As the superhero sequel looks set to cross $225m at the global box office by the end of the weekend, Screen speaks to the producers about the rise of the superhero movie and the future of Spider-Man.
From a producer’s perspective, what do you want to achieve with The Amazing Spider-Man 2?
Avi Arad: We want to move Peter Parker forward. Usually in these trilogies it starts with the formation of the hero and then the hero collapses. But we’ve done that - successfully.
This is another time and age in Peter Parker’s life. Andrew [Garfield] is really really good at playing a guy who loves everything about being Spider-Man. That’s where we want it to go.
Matt Tolmach: We also wanted to make this movie bigger. There was a necessary intimacy in the last movie because it was about the origins. Now he is full-on Spider-Man, and we begin very consciously tapping into this idea about Oscorp, and it being this place that is really the origin of many many things. All of whom have one thing in common, and it’s their conflict with Spider-Man.
AA: We are creating a path for future stories.
How much were you thinking of future Spider-Man movies while making this?
MT: We never sit down and make a movie in order to make another movie. You don’t. You have to act as though the world may end after you make this movie, so you want to take your best shot and make the best movie you possibly can.
You are also seeding the future, but I think audiences would kill you if they felt like your movie was just a teaser. So we’re making it bigger, and funnier, and louder, but you’re always telling a Peter Parker story. What’s his story? What’s his conflict? That’s the thing.
What is it about this character that is getting people into theatres?
AA: It’s Spider-Man. The story is so relatable, so human, so vulnerable. And we all hope that someone in the street would choose to get involved if someone was in trouble. That’s the ultimate role model. That’s Spider-Man.
MT: He is the everyman. He’s all of us. That is what’s so amazing about Spider-Man.
Why do you think there are so many superhero movies out right now?
AA: Many years ago, we couldn’t make one. They were impossible to sell. No-one took it seriously. I was pounding the pavements trying to get people to understand.
But comic books are incredibly detailed storybooks and many of the writers out there today used to be comic book readers. So it’s almost like the new talent came from our universe, and they made this easier for the studios to respect the literature. And directors like Bryan Singer, Sam Raimi and Marc Webb may have always wanted to tell these stories and now they have the power to do it. The other reason is very obvious: box office.
We also used to have a really hard time getting great actors because “it’s not an Oscar movie”. But today, not too many guys could come close to what Andrew is doing in this movie. You better be an incredible actor to have this range where it takes a second to go from elation to desperation.
So today we are attracting great actors. Look at Jamie Foxx. He’s an Academy Award winner. His decision was driven by the challenge of playing dual personalities. Look at Dane DeHaan, this talented young actor. It’s like we have a new palette.
MT: These great actors usually think about the actors that made it okay. Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp. Actors like that helped validate the form, in a way.
What’s next? We’re hearing Sinister Six, we’re hearing Venom…
AA: Just look at my shirt, you’ll know what’s next. [He is wearing a shirt in which Spider-Man is playing chess with Venom]
MT: All of those are coming.
That’s quite different, isn’t it? A film focused on villains?
MT: There have been great movies focused on villains. You can make movies about straight-up bad guys, or movies about complicated villains, which is what the Marvel universe has always done.
AA: Films like The Dirty Dozen, The Magnificent Seven, Unforgiven.
MT: The Wages of Fear.
AA: If you know the Marvel universe, you know our villains are victims too and they just reacted to the circumstances differently. People love villains, especially if the characters are conflicted by their own villainy.
Will those films you mentioned inspire the approach to your villainous tales?