The Franchise that Couldn't: Looking Back on the Amazing Spider-Man
By Felix Quinonez Jr.
January 16, 2017
This past May, the wildly popular Captain America: Civil War gave fans something they had long been clamoring for - Spider Man. Tom Holland's well-received performance brought everyone's favorite wall crawler into the MCU fold. This move signaled a new chapter for the world-famous, beloved, character. But it also became the final nail in the coffin of Andrew Garfield's tenure as Spider-Man.
Looking back at it now, it seems that the Amazing Spider-Man franchise was doomed from the start. Even though it had great talent - behind and in front of the camera - it never really took off. Audiences, who could have sworn they saw a Spider-Man origin movie just a few years back, met the reboot with a sort of collective shrug. But perhaps James Cameron, who almost directed a Spider-Man movie in the '90s, captured the general sentiment towards the reboot best when he called it “sloppy seconds.”
The series got off to a decent enough start in 2012 with The Amazing Spider-Man. Although it suffered a steep decline at the box office and reviews were generally lukewarm, it showed there was still life in the franchise. And audiences seemed to enjoy the movie or at worst found it harmless.
But by the time the sequel came out, the public had turned on the franchise. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with a 52% rating, was the first Spider Man movie to be labeled “rotten” by Rotten Tomatoes. (Spider-Man 3 somehow has a passing grade with its 63% fresh rating.) And it reached a new series low at the box office. It topped out at $202 million domestically, about half of what Sam Raimi's Spider-Man earned in 2002.
These days, fans seem to look back at the whole endeavor with a mixture of confusion and derision. Although at one point there was genuine hope for the series, now it sadly resides in the superhero hall of shame. When it does come up in conversation, it's greeted with the kind of disdain usually reserved for Superman Returns.
At best, it's thought of as a sort of transitional stage for Spider-Man, between the first big-screen adventures directed by Sam Raimi and the arrival to his “rightful” home at Marvel Studios. At worst, people would rather forget it altogether.
While it's fair to say that the series didn't live up to its potential, it doesn't deserve to be completely written off. And with the web-head embarking on a new chapter of his big screen adventures it seems like a good time to look back and say goodbye to The Amazing Spider-Man, a series that never really got the chance to soar. But before diving into things, it's a good idea to look back at what preceded The Amazing Spider-Man and why the franchise had to be rebooted in the first place.
Most people, rightfully, credit X-Men, ¬(2000) directed by Bryan Singer for kick-starting the current comic book craze. X-Men, with a star-making performance from Hugh Jackman, reminded audiences that these characters were worthy of making the jump to the big screen. By being faithful to the source material and avoiding campiness, Singer made a movie that audiences and critics embraced. And perhaps more important, it was a big success at the box office, showing studios that there was a lot of money to be made with comic book adaptations. The movie grossed $157 million domestically and almost $300 million worldwide on a $75 million budget. But if X-Men set things up, Spider-Man, (2002) directed by Sam Raimi, knocked it out of the park.