Here be Spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man. Consider yourself warned.
With The Amazing Spider-Man performing considerably well — and better than a supposedly worried Sony had expected — we’re bound to hear news of a sequel in the coming weeks. We already know the plans for a trilogy, but where that trilogy will actually go remains something of a mystery. The dull Peter Parker’s parent subplot/question will likely be answered, sure, but why not move away from this topic? Better yet, why not take a crack at all these suggestions below that I just know every exec at Sony is feverishly scribbling down? They may need to.
Although Marc Webb‘s reboot of Spider-Man is pretty good, the impending release of something like The Dark Knight Rises means “pretty good” doesn’t exactly cut it. Sam Raimi handled the character properly, and showed how to make a great movie or two with him in the meantime. Even with all these origin amnesia criticisms that have been made, The Amazing Spider-Man didn’t exactly take notice of what worked in Raimi’s first two Spider-Man installments, and it should have; there’s plenty to improve on. Some of these things include:
Get a Strong Second-Unit or a More Capable Action Director
Even before the film’s release there was word the brass at Sony wasn’t too pleased with the film, and planned on going in a new direction with the sequel, by possibly losing Marc Webb. Webb, without a doubt, made an entertaining high school dramedy with Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy — but he also made an especially generic blockbuster. The action, from the incomprehensible subway fight to that face-slapper of a cartoon finale, was lackluster. Either Webb needs to learn from this failure, or a capable second-unit team needs to be hired, or a director has to be brought in who can maintain Webb’s dramatic voice, but actually give us prime summer spectacle.
Show Some Vulnerability
Obviously Peter’s got a chip on his shoulders, as Marc Webb kept telling us, but give us more humanity. There was never a sense of danger for Spider-Man. He never had to bounce back from a huge loss. Raimi would have Parker start off rusty and have to make a comeback, making his victory all the more satisfying.
Spider-Man doesn’t affect Peter Parker’s life all too much in the movie. In fact, all that comes from it is pretty great. Would a weird, awkward kid — who takes photos of girls from a distance, mind you — get a girl like Gwen Stacy without having super powers? Doubtful. If anything, Gwen was more into him because of his powers.
Someone Peter Knows Turns Evil? What a Convenient Shock!
Even for pure storytelling reasons, having Parker face off against a villain he does not know would raise the stakes. They have no connection or a previous relationship Peter could rely on to hopefully change their mind or appeal to their kinder, friendlier nature. Embrace having pure evil. The Green Goblin and Doctor Octupus were fantastic, but this iconic part of the Spider-Man comics has already grown tired in film form. How many people in Peter’s address book can turn evil?
The idea of an unknown villain makes for a smoother narrative, having the freedom not to deal with a buildup of a character taking a turn for the worst. Sometimes simple, broad villainous strokes are a good thing. They tried to add shades of grey to Doctor Connors, but it only muddled up the character and the film.
Also, for the love of God, give your villain a better plan than “Let’s turn the city into lizards!”
Don’t Have a Talking Lizard As Your Villain
Does that headline even require an explanation?
That Dangling Untold Story? Who Cares?
With the running time clocking in at two hours and seventeen minutes, The Amazing Spider-Man could have used a serious edit, either in the writing or editing booth. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that, as a major element was cut out: the answer to that untold story regarding Peter’s parents. What was left open to answer in the “trilogy” should just be exercised all together.
Whenever the film began to slow down, it usually involved Peter pining over this question. Do we really want to see our hero keep living in the past for three films? By the end of the movie Peter’s coming-of-age is well-rounded and he’s found a calling, but that post-credits sequence slaps that arc in the face with a head-scratching sequel flag. How powerful would it have been if Peter proclaimed he knows who he is by the end without having an answer for his parents’ disappearance?
Pick up the Pace
The previous mentioned subplot is a part of the film’s biggest problem: a meandering structure. With screenwriters Steve Kloves, James Vanderbilt, and Alvin Sargent involved, it was jarring to see The Amazing Spider-Man frequently wander from scene to scene, sometimes without any momentum to speak of. Taking your time with drama and the origin story is admirable, but not giving it a proper flow is not.
Don’t Kill Gwen Stacy Just Yet
This suggestion obviously contradicts the vulnerability complaint, but, seriously, why kill off your lucky charm so early? While Peter Parker keeps walking around moaning about his good looks and super powers, we need someone unafraid and willing to crack a smile in this world, and not much can touch the charm of an Emma Stone smile.
Speaking of Gwen Stacy, Make Her a Human Being
Stacy is in love with Peter from scene one, and perhaps the biggest question mark in the film remains: Why would she love this guy? He’s a mopey and awkward kid who, again, takes pictures of her without her knowing. It’s a purely tweeny, unserious love without much conflict. There is no drama between the two of them, it’s all gooey and dream-like.
When drama is introduced by Captain Stacy asking Peter to stay away from her, two minutes later Peter, in a rather dick move, says, “To the hell with that dead, smarter, wiser old guy I made a promise to!” and gets back to his teenage romance.
Lighten Up, Peter, You’re The Goddamn Spider-Man
After breaking that promise he made to a dying Captain Stacy, it only serves as another reminder of how uncharming this Peter can be. Calling Webb’s take on Peter Parker emo has already become a big joke in the online world, and for good reason. No matter how good Andrew Garfield is in the role, the character could use less brooding.
His bad family life aside, he’s got a pure wish-fulfillment of a girlfriend, looks like Andrew Garfield, and is a frickn’ superhero. That’s not a bad life, if you ask 99% of teenagers, nearly all of whom would trade up their parents for Martin Sheen and Sally Field and a date with Gwen Stacy.
Keep it Simple
There was far too much going on in The Amazing Spider-Man, which made for some fairly weak plotting: Spider-Man’s half-baked origin (who honestly got chills when he said “I’m Spider-Man”?), Doctor Connor’s uneven arc and ensuingly moronic plan, and — possibly the most botched part of the movie — that search for Uncle Ben’s killer.
Peter simply gives up his revenge quest without any rhyme or reason. There was no “I don’t need revenge” or a “I’ll avenge Ben through fighting evil!” realization. Much of the film, like its hero and its villain, has too many missing pieces. Next time around, know that simplicity ain’t such a bad thing.
What do you think the next Spider-Man should do?