We got a glimpse at Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) juggling his graduation with fighting crime and the toll it begins to take on his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) as he misses her valedictorian speech. A number of scenes were revealed such as what exactly happened to Peter Parker’s parents, a couple action scenes with the Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and Electro (Jamie Foxx) and we also got some glimpses into the motivations behind why Electro and Harry Osborn want to take down Spider-Man. Webb continues to establish a universe that’s less 60′s Spidey inspired and with more of the tones from the 90′s comics. He captures the wisecracking, punkish rogue of a hero in the scenes we watched with gritty urban action sequences in sweeping 3D.
Members of the press got to talk to Webb after the footage to discuss the tone, as well as the universe that plans to stem from his pictures.
Can you talk about the classic Spider-Man elements that you maybe didn’t have a chance to incorporate in the first movie that you wanted to incorporate in this one?
Marc Webb: Sure. We’re developing The Daily Bugle, obviously you’re going to get a hint of Norman Osborn in this film, and The Daily Bugle is a part of it. The big thing that I want to nail this time was the suit, and I wanted to return to the iconography that we knew from the comic books. The Daily Bugle as an emerging force to be reckoned with. That’s one of the fun things about diving into a universe like this, is that you can take more time with these things, and we really did think about this in a longer format. And so, things like The Daily Bugle and Norman Osborn’s story, we’ve been very selective about how to tease that.
I’m curious about Electro’s motivations. It seems like he’s kind of driven by this overall need to be needed by society, and I was wondering if you can talk about exploring that theme and how that manifests itself.
Marc Webb: Sure. To understand Electro is to understand Max Dillon, and as Jamie (Foxx) has said – and Jamie has been really a great component in this and a great partner in trying to generate the movie – Max Dillon’s character has sort of been ignored by the world. Forgotten by people. He’s an outcast, much in the way that Peter Parker is an outcast. He chooses to react to that in a little bit of a different way. There’s a wonderful pathos that Jamie enables in the beginning of the film, and you haven’t seen that part yet – you really feel for him but there’s also a psychosis. There’s something bad about him, and that eventually gets the better of him.
It looks like you’ve really amped up the comedy, the wit. It was there in the first one but you’ve really taken it up. Can you tell me about developing that?
Marc Webb: This goes back to your question as well, one of the iconic parts about the character that we chose to embrace even in the first movie — there’s that scene in the parking lot — but in this one… Something fundamental about Spider-Man, as you guys know, is his wit and his quips. It’s part of his character. It’s how he provokes villains, that’s how he puts them on their heels. Particularly with Rhino, it’s convenient because he’s such a dumb villain that he can provoke them in that way. We always try to think about it in the nature of the scene and the nature of the character. That’s where the comedy emerges. We did something that sometimes big comedy movies do, is that you get a roundtable of comedians and you just have them spit jokes out. We would use that to try them out with Andrew (Garfield)and see what works. So we would have, in the beginning of the process, we got some of the best… it’s sort of like a private thing, you can’t tell who’s in it, but it’s these amazing, brilliant comedians come in – and many of them are comic book fans – come in and help us with coming up with jokes and one-liners, quips that are part of Spider-Man’s universe.
You’ve already lined up that there’s going to be The Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2016, The Amazing Spider-Man 4 in 2018, all these spinoffs with Venom and the Sinister Six. How much are you involved with the Spidey universe as it is?
Marc Webb: Myself, my partners at Sony, Avi (Arad) and Matthew (Tolmach), we’ve been trying to figure out how to develop a larger universe. There’s some very exciting things coming around the corner with the Sinister Six and future Spider-Man movies. I want to be involved in any way I possibly can. We were already talking, we’ve had these really wonderful discussions with them and there’s been some announcements with Alex (Kurtzman) and Bob (Robert Orci) and Drew Goddard and a lot of these really brilliant minds, young and emerging who I think who are helping us develop something a little bit more elaborate and exciting. It’s just been a blast. It’s really a dream come true. I’ve kind of had fantasies about what we could do, and they’re slowly coming to reality. I’m really excited about that.
I was wondering if you could tell me about the decision to have Peter and Gwen graduate from high school. It seemed like when you rebooted the franchise, part of the goal was to keep them younger longer, and now not so much. Was that a tough decision?
Marc Webb: Listen, our actors are getting older. We’re also trying to find stations in life. Important moments for them to emerge from and we did spend the whole first movie in high school. It’s not that much further into their future but there’s a thematic resonance with people moving on, with graduation, that felt very potent for us. It’s something that the graduation speech was a way to introduce the universe in an interesting way and it just felt right. They were getting to that age. Again, it’s about a gradual teasing of information that felt appropriate to watch that important moment in so many people’s lives.
One of the biggest criticisms of the first movie was that you promised the untold story and then didn’t explore that, where in this one it feels like you address that with the opening sequence. Was that always the idea, going into this one, let’s explain what actually happened with the parents?
Marc Webb: Yes. That’s the thing. It’s a tricky thing because that was marketing and that was part of what we were going to establish, that was going to be teased out. We had a plan about how to let that unfold, the long shadow that was cast over Peter Parker’s life. We knew how this was going to emerge. We had ideas about the pathways of these characters, but we didn’t want to blow everything out in the first movie. Again, it’s about creating a more elaborate universe which is developing into more and more interesting and nuanced things that I think the fans are really, really going to enjoy.
There’s a lot going on in the scenes we saw. You’re introducing a lot of characters and going to get a lot of backstory on a lot of people. What’s your run time looking like with all of that going on?
Marc Webb: 16 hours. (laughs) No. It’s going to be over two hours. I don’t know the exact number, but we’re very careful to invest in the characters while keeping the story moving forward. There’s no one more acutely aware of that than me, and I am at times impatient, but I also really value riches of character, and that requires spending time and being thoughtful about it. There is a value to understanding the first movie, but it’s certainly not imperative to enjoying or experiencing the holistic quality of the second film.
Going back to the idea of the spinoffs, can you tell me sort of the specifically how it’s going to effect this one?
Marc Webb: You know, originally it was conceived as a trilogy. We’re thinking about three movies. And then we started messing around with the second movie and there was such an enormous wealth of information, and we were like “we can’t cram it all into one movie.” There’s too much riches there. And so when we were talking about at the beginning of the second film, it really, we were trying to think about how to bring out the emerging story lines, it just started to make sense to invest in other stories, Venom in particular and then the Sinister Six that I was talking about where we were just like how do we plan this out? So that’s how I started, at the beginning of the second movie, in terms of developing the universe.
You clearly have a plan for where you’re going. I was just curious, knowing that plan, how and why does Electro being the main villain in this film work with that plan.
Marc Webb: In the first film I had an idea of how these characters were going to evolve and I wanted to use Electro (for the sequel). There was purely a cinematic opportunity there that was awesome, that given where we’re at with visual effects and technology, that I thought you can do an effect in an interesting way, which I didn’t think existed until recently. So it was part of that that went into it. And then when we were trying to crack Electro’s story, thematically there was a resonance between Max Dillon’s character and Spider-Man.
What is that villain going to bring out in your protagonist? How is he going to make that character more heroic? That was important, but really it was about this movie. It was about finding a villain, and adversary that was interesting, powerful, strong but had a thematic resonance that was related to Spider-Man and that idea of an outcast, which you get a little bit of a tease of it, but it was really like villains and heroes often are foils for each other, and there’s layers between layers of that. It had a lot to do with Max Dillon, and it has to do with Electro and he’s an incredibly visual villain. He needs to be seen, which is the heart of this character and has a relationship to Peter Parker’s theme and Peter Parker’s journey.
We didn’t get a chance to see Norman Osborn in those clips. Could you talk about his role in the film, and does Harry play more the antagonist? Will we find out who was talking to The Lizard in that final sequence of The Amazing Spider-Man at this point?
Marc Webb: Yes to your second question. And Norman Osborn is played by Chris Cooper, who has a really interesting component, but I don’t want to–we have to be very careful about what we reveal. We get a lot of flack for talking about too many things, but we also have to enthuse people to see the movie, and so in keeping with trying to make that cinematic experience for everybody at home really special, I’m going to withhold the answer.
Kind of going along with the idea of scale, in the Times Square sequence we see this really intricate slow motion tracking shot that goes through 3D space that seems to be showing us Spider-Man’s perspective and how he sees things as he’s looking at a situation. Can you explain some of what you’re doing with the movie?
Marc Webb: It’s about creating, it’s about the audience feeling what Spider-Man feels, which is why the point of view shots came from the first movie. It’s that philosophy of filmmaking, it’s trying to get people as closely aligned to what Peter Parker and Spider-Man experience as possible, and that was a cinematic type of language I wanted to use in order to induce that feeling and get what’s Spider-sense. It’s the visual representation of Spider sense, and it happens in a split second. He’s aware of impending physical trauma or violence and yes, he’s able to react to that. That just seemed like the right way to do it. There’s a little tease about it at the beginning in the bus as well, but it’s part of a bigger thing, which is I want the audience to feel what Spider-Man wants.
Gwen Stacy is a loaded character, because most fans of the comic books know what happens to her. To what effect do you use what people already know to your advantage?
Marc Webb: I think it’s crucial. You have to think about the story just on it’s own, irrespective of what people’s expectations are, first and foremost. The story has to work on its own. People have such a varying degree of the understanding of this universe. Some people never read a spot of a Spider-Man comic book in their life, a lot of people have. So first and foremost, you just think about the story itself. And then along the way there are certain teases and hints and acknowledgements that hopefully engender a level of engagement from the super fans, because they’re always close to us, but I talk to them everyday and I’m aware of that and I want to make that experience rich for them, so there are certain sort of references I guess you would say, that we have a plan to for people like me who are fans and interested in the universe.
The Amazing Spider-Man opens May 2.