Marvel's $1.5 billion success with The Avengers has (finally) gotten other studios to pull their feet out of the mud (figuratively-speaking) and make an effort to either match or exceed past the competition's accomplishments. Fox's newfound scheme includes making X-Men: Days of Future Past into a live-action feature (followed by a Fantastic Four reboot and an X-Force movie sometime thereafter).
Meanwhile, Sony has been keeping up appearances for its next superhero movie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Our editor team has long had a nagging feeling that this particular sequel will build to something bigger and grander than itself, starting from the foundation laid by the first Amazing Spider-Man installment. That hunch continues to seem right on the money, judging by the brand-new comments made by director Marc Webb (teasing the film's themes, story and villains).
[WARNING: Mild Spoilers Follow]
Screen Rant's Amy Nicholson sat down to interview Webb about Amazing Spider-Man 2, as part of this year's Comic-Con press coverage. To start the conversation off, she asked the filmmaker about the thematic arch for the webslinger's new onscreen adventure:
"Y’know, if the last movie was [asking whether] Peter Parker can be Spider-Man, this movie is about if Spider-Man can be Peter Parker. At the beginning of the movie, he is extraordinarily capable, he is very good at being Spider-Man. There’s a virtuosity there, he’s so confident in the midst of total pandemonium that he may, uh, feel a little too confident and other elements of his life may erode because of that... I'll say this, [the theme] has something to do with time and the nature of time and the first shot in the movie... it’s a watch... a ticking clock..."
A storyline where Peter (Andrew Garfield) becomes over-confident - only to have the rug unexpectedly yanked from beneath his feet - may sound a bit too similar to Spider-Man 3, for some fans' preferences. Nonetheless, Webb's allusion to the idea that Pete is running short on time (like other characters - see the dying Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper) mentioned in Amazing Spider-Man) - and that Pete can only keep living on the edge as a costumed vigilante with dual identities for so long before someone else close to him gets hurt - sounds like a more intriguing variation on a familiar superhero movie narrative.
On a related note, the third installment in Sam Raimi's previous Spider-Man live-action movie trilogy has been frequently brought up in the continuing Amazing Spider-Man 2 conversation prior to now, in part because of the rumors about just how many important villains could appear in the film (leading some to worry that TASM2 will suffer from SM3's bloated structure). Fortunately, in our interview with Webb, he indicated that Max Dillon/Electro (Jamie Foxx) - with his incredible "god-like" abilities - is very much the central villain in the film, and won't be sharing the screen much with other antagonists.
When asked if Black Cat would have her bad luck powers in Amazing Spider-Man 2, Webb responded (coyly):
"Hmmm, I don’t even know if Black Cat is in the movie..."
There's a strong possibility that Amazing Spider-Man 2 costar Felicity Jones is playing a character who will become a super-villain somewhere down the road, even if it's not Black Cat (as has been previously-speculated). Furthermore, the fact that the RavenCroft Institute - the Spider-Man equivalent of Arkham Asylum - will be introduced in the film may point to a link between the "prison" and Oscorp Industries. Basically, the popular theory (okay, our theory) is that Oscorp has begun conducting gene-splicing experiments on the RavenCroft residents, giving rise to bizarre monsters like Rhino (Paul Giamatti) that will become more important in a future installment.
Webb, for his money, had the following to say about villains being extended into the third Amazing Spider-Man film (it's at that point in the interview where he also touched on Rhino's importance to the plot of TASM2):
"Yes, yeah, listen, part of the fundamental concepts, the conceit of the universe that we’re making is that it started... in that first movie we tease up, for example, Norman Osborn. He was an entity, he was around but you didn’t see him onscreen. That allows you to unfold stories over a longer period of time and so you can create a sort of nuanced and complex world... The Rhino is in the movie for a very short time, because we’re sort of teasing out the possibility of something more interesting happening there."
Amazing Spider-Man 2 co-screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci previously suggested that every villain and antagonist either introduced or featured in the sequel is there for an important reason. If characters like Rhino - and whomever Felicity Jones is playing - end up only playing a small role in the film's story, then it's conceivable that they're being saved for some major team-up event, like a Sinister Six appearance down the line (something we've thought could happen ever since we saw the first movie's mid-credits scene).
However, some future developments really ought to be saved for a third or fourth Amazing Spider-Man movie - see the introduction of Mary Jane Watson - especially if rumors about Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) biting the dust in the second movie turn out to be true (i.e. that would be an extremely rough loss for Pete).
When that topic was raised in our Webb interview, it went like this:
Amy: How intense it was shooting [Peter and Gwen's] final scene?
Webb: Um... whadda mean, the last scene in the movie?
Amy: I’m trying to get you to talk about her death.
Webb: Listen... the world we’re trying to create is... it’s partly obligated to cannon, but you also have to deviate from the cannon occasionally and so the... y’know... Andrew [Garfield] and Emma [Stone] and Peter and Gwen are - I mean, they’re something really joyful and wonderful about that relationship and it’s a lot of that stuff from the first movie [that] will continue in this second movie... [trails off].
Feel free to read between the lines of that uncomfortable response as you will.
For more, check out our full interview with Webb below:
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens in U.S. theaters on May 2nd, 2014.