Trailers@24 Panels: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

Here at 24 Panels, we like to give each new comic book movie trailer the roundtable treatment. This time, we take a look at the first trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, from director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man).

DRU: I’ve made no secret of my love for The Amazing Spider-Man. I recognize that it has flaws, but when it works (which is about 95% of the film), it works hard. I think it’s the best superhero movie since The Rocketeer, frankly, and I’d probably list it as one of my all-time favourite movies. I love it that much. (ASM was released prior to when we started covering theatrical films with One-Shot episodes, so I know we’ve barely covered it on the podcast. I’m going to say right now, without Dave’s approval, that we’ll devote our March 2014 episode to it, both in anticipation of the sequel and as a birthday present to me.) So it was truly with bated breath that I awaited this trailer, which seemed to take forever to drop. This movie comes out three weeks before X-Men: Days of Future Past and we got a trailer for that last month!

There’s been a lot of hope that Webb would fix what he supposedly botched in the first one in this second outing, but there’s been even more knee-jerk speculation that he’s dropped the ball by including too many villains: Green Goblin (Harry, rather than Norman, Osborn), the Rhino, and Electro are all confirmed, and that’s before you take into account viral teases for the likes of Shocker. Is Amazing Spider-Man 2 going to be a Spider-Man 2-esque triumph, or a Spider-Man 3-esque mess? Now we at least have some footage upon which to base our claims.

One thing that strikes me immediately about the trailer is how little it’s selling the individual villain plot in favour of an overarching series narrative that ties all of the villains together. Electro, ostensibly our main villain, gets fairly little screen time here; he seems like a cog in the Oscorp machine, and that looks to be a fairly complicated machine with lots of moving parts. Campbell Scott reprises his role as Richard Parker, Peter’s father, tying the story of this film (and presumably the next — I’d expect a cliffhanger) into the unresolved mystery surrounding the elder Parkers’ disappearance from ASM.

It’s nice to see Scott back (and I hope that it’s more than just that cameo — some flashbacks with Scott and a healthy Chris Cooper as Norman would be great) but it’s even nicer to see Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Their chemistry is really what sells the first film, and from what little we get here, it’s clear that it hasn’t changed at all. I’m sure that there will be TV spots more specifically focusing on the “romantic” aspect of the film, and I can’t wait to see those. (I’ll admit that this is the rare film I’ll pay extra to see in 3-D, not because of the 3-D per se but so nobody can see me weeping like a child. I still get verklempt watching the first one.)

The costume, changed significantly from ASM‘s design, warrants comment. In our Man of Steel age, I think it’s refreshing that a superhero costume would actually brighten its colours rather than mute and darken them (even Spider-Man 2s subtle redesign featured darker reds and blues than the original film). The eyes are bigger, more cartoonish, and friendly-neighbourhood-Spider-Man-ier than before. That weird orange is gone, replaced with silver. It definitely harkens back to the Raimi films, which is a bit unfortunate, but I don’t think it can be denied that it looks like Spider-Man in a way that Batman onscreen has never looked like Batman. (Spider-Man’s costume in the comic has also been more consistent than Batman’s, aside from the total redesigns like the Iron Spider armour and the black suit.) I particularly like how the suit wrinkles with Peter’s movements: it’s a nice touch that demonstrates how far CGI has come since 2002.

Last thing: I’m sure people will poo-poo it, but I’m a huge fan of the slow-motion in the action scenes. I hope that is reflective of the style of the film and not just for the trailer. Whereas in the 300: Rise of an Empire trailers (the second one was released this week, and flew under our radar here at 24 Panels, insofar as we couldn’t be bothered, I guess), the slow-mo feels obligatory and derivative, here it definitely serves the visuals and increases their coherence (particularly in the final chase between Electro and Spidey). ASM had some slow-mo too, but only in a few instances toward the end of the film (and most notably in the last shot, to which I say “Move over, The 400 Blows! There’s a new king in town!”); it looks like it’ll be more of a stylistic touchstone this time around.

Consider my appetite thoroughly whetted. There’s so much more to say, but I’ll let others have a crack. Dale DeHaan as Harry? Jaime Foxx as Electro? The return of the shadowy man in the hat from the ASM stinger? Optimus Rhino?

DAVE: As I’ve made clear in the past, I’m not nearly as fond of The Amazing Spider-Man as Dru is (or Corina for that matter, who has been dying to talk about the film). While I love the cast of the film and believe that it is filled with great moments, overall, it has far too many problems for me to outright love it.  Most of those problems stem from a weak script: the promised “untold story” amounts to vague hints and teases that add nothing to the film (and inadvertently serves to underscore just how irrelevant Peter’s parents are in the grand scheme of the Spider-Man story); the villain was the weakest of any Spider-Man film (which is saying something when Spider-Man 3 exists); and the story contains enough irritating plot contrivances to drive me nuts (seriously, how does a high school student have a graduate student’s job?).

Given my issues with the last film, I have to admit it is kind of a surprise just how much the trailer for this new film excites me. While the narrative of the film is clearly being influenced by the Ultimate version of Spider-Man just as the last film was, the shift in visual style for this film really brings back the colourful 1960s-vibe that the Raimi films captured for me, while still feeling a part of what Webb set up in the previous film. While I am still expecting a rather heartbreaking ending to the film for reasons that are probably obvious to long time Spider-Man fans, it is nice that the film doesn’t seem to be weighed down with a grim visual style in an effort to come across as “serious.” If any comic book superhero should be fun to go and see on the big screen, Spider-Man is the one.

As far as the plot of the film goes, we seem to be getting what I think most of us expected: that Oscorp is at the center of Spider-Man’s troubles, for some reason. While this does bring back the plotline about Peter’s parents (well, father) that I wasn’t too fond of in ASM, at least it appears we are going to actually see this developed into something this time, with Richard Parker apparently having stumbled onto Oscorp’s super-secret supervillain manufacturing plant, or whatever it is. In fact, if you takes a close look at the background in a few shots, you’ll notice the Vulture’s wings and Doctor Octopus’ artificial limbs.

While this Oscorp focus does add a degree of cohesion to the overall universe, it also risks limiting the storytelling possibilities of future films when everything seems to be connected to Oscorp. If Sony really wants to have a larger Spider-Man universe and ensure that the franchise turns into a perennial for them, they are going to need to open things up from where things stand. Furthermore, given how big a role Oscorp and the Osborns played in the previous series, this approach does run the risk of treading old ground instead of going somewhere new with the characters and material.

Speaking of the Osborns, when it comes to the villains of the film, it appears that there has been a bit of misdirection going on with the marketing campaign. While it could still turn out that Jamie Foxx’s Electro is the big bad of the film, from what the trailer is showing, it looks like Dane DeHaan is really the main villain. If I have to make a guess about the structure of the film and the way it is handling these villains — and I do — I’m assuming we are going to see something of a Dark Knight scenario, with Electro filling the Harvey Dent role of being manipulated by a greater threat, which could help keep the story focused.  Still, the increasing number of villains in the film does give me pause, particularly with writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci involved in the film. While they often receive unfair flack, I tend to agree that their ability to structure a story is sometimes lacking, particularly when there is a large cast involved and many moving  story components  (see Star Trek Into Darkness for an example).

Still, while I may have some concerns, I am optimistic about this film. There is still plenty of time to go before the film is released, and plenty of time for things to change and evolve. And if those mechanical arms in the background means that one day we might get a Superior Spider-Man film, I am willing to forgive any bumps along the way to getting there.

But what are your thoughts about the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, folks? Let us know in the comments section! And check out this video commentary of the trailer, courtesy of Total Film.


Dru Jeffries is the co-host of 24 Panels Per Second. Follow him on Twitter @violetbooth.

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