Judging by the reaction to the first teaser trailer for "The Amazing Spider-Man," Sony has a fair amount of work to do in the next year before they can convince fans that the film is more than a cash-grab designed to keep the franchise alive: the clip's reworking of the origin tale and an emo-leaning that goes even further than the much-derided "Spider-Man 3," were generally poorly received in the blogosphere earlier in the week.
The next stage of the push, of course, started today with a press conference tied to the San Diego Comic-Con, with most of the big names involved, including the new Spidey, "The Social Network" star Andrew Garfield; his lady-love, "Easy A" breakout Emma Stone, who plays Gwen Stacy in the new film; director Marc Webb; and producers Avi Arad and Matthew Tolmach all taking questions, the most important of which, unsurprisingly, focused on why exactly the character needed another take only a decade after Sam Raimi brought him to the big screen for the first time.
And the answer seems to be because there's plenty of material from the comics that the Raimi/Tobey Maguire trilogy never got to cover. Arad claims that the film is, in fact, very different: "We knew we needed to tell a story that wasn't told before and find a director that would have a story… that would put their own vision into the script. Then we have probably the greatest love story in Marvel, which is Gwen Stacy. Then we have an amazing villain. The only thing that stayed the same that made us go and make the movie was the spirit of Peter Parker. We loved what it was and were able to convince Marvel to take a stab at it and we are very proud of what we have."
Webb concurs, while still acknowledging the long shadow cast by the Raimi pictures. "There's just so much fantastic material that comes from the comics. I was a little skeptical at first. You feel the presence of those other movies to a certain point. But it kept me up at night. How can I walk away from this? What an opportunity." So much so, in fact, that the "(500) Days Of Summer" helmer wrote to studio head Amy Pascal to convince her that he was the right person for the job, which seems to have been the thing that sealed it for him. Matthew Tolmach explains, "Mark wrote an email to Amy Pascal, just an emotional outpouring of who he thought Peter Parker was and it was amazing. That's the great thing about Spider-Man is we all bring ourselves to it."
Garfield, too, couldn't ignore the influence of the three earlier films, but at least had the blessing of the man who'd previously inhabited the lycra: "I love Tobey Maguire's interpretation of the character. When I watched that first Spidey film, I lost my mind. I watched it twice when I first saw it. He sent a very, very nice email once it was announced basically giving me his blessing. It meant the world to me because I respect him so much as an actor."
As for Stone, an actress with the world seemingly at her feet at the moment, there was one clear thing that drew her to the franchise: her leading man. "For me, [the selling point] was Andrew, because my character experiences everything with Peter, and it's her first love. He teaches her so much and they teach each other so much. Once I met with him, it just made sense." Indeed, she couldn't quite help herself once she saw him in the role: "I walked in and he was in the full Spider-Man suit and I stood next to him for the camera test and just started touching him. [Laughs] It was pretty incredible to see him in costume for the first time."
We're not hating on the project yet: Raimi's films were far from perfect (only the second installment really hits the nail on the head), and there are plenty of new places that the character could go, places that the trailer hinted at. And it's hard to argue with the cast that Webb has assembled, which aside from Garfield and Stone includes Rhys Ifans, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott and Annie Parisse, which is some real acting talent that will hopefully make the human element of the story sing. The director describes the "tenderness and honesty" of the romantic scenes that he's filmed, and we hope we'll see that in the finished product when the movie hits almost a year from now, on July 3rd, 2012. In the meantime, more footage and talk is about to be unveiled at Sony's Hall H panel, so expect more on "The Amazing Spider-Man" from us when that wraps up.
-- Reporting by Jeff Otto