The Amazing Spider-Man (2012): Revisiting the Andrew Garfield reboot

The Revisited series takes a look at the 2012 Spider-Man franchise reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield

When it comes to the character of Spider-Man, we’ve seen it all from Sam Raimi’s iconic trilogy, the MCU’s more tech-heavy and modern trilogy, some stunning animated Miles Morales films, and even a catalogue of disappointing spin-offs which follow villains like Venom and Morbius. Even Madame Web delivered yet another mediocre spin-off film in Sony’s ongoing attempt to give us Spider-Man movies that don’t feature Spider-Man. But tucked away in the depths of the Spider-Verse is Marc Webb’s 2012 reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man. A film that was released just 5 years after Raimi’s disappointing third installment of the Tobey Maguire era and was marketed to be the untold story of Peter Parker and capture the darker elements of the character and his origins. This, of course is hot off the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and Dark Knight films which had added a prestige touch to the genre of comic-book movies and pushed studios to make darker fare out of their own heroes. Now, the topic of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man is one that, in recent years, has seen somewhat of a resurgence as Garfield’s appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home gave audiences a chance to see him finish his character arc and swing into the sunset one last time… Or was it?

With recent talks online of “superhero fatigue” and cameo-driven muck, it gets easier and easier to believe that the once anticipated Amazing Spider-Man 3 may still be in the cards for fans of Garfield’s take on the web-head. But for me, I’m holding out any hype until I’ve gone back into the Marvel vault and taken a proper retrospective look on Marc Webb’s original installments and see how well they stack up against all the iconic (and not so iconic) films in this ever-expanding library of wall-crawling-cinema. So, if you’re ready than refill your web shooters and aim them directly at that like button, and let’s take a look back on 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man.

The Amazing Spider-Man is directed by 500 Days of Summer director, Marc Webb and stars Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, a teenage orphan living with his aunt and uncle after the death of parents who gets bit by a radioactive spider and gains extraordinary superpowers that he’ll use to protect New York from a grave threat. The movie also stars Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey, Martin Sheen and Sally Fields as Ben and May, Denis Leary as Captain Stacey and of course Rhys Ifans as The Lizard.

Now, the plot of this movie is basically a spin on the classic Spider-Man origin but made to be a little more modern and a slightly more… confusing. See, we’re going to get more into this when the time comes to review the sequel in this series- but the seed is planted in this movie for Peter’s mom and dad to be much more pivotal in the story- which honestly, isn’t really worth talking about because it… sucks. And it has nothing to do with the rest of the plot.

The Amazing Spider-Man Revisited

So, when we’re introduced to teenage Peter, we’re automatically blasted in the face with the idea that this movie is not the same as the previous ones. The character of Peter Parker was mostly faithful in the Raimi films- Tobey Maguire was meek and dorky and had a charming quality of being oddly outdated in tone. I like that, actually. It’s kind of how I imagine Peter Parker would be. What I wasn’t ready for at the time- was a new and cool Peter who rode a skateboard and had edgy clothes and a chiseled jaw. Andrew Garfield’s take on Peter is not so much a bullied loser- but more of an anti-social and sort of “too cool for school” kind of kid- which, re-watching this now feels a little outdated in its own way. For example, both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield will occasionally mumble lines of dialogue that are difficult to hear, but where Tobey’s Peter sounded shy and insecure, Garfield’s Peter sounds more like he’s going for sexy. And the result is that we have a Peter Parker who doesn’t really feel like the one that the masses were familiar with. Now, do I dislike it? No. Not really. I think after seeing all three spider-men together in No Way Home, I have a new appreciation for the differences between each one.

Now, another pretty big change is that this movie has Gwen Stacey being Pete’s love interest- and there was no MJ to be found. At least, not yet.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield famously dated between these two movies and their onscreen chemistry has been widely praised by many who’ve seen the film. It’s cute, for sure but this movie spends a little too much time getting to the good stuff. There are some pretty good moments in here before Peter gets his powers, but it feels like it takes forever to get to the Spidey stuff. In fact, it’s about an hour into the movie that we see the suit- but it’s not until close to the end of the movie that we see Peter REALLY become Spider-Man.

See, here’s the thing about Spider-Man- When we think of Peter Parker, we usually picture him as sarcastic, snarky, quippy, and whatever other words go with his attitude. But he’s also always a good person at heart. Peter’s origin always has the initial anger that comes from Uncle Ben’s death- it’s a classic tale. But I think that with this movie, they take that anger a little too far into unlikable territory. Even when Spider-Man is in his early stages, he goofs around with the criminals he takes down and makes his little jokes to keep that light-hearted tone. But Garfield in this movie really seems more like Flash Thompson than Peter Parker. When he finally goes on his first patrol as Spider-Man, he comes off as kind of mean-spirited and a little bit too much of a dick. Also, his quips aren’t that funny, which I’ve almost gotten used to after so many cheap MCU jokes in the new trilogy. And while I like Andrew Garfield more now than I used to, this kind of punk-ass version webs me the wrong way.

HOWEVER, at about an hour and fifteen minutes into the movie, when Peter finally gives us the heroics we’ve been desperately waiting for, it is so worth it.

The Amazing Spider-Man Revisited

So, the real antagonistic force in this movie is Dr. Kurt Conners, an Oscorp scientist who specializes in cross-species genetics and uses a serum he developed to grow back his lost arm. Of course, we know the rest, don’t we? Well, in this “untold” version, after the serum transforms Conners into a full blown humanoid reptile, the Lizard plans to administer the serum to everyone in the city, turning all of New York into giant reptilian monsters. And when Peter has his first showdown with the Lizard on the bridge, we finally get to witness what makes Andrew Garfield a good Spider-Man. There’s a moment when Spidey either has to pursue the lizard to stop him, or double back and save a little boy who is stuck in a car. Garfield gives the tenderness that we want from Peter in this moment and the magic of this character is restored after over an hour of thinking our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was gone forever.

Okay, let’s talk about the suit. We all know that Garfield’s suit from the Amazing Spider-Man 2 is one of the best and most iconic suits that the web-head has ever worn. We all love the giant eyes, the classic colors and textures, and the homemade look of it. But the costume in this movie? That’s a different story. We’ve all heard the jokes, yeah? It looks like a basketball. The yellow-tinted eyes look stupid, the shoes are weird, and the whole thing just does not look like Spider-Man. If anything, it looks almost like that evil Spider-Man we got in Madame Web.

So, with the ugly costume out of the way, let’s talk about the controversial design of the villain. See, I don’t think this movie is as bad as the people who hate it say, and I don’t think it’s quite the masterpiece that others think it is. But one thing I am quite firm on, is that character design in these movies… is strange. Of course, the designs in the next installment improved for Spidey, but also saw the odd choice to make Electro look like Mr. Freeze. Marc Webb is a good director, but one thing that requires a lot of care when you make a Spider-Man film is the look of the super-powered people. The design of the Lizard isn’t completely hopeless, but the round head and face make him look more cute than scary. BAD LIZARD! BAD!

The scene where the Lizard tracks Peter down and has a massive destructive battle in the school with Spider-Man- is probably my favorite scene in the movie, aside from the bridge scene. I love the combat, the movements, the chaos, and the performance from Garfield while he quips around. This takes WAY TOO LONG to be in the movie. In fact, the final battle of this movie is also pretty good, and while the story gets worse, the CGI and special effects are very impressive. Sony’s special effects in Spider-Man films have always been hit or miss depending on the budget and scope of the film, but when they nail it, they really nail it and deliver on good-looking images that feel as real as they possibly can.

Spidey takes down Lizard and after Captain Stacey dies on the job, Peter swears to break things off with Gwen to protect her from his new life as a super-powered vigilante. Which only lasts for like 5 minutes before he changes his mind and the movie ends. BUT THEN, we get a post-credit scene that teases Peter’s father as a more important element to this story. Ugh… what a waste.

So, at the end of the day, this movie is a mixed bag for me but I must say that knowing what we know now, and after all of the later Spider-Man films we’ve gotten, this movie is more than a forgotten reboot. It’s a modern spin on a classic character that speaks to the Spidey lovers of the Ultimate Spider-Man era and gives a bold new design to the rogues and villains in this beloved universe. If you’re in the mood for a throwback that has some good, some bad and some ugly, but is ultimately a good time- watch 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man.

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