“The Amazing Spider-Man” not only spins the character in a new light, but it also sheds some comic book history.
Director Sam Raimi first introduced audiences to Spider-Man in 2002 with Tobey Maguire playing the nerdy hero at the end of his high school days.
Ten years later, director Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer”) takes us back to school with Spidey (Andrew Garfield).
Andrew Garfield’s portrayal encompasses the super dork persona that the hero is known for. We see a far more fragile character than we did with Maguire.
What makes Garfield the better of the two is that, even after gaining the powers, he shows us Parker’s weakness. His insecurities are evident by the way Parker walks with his head down. And we see how isolated Parker is, avoiding conversation with other students.
This makes Parker much more grounded and relatable, unlike Maguire who became a different person overnight after being bit.
Raimi introduced audiences to a Spider-Man with organic web-shooters; however, any fan boy will complain about how that is inaccurate.
Webb depicts Parker’s intelligence in a far better light by showing Parker’s innovation with his invention of the cartridge shooters, instead of just constantly studying.
Instead of Mary Jane, we are (re)introduced to Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), Parker’s first love. (She was introduced as Jane’s competition in “Spider-Man 3.”)
The chemistry between these two high school sweethearts (and now real-life couple) is very evident, as Stacy becomes Parker’s support as the only other person to know his identity.
As the head intern at Oscorp industries, her love of science is the perfect complement to Parker’s nerdiness.
Once again, it as at an Oscorp tour that Parker is bit by the genetically altered spider. And at about this point, the film begins to feel all too familiar.
Not too much later, we mourn the death of Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) once again; and without giving anything away, the situation is very reminiscent of the 2002 film.
It’s hard to call Webb’s version an origin story because we don’t get much origin.
We are briefly introduced to Parker’s parents, Richard and Mary, at the beginning of the film as they drop off a young boy at the home of Uncle Ben and Aunt May (Sally Field), never to return.
Even with the introduction of Richard’s partner, and Spider-Man’s foe, Dr. Curt Connors, aka The Lizard (Rhys Ifans), we don’t get much out of the character about Parker’s parents.
Connors proves to be a wonderfully complex character on the verge of insanity as he wants to improve the weak human race.
Once again, we have our hero battling an insane green foe.
With all the similarities, the film feels less like a reboot and more like a remake. It’s really a prequel-esqe filler story that picks up in the middle of 2002’s film.
However, this time our hero is much more compelling and elements of the film are much more true to the comics.
This is how they should have originally started the franchise, with a young Parker becoming Spider-Man and not just waking up with a freshly cut body.
Although the film is enjoyable, it doesn’t distinct itself enough from the previous film to warrant a reboot. As it stands, it’s an interesting story that shines a new light on the teenage hero.
But, if there is a sequel, I hope it tells us more of what we don’t know about his past than just expand on what we’ve already been told.