As the wall-crawler prepares to make his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Captain America: Civil War, Henry Bevan defends 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man…
A child is trapped in a car that is hanging off a bridge. The hero swings down, takes off his mask and reassures the trapped child that everything is going to be alright. The web holding the car snaps and our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man webs the boy free, saving him for the world to see. In a lesser superhero film, pursuing the villain would have been the main objective, but Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man slows things down and shows our hero being a hero. From this scene alone, it is easy to say that TASM is a misunderstood movie.
Sandwiched between The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, it was unfairly seen as a cynical superhero snack, the quick fix between Marvel’s bold experiment and Christopher Nolan’s trilogy capper. But, the first film in the TASM series has a lot going for it and was a solid foundation for a new trilogy of films until the sequel came along and ruined everything. Seriously, does anyone know what is going on in The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Anyone? Anyway, Andrew Garfield’s first film as the webhead is fun, snarky and features a great Emma Stone performance.
Stone’s Gwen Stacy is the main reason this film should be celebrated more than it is. She is sassy, courageous and is never the damsel in distress. The film features a scene where the Lizard is stalking her in the Oscorp laboratory and when he finds her, he leaves her alone, only taking the dispersion device he needs to complete his nefarious plan. A lesser film would have had the Lizard take Gwen captive and drop her from a tall building to be saved — instead, she is integral to the action, delivering the cure to the Lizard’s formula and creating a DIY flamethrower. Gwen Stacy is a great character and an improvement over Mary Jane Watson.
Stone’s chemistry with Garfield is insane and for the first time in a Spider-Man movie, you actively root for the main couple. Garfield is a great Spidey. His Peter may be too abrasive and not awkward enough, but his Spidey is the best one so far (the writer is yet to watch Tom Holland’s take on the character). He nails being inside of the super-suit and reminds outcast kids why they love Spider-Man to begin with. Tobey Maguire was a great Peter Parker, but Garfield is the better Spider-Man.
People criticise the story, and sure, watching Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) get shot again is unnecessary, but the complaint about Peter abandoning his search for Uncle Ben’s killer is pointless. There is a giant lizard on the loose, priorities! It also has an abundance of small moments that show that Spider-Man is just a kid — he’s got to get the eggs from the store, he plays games whilst waiting for the bad guy, he stammers when talking to girls! Admittedly, Rhys Ifans doesn’t give a great villainous performance but he is better than the usual MCU villain.
The Amazing Spider-Man does try to have its cake and eat it, trying to be as light as the MCU and as “real world” as The Dark Knight Trilogy, but even though it plays it safe, TASM is just misunderstood and was the best superhero film of 2012.
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