Starting with the 2012 reboot of the popular Marvel Comics character and superhero franchise developed by and on the behalf of Sony Pictures, The Amazing Spider-Man saw rising British actor Andrew Garfield take on the role Peter Parker/Spider-Man to considerable acclaim and respectable box office returns. However, its immediate sequel from 2014, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, opened to mixed reviews and became the lowest grossing feature-length installment starring the famous web-slinger thus far.
Following the dissolution of The Amazing Spider-Man series at the hands of Sony, a deal was struck between the studio and Marvel Studios to share the movie rights to the Spider-Man character. Tom Holland was then recast in the role of Peter Parker in order to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Nevertheless, former web-slinger Garfield still holds some residual feelings for the role that was so recently his.
Speaking to one another on the latest episode of the Variety original program “Actors on Actors,” Garfield sat down with Amy Adams to discuss a wide array of topics related to their shared vocational field. Inevitably, some of that discussion was devoted to their respective misgivings about playing popular comic book characters on the big screen – with Adams’ recent turn as Lois Lane in Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice being relevant to Garfield’s thoughts on his time as Spidey. Speaking about what happened to The Amazing Spider-Man series, Garfield said:
“There’s something about being that young in that kind of machinery which I think is really dangerous. I was still young enough to struggle with the value system, I suppose, of corporate America really, it’s a corporate enterprise mostly. I found that really, really tricky. I signed up to serve the story, and to serve this incredible character that I’ve been dressing as since I was three, and then it gets compromised and it breaks your heart. I got heartbroken a little bit to a certain degree.”
It’s unlikely that general viewers – or Garfield and the rest of his supporting cast and crew, for that matter – will ever really know what went on behind closed doors in the making of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, or what ultimately led to the cancellation of plans for two subsequent series installments and several spin-off features. Echoing Garfield’s struggle to find balance in serving character and story within a blockbuster franchise, Adams reflected on her own struggles in portraying Lois Lane in Batman V Superman with the following comment:
“That’s the tricky thing with Lois, that I find is, I love playing her, I love everyone I work with, but sometimes it’s tricky because I feel she’s in service of the story instead of the story serving the character. That sometimes can be tricky when you show up and you really wanna retain a character and you have to serve the story….in a perfect universe they all work together.”
Fans of both DC and Marvel characters undoubtedly have their own opinions about what did or did not go wrong with The Amazing Spider-Man films and Batman V Superman. Nevertheless, Garfield and Adams’ respective thoughts about their experiences working on Hollywood blockbusters make for good food for thought – and their misgivings about performing in the two films as two iconic comic book characters speaks volumes about the current nature of the filmmaking industry in general. Superhero movies are continually expected to outperform the installments that directly preceded them, which may be a business model worth reconsidering.