Anthony Stokes on how Sony could fix The Amazing Spider-Man franchise as we build to The Sinister Six….
Every year there’s a movie that divides critics and audiences right down the middle, and this year it’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This is the definition of a movie where you either leave your brain at the door and just go in and have fun, or keep your brain in and deconstruct the entire movie. I tried to have fun with it and and did enjoy a lot of the movie, but ultimately came down pretty hard on it. I’ve already wrote a feature on what The Amazing Spider-Man 2 got right and what it got wrong [see here]; building on that, I’d like to address some of the issues with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, how they could have been amended, and what Sony should do moving forward. I’ll also comment on the supposed Sinister Six line up. Spoilers to follow…
First, let me reiterate what I thought The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did pretty well. Aside from Rhino, the villains before they become villainous are very entertaining and developed pretty well given the amount of time they’re on screen. Apart from Spider-Man joking around with Rhino while he runs into two civilian vehicles, no doubt killing both sets of drivers and passengers instantly, the Spider-Man here is probably the best the character has been. This is coming from somebody who loves the original Sam Raimi trilogy – they really captured a Spider-Man who’s having fun and messes with the bad guys. All the performances, once again besides Paul Giamatti as Rhino, were damn good. It’s overall a more entertaining movie then the first one.
The biggest problem with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is that instead of the writers coming up with the best possible story it’s pretty evident they had a check list of things they had to do to set up a Sinister Six movie. This movie has absolutely no plot at all and it feels like the epilogue and prologue were there just to include The Rhino. What we get is a jumbled mess of several subplots that don’t have any through line to keep them together. Nothing really flows. It’s four completely different movies crammed together. Here’s how I feel they could have improved the story…
First of all, completely remove Rhino. He serves no purpose on a storytelling level and completely ruins the tone of the movie. Next save Gwen Stacy’s death for the third film and take out the Green Goblin. There’s no reason to kill Gwen in this movie. They completely breeze over her death in five minutes of screen time as Spider-Man retires just to come back again. If they absolutely had to kill off Gwen, then they should’ve cut out the part where he comes back and ended the movie there and then, letting this plot breathe instead of hastily wrapping it up and making these past two movies completely pointless.
Norman Osborn is only in the movie for five minutes. Wrong move. The entire movie should’ve focused on three things: Oscorp; Gwen and Peter; and Harry and Norman. Harry should’ve been begging for Spider-Man’s blood to save his father and then when Norman dies and Harry starts to get sick himself you could’ve started the third film with Gwen dying and dealt with these storylines for an entire movie. This gives Harry more motivation and better development, since he’s only Green Goblin here just long enough to kill Gwen Stacy. They also should’ve focused more on Oscorp, which seems to be the backbone to this entire universe much like S.H.I.E.L.D. during Phase I of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Electro could’ve been a great villain but unfortunately he suffers just like everything else in this movie and doesn’t have enough screen time. He’s barely in the movie.
Moving forward, I doubt Sony will take a hint and fix the issues. The main and only problem in these movies seems to be studio interference. The entire past two movies have all been set up. To use Captain America as an example, the first movie works as a set-up but it’s primarily a good origin story for Captain America. The sequel sets up Avengers: Age of Ultron but also builds beautifully – hell masterfully – on the set-up from Captain America in a manner not unlike The Dark Knight or even The Empire Strikes Back. But The Amazing Spider-Man was all set up for Gwen’s death and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was too crammed to really build on anything from it, much more like Iron Man 2 was. Do two villains at a time for now. Three clearly hasn’t worked on both occasions that they’ve tried it and I doubt it ever will. Sony needs to step back and let Marc Webb come up with a good story and then if there’s room add some fan service and set-up, instead of doing things the other way around.
And finally, to the Sinister Six line up. First off, Electro is infinitely more interesting than Rhino and belongs in the Sinister Six and the fact that he seems to be absent baffles me. Max Dillon was the highlight of the movie for me and his scenes with Harry are the only reason I’m looking forward to The Sinister Six. The line up works for me, except for really Kraven and possibly Chameleon. Kraven seems to be a really dated villain to me. Big Game Hunters aren’t relevant any more and his motivation from the comics was always just “Spider-Man is the biggest predator, so I must take him down.” And Chameleon is a boring pick because he’s basically Mysterio without the mind games. Mysterio has potential to be this series’ Joker, a character who can test Peter mentally, and I hope they do the character justice.
Overall I’m concerned that this franchise will forever suffer and continue to get worse until they bring out The Sinister Six. I have no interest in any other Spider-Man movies since Sony seems to take the “bigger is better” approach with their movies. Also, Avi Arad rubs me the wrong way and just comes off as jealous that his A-list character is losing to Captain America. Can’t stand that guy. The Sinister Six will be great, no doubt, but the ride there will could be long and monotonous.
Anthony Stokes is a blogger and independent filmmaker.