From the first entry in 2002, the Spider-Man franchise was considered to be the height of superhero films. Under the direction of comic book fan Sam Raimi, the first two films garnered huge box office and almost universal acclaim. However, “Spider-Man 3” met with a much more mixed reaction. This was largely due to Sony Pictures forcing Raimi to include the character of Venom, whom he openly admitted he did not like.
There was an attempt at Raimi coming back to make “Spider-Man 4,” but ultimately he decided to leave the franchise behind, taking star Tobey Maguire with him. Sony then almost immediately announced it would reboot the franchise with a retelling of Peter Parker’s transformation into Spider-Man. The result is next year’s “The Amazing Spider-Man,” directed by Marc Webb. The first trailer for the upcoming film has premiered on Yahoo! Movies, and it’s very clear the ways in which this new version will be different.
Right from the start, the film seems to bear a closer resemblance to Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” than any of the previous Spider-Man films. There’s a surprising amount of emphasis put on Peter Parker, now played by Andrew Garfield, losing his parents. This is odd since it’s never been a focus in the comic books; indeed, Peter seems to barely have any memory of them. The comic always placed a greater emphasis on Peter’s Uncle Ben, played by Martin Sheen and seen only briefly in the trailer. This version of Peter himself comes across as quite different from before as well. Peter seems to be shown as more of a loner and social outcast rather than the classic nerd of the comics and first movie.
As mopey as he is in the beginning of the trailer, Peter does brighten up in his interactions with Gwen Stacey, played by Emma Stone. This is another way the new series is setting itself apart even as it covers the same ground as the first Spider-Man movie. In the original series, the romantic lead was Mary Jane Watson. Mary Jane had the longest relationship with Peter, but Gwen was his first serious girlfriend, so the switch makes sense. Peter is shown talking to Gwen in some sort of research lab. This is also where the glimpse of Rhys Ifans is given. Ifans plays Curt Connors, who will ultimately serve as the villain for the piece.
Peter is then shown in among advanced looking equipment covered in a spider web. This is doubtlessly where he will be bitten and gains his powers. Following that is a montage of shots including Peter leaping up walls, making his suit and a few images of him with Gwen thrown in as well. There’s also a rather ominous bit of voiceover, most likely from Ifans, talking of “playing god.” There is then a very quick shot of Peter sitting on the floor of his room in the finished Spider-Man suit.
At the climax of the trailer there is an extended first-person sequence from the viewpoint of Peter as he races across rooftops and swings between buildings. This is clearly meant to be a prominent moment, as it goes on for a solid 30 seconds in one continuous take. This sequence ends in the first brief look at the full suit when Peter approaches a building with mirrored windows. The first-person perspective is a slightly strange choice; on some online fan communities, it has already garnered unfavorable comparisons to video games, most notably the parkour game “Mirror’s Edge.”
The trailer ends with a voiceover from Peter about secrets, implying that something that was kept secret from him will be at the heart of the film. This leaves the question if the lingering focus on Peter’s parents at the beginning might have something to do with the secret in question. In the comic book series, his parents were actually government spies whose cover was blown and they then died when their sabotaged plane crashed. This was something that was not revealed to Peter or the readers for some time and may somehow factor into the new film.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” opens in theaters on July 3, 2012.