I was expecting to be disappointed with “The Amazing Spider-Man” as it was another reboot. If Sony haven’t made this movie, the rights would have reverted back to Marvel. That’s the problem with superhero movies these days. Hollywood wants to recycle the origin story more than once a generation—the Superman franchise is on its third reboot—to create a trilogy of movies that brings in boatloads of money. Worst, with the success of the Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, the reboot has to be dark and gritty as the hero suffers from profound parental issues.
I never liked Tobey McGuire’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man since he came across as a likeable wimp in the throes of teenage angst. Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man is a smart ass who is unafraid to walk into a situation and get his ass handed back to him. The first time we meet Peter, he’s taking pictures of Stacy Gwen (Emma Stone) from a safe distance. When he noticed that the class bully was tormenting a smaller student, he steps in and gets stomped on. As the movie progresses, the smart ass recedes into the background as a responsible young man emerges.
Previous incarnations of Spider-Man had never bothered to explain why he was raised by his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). This movie introduces the backstory that sets up the requisite parental issues that all superheroes must face these days. Rather than being antsy about getting the girl, its about avenging absent parents on the criminal elements.
The movie opens with a very young Peter Parker playing hide and seek with his parents. Entering his father’s study after it was ransacked in an apparent burglary, he cries out for his parents and they come rushing in. His father removes scientific documents hidden inside the desk and stashes them into a briefcase. An hour later, he’s left at his aunt and uncle’s place as his parents disappear into the night. After discovering the briefcase years later in the basement, an older Peter searches for his father’s coworker at a scientific research lab and becomes bitten by a radioactive spider that gives him his superpowers.
The cameo by Marvel founder Stan Lee was quite charming. As a school librarian listening to classical music with oversized headphones and straightening up the music table, he’s oblivious to Spider-Man and Lizard trashing the school library behind him. The 3D was put to excellent use as objects were hurled from the background to be caught by Spider-Man at the last moment in the foreground.
This movie wasn’t afraid to leave loose ends hanging in the wind. The disappearance of Peter Parker’s parents was still unresolved. The killer of Uncle Ben was never found despite Spider-Man’s best effort to round up the criminals for the police. Only one reference was made to the front page of The Daily Bugle, whom Peter Parker haven’t yet wandered over to get a job as a photographer. Overall, a very different Spider-Man movie.