If the Monday morning after the Super Bowl seemed like odd timing for Sony to drag movie fans out of bed, it proved canny after the studio stayed out of high-priced football ad frenzy to instead show a new trailer and a sizzle reel to fans in 13 cities around the world. After the mixed bag of 30-second spots for “Battleship,” “John Carter,” and “The Dictator,” there was room for the Marc Webb-directed reboot to take control of the buzz for summer blockbusters besides “The Dark Knight Rises” and with a new trailer and a eight-minute sizzle reel, I’d argue they did just that.
Seeing the new footage in Los Angeles, I was at ground zero for the event known as “A Sneak Peek Into the Untold Story,” where local radio personality Ralph Garman of KROQ was onhand to emcee the proceedings as similar events in Rio De Janeiro, London and New York were beamed into a more or less straightforward presentation. (Other cities included Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Moscow, Sydney, Tokyo or Seoul.) Webb was in Los Angeles to present the trailer while Andrew Garfield appeared in New York with the new Gwen Stacy, Emma Stone, was in Rio with producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, and Rhys Ifans, who plays Curt Connors (a.k.a The Lizard) was in London. (While in Los Angeles it spoke volumes about the largely male-dominated crowd that former Marvel film chief Arad got a bigger ovation than Stone when they appeared on screen, the Rio crowd broke into a chant of “Emma” that clearly made her flush.)
Webb wasted no time in introducing a new trailer that seemed to have extra emphasis on the 3D – never did the green MPAA card look so pronounced and after a first trailer that set up the new origin story, this one set up more of the action. Like the sizzle reel that followed, there’s a whole lot of swinging and centered around what appear to be two of the big action moments in the film – first, Peter Parker’s encounter with a car thief and the second a knockdown, drag-out brawl on a bridge with the Lizard. While the swinging shared the grand style of Sam Raimi’s take of the character, the most striking difference was the action mostly took place a night, meaning a darker palette, a bit like going from Steve Ditko and Stan Lee’s version to Todd MacFarlane’s. Update: The trailer went live and is presented below:
The new trailer also involved what appears to be a lot of parkour when Spidey isn’t shooting his web-slingers, which yes, are mechanical rather than organic and looked as though they made a red flash every time they’re deployed. These scenes would be fleshed out more in the sizzle reel, but the trailer was a marked improvement of the first, with no POV shots to speak of, a much more fun vibe, and a strong indication that while “The Amazing Spider-Man” will tell a different tale, it will keep much of what people loved about the first series and the character in general.
So that left Garman to ask Webb after the trailer, “What is the untold story of ‘Spider-Man’?” to which the director talked about “the emotional consequence of what it means to be an orphan” in the case of Peter Parker, who unlike the previous series will begin this one still in his parents’ care. He added that the Lizard had always been one of his favorite villains and that he wanted to treat Spider-Man in a more naturalistic way. Only minutes into the sizzle, it became apparent that didn’t mean he was making a verite version of “Spider-Man,” showing his “(500) Days of Summer” roots in laying on Coldplay’s “Til Kingdom Come” pretty thick over the meetcute between Gwen Stacy and Parker in the hallways of Midtown Science High School after Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) has to pick him up after a fight with a bully.
A shot of Peter getting hit with a basketball to the side of the head was both in the trailer and the sizzle reel, but in the sizzle reel, it’s suggested he’s somehow gotten revenge and when Uncle Ben mentions he had to change shifts at work because of Peter’s actions, it’s the only moment where this new version of “Spider-Man” seems to cross paths with the 2000s’ version.
Garfield’s take on the web-slinger is a skater rather than a bicyclist and the sizzle reel showed him realizing his powers after the infamous visit to the Oscorp lab, breaking his alarm clock the morning after after pounding the snooze button too hard and having all the toothpaste gush out of the tube with a single squeeze. The moment the audience in L.A. seemed to respond to the most was when he cowered in fear and pleading for his life as a car thief came towards him looking to club him, only to get up with a quick web blast that secures the thug to the brick wall behind him and remake, “This is too easy.” Depending on what you think, he’s got more formidable foes in Gwen Stacy’s father, George (Denis Leary), the police captain, and the Lizard, who got more screen time in his human form with Curt Connors explaining away his lack of a right arm to the visiting high school students by saying “I’m a southpaw, not a cripple” and showing his burgeoning relationship with Peter, amazed by the intellectual prowess of the son of his former partner. As Webb indicated, the footage shown, including black-and-white flashbacks to Peter’s life with Richard and Mary Parker (Campbell Scott and Julianne Nicholson), seemed to suggest the parents would carry equal weight to Uncle Ben and Aunt May (Sally Field) in this particular story.
Though one could suss out a skeleton of a plot from what was shown, the scenes in the sizzle reel, which were cut together mostly like a traditional trailer with a few shots of Spider-Man in front of bluescreen backgrounds mixed in, were too disparate to make a quality judgment, but they were worth getting excited about. Both the trailer and the sizzle reel ended with the same money shot of Spider-Man eluding the wreckage of a collapsing Oscorp building shot from a downward perspective and while in some ways, that seemed as though the “Amazing Spider-Man” was picking up where Raimi’s series left off, it also felt as though it hadn’t skipped a beat.
Between the clips, Andrew Garfield once more professed his love for the fans of the series, saying he took on the iconic role “Because I’m not an idiot” and went on to charm the crowd in New York by saying there wasn’t anything special about him, “I’m just a guy in the suit. Last time, it was Tobey, this time, it’s me. And next time hopefully, it’s a half-hispanic, half-African American actor,” a statement that was made to wild applause. While it might inspire Donald Glover to get back on the phone with his agent, it was also a coincidental sign of a series going in a more modern direction, something that was supported by the footage shown today.