There’s been a lot of debate regarding what the best Spider-Man movie is. The usual suspects thrown around are usually Spider-Man 2, Homecoming and Into the Spiderverse. One film that doesn’t get as much love online and has seemingly been overshadowed by Spider-Man’s quick inclusion into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield. Not only is The Amazing Spider-Man the most underrated Spider-Man movie to date, it’s also one of the most underrated comic book movies of all-time.
The Amazing Spider-Man came as a result of creative differences between Sam Raimi and Sony Pictures, who were planning on a fourth installment in the series starring Tobey Maguire. During this time, the hottest comic book franchise was undoubtedly Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman. However, Disney and Marvel Studios was also in the early stages of building their cinematic universe that was inching closer to The Avengers.
Sony decided to take the Spider-Man franchise in a new direction, albeit a familiar one with a Batman Beings-inspired reboot. Sony would hire Marc Webb to direct, who was responsible for the indie film hit 500 Days of Summer. Andrew Garfield, fresh off the success of The Social Network, was chosen to succeed Tobey Maguire as the wall-crawler. The Amazing Spider-Man would go onto fill out its cast with Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, Sally Field as Aunt May, Rhys Ifans as The Lizard, Denis Leary as George Stacy and Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben.
When marketing began for The Amazing Spider-Man, it was dubbed as “The Untold Story.” This is because the story explores a part of Spider-Man’s history that is usually left out of the traditional origin story: Peter Parker’s parents. The Amazing Spider-Man starts off the origin story with an intriguing mystery of something that has often been glossed over in Spider-Man lore. The way Spider-Man’s parents are treated in the comics are in the vein of how the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Spider-Man disregards Uncle Ben.
Peter’s investigation in the disappearance of his parents begins when he finds his father’s brief case, which leads him to Oscorp, something that also does a great job building the world of Spider-Man early on. While Peter is eager to find out more about what his father was up to at Oscorp, Uncle Ben still serves as a key figure in Peter’s life and is instrumental to him becoming one of the greatest superheroes of all-time.
A highly-regarded part for many in The Amazing Spider-Man is the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey, which might be one of the best romantic relationships we’ve seen in a comic book movie. Garfield and Stone’s chemistry is a real highlight with their playful banter that was likely elevated thanks to their real-life relationship at the time.
This also leads me to Andrew Garfield’s performance in the film. The Amazing Spider-Man depicts Peter Parker as an outsider who is very much a modern version of the nerd in the comics. He’s brilliant, but also has a bit of a an edge and awkwardness that works for today. However, Garfield really shines when he puts on the mark, as Peter Parker should, giving us the unmistakable confidence Spider-Man has with all the quips during battle. It’s hard to argue against Andrew Garfield’s perfromance because it’s quintessential Spider-Man.
As for the often criticized skater trait, it’s a clever way of giving Peter the idea to web-swing from building to building in New York City. This leads to some of the coolest action we’ve from the web-swinger to date. This is in large part due to the real-world approach to the web-swinging with practical effects that create stunning sequences. The most memorable swing comes when Spider-Man is injured and gets help from New York citizens to get a clear pathway to face The Lizard.
This scene is chill-inducing thanks to the incredible score from the late James Horner. Danny Elfman created one of the greatest superhero scores of all-time with the original trilogy, but Horner manages to put his own spin on the superhero genre that is delightful. The main theme, the action, the quiet moments — Horner’s score continues to be severely underrated to this day.
Another highlight of The Amazing Spider-Man is amidst the big action sequences with The Lizard. There are plenty of heartfelt moments throughout, but one of the best is the scene where Spider-Man saves a boy from a truck, which is another way of showing how much the hero means to many when they are young. There’s also a great moment with Aunt May and Peter after the final battle at the Oscorp Tower. No words are exchanged. It’s just a simple gesture of Peter giving his Aunt eggs and a hug.
No superhero movie is complete without its villain either. The Lizard is one of the most tragic villains in the comics and the film portrays that in a brilliant way. There’s also more weight given to the villain dramatically due to his connection to Peter’s father. While The Lizard falls into the tropes other Spider-Man villains have fallen into, he’s still an effective piece in Peter Parker’s journey.
To me, The Amazing Spider-Man got lost in the shuffle with two other major releases in the summer of 2012: The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. I would argue that the film has aged very well and might be the best one out of the three. The Amazing Spider-Man is led by a great performance from Andrew Garfield, incredible Spider-Man action, stunning RED digital camera visuals, a beautiful score from James Horner, and a story full of heart that holds it all together. While there’s going to be no shortage of Spider-Man movies in the future, both live-action and animated, I feel like The Amazing Spider-Man has less pressure on it today. That’s why the 2012 reboot should be revisited and appreciated for being a great origin story that got lost with the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the end of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy.
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