Telling the same story, but in a slightly different way.
The middle part of 2012 proved incredibly popular for the superhero genre as three monumental blockbusters dominated the summer releases. Whedon’s stunning culmination of Marvel’s most famous heroes in Avengers Assemble, the breathtaking conclusion to Nolan’s trilogy and even a new Spiderman film – each of these films, though focussed on different concepts, are all anchored to the same genre shift.
Nolan’s Batman trilogy has completely altered the state of the superhero film, in the same way that the Bourne trilogy has shaped the approaches of recent spy thrillers. The result is a contemporary superhero cinema that is much darker, grounded by realism and strongly focussed on character development.
In rebooting the Spiderman franchise, Marvel turned to the aptly named Marc Webb who, having made his directorial debut in 2009 with the celebrated romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer, continues this newfound, Nolan-inspired approach. With a strong cast and healthy budget supporting him, Webb begins his series of Spiderman films in the most comfortable and predictable of places – with a retelling of the web-slinging hero’s genesis story.
Webb tackles the same Spiderman story that was at the centre of Raimi’s tame effort a decade prior, but in a much more impressive manner with astute dramatic awareness. Much like Nolan’s films, instead of the superhero being at the centre of the story, Webb presents Peter Parker’s personal life, problematic upbringing and the, until now, untold story of how he became an orphan. Additionally, the film’s fantastical elements, namely the human-spider cross species at the heart of this tale, with clever, believable science fiction.
This superhero genre revolution does however come with a risk. With most of the narrative focussed on creating drama, the action sequences are sparse. While for Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight Rises the action arrives in spades with immaculate conviction, for The Amazing Spider-Man they are largely underwhelming – despite being fantastically designed and innovatively captured in a first person point of view style.
Above all else the film’s largest success is the casting of Andrew Garfield. In terms of this Spiderman, he is ideal for the role. Not only is he more talented than Tobey Maguire, but his slender appearance is much more suited to the character depicted in the original comic books. However, there is definitely room for improvement. If only, Garfield had taken a leaf out of Karl Urban’s book – there are just too many scenes where he is without his mask.
Webb successfully adapts to the post-Nolan superhero climate where there is an increased demand for narratives to be deeper and more human at their core, but he is incapable of providing the big-budget action that remains an integral part of the genre. His weak and rather untimely reboot is a combination of two films; a commendable coming-of-age tale and an uninspired action film. Sadly, Webb isn’t strong enough to weave the two together.