Re-boot or Re-hash?
Four years is just a speck in the fabric of time and space, but way too long in the universe that is Hollywood. Movies are constantly being pushed through as quickly as possible to maximize their profit potential. Nowhere is this more evident than in the franchise picture, the kind of movie with name recognition, with tie ins and sequels and toys. When a studio gets a successful franchise picture on its roster, it holds onto it for dear life. The Spider Man series is one of those. The films alone have grossed almost 2.5 billion dollars, and after Spider Man 3 became their biggest grossing film to date, you could understand why Sony would be anxious to release a new sequel as soon as possible.
Next year, we’ll have a new Spider Man movie, but if you watch the newly released trailer, you’ll notice something: it’s no sequel. There’s no Tobey Maguire, and no Sam Raimi in the director’s chair. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who has followed the history of the franchise. Spider Man 4 went into development even before the release of Spider Man 3, and after the huge box office the third movie pulled in, was put on the fast track, set to be released in May of 2011. However, script issues and creative battles with the studio caused Raimi to drop out.
So Sony, instead of moving on with the same cast and a new director, decided to do something completely different: wipe the slate clean and reboot a series that still had a pulse. The studio hired a new director, Marc Webb, a new Spider Man, Andrew Garfield, and went back to the drawing board with a new story. Well, sort of. Watch the trailer, and you’ll see Peter Parker get bitten by a spider, find that he has the power to sling webs and fly around the city, and become the hero known as Spider Man. While I should be excited to see this character I love reappearing on the big screen, I feel very underwhelmed.
For me, it’s because Spider Man is still fresh. Rebooting a series is common in Hollywood these days. A lucrative franchise seems to be losing steam, so it disappears for a few years, then reappears, taking parts of the legends of the characters we’ve known before, but usually putting them in new situations as well, with new actors and a new director with a different stylistic approach. The Batman franchise is a good example of this. Batman & Robin essentially destroyed the Batman franchise at WB, so they waited a few years, hired one of the most creative directors in the business and one of the best actors working today, and created something completely new with Batman Begins.
But that’s not the case with this franchise. While Spider Man 3 was not a great film, it was a solid entry that certainly wasn’t the franchise killer Batman & Robin had been. Raimi’s style fit the series well, and Maguire, who seemed awkward in the first movie, was coming into his own as a hero. This was a series that could have continued to build on its success. Instead, as an audience, we have to start over again, almost reluctantly. We have to become attached to new actors and a new style. But that’s also an issue I have with this trailer. The style doesn’t seem to be that much different between what Raimi laid out and what Marc Webb is doing. In fact, if I didn’t know it was directed by someone else, I probably wouldn’t have any idea this was the case.
Then there’s what seems to be the story of Amazing Spider Man. It’s just another origin story. We’ve seen this before, in the first Spider Man movie. Tim Burton’s Batman and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins both gave us some back story, but they weren’t origin stories per se. They used Bruce Wayne’s history to explain why does what he does. Here, in the new Spider Man, we just seem to be watching the first Spider Man film with Andrew Garfield standing in for Tobey Maguire. Which may be the biggest issue I have with the trailer: it feels like they just made another Spider Man because they felt they had to, not because a new story needed to be told.
I cannot fault Sony for going out and making a new Spider Man film. They’re a business, and this franchise is incredibly lucrative. This is also just a trailer, and it could be a poorly made trailer for an excellent film with a new story that just doesn’t come out in the couple of minutes the trailer has. But I can’t help but feel that it’s not, that Amazing Spider Man is just going to be the same old story spruced up to make as much money as possible. Christopher Nolan proved you can take a well known character with a known history and make something completely original and enthralling out of it. I just don’t get that from this trailer. Here’s hoping I”m wrong.