Stuck on Spidey

Stuck on Spidey

LOS ANGELES - Remember Spider-Man 2? The box-office hit of 2004? Not to worry if you are drawing a blank - there is another Spider- Man 2 opening in Singapore tomorrow.

This one is called The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and one of the amazing things about it is that only 10 years have passed since director Sam Raimi made the earlier version starring Tobey Maguire, titled, simply, Spider-Man 2.

Like the 2004 film, this new iteration, directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield in the lead role, sees a young man settling into life as a crime- fighting superhero after acquiring some nifty powers from a spider bite.

As it is the second chapter - the first being Webb's 2012 hit The Amazing Spider-Man - the film-makers say they did not have to worry about how their hero got where he is. And they are probably hoping audiences do the same and forget there was ever another Spider-Man franchise at all.

At a press event in Los Angeles, Webb and his cast - Garfield along with Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan - promise more action and less navel-gazing in this new instalment.

Says the director, whose biggest project before this was the 2009 indie romance (500) Days Of Summer: "Making the last movie was a real adventure, but we had to dabble with the origin story. This time, we are opening up with Spider-Man not just being Spider-Man, but Spider-Man loving being Spider-Man.

"He is a virtuoso superhero. He's doing incredible, extraordinary and amazing things and having a real blast doing it. The opening of the movie is just really filled with action - that iconic Spider-Man stuff that we all love and we really worked hard to develop that quippy DNA and all that really exciting stuff that we all loved from the comics."

Garfield, the 30-year-old British-American actor who reprises his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, says: "I think we now all feel ownership over this new chapter that we are embarking upon. Whereas in the first instalment, we had to establish ourselves, now we have the freedom to own the character and explore, expand the character and expand the relationships... So that's a huge step for us in this franchise."

When Webb unveiled his first Spider-Man film two years ago, there was some hand-wringing in the media over Hollywood's addiction to remakes and sequels, and whether the franchise needed to be relaunched at all. After all, Raimi's trio of Spider- Man films in 2002, 2004 and 2007 were winners on all fronts, wowing critics and earning US$2.5 billion at the global box office.

But when creative differences held up production on a fourth film, the powers-that-be decided to "reboot" the franchise with a new director and star.

The result was 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man. And after much fanboy fretting, it turned out to be a big crowd-pleaser, selling US$750 million in tickets and spawning a second, separate franchise.

That is how audiences ended up with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - a sequel to a movie that was a remake of another movie, all within the space of a decade and all based on a Marvel comic-book character created by Stan Lee in the 1960s.

This time around, though, the Raimi films are a dim memory.

At the press conference, few questions even acknowledge their existence, with reporters instead grilling Webb and the actors about their faithfulness to the original comics as a 91-year-old Lee, who has gone on record to say he would have picked Garfield over Maguire for the 2002 film, looks on.

Even though The Amazing Spider-Man was a clear success, Webb, 39, says he and his team went to considerable lengths to make improvements so they would get the iconic character just right, particularly given the exacting standards of hardcore comic-book fans.

This is why they spent ages on minute details such as the design of Spider-Man's eyes, which one reporter, who is wearing a full Spider-Man costume under his clothes, compliments Webb on.

That is one happy customer right there, but Garfield says it could just as easily have gone the other way. "There are so many ways of getting it wrong and there're not many ways of getting it right - whatever that means. And that can make or break a Spider-Man fan's experience of the whole movie.

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