Anghus Houvouras dissects The Amazing Spider-Man’s ‘broken promise’…
Spider-Man fans seem deeply divided on the ending to The Amazing Spider-Man, specifically the final moments dealing with the future of Gwen Stacy’s relationship with Peter Parker. Here’s some obsessive analysis over one of the fundamental differences between Sam Raimi’s take on the character, and Marc Webb’s drastically different take.
SPOILERS AHEAD. BE WARNED…
The moment in question comes at the conclusion of the film. Spider-Man has stopped the Lizard and saved the city from toxic mutation. But it has come at a cost. Captain Stacy, Gwen’s father, has been mortally wounded. As he lay dying, he asked Peter to distance himself from Gwen in order to keep her safe from the inevitable danger associated with being Spider-Man. It’s a great scene, and adds unforeseen consequences to an already tragic situation.
It’s a stark contrast from the comics, where Captain Stacy’s death was equally honorable, but used to strengthen Peter’s resolve. Comic Book Captain Stacy revealed he knew Peter was Spider-Man and asked him to take care of his daughter. Peter makes a vow to take care of Gwen. And I think most people know how well that turned out.
Marc Webb is catching a lot of flack for some of the changes in the movie. There have been perpetual discussions about abandoning the iconic “with great power comes great responsibility” line. The creative forces behind The Amazing Spider-Man have made it very clear that they are willing to tinker with what we know about Spider-Man. Captain Stacy’s dying plea to Peter is at the heart of this fundamental shift in the story.
The objection doesn’t stem from the promise Peter makes, but a scene later on in the film where he implies to Gwen that “the best promise is the one you can’t keep.”
The chatter online seems vastly divided over whether this Peter Parker acting like a normal teenager or a massive character flaw turning Peter Parker from a noble hero to a self centered dick welching on a dying man‘s wish. The scene is a stark contrast from Raimi’s original Spider-Man where Peter Parker realizes the danger Spider-Man’s enemies pose to those he loves the most. Just when Mary Jane Watson declares her undying love for him, he does the honorable thing and walks away.
Personally, I like that he implies he’ll break the promise because that’s what a love struck 16/17 year old kid would do. They make decisions based on emotion and have impulse control problems. I get the end of Raimi’s Spider-Man from a technical standpoint. He walks away because he fears for what might happen to those closest to him. It’s a rational and well thought out decision that makes sense from the perspective of a 30 year old screenwriter. For a teenage kid that’s all hormones and emotions, it makes sense for him to say ‘what’s the worst that could happen’. He tries to do the right thing but it doesn’t quite hold.
It seems more natural for the character. I think it worked well for Raimi’s Spider-Man on one level because no one was expecting him to walk away. I think everyone was genuinely surprised he made that choice. It was a left turn when everyone was expecting a right. It worked because it defied expectations. Plus, how long did Peter stay away from MJ…. until the inevitable sequel.
So I’m not sure why the line at the end where he implies he’s going to break the promise is so surprising and criticized. Would it have been better for him to keep acting like a mopey loser until the next film? Doesn’t the promise of their relationship continuing make for a fuller and more resolved story in the film?
I realize it’s almost idiotic to consider one film as a standalone in this day and age of superhero multi sequel franchise trilogies. However, if you took Raimi’s Spider-Man as a standalone, Harry’s dad is dead, Peter Parker turns his back on the girl he’s crazy about and Spider-Man becomes an albatross around his neck as he swings through the city, one final money shot swinging through the city for the audience…. and then BAM, fade to black.
Not exactly the most inspirational of endings. I realize that part of being Spider-Man is the burden of responsibility. But there’s also the part of it that is fun. Raimi’s films didn’t exactly give us a Spider-Man who enjoyed his role. We got the sad sack, lovable loser Spider-Man.
As a standalone movie, The Amazing Spider-Man has a far more fulfilling character arc. Yes, you could spend time debating Peter Parker’s overnight broken promise to Gwen’s dying father. But that promise is going to be broken. You know it, I know it, the audience should totally know it. So why is everyone so shocked by this moment?