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From cryptic set photos posted on Twitter during production to announced plans for both future Sinister Six and Venom spin-offs, we have been caught in the mysterious web of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for months and months now, but soon enough we will finally be getting all of the answers to our most dying questions.
But while the countdown still sits at 43 days until the film arrives in theaters nationwide, earlier this week I had the pleasure of getting a very special early look at the new blockbuster. Along with a cadre of other film journalists, I was invited to enter the Sony Pictures Studio Lot in the Culver City area of Los Angeles where I not only got to watch five full scenes from the film – totaling a little over of 30 minutes of footage total – but also participate in a question and answer session with Marc Webb. With the director we talked not only about the new Amazing Spider-Man sequel and it's various characters, but also what lies beyond.
Read on to discover the five coolest things we learned from the footage and the filmmaker!
1) Top comedians were brought in to boost the humorSpider-Man is perhaps best known for shooting webs, climbing up walls and swinging between the skyscrapers of New York, but from a personality stand-point the character has always been a funny guy. Peter Parker is a kid who (for the most part) loves being a superhero, and part of that process for him is constantly throwing out one-liners and witticisms that drive his enemies completely bonkers. Marc Webb’s first Amazing Spider-Man did its part to bring back the funny to the character, working in scenes like Spidey’s altercation with a car thief, but for the sequel the director decided to take the humor to another level.
Discussing the idea of making Spider-Man even funnier than he was in the last film and really hitting on all of the iconic notes of the character, Webb revealed during the Q&A session that the production actually brought in a roundtable of comedians to help punch up Peter Parker’s dialogue, with star Andrew Garfield then testing the lines to make sure the lines fit with the portrayal. Said Webb,
"We got some of the best comedians," the director said. "It’s sort of a private thing that you can’t really tell who’s in it, but these amazing, really brilliant comedians, many of them are comic book fans, come in and help us with coming up with jokes and one-liners and quips that are part of Spider-Man’s universe."
While I can’t say what the screenplay looked like before the punch-ups, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 footage that we saw did feature a good handful of funny Spidey wisecracks, the funniest coming in one of the early scenes in the movie when the hero is having a bit of a tête-à-tête with Aleksei Sytsevich a.k.a. Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and walks away humming the Spider-Man theme song.
2) There’s a bit of a Blues Brothers influenceFollowing a flashback sequence that explains a bit more about what happened to Peter Parker’s parents and their fateful plane trip, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens with an incredibly energetic action sequence that has Spider-Man swinging through the streets in pursuit of a giant truck hauling dangerous chemicals (driven by Rhino) that is hurtling through the streets of Manhattan. In addition to having a number of laugh-out-loud lines, the scene is packed with spectacle as well, as Spider-Man is joined in his chase by what looks like 100 cop cars. During the Q&A, one of my colleagues noted that the plethora of police was actually very reminiscent of the 1980 John Landis comedy The Blues Brothers. Funny enough, this same thought had occurred to the production team during the making of the movie.
"We came on set to know it as the Blues Brothers sequence," Webb said laughing, referencing a scene where all of the cop cars end up piling on top of one another. "I wanted to start off the movie in a more playful way, especially given the opening situation with the plane, because I wanted to bring it back into this playful part of Spider-Man that also felt big and action driven."
Basically, you’re hopefully going to be laughing a lot during The Amazing Spider-Man 2 just listening to funny dialogue, but the blockbuster action sequences are certainly there to put a big wide smile on your face as well.
3) Electro’s motivationJamie Foxx’s Max Dillon a.k.a. Electro was a key figure in almost every sequence on display during the footage presentation, and does an interesting job establishing the character’s personality. Above all, what the character seems to be desperate for is to be needed. During the aforementioned Rhino chase scene, Max runs into Spider-Man and is absolutely elated when the hero tells him that he needs his help (even if it is really just an off-hand remark). This resurfaces in a big way during a huge Times Square action sequence when the character - now all blue and sparkly - is elated to see himself on all of the bright digital billboards, and it’s taken to another level later when Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) comes to him begging for help in a desperate situation.
Being intrigued by this, I asked Webb about what we can expect from the comic book villain in terms of his emotional state and what drives him to the evil that he ends up committing. The director explained that when presented with the character, he and writers Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman saw a guy that was both empathetic and a bit crazy. Said Webb,
"[He] has been sort of ignored by the world, forgotten by people and he’s an outcast, much in the way that Peter Parker is an outcast, and he choose to react to that in a little bit of a different way. There is a wonderful pathos that Jamie enables at the beginning of the film and you haven’t seen that part yet, and you really feel for him, but there’s also a psychosis. There’s something mad about him and that eventually gets the better of him."
Digging further, I asked the director if we would actually get to see the inciting incident that made him the person he is. Playing coy, Webb put on a wry smile and simply said, "Sure."
4) We will meet the guy from the end credits of The Amazing Spider-ManThe first Amazing Spider-Man movie ended with one of the most enigmatic post-credits sequences we’ve seen yet in modern comic book movies. The scene began in a prison cell with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), and after a flash of lightning we see that he is no longer alone, but instead with a mysterious man hiding in the shadows. The guest asks the incarcerated scientist if Peter Parker knows the truth about his parents, and after Connors says no the mystery man disappears in another lightning flash. Fans have spent the last two years speculating about the identity of the "Man in the Shadows," and now we have a promise that answers are on the way.
The director didn’t really elaborate on the situation, but during the Q&A it was confirmed that by the time The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is over we will know exactly who that guy was. While most original theories from when movie came out suggested that the character was either Electro or Norman Osborn, those two are seemingly now off the table given that the former is being played by Jamie Foxx and the latter by Chris Cooper. Not wanting to give too much away, Webb explained that some things are just best left for the big screen.
"We have to be very careful about what we reveal and we get a lot of flak for sometimes talking about too many things," he said. "But we also enthuse people to see the movie, and so in keeping with trying to make that cinematic experience for everybody at home really special, I’m going to withhold that answer from you."
5) Working towards a larger Spider-Man universeMuch like how Warner Bros. has started making a larger DC Comics world on the big screen and the folks over at 20th Century Fox are busy trying to find a way to bring the X-Men and Fantastic Four together, the extreme success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has inspired the people behind the Amazing Spider-Man franchise to think bigger. As a result, in the next few years will see the release of not just an Amazing Spider-Man 3, but also Sinister Six and Venom titles. It has already been made very clear that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be doing quite a bit of world-building to get the franchise to where it needs to be, and that was a subject that Webb expounded on during the Q&A.
The director explained that while the Amazing Spider-Man movies were originally planned as a simple trilogy, the project began to grow in size as they started to play around with bigger ideas. Eventually they had so many ideas that they realized it couldn’t all fit in the second movie, so part of Amazing Spider-Man 2’s job became setting up storylines for future development.
"There’s too much richness there, and so when we were talking about the beginning of the second film we were trying to plan out all of the emerging story lines. It just started to make sense to invest in other stories, and then in particular the Sinister Six."
It has already been confirmed that Webb won’t be returning to direct The Amazing Spider-Man 4 and that Sinister Six and Venom are likely going to be helmed by Drew Goddard and Alex Kurtzman, respectively, but the filmmaker has definitely made a more than significant contribution to the future of the franchise:
"We’ve been trying to figure out how to develop a larger universe and there are some very exciting things coming around the corner with the Sinister Six and Venon and future Spider-Man movies. I want to be involved in any way I possibly can and we’re already talking. We’ve had these really wonderful discussions and there’s already been some announcements, but you know Alex and Bob and Drew Goddard and a lot of these really brilliant minds who are young and emerging are helping us develop something a little bit more elaborate and exciting. It’s just been a blast. It’s sort of a dream come true. We’ve had fantasies about what we could do, and they’re slowly coming to reality. I’m really excited about that."
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 arrives in theaters on May 2nd.