We're going to come out and say this now -- we're in an uncharacteristically optimistic mood about the "Spider-Man" reboot. Aside from the excellent middle chapter, Sam Raimi's films were fairly disappointing, so it's not like there's room for improvement. There's a script by James Vanderbilt, who pulled off one of the toughest adaptations in recent memory in "Zodiac," and director Marc Webb is not only more talented than "(500) Days of Summer" might immediately suggest, but he also seems to be going about the project in the right way.
And then there's the cast. Rising star Andrew Garfield is perfect casting as Peter Parker. The equally hot-right-now Emma Stone, so terrific in "Easy A" as love interest Gwen Stacy. And underrated Welsh actor Rhys Ifans as the villain, Curt Connors/The Lizard. None were the most obvious or easiest choices, but all are strong ones. And now, The Hollywood Reporter brings news of another bit of casting that wouldn't have immediately sprung to mind, but makes total sense in retrospect.
The trade reports that veteran actor Martin Sheen ("Apocalypse Now") has signed on to the project, to play the hero's Uncle Ben. In the comic's lore (and we assume the movie), Ben was the beloved guardian of hero Peter Parker, whose death in a mugging, after a questionable moral decision on his nephew's part, leads Peter to become a hero.
The role was taken by Cliff Robertson in Raimi's film, but it's Sheen who'll take over here, and he's a pretty terrific choice. Sheen started his career as something of a roguish bad boy in Terrence Malick's "Badlands" before iconically playing Captain Willard in Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" (suffering a heart attack in the process). In recent years, he's gained new fans, both by being tossed off a tall building in Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," and by becoming the favorite uncle to a nation in an astonishingly good seven-year performance in "The West Wing" as President Bartlett, a man so badass he can call God a feckless thug in a church and still get away with it.
It's perfect casting, quite frankly, and it's another strong decision in a film we've got increasingly warm feelings about. With an opening on July 3rd, 2012 to hit, filming begins next month, so we imagine the rest of the cast will start to fill out soon. The campaign for Stockard Channing to play Aunt May starts here.