Welcome back to Amazing Spider-Man week! The Webhead's tale is being rebooted July 3, 2012 in theaters with new direction, new stars, and a decidedly new feel to the film.
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.
After the press conferences concluded, we sat down with director Marc Webb for a one on one interview in a New York hotel room. Webb told us what it was like to do a big feature after a small indie film. he told us why Spider-Man's physics were so important to him, and even just barely teased at a future with the franchise.
Newsarama: Marc, taking on Amazing Spider-Man has to be daunting on its own, but taking it on after there were three successful movies has to be even more so. How much of it was going in completely fresh, and how much did you directly compare yourself to the previous films?
Marc Webb: I tried to avoid the comparisons and letting that haunt me too much. I am a great admirer of those movies and Sam Raimi is a wonderful guy, and very early on we had some conversations and it was great to feel - to get his blessing.
But I think the most intimidating thing when I thought about doing the movie was not that there were things that were off limits, but that there was so much material it was overwhelming. Fifty years of comics! I have an entire wall of anthologies and comics and panels just to go through, it's like "Holy crap!"But I wanted to tell a different kind of story, a different nuance of Peter Parker while remaining loyal to the iconic nature of Spider-Man. I think in order to do that, I had to go back to - we've seen the origin of Spider-Man, I wanted to see the origin of Peter Parker. I wanted to go a little deeper into his past and build that from the ground up. I think if the audience is going to see the world through Peter Parker's eyes, they need to understand it as he understood it.
Nrama: Why is Peter Parker so important, versus Spider-Man himself in the mythology, in how he interacts with the world?
Webb: I think that of all the superhero characters, Peter Parker is the most relatable because he has the same problems that all of us have. He has to do chores, he has to take care of Aunt May, he has trouble talking to girls. He's not an alien. He's not a billionaire. He's just a kid, and he goes through all these problems that we all go through.
So, the domestic part of that drama, I think, is really compelling. That's what allows you to feel more connected and empathize with that symbol that's flying through the air. You feel the connection to the character beneath the surface, and that's the really powerful and very important part of Peter Parker.
I remember talking to Stan Lee very early on, and he said that's what the key was, that's what he was most interested in, the little domestic things.
There's a scene in the movie I remember shooting with Sally [Field, Aunt May] and Andrew [Garfield, Peter Parker] where he comes in and he's all bruised up and she is terrified. And she's hurt and she wants to know what's wrong with her boy. I love the idea of this kid who's fighting crime and doing these crazy things and flying through the air… he comes home and there's this person who cares about him and is just shut out of his life. They're both trying to do good, but there's a conflict between them. I love that domestic quality! There's a little kitchen, in queens, and it was all handheld. I love that domestic quality in Spider-Man. You have these massive, huge set pieces, then the little tiny domestic drama.
Nrama: Well even almost the goofiness of the juxtaposition that he can go punch the Lizard in the face without a second thought, but then he can't say two words to Aunt May!
Webb: Yeah! And hopefully it's believable. Because he's trying to protect her in some way.
Nrama: All of the actors, at the press conferences, praised you for being an "actor's director" or a "character director." How much of your focus was on making this a character piece, and letting each of these people shine in their role, versus it being a crazy big budget 3D action film?
Webb: Well, of course it's important to have that spectacle. I love that, it's a blast, it's fun! But you need to build it on a foundation of humanity. The biggest part of that is casting. And once you've found these incredibly talented people, i wanted to exploit it if I could. If you have Emma Stone in a movie, you need to let her be funny!And boy did she… Andrew and Emma, they took the script and they would find what was under the surface and shine on top of that. There were so many things , so many moments that they improvised that made those characters really come to life.
There's that scene in the hallway [INSERT LINK TO EMMA STONE PRESS CONFERENCE: Emma Stone mentioned this scene, too!] where he says "well I could, or we could," and she's like, "yeah, either one!" [smiles] But theres this line where she says "you were touching up stuff?" And he's like, "I'm not going to answer that." Totally improvised! I was sitting behind the monitor and I was like, well that's kind of dirty but that's amazing! It's kids, it's how they are.
Then there's this moment where she grabs her folder and spins around - you cannot write that. Those things emerge when you have the spontaneity and you have two actors that are alive and in the moment.
Nrama: As far as the look and feel of this goes, you seemed pleasantly slavish to the look of the characters, especially Gwen, Emma looks like she was torn off the page...
Webb: Yeah, well we went back to the old Amazing Spider-Man issues for her look. The Ultimate Spider-Man book had a different kind of thing for Gwen. I liked the Amazing look. But in terms of the body type of Spider-Man, the more lithe, agile Spider-Man, I love that Mark Bagley art and the stuff that comes from the Ultimate book. I didn't want him to be a muscle man, an Atlas. I wanted him to be agile and lithe and spidery.Andrew took great care in feeling like the spider DNA was overtaking him. There's a scene in the sewer where his elbows are moving in a certain way, I like the idea of his body being overwhelmed by that DNA.
Nrama: Going along with that, you were very precise about the actual physics of things. You took care with the amount of distance the web could go and the need for something to actually web to, to swing. How early on were you focused on that?
Webb: Very early on! I thought, well how do we make this real, what does that mean? Well first of all there's the emotional component to it, but then there's the physical, the action.
I remember when we were scouting, very early on, we were doing preliminary scouting in New York. We were walking the streets and I thought "if I was Spider-Man, how would I swing through the city?" There's this pendulum swinging that we did in the film before the crane sequence, and he's running along the side of the building. I thought "if you shoot from here, you'd have to get a pretty specific rhythm to actually go forward." Those pendulum swings would be the best, most efficient way, unless you had cantilevered pick points along the way.
That's where the crane sequence comes from [Newsarama Note: We won't detail this for fear of spoilers]. I love the idea from the Spider-Man comics when the city comes to help. When you feel like there's some connection to him and the city. That was one of those moments where I felt like the emotion and the physics combined!
Nrama: As a comic book fan, comic book fans love what is about to happen, but they love what comes next as well. Do you have any designs on the future of the franchise, and just completely for fun, your dream come true, if you could have anyone in the Marvel Universe guest star in a sequel who would it be?
Webb: Oh, you know, of course there are always thoughts about the future, but I've gotta finish this movie first. Then I'll sit back on a beach somewhere and think about it. But it's just so early, i just finished this thing and I just want to focus on this of course. But I loved making this movie, and it's hard not to think about the future.
I think Iron Man is amazing. Anybody from the Marvel Universe?
Nrama: Yeah, just anybody.
Webb: Oh who knows, there's too many. I think Iron Man though, I feel like Tony and Peter would be great together on screen.
Nrama: Yeah, the blessing and curse with what you've done here is you made a movie that would fit very well in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
Webb: [Laughs] You never know what the future holds...
- Click here for a six-page preview of Amazing Spider-Man #692, the debut of Spidey's teenage sidekick Alpha.
- Marvel Reveals Spider-Man's ALPHA is a Teenage Sidekick
- AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Review - 10/10: The Reboot It Needed
- AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Week: Webb & Arad On Why They Rebooted