The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
There seems to be two different types of superhero movies. The Dark Knight Rises portrays a dark, brooding world of evil while films such as The Avengers are big, fluffy spectacles with a lovable quality. And then along came a Spider-Man to show us all that the two tones can merge. The Amazing Spider-Man is the bitter tale of a tragic hero, but still has all the pep and energy of a popcorn flick.
For an origin story that’s already been filmed within the last decade, this reboot takes its time to make Peter Parker’s rise to hero status both practical and thoughtful. Diverting slightly from the position we’re use to, Parker is focused on more as a scientist than a photographer. He still takes pictures with his camera, but seems to spend more of his time devising gadgets and studying about genetics. This makes him blend in much easier as an intern for Osborne Industries with his hidden agenda to discover what really happened to his parents. This provides the perfect setup for Peter to both gain his powers and encounter Dr Connors, who he mistakenly helps him turn into the villain known as The Lizard. It doesn’t seem like the most creative villain name or even the most creative character, but it surprisingly works quite well for the film. We’ve seen superheroes tackle human terrorists and inter-dimensional threats. Why not just a straight up mad-scientist turned monster?
But what sells the movie more than anything else are the characters. We see a very real family dynamic between Peter, Uncle Ben and Aunt May that makes them so real and likable. Scenes like this are important so that when the eventual death of a certain family member occurs, it hits us with the perfect emotional resonance. And the romantic tension Parker has with Gwen Stacey is beautifully woven into the plot with a strong chemistry between the two. There are scenes where both of them just gush about wanting to confess their feelings and secrets when conversing that it makes them a couple you can’t help but love. This makes the ending all the more satisfying where he doesn’t quite get the girl in the way we’d like to see.
Now, of course, with a mutated monster such as The Lizard, you’ve got to have some awesome action scenes and the film doesn’t disappoint. In a cinema world filled with shaky camera techniques, Amazing Spider-Man‘s sequences are a breath of fresh air. For a movie featuring a hero that makes speedy swoops across skyscrapers and slings webs faster than Clint Eastwood fanning a pistol, the set pieces are shot with a great sense of clarity. There is a surprising amount of faith in the camera for fights that are mostly computer graphics.
This is exactly the type of Spider-Man movie I wanted to see: one that could remain true to the spirit of the comics, hitting the perfect tone of serious and fun while still taking risks. For me, it’s the perfect superhero movie. I felt more for Peter Parker and his struggling crisis of identity than I ever did for Bruce Wayne’s inferiority complex in Dark Knight Rises. I had much more fun watching Spidey tangle with the Lizard in a high school than the three-way slug-fest between Thor, Iron Man and Captain America in The Avengers. Peter Parker has always been the likable, plucky hero and with this film we REALLY want to root for him. It’s about as genuine as a Spider-Man movie can get.