Summer movies are always terribly complex and daunting, with a number of interested parties needing to be satiated and complicated visual effects being worked out throughout production (usually right up until the time of release). Things seem to be infinitely more daunting when it's a reboot of a popular franchise, and one directed by a director making his first blockbuster outing. Such is the case with this week's "The Amazing Spider-Man," which was directed by "(500) Days of Summer" helmer Marc Webb. Webb said that before he got started, he secured the blessing of original trilogy director Sam Raimi. "Sam goes, 'You have my blessing. Go forward. I'll only give you notes once a week,'" Webb laughed. That must have taken off some of the edge. We got a chance to talk to Webb about what it was like taking over the franchise, changing essential things, shooting in 3D, music, and what he's up to next.
The story goes that "The Amazing Spider-Man" started when Sony had commissioned a fourth (and fifth) script in the Sam Raimi series, to be written by "Zodiac" screenwriter Jamie Vanderbilt. Obviously that deal fell through, with a new creative team being put in place but Vanderbilt staying put as screenwriter. We wondered if the script that Webb initially started with was from the initial rounds for the fourth and fifth movies. Webb says that he didn't see those scripts and broke down the process in pretty banal terms. "Jamie had written a script and I worked with him on that for a little while and then Laura Ziskin, who has since passed, was married to Alvin Sargent, who is one of the greatest writers of all time – he came in and did some work," Webb said. He added: "Steve Kloves came in and did some character work and that's how it came to be."
One of the things that people will be talking about are the ways in which "Amazing Spider-Man" alters certain aspects of the Spider-Man mythos, at least as we know them cinematically (and, yes, stuff beyond "they changed the suit"). We wondered what Webb's approach was, in terms of changing things. "It's a good question, it's an important question," Webb admitted. "I think that the Peter Parker I had in mind is in a different universe and a different world. I think that I needed to build the character from the ground up because there's different nuances to that character." But what was he interested in, specifically? "I was interested in that this guy gets left behind when he's 7 years-old – that's going to have a huge impact. If you're trying to build empathy for a character, and there's a wish fulfillment component to a movie like this, the more connected you feel with the protagonist, the more you'll empathize and understand him and experience the world as he experiences it. So we did have to reengage with some of those elements."
Webb said that it was an uneasy balancing act sometimes, trying to keep things fresh while honoring some fundamentals. "The trick was that I wanted to honor the iconography – you have to recognize Uncle Ben's death and the spider-bite and so on – but how do those things interact and connect with elements of the story." We suggested that maybe he could have gone fucking wild with it, the way that the new "Star Trek" drastically changed elements of mythology while staying true to the spirit of the original. "It would have been convenient," Webb said, like the guardian of an essential text. "And it would have been easy. But then you violate canon. In a situation like this you have to protect some of the iconic elements, otherwise people go crazy because you take away the identity of the character, the thing that they love."