The Franchise that Couldn't: Looking Back on the Amazing Spider-Man
By Felix Quinonez Jr.
January 16, 2017
But for all its strengths, it's hard to argue that it didn't also have some flaws. The specter of Raimi's films looms largely over the entire movie and influences many of its choices. Because the main arc of The Amazing Spider-Man is so indebted to the previous franchise, it desperately tries to stray whenever possible. This led to the parents storyline. And while that certainly was a previously unexplored element, it's never nearly as interesting as they thought or hoped it would be. It even negates a key element of what makes the character so special. He represents the nerdy, outsider and is a stand-in for the reader. But the story here is that Peter doesn't gain powers from being bitten by the spider but it rather triggers something that was already in him. This means he is no longer the everyman and no one could be Spider-Man but him. And although it must have been a very daunting task to replace JK Simmons, who played J. Jonah Jameson in the Raimi films, it was definitely a loss to not have Jameson in the movie.
Even so, the movie was a solid, promising start for a new take on a beloved character. And the very strong performances from the leads, and their wonderful chemistry, helped elevate the movie. They also made it easier to overlook the feeling of familiarity that came from the story arc.
But another comic book movie came out that summer, The Avengers, which was a huge success. It grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide and had a very big impact on the movie industry. Suddenly every studio became obsessed with having their own “shared universe.” Unfortunately, Sony was one of those studios, and it had a huge influence on The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
There's no way to know for sure, but it certainly seems likely that the success of The Avengers caused a big shakeup with the plans for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The movie seems more interested in playing catch up with Marvel studios than progressing the story started in the first film.
Although The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has more than its share of charm, it was ultimately disappointing. Like in the first movie, it's still a pleasure to see Gwen and Peter together and they are still easily the highlight of the film. But unfortunately, the movie is unwisely saddled with a break-up plot line that keeps them apart way longer than they should be. The reason for their relationship problems is that Peter is guilt-ridden over the death of Gwen's father. But not only was this issue kind of resolved in the first movie, but the move seems like the equivalent of sitting out your star players during the big game.
Although the movie was stuffed to the brim, one welcome addition was Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborne. DeHaan and Garfield have nice, breezy chemistry, and it's fun to see them reconnect as friends. But because the movie tries to fit in too much, their relationship winds up getting shortchanged. And Harry's turn feels rushed.