AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Week: Webb & Arad On Why They Rebooted
In the build up to the movie's release, we have insights into the filmmaking process from all those involved. Thanks to a series of press conferences held in New York, NY early June, we can tell you exactly what to expect, and what these actors, writers, directors, and producers think about Spider-Man.
Starting things off today, we take a look at the press conference for Director Marc Webb and producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach. They talked about the challenges of a reboot, casting, 3D, the use of the Lizard and much more.
Newsarama: Coming into this franchise what were your challenges?
Avi Arad: My biggest challenge is to convince the world that comic books are the real literature, a real art form.
Matt Tolmach: Once he convinced the studios, we caught on. It all started with that guy! Now these are the only movies that studios really rely on. I remember sitting in the very first meetings.
Going to the challenges question, the challenge we confront every day is here's this beloved character who's been around for 50 years, how do you do that justice? With a great filmmaker and great stories. Webb had a very personal stake in Peter Parker. His vision for this character.
Nrama: What did these actors bring that made you cast them?
Marc Webb: It was a really terrifying process to cast such an iconic… people have a really strong idea of Peter Parker.
Andrew Garfield had the emotional gravitas required because Peter Parker has a lot of tragedy in his life, and also the whimsy. He's also funny, and alive, and light, and sarcastic, and those are attributes I wanted to explore in the film. He has incredible physical stamina! We tried to do a lot of the stunts in a very practical way.
Everybody is more familiar with Emma Stone. She's hilarious. So fast, so alive, but she can also do emotional depth.
You can't cast actors independently when you're relying on romance or a significant relationship that drives the story. You have to cast the chemistry. We were there on the monitors (during the screen test) and there was a magic there right away that was just fun to watch.
Nrama: How different is editing fights and stunts to editing a romantic comedy and can you tell us about his big swinging sequence?
Webb: One of the big things we did with the film was we did it In 3D, you want to hold on those shots a little longer.
Tolmach: One of the cool things that Marc, one of the questions he raised in the beginning was the physics of Spider-Man, making it real. Where do the webs go, how would they complicate his turn? That's why this final swinging sequence feels like such a payoff!
Nrama: Why did his mask come off so often?
Webb: I tried to keep the rationale organic. There's the scene with the boy. The mask is a symbol, and I wanted to endow that with a certain power; the scene with the boy in the car, he's really saving himself, he's saving the child in himself, so it felt right!
Then there are times you want to express certain emotions and connect with the character, and you need his face for that.
Arad: It's a natural thing for Spider-Man, for Peter Parker to lift the mask and take a look at the situation. Every time the mask came off, you look at it, it's an organic technique; it's to make sure we get the emotions, but at the same time it's a part of the story itself.
Nrama: This movie seems to focus on Peter's personal drama a lot more, in a different balance to other comic book movies, can you tell us the reasoning for that?
Webb: I'm a huge Spider-Man fan, but I'm an even bigger fan of Peter Parker. I love the idea that there's this kid with the same problems we have. Those little domestic dramas are what make my connection to the character more profound. I wanted to spend time, in the beginning of the movie in particular, to establish those relationships. I also hope that once you know the character it will make the action that much more exciting, if you care about the man behind the mask.
Nrama: First off, how did you create the sound of the Lizard (it sounded a bit like Harryhausen), and how do you choose where Stan Lee is used in the film?
Webb: The first time I met Stan, who's a fantastic human being and an incredibly creative guy. The first time we sat down for lunch he said, So, Marc, let's talk about my cameo!
After we talked about it and he made his demands, he talked about getting a category at Academy Awards for Best Cameo.
Tolmach: Or most cameos! Quantity, body of work.
Webb: In all honesty, before we started shooting the movie, I was trying to think of places in the film to add some levity and humor, and that library scene came up. It just made sense to put him in there.
Arad: It's a tradition that we cherish, we love doing it.
Webb: Funny you bring up Harryhausen, Randy Cook, one of our animation supervisors is a huge fanatic. When we were deciding on the sound of The Lizard I wanted to leave in Rhys Ifans' voice a bit. Originally we had a lot of clicking and clacking like the insect guy in Pan's Labyrinth, but I stripped that down because we wanted to make it a little more realistic, less ethereal, so we pitched his voice down, then had it playing twice with a little delay.
The roar was from Shannon Mills our Sound Designer. I don't know where that came from, it was probably a guy roaring into a garbage can!
Nrama: Avi, what were some of the things you didn't want Marc to change regarding the Spidey mythos?
Arad: There was nothing I didn't want Marc to change, because we set out to tell a new Spider-Man story. A new director will affect the way the movie feels and looks. The biggest influence of Peter's life was that he didn't have parents. Those kids who lose their parents in accidents, they are known to have more difficulties. You take these questions to the grave. So we wanted something really interesting that explains Peter Parker before Uncle Ben.
So the change had to be here are we in time? What high school is like, what science is like? Is Peter now finally at the stage that it's believable that he can invent his own webs.
For us, After four Spider-Man movies, I never took out my sheriff's badge, because we always work with people that care.
I'll never forget the day I get a call from Matt and he was meeting with Marc and we said what are we going to do with him, this Chick Flick guy?
Nrama: Why was there so much time given to the origin story?
Webb: We've seen the origin of Spider-Man, we haven't always seen the origin of Peter Parker. I felt like it was important to expand and understand those details and for the audience to understand those details. The Connection to Oscorp; while honoring the iconic elements, I wanted to redefine it to make sense with the larger, newer story we're telling.
Tolmach: High School is an incredibly ripe moment in life. It's different than when you're in college or in the workforce. It's that moment where emotionally everything seems apocalyptic, you're being asked to behave like and adult but you don't really have the tools. When you fall in love you fall in love in a way that is unique to the rest of your life experience because you have a stomach ache and you're obsessed and everything seems apocalyptic. It's not a coincidence that a lot of great movies and novels are written about this time in peoples' lives. It's also where Peter Parker spent a lot of time in the comics.
Arad: It was really important to establish that Andrew as the new Peter Parker had his own beginning. It was imperative because just being who he is is giving you a new origin. There's a whole new generation that will always love Spider-Man. We wanted you to fall in love with the boy, with Peter. The man behind the mask is always the most important component.
Nrama: Why was a reboot necessary?
Tolmach: We've been pretty open about the fact that we tried to make another installment of the Raimi/Tobey movies. Sam was the first one to finally say "my story's been told, my trilogy has run its course, but someone else should tell this story." I think what Avi's getting at and the power of this character, he belongs to everybody, and there's so many different ways to interpret him, he's so relevant to different generations.
And it took us about two seconds, as much as we all loved what we did with Sam, we knew Spider-Man lives on forever and there are so many different ways to interpret the character. We always say directors put themselves on the screen. They give their experiences. So Marc Webb's vision of Spider-Man was wholly different than what Sam was doing. We felt incredibly good and clear about reinterpreting this iconic character who had been reinterpreted so many times in the books over the years. As long as people love Spider-Man, there's a great reason to make these movies. We feel good about it, and we love Spider-Man so it was an easy decision.
Webb: Just to kind of close it up, Spider-Man is a perennial character, it's not like Harry Potter that has a closed canon, there's 50 years of stories to tell from that. I remember thinking about it and the 17 year old version of myself was saying "Are you effing kidding? Let's do this!"
Stay tuned all week for more press conferences, the Newsarama Review of Amazing Spider-Man, and a one on one interview with director Marc Webb!
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