We’re on the cusp of seeing a brand new Spider-Man swing across the screen in next summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, which marks a groundbreaking co-production between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, with Marvel taking the creative lead on the project. But the wounds are still fresh on The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which were Sony’s first unsuccessful attempts to reboot the franchise after Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire departed the series following Spider-Man 3.
By most accounts, Andrew Garfield made for a terrific (and still the best) Spider-Man and Peter Parker, and Emma Stone was certainly fantastic as Gwen Stacy. The problems boiled down to script issues and Sony trying to either cram too much into each film, or lay the “perfect” foundation for a massive franchise that would spawn sequels, spinoffs, etc. Indeed, ahead of The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s release, Sony was planning The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4 as well as a Sinister Six movie and a Venom spinoff. Those plans were scuttled after the critical shellacking that Amazing Spider-Man 2 received, and producer/former Sony head Amy Pascal was finally able to forge a deal between Sony and Marvel that resulted in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
But in a recent “Actors on Actors” segment over at Variety, Andrew Garfield reflected candidly on his Amazing Spider-Man experience while talking with Amy Adams, who also has her own share of experience on massive superhero franchises. Garfield acknowledged the positives of the Spider-Man films while also adding that, in hindsight, he realized he was simply one cog in a massive machine:
“There were great things about it, I got to work with incredible actors, a really great director… I learned a lot about what feels good and what doesn’t feel good, and what to say ‘yes’ to. There’s something about being that young in that kind of machinery which I think is really dangerous… I was still young enough to struggle with the value system, I suppose, of corporate America really, it’s a corporate enterprise mostly.”
The actor went on to say that the entire experience of the franchise left him a bit heartbroken given how much he cared about the Spider-Man character:
“There’s something that happened with that experience for me where story and character were actually not top of the priority list, ultimately. And I found that really, really tricky. I signed up to serve the story and to serve this incredible character that I’ve been dressing as since I was three, and then it gets compromised and it breaks my heart. I got heartbroken a little bit, to a certain degree. Not entirely.”
Indeed, Garfield and Stone both had high praise for the Amazing Spider-Man 2 script before the film went into production, but the finished feature felt like a Frankenstein’d blockbuster that couldn’t really decide which villains to tee-up in which order, or even what kind of tone to strike. It was ultimately focused on the future—where Green Goblin fit into the Sinister Six, who was running the Sinister Six, what was going on with Norman Osborne, what happened to Peter’s parents, etc.—and that was due to Sony’s desire to set up a lucrative inter-connected universe. In doing so, they forgot to craft a single, wholly satisfying movie. It’s only thanks to director Marc Webb and his casting that the character bits of those Spider-Man movies work as well as they do.
But Garfield wasn’t the only one in this conversation with some complaints about the superhero movie experience, as Adams also admitted that at times, she feels disheartened about how little attention gets paid to the character of Lois Lane in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and/or the upcoming Justice League:
“I love playing her, I love everyone I work with, but sometimes it’s tricky because I feel like she’s in service of the story instead of the story serving the character. That sometimes can be tricky when you show up and you really wanna retain a character and you have to serve the story… In a perfect universe they all work together. I always wanna service the story, but I wanna feel supported in the character as well.”
Lane got a pretty solid focus in Man of Steel but was then pretty much sidelined to a plot device in the theatrical cut of Batman v Superman. She gets much more to do in Zack Snyder’s extended “Ultimate Edition”, but given the packed ensemble of Justice League, one imagines there’s not much room for Lois Lane’s character growth in that film either.