How Andrew Garfield & Marc Webb Brought a 'Brighter, Funnier Webslinger' to ASM2
CREDIT: Sony Pictures
The Amazing Spider-Man has been known for his wise-cracks just as much as his wall-crawling, and actor Andrew Garfield and director Marc Webb said at the Amazing Spider-Man 2 press junket Sunday that they planned to bring a brighter, funnier Webslinger to the big screen.
“It was important for us, myself and Marc, for Spider-Man, or Peter as Spider-Man in this movie, to be releasing himself into the symbol that he’s created, and really enjoying himself and relishing the serious opportunity to protect his city… and relish the opportunity to enjoy the hell out of it while he’s doing it,” said Garfield.
Given the darker nature of the original Amazing Spider-Man, Garfield told reporters that he was looking forward to the more colorful quippery in this installment.
“We didn’t have the opportunity to do that within the context of the first movie, because it was definitely Peter coming to terms with what he had been given, as a young person would,” he explained, such as the death of Uncle Ben and the guilt of keeping his costumed alter ego a secret from Aunt May. “The reality of that first story, we were kind of hemmed in in terms of allowing Peter and Spider-Man to feel the sunshine of the spirit, if you will.”
Webb agreed, saying that humor was an essential part of Spider-Man as a character.
“I think one of the joys of reading the comic books as a kid is that joy and that wit, and again — there are such deep emotional components to the film that you need that spirit of levity, especially at the beginning of the film,” he added. “You want to engage the kids, you want to engage the kid in you, and from reading the comics that’s such a big part of his character.”
In keeping with this more humorous take on the Webslinger, Webb discussed the look of the film, saying that even the very color palette of this film would be brighter than the first.
“To me, it was about light and shadow as much as it was anything else. The first time [Peter] sees Harry [Osborn] in that foyer, he starts off in the shadow. I remember one of the executives saying, ‘he’s underlit!’” Webb said. “And it was like, no, because the whole scene changes when he steps into the light. And then they go and spend time in the light. And that’s to develop a sense of warmth and honesty in those characters in that relationship.”
Oscorp, meanwhile, Webb described as "an obsidian spire" based on the design of the biblical Tower of Babel, complete with a spiral top. "It’s a testament to man’s hubris, it’s trying to build a tower to reach Heaven. And that’s very much what Oscorp is about."
Yet Webb did not discount the Old Parker Luck, as he said there were some deep themes to Amazing Spider-Man 2 to go with all the laughs. The main throughline of the film, Webb said, was about time — specifically, valuing the time with the ones you love.
“The first line of the movie is ‘I wish I had more time,’ with Richard Parker. Gwen’s speech is about ‘time is luck.’ And the final battle is in a clock tower — hopefully you get it by this point,” Webb said. “That was a very intentional exploration of that motif.”
Garfield said that while Spider-Man was a “release” for Peter Parker, not to think that Peter was out of the woods yet, following the death of Captain George Stacy in the first film.
“In terms of how Peter is developing, he’s still a mess, and he always will be,” he said. “He’s always in an existential dilemma, and hopefully he can laugh himself out of most situations, but there are some situations where he just can’t.”
Webb and Garfield also looked back on the process of filming both Amazing Spider-Man films, recalling Garfield’s six-hour screen test, a now-deleted scene in which he was snacking on a cheeseburger while telling Gwen Stacy, then played by a different actress, that he was going to die.
“It’s a terrifying place to give yourself, because the essence of it is you’re being judged and observed and picked apart — and rightly so, because there’s a lot of money riding on this franchise,” Garfield recalled, saying that there were at least a dozen men in suits watching the monitors during his tests. Still, he said, “this was my only chance to have six hours of pretending to be Peter Parker, and pretending to be Spider-Man, so I was like, I’m not going to let any guy in a suit keep me from enjoying the hell out of this.”
Another deleted scene the two discussed was Peter’s first forays into photojournalism, spurred on by Aunt May. The scene involved Peter dressing up as Spider-Man in Central Park, and trying to put a cat up into a tree so he could photograph himself saving it. “The cat is peeing on my arm,” Garfield laughed. “And then I have to reset it. And then we do it again, and it’s scratching at me, clawing at my face… then you cut to a picture of me just saving a basset hound.”
Webb said that his favorite moment in this film was during a tense moment, where a web Spidey fires to save Gwen winds up transforming into something akin to an outstretched hand.
“I wanted this thing to move in a very specific way, and it was in slow-motion — it was kind of a Spider-Sense moment, and I was like, ‘it’s got to be like this!’ And I was trying to describe the web opening, but I was using my hand to describe it — and the artist thought I was doing that literally,” Webb explained. “And so when it came up as a rough animation, and it came up and it was a hand — there was the thumb, that opposable thumb, and I was like, ‘ah, that’s f—king great!’”
Garfield, meanwhile, enjoyed a bit of physical comedy thanks to choreographer Cal McChrystal, who he brought to the set as a consultant, such as for a scene where he spills coffee on three different Oscorp employees to create a distraction for Gwen. Tapping into a shared love of comedians like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, “there was this real energy, all of the sudden, and it was like, if we love this idea so much, I’m sure there are people in the audience who will respond to it,” Garfield said.
Balancing the humor and the darkness has always been part of Spider-Man’s stories, Webb said, as he was seeking to find significance to some iconic moments in Spider-Man lore.
“And that was the real fun adventure of making this movie, was to have that humor, to have that comic book bombast,” he said. “And how to merge that with a significant event… So how does it feel? It feels, I mean, there’s all sorts of feelings. It’s exciting and terrifying all at once.”