When Marc Webb started adding actors the caliber of Chris Cooper, Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti to an Amazing Spider-Man roster that already included the likes of Sally Field and Martin Sheen, it became clear that the studio was mapping out a much larger Spider-Man cinematic universe. I wrote this piece explaining my expanding Spider-Man theory. It was retweeted by Webb with the message, “Think bigger.”
The fact that Webb retweeted my column was special. A career highlight, given the fact that I grew up on Web head and loved the director’s Amazing Spider-Man reboot. The fact that Webb brought it up at the start of our conversation at San Diego Comic-Con blew my mind.
What follows is a spirited, in-depth conversation about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the world that Webb is trying to build on screen. I held very little back in terms of specifics, and Webb was as gracious and open as he could be … while still trying to protect the integrity of his sequel. We talked about Ravenscroft, Norman Osborn, Felicity Jones’ recent comments about dating a Goblin, and Webb’s hopes for a Sinister Six fight. I think Spider-Man fans will find it very informative. Here’s Marc Webb:
Marc Webb: Are you from North Carolina?
You wrote that piece. The one I retweeted.
You remember that?
Sure. “Think bigger.”
Yes! Damn, man. The fact that you retweeted the column made my world and the fact that you remember it, is blowing my mind.
Of course. Well, it was nice because … listen, I’ve listened to the Internet sometimes if I’m bored on a Sunday, or feeling insecure, which really is not a good time to go online.
Stay off Twitter.
But, yeah, that article that you wrote -- we had been talking about, you know, there’s so much possibility. And what I tried to do with the first movie was build out, or create, a foundation that had levels of nuance and teases that would continue on in an ongoing way. It’s incredibly complicated to think too far ahead of the game, because you want everything to feel right. And yet, you have to be very careful to not hold out or withhold the excitement you have, where you’re trying to create the movie that’s in front of you. That’s an all-consuming task.
That said, we are trying to create a world that feels a little bit more nuanced and a little bit bigger and I think there are a lot of characters in the Spider-Man universe that could justify their own movies. And I get really excited and titillated by that possibility. The reality of that is sort of dependent on a lot of factors that are sort of beyond my control, but certainly there is a lot of conversation that goes on behind closed doors about how to give life to that.
Is it scary that Marvel set up this expectation now for bigger worlds? Like with Sony, it feels like they’re trying to do with Spider-Man … not exactly what Marvel did, but they’re at least thinking of that blueprint.
Well, it is Marvel, but I think what people are realizing is that people love to spend time in these worlds, and the audience demands and expects and is curious about how well you can develop sort of little characters that are in the shadows. As a storyteller, it’s really fun to think about that kind of stuff.
But when you start putting people like Paul Giamatti and Chris Cooper into these roles, it’s obvious you’re not using them for one scene.
Exactly. You want to build out, yes, the possibility of something more. And I think, not just since The Avengers, but even Harry Potter, I think they created a universe. I mean, obviously the books were incredibly well crafted and well thought out, and that allows for really wonderful actors to come in and chew off deep, meaty roles. Again, it’s really fun as a filmmaker, as a storyteller, to think about those possibilities.
You know, you say you check the Internet. One of the theories fans keep throwing out involves The Sinister Six. How much of that is wishful thinking on a passionate fan base aside and how much of it is discussed?
Listen, I don’t want to give away too much. I really don’t. I don’t want to give away too much. I want to preserve the surprise -- which is always under attack, for the right reasons. People are enthusiastic and they’re curious, but you know, it’s really difficult to let people get into that theater for the first time and experience it, that sense of awe and curiosity, and I think that’s a little bit tragic.
But I think ... I’m a fan of The Sinister Six, I’ll say that. I think if you pay attention to this second movie, you’ll see hints of what’s to come.
I’d like to ask a couple of specifics, if I could?
How much time do we get with Norman in the second movie?
[Long pause] I’m not going to say.
I want to reward you for your column, but I have to be careful.
I thank you for that. That’s fine. Partly, you’re keeping it from ruining the movie for myself also. OK, is Curt Connors in Ravenscroft, and will we find out who that guy was in the end credits of Amazing Spider-Man?
Uhhhhh, nnnnnnn.... I’m not going to answer those.
Alright then, let’s see.
I’m just saying, you’re on to something.
Felicity Jones has been saying a lot about her role, her mysterious role. Have you read her quotes or heard her quotes?
I’ve heard something about it. She does have sort of an interesting relationship with Norman Osborn at the beginning of the movie.
Yeah, she’s a...
Can I tell you her quote?
She says, “I’m the goblin’s girlfriend.”
Oh, hmmm. That’s an interesting interpretation.
But she does in fact, yes, work for Norman Osborn, but I wouldn’t say...
Is Norman sick when we see him?
I don’t know. You’re going to have to see the movie.
Dammit, Marc. I’m trying here! It was recently mentioned that Hans Zimmer will score the film. Is that happening?
That is happening, yes.
Good, that’s exciting.
He may have another collaborator, but it’s too early to discuss that.
You shot a lot of this film in public, and a lot of it got out through set photos. How do you feel about that, because then you have to answer questions about The Rhino and ...
Yeah, but that’s, I mean it’s, I would say unfortunate, but it’s something we expect. And listen, there’s an enthusiasm and curiosity and I think that’s great. I love the idea of speculation, but I also, I want to preserve the surprise of it, and we are careful to conceal certain important plot twists and the surprises we want to keep under our, inside of our coats, as it were, under wraps.
So, I’ve read a lot of the stuff online. And every theory I’ve read is wrong.
That’s what I was going to say. But you know it’s wrong. Don’t you just want to jump in and say, “No.”
No. I love it! Because people often say things with such certainty, and I’m like, “Well, but …” You know, I don’t want to engage in that.
Ok. Tell me a bit about how Harry fits in here because he’s a new character.
Harry is an old childhood friend of Peter’s but he was sent off the boarding school, and … he’s just gotten back from Europe and he and Peter meet up for the first time in many years.
I think what’s cool about it is you sense, for Peter, it’s his first friend. You know what I mean? We haven’t really seen that part of his life. He’s been such a loner and such an outsider that you see a kid, and they’re bound by this sort of, you know, Harry wasn’t exactly well treated by his father and Peter’s father has disappeared, so they’re sort of bound by those daddy issues.
Do we get J. Jonah Jameson? Is he on the board?
There’s a little bit of Bugle. There’s a little bit of The Daily Bugle in the movie.
And that’s where we had to wrap. I hope you thought Webb and I covered some interesting ground. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be in theaters on May 2, 2014.