The Amazing Spider-Man: Biology vs. Chemistry… We’ll take the latter!
Emma Fyffe: First off, we want to thank Geoff Boucher and the LA Times Hero Complex for giving us a chance to see an exclusive screening of Amazing Spider-Man and cover another great Q&A!
Travis Moody: Absolutely! And don’t forget the free “medium” popcorn (largest medium popcorn ever) and soda.
Fyffe: Bad-ass! Okay, so last night we spoke about the fact that this particular Spider-Man was a really excellent movie overall. But, what was your least favorite thing about it?
Moody: Before I hop into that, Emma, I’d like to tell our favorite congregants that we had the most amazing post-screening podcast ever last night.. that no one will ever hear. LOL
Fyffe: True story!
Moody: All in good “practice”! (I can just picture Allen Iverson turning in his grave.) But, with Amazing Spider-Man, I thought Peter Parker was hilarious; but Spider-Man.. wasn’t. In the books, it’s perhaps the other way around.
Fyffe: Agreed. I thought Andrew Garfield had much more humor in him than Toby Maguire. But, we definitely lost some of the quippy, smart-ass-ness in the actual Spider-Man character. It was definitely present in one scene (the first night he “works” as Spidey), but once we got into the big time battles, it more or less became drama and special effects and we lost the “funny” of someone who is a famously humorous character.
Moody: Yeah, that’s why I almost wish those “consultants” that Marvel often provides – be it Brian Michael Bendis of Ultimate Spider-Man, Dan Slott of Amazing, or Joe Kelly, anyone – got to help supervise the script… at least on the parts where the mask hides all great nonverbal communication.
Fyffe: Definitely – it certainly didn’t ruin the movie by any means, but the humor was definitely lacking. It would have been interesting to see how ASM might have changed had it been released next year, since The Avengers was so successful and also so funny. I wonder if they might have emphasized the humor a little more. Not that the movie wasn’t funny!
Moody: Oh, we definitely laughed harder than the Sunday evening crowd, LOL… But, in a film where (director) Marc Webb said improvising was nearly essential, the rest of the characters nailed it. We’re obviously going to compare superhero films to other superhero films and Avengers‘ “Whedon speak” was consistent throughout, just like Batman Begins/Dark Knight‘s (screenwriters) David S. Goyer and Nolan brothers have the consistent, brooding voice.
Fyffe: Right, and I think that’s based on what Webb was saying about some of the humor coming from the actors themselves. But, take away that face and you surely have to rely on the script, which was certainly not a bad one! Just the warmth and humor clearly came from the face-to-face interactions.
Moody: Now we sound like a Hall & Oates song.
Fyffe: That’s “One on One,” dude.
Moody: Dang nabbit! And no, the script definitely had some high peaks (of course we don’t want to spoil too much) but the ‘play definitely aimed to the new generation without “Michael Baying” it. The skateboarding, contact lens-wearing of this new hip, sexy and tougher Peter Parker was definitely the right way to go. He’s actually believable in this transformation!
Fyffe: Exactly. So much of the story Webb was trying to tell was focused on human relationships…
Moody: …and the adversity they overcame…
Fyffe: That’s why he made Peter less removed from Spider-Man, almost more of an everyman than an underdog.
Moody: Absolutely! This wasn’t a fairytale; this was a lesson.. and a hell of a fun one with The Lizard as the new villain (just glad I didn’t call him “Reptile,” which I often catch myself doing). And also – more to your point – Peter was thankfully not the one getting dumped on a tray of week-old cafeteria spaghetti this time around!
Fyffe: Haha! Spider-Man itself has always been good about personal connections between the hero and various villains, and hence why The Lizard was really a perfect way to kick off this new incarnation of the story, Webb wanted to emphasize how Peter’s parents’ disappearance had affected him and Curt Connor is a link to his past, so to speak.
Moody: For sure, particularly in 3D, The Lizard added a near jubilant horror element to it. Like, what if The Hulk was a villain (which he tends to be on occasion), which is how I see Curt Connors in that Banner element. We sort of feel for him in the potential he’s attempting to reach. He wasn’t purely evil for the sake of it; it’s sort of Harvey Dentish in that we know someone bigger is pulling the strings… Well, it’s in their control, but the outcomes really aren’t. A “sorta kinda maybe” type deal.
Fyffe: Just to get trite and cliché for a moment, what was your favorite thing about the movie?
Moody: Funny you ask, because I was just getting to that! And I don’t think we had this discussion last night (among our many rants about Daredevil, X-Men, etc.). Marc Webb spotlighting this mystery (hint, hint, friends!) about his parents — in particular about Richard Parker — is what separates this tale from the hundreds of other origins. Why is Pete so driven? Uncle Ben is the sound reason, sure, but he was slowly becoming “Spider-Man” before his ominous – and certainly obvious – conclusion.
Fyffe: Totally! I thought that was also fantastic! Because, like i said before, Webb wanted to focus on peter being affected by his lack of parents, and so he is naturally drawn to Dr. Connors and ends up in the lab with the spiders, and well, we all know what happens next…
Moody: Definitely adds gravitas to the narrative and a stronger emotional hook.
Fyffe: For me, it was the natural style of acting. There was nothing campy or tongue-in-cheek or even over-the-top dramatic about the movie.
Moody: And, it goes without saying that both Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were dynamite — and perhaps off-screen as well, but we’ll leave that one up to People magazine.
Fyffe: Hahaha. Yes their chemistry on screen really makes the movie, because you totally buy into their relationship. But it’s not just them — it’s everyone. Everyone in the movie acts in a completely normal, believable fashion, and you totally buy into what’s happening in their world. Thus, Spider-Man is just like a bonus element.
Moody: Although you did tell me Gwen lacked a little conflict in her adoration for Peter…
Fyffe: I did say that. I think that goes hand in hand with Peter being less of an underdog than usual. I expected their journey to happy “coupledom” to have a few more bumps, namely in the form of a certain potential romantic rival who shall remain unnamed.
Moody: Ahhh… absolutely. Pete’s not even really all that nerdy in the comics anymore, that’s why he constantly gets hot chicks — even as just Peter the poor photographer (well now he’s a rocket scientist), but perhaps that’s even worse. I don’t think Black Cat would have slept with Steve Ditko’s Pete! LOL
Fyffe: Absolutely not! Though you’re right about Peter having a lot of girlfriends… something that I don’t think we always remember.. haha
Moody: …and those bumps will definitely come into the next movie, and hopefully — going by your prediction — the best young comedic actress of our generation makes it through the sequel, too.
Fyffe: Haha. I think she will. Like I said, I think (I hope!) she has two movies left in her.
Moody: Me too. And, you know, it’s just more believable when he’s a normal kid and not a “dweeb” per se. He has cool hair, that whole American Apparel thing, and… Wait, when did I become the “Queer Eye for the Straight Super Hero” guy? Yikes!
Fyffe: True! He is kind of a hipster Spider-Man.
Moody: Haha, yeah, Peter Parker doesn’t go to Coffee Bean anymore; he’s at Urth Caffe. I wonder what’s on his iPod, definitely LCD Soundsystem.
Fyffe: And those eggs he’s supposed to get for Aunt May? Whole Foods all the way.
Moody: Now I have to go to eat breakfast. Again. Thanks! How can Marc Webb continue to make this his “own” Spider-Man?
Fyffe: Well, the good thing is that he has really established his own tone at this point; a naturalistic kind of story telling that is more about human relationships than about superheroes. So no matter what he does, even if he tells the exact same story as, say, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, it will still be his. It’s like the English teacher says in the film about there only being one story in all of fiction: “Who am I?” And I think Webb really nails it.
Moody: There’s a reason for every scene in a movie (unless it’s just Megan Fox putting on some lipstick to loud rock music), and you found it with that classroom scene. I’m sort of happy our much older-looking high school kids don’t spend so much time in “high school” either. I’m just going to go and pretend it’s college. Or even a step further, grad school. LOL
Moody: Especially with that interning at Oscorp stuff. Definitely MIT.
Fyffe: Yeah, I mean in some tellings of Spider-Man, don’t Gwen and Peter not even meet until college? (Yeah, just Googled: In the original comics they don’t meet until college – long after Peter has become Spidey.)
Moody: Hell, in some tellings of Spider-Man, he’s a Spider-Ham; he’s sporting black spandex, white spandex, blue and fluorescent purple spandex; and, in others, he’s in the Fantastic Four (or Fourteen). I think at this point even the audience is allowed their own artistic license…
Fyffe: This is true! One of my friends has a Tokidoki keychain of Spider-Man riding a skateboard, eating a hamburger. Maybe Webb has one too?
Moody: Hey, his name’s Webb, after all.
Moody: But, you know, that’s the greatness of this film. It takes the base Ditko and Stan Lee blessed the world with and made it relatable to our technology/reality-based generation.
Fyffe: This is just a damn good contemporary retelling of a familiar story. Webb doesn’t do anything shocking or radically different for the sake of being different; he just tells the familiar story in his own unique way, full of compassion and relatable human emotion. Whew!
Moody: …and great humor from our leads!
Fyffe: So wonderful!
Moody: Just like you said last night, there was no needed “comic relief.” Much like we find humor in Stark, Thor and Rogers over in the World’s Biggest Film, our humor comes from within. Hell, there’s no need for a J. Jonah Jamison, or even “Flash” to make funny. The chemistry and improvisational wit from Garfield and Stone carried the movie, which allowed us to be wowed by the studio’s fantastic effects. I never thought in a million years I’d say this… but I want Sony to keep Spider-Man. Forget watering down our superhero films with token appearances. Let’s enjoy Peter’s world separately. Maybe.
Fyffe: Maybe. Thanks again! Until next time!
Moody: Hopefully, when the Dark Knight rises! I think I’ll have to give Amazing Spider-Man 4 Bibles out of 5.
Fyffe: I can dig that score. I’m edging closer to a 4.5 though. Extremely excellent, but not nearly as perfect Andrew’s hair!
Moody: True dat!