The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has been out in theaters for a month already. It’s made close to $500 million worldwide to date, so it’s a hit film. Yet, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has raked in far less money than the previous Spider-Man movie. Despite all the advertising and marketing, the movie has been largely forgotten in this crowded summer movie season. That’s unbelievable for a Spider-Man movie, usually they’re big hits. Something went wrong with the film, and the fans noticed and word of mouth probably has had a hand in keeping the box office numbers down. It’s sad to say but the franchise, despite being rebooted two years ago, seems tired and talk about sequels and spin-off films get yawns from everyone.
The film had its good points, but on the whole, it was a mess and killed any good will towards the franchise. What can be done? Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes around, rivaling Batman himself. The character is still viable, but the filmmakers have gotten away from what made Spidey work. If they want to win back the fans and more importantly for the execs, the big box office numbers, the following things have to be done.
What sunk The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was its sloppy script. The film was loaded with too many time-filler subplots that don’t go anywhere and needless characters. It reminded me of that equally dumb Spider-Man 3 with all the extra characters who didn’t add anything to the story (looking at you Gwen Stacy) and moronic plot twists (so Sandman accidently killed Uncle Ben).
Does anyone care about Peter Parker’s parents? A few lines of dialogue and one or two scenes could’ve wrapped up that plot thread. Then there was the way they tried to convince us that Peter and Harry Osborn were best buddies even though Harry was never mentioned in the previous film. It was just one of too many plot lines in the crowded movie.
What was worst was that the movie felt like an ad for upcoming spinoffs and sequels and that harmed the narrative flow and pacing of this film. It was like director Marc Webb set up a revolving door on the movie set just to introduce new villains, which leads to the next point.
Improve The Villains
The film execs clearly didn’t learn the lesson with Spider-Man 3. That film was weighed down with three villains who didn’t get adequate screen time to develop them. The same thing happened here, but worse. Electro was largely a one-dimensional joke, and reminded me of the Riddler from Batman Forever, only Jim Carrey did a better job of portraying a nutjob than Jamie Foxx. His portrayal of Electro before his accident was so over the top and he didn’t gel with the other people around him. I get they were trying to make him a goofy outcast, but it was too much.
Seriously, the last great villain in these films was Doctor Octopus and that was ten years ago. I’m not sure why they can’t come up with a worthy villain for Spider-Man, but jamming in a bunch of them to please toymakers isn’t working. It’s a damn shame because Harry Osborn/Green Goblin was pretty decent in this film thanks to Dane DeHaan’s performance, but his time was limited. If they would’ve dumped Electro, Harry would’ve had the needed screen time for his story. Instead, we get a rushed intro of the Green Goblin popping out in the end and briefly fighting Spider-Man. He’s supposed to be his greatest enemy, why relegate him to an extended cameo? The Green Goblin should be the top villain in these films. In this crowded film, he wasn’t the only character to get shafted.
Get Spider-Man’s Supporting Cast More Involved
Aunt May was largely wasted in the new Spider-Man movie and that’s an atrocity. The filmmakers went out and hired Sally Field, an Oscar winner, to portray Peter’s aunt and she just gets lost in this film. The few precious moments she has only point out how she was criminally underused. In the comic books, she was involved in major plot lines. Often, Spider-Man was out risking his neck to save her or worrying about her. This was better shown in the last film where Peter brought home organic eggs in the end after saving the city, it was a quiet moment that illustrated his love and responsibility and it worked.
But Aunt May isn’t the only neglected member of his supporting cast. Flash Thompson, Peter’s nemesis and Spider-Man’s biggest fan was absent this time around and where the hell is J. Jonah Jameson who brings a different kind of headache to Spider-Man? Our web-swinging hero needs a foil and Jameson filled that role perfectly in Sam Raimi’s films. It seems like the producers and Marc Webb couldn’t figure out who should play the newspaper publisher after J.K. Simmon’s act and gave up. Why not just bring him back? It worked for the James Bond flicks when Judi Dench played M with two different actors portraying the famous spy. Any Spidey film should have Jameson hounding him in the public eye.
Lose The Adoring Fans
One of the reasons why Spider-Man is so endearing in the comic books is that he is misunderstood and not trusted by the public. Thanks to Jameson’s smear campaigns, the average civilian is terrified of Spider-Man and that added to the hard-luck angle of the Wall-Crawler.
In the last film, he was largely seen as this weirdo vigilante, but all that is gone when this film begins. Now it’s like he has the key to the city and what was worse were all those cheering crowds. Ugh. It was Spider-Man 3 all over again. First of all it didn’t make sense for screaming throngs to be hanging around dangerous crime scenes like that hokey end with the Rhino shooting bullets everywhere. And we can’t forget that cute little boy dressed up as Spider-Man ready to fight the Rhino. Yes, it may be appealing to the kids in the audience, but it’s so unrealistic and frankly dumb. The filmmakers were in the right direction with the last film where Spider-Man was being hunted by the police, as it would happen in real life. It added to his plight and made us root for him.
Give Us The Bad Parker Luck
We were able to relate to Peter because it seemed like nothing went right for him no matter how hard he tried. He was late for dates, lost jobs, and missed classes because of he was busy saving New York from some villain’s latest scheme. One thing the Sam Raimi films got right was with showing his miserable luck. Sometimes Raimi went overboard but at least the scenes were amusing. And yes, Webb had some of that in the last Spider-Man movie, but in the new film, we didn’t get any hard-luck scenes for Peter.
The few things I remember happening with Peter were his on-again/off-again romance with Gwen, a funny attempt to modify his webshooters, him wasting screen time researching about his parents and a flat reunion with Harry. Not exactly a hard life.
In the comics and early films he personified the concept of winning and losing at the same time. The only time that was approached was near the end when Gwen dies and that was one of the film’s best moments. Still, it should’ve had more build up to resonate better.
Do A True Reboot
Supposedly the official reason for rebooting the Spider-Man films was to start fresh and do a new take on the Wall-Crawler. In the last film, they largely did that except for the obligatory origin, which should’ve been ditched. Mary Jane was gone, so were the Osborns and Jameson. It was interesting. Then The Amazing Spider-Man 2 comes along and retreads the old tired material with the Osborn shenanigans. Except Mary Jane and Jameson are still missing. This is the same problem with the last Star Trek film where they went back and ripped off Star Trek II by bringing back Khan and using the same lines of dialogue.
It’s little wonder since Star Trek Into Darkness and this Spider-Man movie had the same writers. Seriously, get some new writers who will bring something fresh to the films. Spider-Man has a goldmine of villains and situations to explore. How about using Kraven the Hunter? Or even the infamous Jackal and the Spider-Man clone? That would be a way to bring back Emma Stone as a Gwen Stacy clone because she was so great in the last two films and it’s hard to imagine pairing up Andrew Garfield with someone else. By the way, he was the best thing in the films so they should keep him onboard to play our favorite Web-Head.
Well, these are just some suggestions from a frustrated fan who thinks Spider-Man deserves better treatment. Maybe one day they’ll get it right.
T. Rod Jones