Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. The crowd started clapping as the Spider-Man logo appeared on the Comic-Con monitors, like they were anticipating the start of a ballgame. Slowly the lights dim and we were shown the trailer in 3D.
The audience applause was polite, but you can tell the room expected something new. And new they would get, they just had to wait for a few minutes.
The first surprise of the panel was when the shitty radio DJ moderator was interrupted by a man in cheap WalMart Spider-Man costume at the audience Q&A mic who said he had a question and was so happy to be there as Spider-Man. He takes off his mask and it’s Andrew Garfield. He went on to read a prepared speech that was awkward, but sincere and from the heart. He was humbled to be amongst us, he always wanted to come to Comic-Con as a fan and now he’s here as Spider-Man.
He went on to talk about how much Peter Parker meant to him as a skinny kid growing up. Garfield even went so far as to say Spider-Man saved his life.
He was out of breath, reading from scribbled notes on loose sheets of paper and obviously nervous as hell, but all that did was endear him more to the audience.
Not that he needed much help. After he took the stage and joined director Marc Webb, producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, and Emma Stone we were shown just what he can do.
There are two scenes that stuck out to me in the nearly 8 minutes of footage we were shown. One is a conversation in his school hallway after being reamed by the principal in front of Uncle Ben for bullying another student (Flash Thompson?). Uncle Ben asks if it was true, that he “humiliated” the boy. Reluctantly Parker confirms, but said the guy deserved it. “Did he? Is he the kid who hit you?” “Well, yeah…” “So, all this is about getting even? If so, you must be feeling pretty good about yourself.” Guilt tripped by Uncle Ben!
They’re interrupted by Gwen who walks into this family dispute as Uncle Ben says that because of this disruption he had to change shifts at work and Peter will have to pick up Aunt May (a change in Spidey’s origin story?). There was an earlier sequence that showed Uncle Ben seeing Gwen on Peter’s computer background. With a smile, he says, “She looks familiar. She’s the girl on your computer. He’s got you on his computer!”
First guilt tripped and then humiliated! The awkward banter that resulted was my first indication that my early trust in this cast was paying off. Garfield’s Parker came across as sweet, good natured, but nervous. “So… uh…” Gwen: “Yeah?” Peter: “Uh… do you wanna… or we could do something else… we could…” Gwen: “Yeah. Yeah. Either one.” It was just sweet and made me instantly fall for Gwen.
The second scene that told me Andrew Garfield was perfect for Spider-Man was a scene as Spidey, so he has both sides of the coin covered as far as I’m concerned.
The Spidey footage wasn’t an action scene, but really illustrated Spider-Man as a character in a way that the Raimi films, as much as I dig them, severely disappointed in: Spider-Man is a smart-ass and loves to crack wise with bad guys. There are those moments in the Raimi films for sure, but they always felt tacked on to me, not organic.
The scene has a thug break into a car. He sits behind the wheel and Spider-Man, in full costume is sitting in the backseat already. “In the future, if you’re going to steal cars, don’t dress like a car thief.” “Who are you? Are you a cop?!?” Spidey tilts his head. “Really? You seriously think I’m a cop? In a skintight, red and blue suit?”
We cut to Spidey with another thug who is brandishing a knife. Spider-Man raises his hands in the air and gets down on his knees saying (in an exaggerated way): “Is that a knife!?! Is that a real knife?!?” “Yes, it’s a knife!” “No, no! Not a knife! Anything but that!?!” then Spidey webshoots the Thug’s knife hand to the wall behind him and starts playing with the dude, even pretending to sneeze and shooting more web fluid on him.
We also saw some more backstory, including more of Parker looking through his old man’s leather bag. Uncle Ben tells him it was his dad’s (as seen in the trailer), then adds “He asked us to keep it safe for him.” Peter pulls out his Dad’s Oscorp badge, glasses and all that and finds a file folder that, I’d imagine contains his father’s web formula.
Much of this footage was cut together in chunks, telling a basic story to us, but not giving us a whole lot of super early detail. We saw Parker building his web shooters and it felt a little like Iron Man in that you have a guy at work, hunched over a table with a bunch of tools, seemingly knowing what he’s doing. At one point Parker burns his finger on a hot piece of soldered metal and hisses as he pulls his finger away… that kind of thing, just a little character detail that grounds the movie a tad amongst the building of a pretty advance mechanism.
Parker dealing with his newfound powers was shown in a montage beginning with his alarm going off in the morning. When he lazily reaches over the digital alarm clock explodes in sparks and shards of plastic. This new strength makes his morning rituals a bit hazardous and he even has a fight scene on a subway train as Parker where seems to accidentally be beating them up, tearing the pole from the ground and hitting the thugs like a Buster Keaton movie.
We also saw hints of Dennis Leary’s Captain Stacy who seems to be on the hunt for Spider-Man, whose sigul seems to be popping up all over the city near where crime is happening. Spidey is implicated.
More quick shots as Leary has a voiceover talking about Spider-Man wearing a mask, like an outlaw as Aunt May is distraught seeing a battered and bruised Peter standing in her kitchen. “Where do you go? Who does this to you?!?”
And we get a close shot of Parker unmasked, but in the Spidey suit, cuts on his face screaming out “Dr. Connors, this is not you! Stop it, stop it now!” And for further great Spider-Man/Lizard imagery there’s a great shot of Spider-Man slowly lowering himself down into the sewers hanging upsidedown in that classic Spider-Man pose, feet on the webbing.
That was the end of the first bit of footage, but not long into the panel they announced Rhys Ifans was there and showed us the “Here’s the villain batch of footage.”
It was very early days for sure and Ifans was wearing the green sock over his right arm for the majority of the shots (although we did get a couple that showed his stump.
”I’m Doctor Curtis Connors. In case you’re wondering I’m a southpaw, not a cripple.” That’s the first thing we hear him say in the footage as Gwen Stacy and a batch of students (including Parker) surround him. “I’m the world’s foremost expert on herpetology. That’s reptiles for those of you who don’t know.”
He instructs the kids that he intends to fix himself and wants them to venture a guess at how. Nobody speaks up and Parker says “cross-species genetics?” Connors is impressed and asks after him.
There was a very impressive shot here that says everything you need to know about Curt Connors… It’s him standing at the edge of a reflective surface. He holds his remaining arm out in front of him and it casts a transparent reflection. The mirrored image looks like a ghost arm and the look on his face is a mixture of sadness and determination.
We see quick glimpses of his lab as he creates his serum, injects himself, and begins changing. We see him grow a very human looking arm, but it doesn’t look quite right. He peels skin off, flexes it, but it’s too pink and too big. Then we see his change. Half his face gets a new reptilian skin. We hear him say, “I’m stronger… I’m beautiful” but in a fucked up gravely voice as we see him from a distance, holding up his arm in the sewers.
Their big money shot started with two girls standing in a bathroom stall, about to burn a picture of a cheating boyfriend. The toilet water drops out of the bowl, everything rumbles and they run out as the toilet falls through the floor.
From the hole comes a giant reptilian arm as The Lizard pulls himself out of the hole. His face is rounder and has a little original Steve Ditko quality. No lab coat, just naked lizard skin and he’s huge. He looked more like Venom and Killer Croc mixed to me than any incarnation of The Lizard that I’m familiar with.
The girls have their backs against the wall and the Lizard approaches, using his arms to keep them from running. He leans in and sniffs at them in a tight medium shot. The second girl he sniffs and his tongue sticks out and does a licky motion and they cut to black. Then a quick Lizard out of nowhere opening his mouth and swallowing us.
The CG was solid, especially for being a year out, but I’m not sure if a big CG monster compliments the realistic, grounded tone and feel of the rest of the footage we saw. I also don’t really like the decision to make The Lizard a big hulking monster. I liked him as a looming, but lithe and fast threat in the books.
My overall feeling from the footage is that Marc Webb and his cast are nailing the tone, nailing the characters, but I’m not totally sold on the big threat. If it works emotionally then more power to them. I’d love for them to make this Lizard work on its own.
Here are some highlights from the panel discussion and audience Q&A:
-Marc Webb said Gwen Stacy saga is part of the canon that hasn’t been told cinematically and that’s what drew Webb to make the movie.
-Andrew Garfield wore a Ramones shirt as a nod to their connection to Spider-Man.
-Webb looked at the Ultimates for the design of the suit. The suit design emerged from Garfield’s lithe body type.
-Garfield hesitated for a month about taking the role, not because of the character, whom he loved, but because of the commitment… but the four year old in him said, “You’re taking this role, man. I’m making this decision.” He couldn’t say no to it ultimately.
-Andrew Garfield dressed as Spider-Man to his first Halloween, age 2.
-Tobey Maguire sent a message through the producer when Garfield was announced and gave him his blessing for taking on the iconic role.
-Garfield only fully understood the weight of what he was doing when he stepped into the suit for the first time.
-They had shots of Emma Stone and Spidey standing on a box as they pretended to websling around New York. Webb would play music to help them get into a particular mood, something he did on 500 Days of Summer. Stone said Dance Tonight by Paul McCartney is a good webslinging song.
-Why did Webb make it darker than Raimi’s films? Webb: “In terms of style I wanted the universe to be grounded. I wanted you to recognize the world onscreen. There’s an emotional reality, but there’s a great humor and levity that we all love and it’s an important part of Spider-Man.”
And that was The Amazing Spider-Man panel! I’m nearly done with my Tintin and Spielberg panel coverage, so keep an eye out for that one tonight!