Andrew Garfield stars as Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures' THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Photo By: Jaimie Trueblood. Copyright: © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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The Amazing Spider-Man (2011)
Also Known As: The Amazing Spider-Man in 3D
Opened: 07/03/2012 Wide
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Trailer: Click for trailer
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence.
One of the world's most popular characters is back on the big screen as a new chapter in the Spider-Man legacy is revealed in The Amazing Spider-Man™. Focusing on an untold story that tells a different side of the Peter Parker story, the new film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, with Martin Sheen and Sally Field. The film is directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay written by James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves from a story by James Vanderbilt, based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad, and Matt Tolmach are producing the film in association with Marvel Entertainment for Columbia Pictures, which will open in theaters everywhere in 3D on July 3, 2012.
The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents' disappearance -- leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans), his father's former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors' alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.
Columbia Pictures presents a Marvel Entertainment / Laura Ziskin / Avi Arad / Matt Tolmach production, The Amazing Spider-Man™. Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, with Martin Sheen and Sally Field. Directed by Marc Webb. Produced by Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad, and Matt Tolmach. Screenplay by James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves. Story by James Vanderbilt. Based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Executive producers are Stan Lee, Kevin Feige, and Michael Grillo. Director of Photography is John Schwartzman, ASC. Production Designer is J. Michael Riva. Editors are Alan Edward Bell, A. C. E. and Pietro Scalia, A. C. E. Special Visual Effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. Visual Effects Supervisor is Jerome Chen. Costume Designer is Kym Barrett. Music by James Horner.
About the Film
Spider-Man returns to the big screen for the untold story of Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man. In beginning a new chapter in the Spider-Man saga, it was important to the filmmakers to show a side of Peter Parker that moviegoers haven't seen before. "There are a lot of things in the Spider-Man canon that haven't been explored cinematically," says Marc Webb, who directs the new film. "The loss of Peter's parents launches Peter on his journey. I was curious about the emotional consequence of that tragic event -- ultimately, this is a story about a kid who goes out looking for a father and finds himself. Then, of course, we have the Gwen Stacy saga -- whether you're familiar with the comics or not, it's an extraordinary story. And, of course, there's the Lizard, one of my favorite villains in comics. All of that gave us a lot to work with."
Avi Arad, formerly the head of Marvel Studios and now a producer who has shepherded the Spider-Man films from the very beginning, notes, "Spider-Man has filled thousands of pages of comic books with hundreds of stories since he debuted fifty years ago. That's a deep vein of resources to mine as we look to continue the story of Peter Parker on the screen."
Matt Tolmach, a producer of the film who previously oversaw the Spider-Man franchise when he served as president of the studio, says, "Spider-Man is an iconic character because we all grew up relating to him, we all have a personal relationship with him. Peter Parker is what sets Spider-Man apart. He's relatable, an everyman. He's a kid who has trouble with girls, he's not popular, he's not rich and powerful.... he's just an ordinary boy. He's someone you can identify with -- you can see some of yourself in Peter. And because of this, the story of Peter Parker, of Spider-Man, touches people emotionally in ways that few other characters can, and we, as filmmakers, but also as fans, feel a huge responsibility to do right by the character."
Taking the helm of The Amazing Spider-Man is Marc Webb, whose previous film, (500) Days of Summer, deftly and unblinkingly portrayed the ups and downs of a relationship. "From the very first day we talked to Marc, it was clear that he brought a unique vision for Spider-Man and the universe," says Tolmach. "He's been our guide throughout this process. He's someone who's shown an affinity for character and emotion both of which are the heart of any great Spider-Man story."
At the center of The Amazing Spider-Man is, of course, the story of a boy, Peter Parker. "Since we were reestablishing Peter Parker, we had to build the audience's relationship with him from the ground up," notes Webb. "In order to do that legitimately, we begin the story with Peter Parker as a seven-year-old boy. We see him before his parents left, before they handed him off to Aunt May and Uncle Ben. This allowed the audience to experience the significant emotional cues in his life."
This is a Peter Parker who has been shaped by who he is and what he has experienced. "In this movie, we wanted to explore what happened to Peter before he went to live with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May," says Avi Arad. "He is an orphan. The fact that he is an orphan is one of the most important influences on his young life, and the Spider-Man movies haven't yet delved into that. All orphan stories are ultimately about the search for parents, and I think this film explores that in an interesting way. His parents vanished in a mysterious way that made his quest for answers more complicated."
"This Peter Parker is a little different: he's still an outsider, but he's an outsider by choice," says Webb. "He has a chip on his shoulder -- he's the kid who rejects people before they can reject him. The humor, the sarcasm, the rebellious streak emanates from that little kid who got left behind so long ago."
"For this film, we talked a lot about Peter Parker, a boy who lost his parents at a very young age -- and lost them in a way that's still a mystery to him," adds Tolmach. "It leaves him with a lot of formative questions -- Where am I from? Who am I? Why did my parents leave? Why did this happen? Who am I going to become? These are all the primal questions that face our hero. This angle had not been heavily explored, yet it's so critical to who Peter Parker is -- this is the essence of a young man's journey. So we were incredibly excited to go down this road with the story and these characters."
"The things that are unresolved, the things we have to live with, send us down a road -- and that road can make us better people or not," says Webb.
To put it another way, even though Peter's experiences have left an imprint on the young man he's become, he is now a character with agency. Before her untimely passing in 2011, Laura Ziskin, who had played an integral role in shaping the Spider-Man films as a producer, said that many of Peter's troubles -- including getting bitten by that fateful spider -- are problems of his own making, but his strength of character and fortitude give him the power to write his own destiny. "Peter is in a place he shouldn't be when the spider bites him," she noted. "But once he has the powers, it begins a learning process for him. He is active, not reactive -- he is responsible for everything that happens."
"A key part of our orchestration of the story is that everything in Peter's journey happens because of his yearning to find out about his father," says Webb, concurring. "The sequence of events which leads him to OsCorp and to Dr. Connors results in his being bitten. I didn't want the spider bite to be an arbitrary occurrence, but a representation and result of his desire to fill a void."
At the same time, Peter Parker is uniquely suited for the responsibilities that his powers bring. "Peter Parker is a hero, not a superhero," says Andrew Garfield, who takes on the iconic role. "He's already good before the spider bites him. After that, he gets the power to act on what he already knows is right."
Garfield says he feels a special responsibility being the man inside the suit. "When I was younger, I sometimes felt trapped in my own skin," he says, "but we all have that. That's why this character is the most popular of all the superheroes: he is universal and uniting. The reason Spider-Man means so much to me is the same reason he means so much to everyone: he's a symbol, an imperfect person in the way that we're all imperfect, but trying so hard to do what is right and what is just and fighting for the people who can't fight for themselves. It's overwhelming to represent him -- and believe me, I'm just the guy in the suit. I'm honored to be that, but Spider-Man belongs to everyone."
"The character of Spider-Man has meant a great deal to me since I was a child; my attraction to the character began early," says Garfield. "I found hope in Peter Parker's struggles and the trials he went through week in and week out in the comics, and I connected with that. I found it fascinating; there was something very real in the way Stan Lee wrote him and created him with Steve Ditko."
Garfield says that Webb's vision for a Spider-Man more grounded in reality is highlighted by one of the choices: the decision that Peter Parker would design and build his own web shooters in The Amazing Spider-Man. "They're a big thing for him," says Garfield. "It was important to Marc to show Peter taking an active role in his transformation into Spider-Man. It isn't just something that happens to him -- he seizes the moment and does everything in his power to make the most of it."
Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker's first love -- but more than that, his first real connection to the world around him. It's a very different relationship from the one that audiences might be more familiar with. "I feel like Mary Jane fell in love with Spider-Man. Gwen falls in love with Peter Parker," she explains.
The heart of the film, Stone says, is the relationship between Gwen and Peter. "Marc's biggest goal was working out that relationship," she says. "We're operating in a superhero universe, but that relationship has to feel grounded and real. I think the reason that so many fans of the comic books feel so protective of Gwen -- or Mary Jane -- is that those relationships did feel real and did feel grounded. As actors, it's nice to have that material to build from -- it already feels genuine."
"The relationship between Peter and Gwen is very significant -- the previous movies haven't explored this until now," says Tolmach. "Gwen is a very self-assured character; she's his rival intellectually. And her father happens to be Captain Stacy and let's be honest, it's hard enough to meet your girlfriend's parents for the first time, but when he happens to be the head of the police force that's chasing you, it makes things that much more complicated. But there's an emotional honesty and partnership that's unique to their relationship. Gwen is really the only person who truly knows Peter -- and because of that, there's a closeness that develops between the two of them that neither of them have with anyone else in their lives."
Peter's last link to his father is Dr. Curt Connors, his father's former partner and the only man who might have some insight -- not only into what happened to Peter's father, but into why Peter's life turned out the way it did. "Peter's discovery of his father's briefcase is what leads him to OsCorp and to a complicated relationship with Connors," said Ziskin. "This results in some rather dire consequences down the road." When Connors transforms into the Lizard, Peter must make choices that come very close to home.
However, as Tolmach notes, the connection between Peter and Connors goes beyond the scientist's relationship to Peter's father. "They are both incomplete, one physically, one metaphorically," he explains. "Connors is an incredible character -- there's something compelling and quite tragic about him. He becomes blinded by his own condition and to the repercussions of what it is that he's trying to do, and that makes for great drama."
"The Lizard, a manifestation of Dr. Connors' desire to fill a void, is one of my favorite Marvel villains of all time, because the character's story is about loss," says Arad. "His alter ego, Dr. Connors, is a brilliant scientist who is totally consumed with the field of cross species genetics and regeneration, desperate to regain his missing right arm."
Rhys Ifans plays the role. "To me, the thing that sets the Spider-Man villains apart from other comic book villains is that they're human, and real, and flawed, as much as Peter Parker is," he says. "Particularly with Dr. Curt Connors, what makes him a more emotional presence in Peter's life is that he was very close to Peter's father. That makes Peter's relationship with him a very complex and emotional one."
Ifans was drawn to the film by its complexity and the emotional elements of the role: "Connors is not a villain as such, and I'm not portraying him as a villain. He does feel kind of cheated by God, and he's looking for answers in science. He is a man with genuine needs and anxieties. There's a palpable pain and pathos to him, and when he crosses the line into self-experimentation, the true tragedy begins."
Ifans prepared for the role by learning how to live as a person with one arm -- becoming quite skilled at tying a tie, making coffee, and many other tasks with his right arm tied behind his back. "It's a real revelation to discover to what level that a disability can affect a person, but also how it can actually make you more deft than a person with both arms," says Ifans.
Denis Leary plays Gwen's father, Captain George Stacy. "Peter doesn't make a very good first impression on Stacy, who wonders why the dinner guest looks so disheveled," explains Leary. "At the dinner table, he launches into a bit of an interrogation of his daughter's new friend, and Peter finds that a bit uncomfortable." When the conversation turns to Stacy's efforts to apprehend Spider-Man, it only increases Peter's discomfort.
"Denis Leary is a great actor and has always been hilarious and a great observer of humanity," says Webb. "As Captain Stacy, he got to not only inject some comedy, but a level of drama and emotional reality that was really powerful."
Martin Sheen and Sally Field join the cast as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, who raise Peter after his parents suddenly and mysteriously disappear. Field says that the way Peter's parents leave makes for a slightly different relationship between Peter and his aunt than we've seen before, one that is fraught with hidden emotion. Field says she put herself in May's shoes -- suddenly being asked to raise a child and not knowing why or what happened. "She loves her nephew, of course, but this whole situation was thrust upon her. Nothing was explained. Peter's father left Peter with them years ago and disappeared. That impacts her relationship with Peter -- it's loving, but it's very complicated," she says.
Sheen says that his character, Uncle Ben, is the moral center of the movie. "In a lot of ways, Uncle Ben is Peter's hero and the motivating factor for a lot of the good things he does," he says. "He becomes an image for Peter, an image that is a reminder of what character is, what heroism is. He's a reminder that ethical behavior usually has a cost, but that cost is also an indication that it is worthy."