Despite a positive response from many viewers, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was (for others) one of the biggest disappointments of the summer 2014 box office. Reviews for the film were equally divisive (read our Amazing Spider-Man 2 review) – celebrating director Marc Webb’s principle cast and use of blockbuster effects while criticizing the movie’s choppy and underdeveloped storyline. As a result, in a summer where competing superhero movies like Captain America 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Guardians of the Galaxy, all exceeded (or at the very least met) expectations, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had trouble living up to Sony’s “His Greatest Battle Begins” hype – even though the final film still provides an entertaining web-slinger movie experience.
The film went on to score over $700 million at the global box office – solid money but still a disappointment for the studio. Worst of all, in addition to being the lowest grossing Spider-Man franchise installment, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 undermined Sony’s push for Venom and Sinister Six shared universe spin-offs. Both films are still on the production schedule but the studio is now having to rebuild some of that shared universe momentum.
Earlier this week, series star Andrew Garfield opened up about how Spider-Man may (or may not) fit into the Sinister Six film plot and now the actor is offering his thoughts on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 backlash. Speaking with The Daily Beast, Garfield asserts that studio pressure is to blame for undermining Webb’s original vision:
It’s interesting. I read a lot of the reactions from people and I had to stop because I could feel I was getting away from how I actually felt about it. For me, I read the script that Alex [Kurtzman] and Bob [Orci] wrote, and I genuinely loved it. There was this thread running through it. I think what happened was, through the pre-production, production, and post-production, when you have something that works as a whole, and then you start removing portions of it—because there was even more of it than was in the final cut, and everything was related. Once you start removing things and saying, “No, that doesn’t work,” then the thread is broken, and it’s hard to go with the flow of the story. Certain people at the studio had problems with certain parts of it, and ultimately the studio is the final say in those movies because they’re the tentpoles, so you have to answer to those people.
Whether you enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man or felt the film was a disappointment, it’s public knowledge that the theatrical version was the victim of substantial editing room restructuring. The film’s trailers outright hinted at plot threads that went mostly unexplored in the final film – most notably development of villain Max Dillon pre-Electro as well as the relationship between Peter Parker and Harry Osborne. Some of the missing scenes can be found on the recent Blu-ray release, including a cut epilogue sequence featuring the return of a major character, but many remain lost to the cutting room floor (including a look at the mysterious black globe featured in the Amazing Spider-Man 2 theater first look).
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The mixed response sent shockwaves through the studio, causing Sony to alter their production timeline for the spin-offs and previously announced Amazing Spider-Man 3. Furthermore, it was revealed that even though potential Sinister Six members were teased in the latest movie’s credits, the studio is still nailing down the final plan for Drew Goddard’s super villain team-up – which might feature a different roster of Sinister Six members.
Regardless of what filmmakers have in store for the future, Garfield offers an encouraging glimpse into how he’s processing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 blowback – specifically stating that it’s an opportunity to refine and improve the franchise going forward:
“But I’ll tell you this: Talking about the experience as opposed to how it was perceived, I got to work in deep scenes that you don’t usually see in comic book movies, and I got to explore this orphan boy—a lot of which was taken out, and which we’d explored more. It’s interesting to do a postmortem. I’m proud of a lot of it and had a good time, and was a bit taken aback by the response.
“It’s a discernment thing. What are the people actually saying? What’s underneath the complaint, and how can we learn from that? We can’t go, “Oh God, we fucked up because all these people are saying all these things. It’s shit.” We have to ask ourselves, “What do we believe to be true?” Is it that this is the fifth Spider-Man movie in however many years, and there’s a bit of fatigue? Is it that there was too much in there? Is it that it didn’t link? If it linked seamlessly, would that be too much? Were there tonal issues? What is it? I think all that is valuable. Constructive criticism is different from people just being dicks, and I love constructive criticism. Hopefully, we can get underneath what the criticism was about, and if we missed anything.”
Without a doubt, we’ve been vocal about our criticisms of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – which have been featured prominently on the Screen Rant Underground as well as in our Summer 2014 Movie Awards recap. However, many of our problems stemmed from unrealized potential in the film – which featured an A-list cast, fan-favorite characters (and plot threads), plus some of the best Spider-Man action to date. For many viewers, like us, it was disappointing to see all of those assets undercut by the studio’s interest in setting up a shared universe – rather than spending adequate time on every aspect of the story at hand.
For that reason, it’s encouraging to hear that Garfield and the rest of the Spider-Man franchise crew are now in the process of discerning exactly what they can learn from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Certainly, it’s more complicated than simply stating there were too many villains or people are just tired of Spider-Man movies. After all, Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s most popular characters – enjoying widespread appeal with comic book fans and casual filmgoers around the globe. Instead, the film might just be a wakeup call for Sony that, while they have a great character on their hands, a memorable (and carefully developed) storyline is still essential – especially with so many competing superhero films flooding the market.
There are plenty of dismissive voices out there but, even for those who enjoyed aspects of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there’s reason to be critical of some of the studio’s choices. Even if you enjoyed TASM2, or any other sequel, there’s always room for constructive feedback and improvement. As a result, it’s good to hear that Garfield recognizes that the final film wasn’t the same one that he set out to make – and that the filmmakers are eager to explore the root of any widespread criticism.
Hopefully, this will all lead to an even stronger Spider-Man franchise as Sony rolls out future installments.
Sinister Six is set to hit theaters on November 11, 2016, followed by The Amazing Spider-Man 3 sometime in 2018. No official release dates have been announced for the announced Spider-Man female superhero movie and Venom. Stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on The Amazing Spider-Man film series, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.