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‘The Amazing Spider-Man‘, starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone and directed by Marc Webb, swings into theaters July 3, 2012 and recently released another full-length trailer online. The franchise reboot offers substantial departures from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, but are these changes improvements or downgrades? Let’s take a look at the three main differences between the two.
First, we have our leading men: Andrew Garfield vs. Tobey Maguire. Tobey Maguire first donned the Spidey mask in 2002 at 27 years of age and played a relatively believable high school nerd. His portrayal of Peter Parker focused on the shy, sweeter side of the character rather than the sarcastic side, which rubbed a portion of the comic book fans the wrong way.
However, Maguire appealed to many audience members who knew Parker by name only and were not avid comic book readers, because he was soft-spoken, timid, and easy to relate to. They did not mind the lack of one-liners because Raimi’s script provided many funny moments besides Spider-Man himself.
Based on the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield, age 29, seems to be leaning towards the more snarky, misunderstood side of Peter Parker. We get a few pretty good one-liners from him in the trailer, indicating that his Peter Parker will be closer to the duality shown in the comic books.
Peter Parker is the penultimate mild-mannered guy akin to Clark Kent while Spider-Man is the wisecracking crime fighter. While this appears to be an improvement, it also begs the question if Garfield will be able to show Peter’s kind heart as well.
Second, we have our leading ladies: Emma Stone vs. Kirsten Dunst. Kirsten Dunst is probably the largest complaint about Raimi’s Spider-Man from comic book fans besides Spidey’s lack of one-liners. While she is a lovely actress, Dunst often failed to emit the sharp tongue and fierce independence that Mary Jane Watson has in the comic books.
She played her much softer in the first film and she wasn’t able to participate in any roles other than the love interest, the damsel in distress, and the supportive but troubled girlfriend. Furthermore, Mary Jane was not written up to standards in the widely disliked ‘Spider-Man 3’ (2007) because her complaining about Peter’s success made her seem petty and unlikable.
Emma Stone, however, is a rising star due to her work in comedies like ‘Superbad‘ (2007), ‘Zombieland‘ (2009), and ‘Easy A‘ (2010) where she is incarnates a sarcastic, tough female lead. This has also drawn criticism from Spidey fans because Stone looks like the perfect Mary Jane but director Marc Webb decided to go with the character of Gwen Stacy instead: who is less known to general public and not nearly as strong a personality as Mary Jane Watson.
Thus, casting Emma Stone is an improvement over Kirsten Dunst, but casting her as Gwen Stacy might be a bit of a miscalculation. Third, we have our villains: Willem Dafoe vs. Rhys Ifans. Willem Dafoe’s portrayal of Green Goblin is very well-known and mostly enjoyed by the fans because he showed the slow spiral of the character from a cold, slimy business man to a maniacal super villain.
He showed some hints of sympathy here and there, but for the most part, he was the hardcore bad guy who gave Spider-Man a serious run for his money.
The Amazing Spider-Man has chosen Dr. Curt Connors, aka the Lizard, for its first villain. The choice is very interesting and wise because the Lizard is generally a sympathetic character because he and Peter Parker were friends before the life-changing accident that turned him into a walking reptile.
Dafoe will be a hard act to follow, but the new trailer shows some great potential for action sequences by having the Lizard claw his way through the roofs of cars and sling poor Spidey around with his monstrous tail. However, Rhys Ifans is not as well-known as Willem Dafoe and has not worked on many action films so it will be interesting to see how he handles the role.
Time will show which Spider-Man will ring true with the general public. There are fans on both sides of the fence and some who straddle it, waiting for July to roll around and give them a definite answer. All that can be said is that these two films take different approaches to the beloved web-slinging hero and that no matter who portrays him, Spider-Man fans want a respectful adaptation and plenty of fun along the way.
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