and on the previous subject of sexual chemistry, I really hope they keep the overnight hottie transformation that the original Spider-Man did so well.
Seeing Maguire look in the mirror and see his weedy body and only mere hours later, be looking at a little beefcake was awesome! So poorly was this imitated in Captain America when they 'digitally deformed' Chris Evans into his pre-experiment weedy form - a digital effect you spent the whole movie studying as opposed to enjoying. So please, Marc, go au-naturale and have sent Andrew to a gym, not a digital imaging chamber!
Also, I dare you not to have Emma Stone, at any point, scream. Go on! Why not have the female lead even deadlier than the male?
And then, well, there's the sequels.
Spider-Man 2 was, ya know, ok, if a little slapstick. Even if James Franco became annoying, at least they had upped the CGI budget and also, having a bad guy that looks the spitting image of Gordon Brown is a total win of an idea.
But Spider-Man 3? It was somewhat difficult to wade through (although that might have been the sofa-sores I was getting in hour six of the movie marathon), and frankly, the less said about Emo-Spider-Man, the better. It was, however, fortunately saved by another chance to see the awesome Thomas Haden Church so soon after loving him in Killer Joe this weekend.
So Marc, I suggest you try to say all that you want to say in this one film, and then get out, a champion of Spider-Man and free from the sequels.
To be honest, I'm quite excited now, three films later, to see if Mr. Webb has taken any of my, rather late, I know, advice. And having seem them all again, I'm no longer opposed to a reboot, but it remains to be seen if it's worthwhile. So until opening night: RIP Tobey Maguire.
Spider-man is dead, long live The Amazing Spider-Man!