Comic-Con 2011: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Panel Recap; New Footage, The Lizard Is Revealed, More

     July 22, 2011

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The two biggest panels in Hall H this year are The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and The Amazing Spider-Man.  That’s not to diminish all the other films and TV shows that will be in the Hall, but we all know those are the biggest.  But Breaking Dawn is a known quantity.  When it comes to Spider-Man, folks are still struggling to understand the reboot.  The words “gritty”, “contemporary”, and “realistic” have been thrown around in regards to the film, but what does that mean?  At the film’s panel, 6500 people are waiting for director Marc Webb to provide them an answer to that question among others: How will the actors play their roles?  What can we expect from the set pieces?  How will this stand apart from Sam Raimi’s trilogy?  This panel isn’t just a chance to see the new Spider-Man in action, but to convince folks that this reboot can stand on its own.

Hit the jump for the recap of The Amazing Spider-Man panel.

First we see the teaser trailer (click here to watch) but we get to see it in 3D and while I still think the teaser looks a little too dour, the 3D really makes the POV sequence at the end work much better.

Afterwards, a guy dressed in a cheap Spidey costume crashes the mic while the moderator tries to explain questions will come later.  The guy at the mic sounds a lot like Andrew Garfield.  He removes his mask and it’s Andrew Garfield.  Garfield then talks about how as a kid Spider-Man gave him hope and how Spider-Man used his great power for good.  It’s painfully earnest with him talking about how Spider-Man inspired him in.  He talks about Spidey like some folks talk about Jesus.

He then introduces producers Matt Tolmach, Avi Arad, director Marc Webb, and Emma Stone who plays Gwen Stacy.  Webb, Stone, and Garfield are wearing “Stand Up 2 Cancer” stuff in honor of Spider-Man producer Laura Ziskin who founded the organization and recently passed away after her long battle with breast cancer.

Webb begins by talking about how so much in Spidey’s mythology hasn’t been explored and, for example, how excited he is to bring the Gwen Stacy material to the screen.  Like Garfield, he expresses his deep love and enthusiasm for the character.

And now we get to see some footage.  Webb says they just finished filming a few weeks ago so this is rough stuff but this crowd doesn’t care.  There will be some green screens and wires, but Webb says it will give us a sense of what they’re attempting to accomplish in terms of story and tone.

We then see a really great sizzle reel (in 2D) that helps illuminate what they’re going for.  At first it seems like it will be a little tiresome to see Flash Thompson repeatedly beating up Peter.  But then Peter gets his superpowers and bullies Flash right back.  Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) chastises him and Webb clearly has a different idea about the power/responsibility maxim.  This time, it seems like Spider-Man isn’t simply about using his power for as much good as possible, but not letting his power corrupt him.

Some of the film’s humor finally shines through as Spider-Man takes down a carjacker but it’s almost cruel.  Spidey is sitting in the back seat of a car the guy is trying to steal.  He quips that a carjacker really shouldn’t dress like a carjacker.  The carjacker asks if Spider-Man is a cop and Spidey responds, “Seriously.  Am I cop?  How many cops do you know that wear red and blue tights?”  The carjacker tries to run and Spider-Man pins the guy to a wall with his web but then taunts him and keeps slinging webs at the guy.  The film clearly wants to explore what a nerdy guy like Peter Parker, who’s never had any power, does when he’s given superpowers.

We then see other moments of non-cruel humor as Peter (as Peter) struggles to control his super strength and, without really trying, takes down a gang of thugs on a subway car.

amazing-spider-man-set-photo-andrew-garfield-01There’s also some warmth from the characters and that’s clearly going to come alive between Stone and Garfield.  After Uncle Ben chastises Peter and then busts his balls in front of Gwen by saying Peter has a picture of her on his computer and identifying himself as Peter’s parole officer.  Embarrassed, Peter explains that it’s just his uncle joking around.  Gwen and Peter then awkwardly (intentionally) talk to each other and try to come off like teenagers as much as possible before setting up tentative plans for a date.  And then Coldplay starts playing and I start cringing.

We move to a new scene where we see Peter uncover his father’s old briefcase, take out the papers inside (as you saw in the trailer, his dad worked for Oscorp) and start to uncover his father’s secrets (secrecy also seems to be a theme in the film but neither the footage nor the trailer has really explained how beyond Peter having to hide his secret identity).

Thankfully, the music then changes over to “Street Fighting Man” and we see more of the action.  We also see that Gwen’s father, Sgt. George Stacy (Denis Leary) is why there’s no J. Jonah Jameson in the film.  The two characters share the same drive is to take down Spider-Man but while Jameson tried to do it through the Daily Bugle, George Stacy is trying to do it with his police force and that is certainly a greater threat.  It could be a really cool conflict provided the story doesn’t get overstuff between Spidey’s origin story, fighting off the Lizard, and then the NYPD.

During the Q&A they talk about the villain, Dr. Curt Connors, aka The Lizard (Rhys Ifans).  And then Webb says they have a little bit of footage and it’s in 3D.  In the clip, we see PEter and his Midtown Science High School classmates listening to Connors in Connors’ lab (where Gwen apparently works).  Connors says he intends to re-grow his arm using cross-species genetics.  Then we see scenes that take place afterwards: Connors steals from his lab and descend into a secret lab in the sewers.  We see him inject himself with some weird green formula.  His re-grown left arm start to mutate, grows scales, he’s in agony, thrashing around in the sewer water, and suddenly we cut to two girls in a bathroom stall talking about boys.

And then the toilet begins to shake.  And then the ground beneath the toilet breaks apart and swallows the toilet into the new chasm.  It’s a fun play on the old myth of alligators coming out of the toilet, but this time it’s not a gator.  It’s a giant man-lizard.  We see The Lizard with completed CG and the design is cool but familiar.  It’s not the elongated Lizard face of the classic comics but more of a gigantic humanoid covered in scales and it reminded me of Killer Croc from the Batman universe.  The Lizard then goes up to the terrified teenage girls, breathes on them, and extends his tongue towards one of the girls.  Like Peter, it’s the display of power through cruel taunting. Then we cut to the new logo and then cut back towards the Lizard leaping towards the screen and chomping at the audience.

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After the clip, Rhys Ifans comes to the stage.  When he’s asked about bringing humanity to a monster, he mumbles a weird reply that “the monster is as human as he.”  Ifans seems kind of drunk and pleased with his non-response.  I am pleased with it as well.

When asked if the reboot is darker, Marc Webb says he didn’t make the film “darker” just to be different from Raimi’s.  Instead, he wanted it to be more realistic in terms of the characters and the setting.  But he also wanted to embrace the humor and levity of the character.  He says it’s emotionally complex.  Talking about Garfield and Stone, Webb says they’re very present and authentic actors and that they really inhabit the teenager quality of their characters.

Garfield says he spoke with Maguire every night and jokes that he was a “suicide hotline.”  He adds that he didn’t talk to Maguire until after filming was done, but the day Garfield was announced for the role, Maguire left a message on his answering machine giving Garfield his blessing.  “I’m team Tobey, personally,” says Garfield.  “Me too,” quips Stone.

While I wish I could recall everything I saw in the footage, in Hall H they don’t let you have your laptop out to take notes so I’m just providing the major beats.  More importantly, I’m finally interested in this movie.  The 3D could seriously work for this film.  If it’s projected correctly in regards to brightness, it could be an awesome looking film.  The shots from the sky are incredible as we can see from the top of skyscrapers all the way down to the street.  More importantly, Marc Webb has answered the question about how The Amazing Spider-Man will stand on its own and apart from Sam Raimi’s universe.  I don’t know if it will all come together, but it certainly has the potential to take the franchise in an interesting new direction.

The Amazing Spider-Man opens in 3D on July 3, 2012.

Click here for all our Comic-Con 2011 coverage.

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