Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
May 7, 2014

Get the Hell off my court, loser.

Kim Hollis: Do you think that Andrew Garfield is a rising star, or is he just another guy in a suit a la Brandon Routh? Similarly, do you think Emma Stone has the same heat now that she did a couple of years ago?

Brett Ballard-Beach: I have no real yen to see the current ASM series so that may temper my answer. I like Andrew Garfield, a lot more than I thought I once would, and in roles as diverse as The Social Network, Never Let Me Go or The Red Riding trilogy, he brings quirkiness, vulnerability, and not a little bit of unlikability, and I find that combo intriguing and perplexing. He is not someone I think should be in a tentpole franchise. I like Emma Stone as well but to answer the heat question: no. Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley have hit the zeitgeist and stolen thunder by playing action-oriented female protagonists. That may not be to Stone's liking but I don't think she does her talent any favors by "just" playing the romantic lead.

Edwin Davies: I'd put him squarely in the Brandon Routh camp, though I'd say that you could probably put Tobey Maguire there as well. Both men acquitted themselves well playing Peter Parker, and arguably Garfield is better in the role even if the films around him are far worse, but neither of them has or had much marquee value out of the suit. I kind of feel that Garfield was more of a rising star before the first Amazing Spider-Man film came out, back when people were saying it was a travesty that he didn't get an Oscar nomination for The Social Network, and he seemed like a promising young star waiting for a breakout role. He got that role in Spider-Man, but now he's just the guy who isn't Tobey Maguire. I feel that the same thing has happened to Emma Stone to an extent, in that she was definitely ascending before being cast as Gwen Stacy, but now she's saddled with a franchise that no one really cares about, and that has diminished the variety of roles that she seems to be taking. I get the feeling that both will do better work and become more interesting stars once they are free of Spider-Man.

Bruce Hall: Brandon Routh seems like a nice guy, but in my opinion there's no comparison here. Andrew Garfield is simply a better actor, and while I don't see him as a star, I believe he will continue to have success independent of Spider-Man. Color me mostly ambivalent about this new incarnation of Spider-Man, but I do like Garfield in the role a lot more than I thought I would. He's one of the bright spots in a somewhat uninspiring franchise that exists almost exclusively for its own sake.

I won't make any predictions, but I can see Andrew Garfield still enjoying solid C- level success many years from now, whereas I can see Brandon Routh making me a Venti White Chocolate Mocha.

Felix Quinonez: I always feel a bit torn about the impact taking a superhero role has on an actor's career. Yes, it gives them a level of recognition and audience awareness that they couldn't have dreamed of before. When an actor takes on one of these roles their careers become hot. But because of the contractual arrangements, usually, they wind up playing the character for so long that the buzz dies down by the time they're free to really pursue other roles.

But with Andrew Garfield, he already had buzz going before becoming Spidey and I think once he hangs up the webs he will have some of that buzz. But I really don't think having played Spider Man will knock his career out of the stratosphere.

Kim Hollis: I do think that Andrew Garfield is more talented than Brandon Routh (though I’ll forever be amused by Routh’s portrayal of Todd Ingram in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), and I would have considered him a rising star prior to getting the role of Spider-Man. I actually think wearing the costume is likely stifling him some, though financially this is likely setting him up to do whatever sorts of projects he’d like. At least he’s getting to work with Martin Scorsese on Silence. I will say that I don’t necessarily see that much difference between Garfield and Tobey Maguire, though.

With regard to Emma Stone, she probably has lost some of the heat she was building prior to taking the role of Gwen Stacy. She’d had a lot of different types of roles that allowed her to demonstrate some range, and even though it was obviously a terrific financial decision for her, playing the damsel in distress seems like it could set her back in the long-term, particularly as we’ve seen the aforementioned Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley emerge in strong roles for females. But I’ll be hopeful since she’s in Cameron Crowe’s next movie.

David Mumpower: We seem to all agree that he is better than Routh, at least with regards to talent. I believe that Edwin is correct that winning the role of Spider-Man may have temporarily derailed Garfield's candidacy as a legitimate thespian. In that regard, he may be the inferior version of Robert Pattinson in that both were considered rising talents who received roles with which they will be linked for the rest of their careers. Pattinson became a lot more famous in the process while the Tobey Maguire comparisons are apt for what Spider-Man has done for Garfield.

If I could go off the board with an analogy, there is a Hayden Christensen element to what has transpired with Garfield. Nobody remembers it a dozen years later but Whiny Vader garnered a lot of respect for Shattered Glass and Life as a House. He threw all of that acting capital away with one theoretically career-making role. Given the icy reception to the Spider-Man reboots, I cannot help but wonder if Garfield would be better served by having Sony cut the cord on the current version of the franchise.

Kim Hollis: What is your perception of Spider-Man at this point? You can compare to the Marvel Universe, the original three Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, or whatever your barometer may be.

Brett Ballard-Beach: I would be concerned if I were a studio executive (again speaking domestically only) that this series is accelerating towards burnout in the short term. There are ASM films set for 2016 and 2018. From what I gather Marc Webb is only doing the first of those. Will there be another reboot at that point? I also gather that Spidey will not be crossing over into the interconnected cinematic Marvel Universe that has been unfolding since 2008 anytime soon. If he remains a stand-alone character, the creative powers that be need to figure out where they want to take him that can break the stagnancy. I do not think (for Spider-Man or any superhero) that piling on the villains is the answer.

Edwin Davies: I definitely feel like the character has been burned out by being rebooted so soon after the original trilogy, as well as from the first two Webb films being sub-standard, neither supplanting the Raimi films or even really doing much to wash away the memories of Spider-Man 3. I mean, all they had to do was make something better than Emo-Peter Parker strutting down the street and they didn't even manage that! It's also been overtaken by the Marvel films, and people are savvy enough to know that the Spider-Man films have nothing to do with the factory that has been making consistently entertaining superhero films since the first Iron Man came out.

I also can't help but think that the brand is going to be diminished even further as Sony unrolls their plans to create their own interconnected universe with spin-off films from Spider-Man. The version of the character they currently have and the world he occupies isn't interesting or solid enough to shoulder multiple, separate films with shared characters, and as much as I'd like to see a Sinister Six movie, I don't think there's enough demand or goodwill on the part of the audience for it to succeed the way that Marvel's Phase One and Phase Two have.

Bruce Hall: The interesting thing here is that Sony's original Spider-Man deserves a great deal of credit for re-energizing the super hero genre in the first place (Fox's X-Men, of course, being the other big winner). But five movies in, the web slinger’s adventures feel more rote than revolutionary. Sony has to keep making Spider-Man films or the rights will revert back to Marvel/Disney, who would no doubt be pleased to take back the reins.

So now Sony is playing catch up, hurriedly forging ahead with plans to expand the Spider-Man universe into spinoff franchises, a-la the Marvel/Avengers model. This is fine, but it feels like bandwagon movie making, instead of a realistic attempt at something enduring. Once you spot something that works, fire up the assembly line and start spitting out expensive, less ambitious copies. And speaking of assembly lines, don’t even get me started on how the same damn writers get recycled to write everything these days.

But what do you expect? We’re talking about a results oriented business and artistic merit usually takes a back seat to carefully produced variations on the same lukewarm formula. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, unless you happen to like movies that are worth watching more than once.

Felix Quinonez: My perception of Spider Man is the same perception I've had for 20 years, Spider Man RULES. I loved the Raimi movies and now I love the Webb movies. I felt that Raimi's films touched more on the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Spider Man. And now I feel like the Webb series really has a more Ultimate Spider Man by Brian Michael Bendis feel to it. And maybe the next series will even bring Miles Morales into the mix. (Wishful thinking, I know) But the point is there is a reason why Spider Man is still relevant 50 years after he was introduced. That's because he's a timeless character that will always resonate with people. All they have to do is put a fresh new coat of paint on it and make some minor superficial updates every time they want to restart a new film series and I will be there. And so will millions of other people who love Spider Man almost as much as I do.

Kim Hollis: I enjoyed all three of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films a great deal, and that’s despite not really having a keen interest in the character. I’d say that Spider-Man 2 stands alongside The Dark Knight and The Avengers as one of the greatest superhero films ever. But I’ve never had the slightest interest in The Amazing Spider-Man or The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I didn’t see the first film and I don’t know that I ever will, and the same goes for the second movie. I think my reaction isn’t an unusual one. For whatever reason, this reboot was met with a bit of a shrug comparatively, and the declining quality of the films has impacted the franchise in a pretty significant way. I think the most interesting thing that could be done would be to integrate the character into a Civil War story with the Avengers, but I doubt that happens any time soon.

David Mumpower: As I referenced in the Garfield question, I believe that there is unmistakable downward spiral occurring. Just within the current Garfield/Webb iteration, the first movie earned $137 million during its first six days of North American release. Yes, there was some holiday inflation involved; the movie still reached $200 million in 10 days, though. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has required five days to reach $100 million. It is running 20% behind the pace of its predecessor. The first Monday-to-Monday comparison includes a 32% decline. Sony can hope and pray that it's an issue caused by school being in session. By the time kids are on summer vacation, however, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will have lost most of its screens. And I say all of the above before we factor in ticket price inflation.

Sony made the hard choice to reboot the franchise quickly in a cynical attempt to capitalize upon the soaring popularity of other comic book properties, particularly Iron Man and Batman. The result has been a product that most people (sorry, Felix) consider inferior, derivative and relatively pointless. Sony is fortunate in that the overseas marketplace has spiked during this timeframe so as long as nobody focuses on the capital retention of that revenue, they can trumpet the product as successful.

The reality of the Spider-Man problem is simple. The first movie was released in 2002. By 2014, we are already up to five titles; also, the franchise is already repeating itself with story themes. As Disney continues to masterfully develop the world of The Avengers, Sony has the rights to a Marvel property that was once so popular that the Playstation 3 used its fonts and trumpeted the films for its woeful failure, UMD media. Now Sony is struggling in all phases as their business practices have proven outdated in the quickly evolving technology era.

Spider-Man is a viable brand in theory that they would prefer to harness by creating their own multi-billion dollar Marvel realm. Unfortunately, Spider-Man lacks the rogues gallery of Batman or Superman, so they must keep regurgitating the same premises. What they seem to be hoping will happen is that Disney will desire Spider-Man as an Avenger, thereby either reinvigorating their brand or providing a tidy cash payment for the rights to the character. That seems to be the eventual endgame, independent of how many movie rumors there are for the 2020s.