I used to argue that no, I am not really this nerdy. Then, yesterday, I found myself explaining the Extremis comics to someone (because that’s where Iron Man 3 appears to be heading), and I realized—yes, yes I am. So, fully embracing my not-so-inner nerd, allow me to gush all over Andrew Garfield and how f*cking incredible he is in The Amazing Spider-Man.
The movie itself is a B+. The technical aspects are top notch across the board, especially the camera work for the “Spidey vision” and the aerial photography. Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) was an unlikely choice for a superhero movie, but he did a great job managing the scope of Spider-Man and the smaller, more mundane world of Peter Parker. And the acting is solid, particularly Martin Sheen and Emma Stone. Gwen Stacy is not an exciting part—she’s very much The Girlfriend—but Stone is so charming and sparkling that she makes Gwen as interesting as can be. And her chemistry with Garfield is adorable. They’re so cute I wanted to mash their faces together. The main negative of the movie is that, despite certain things being handled better than in the Sam Raimi trilogy (such as Spidey sense, which here is much more subtle and less gimmicky), there were too many moments that felt familiar for The Amazing Spider-Man to really set itself apart. It’s a shame this movie didn’t come first, really, because it is the better origin story, but, especially during the fight scenes, too much of it felt recycled.
Andrew Garfield is THE BEST Peter Parker EVER. He owns Peter Parker like RDJ owns Tony Stark. Comic book characters are built for reinvention—it’s their very nature given that these characters often survive for decades and are constantly re-imagined—so it’s hard to arrive at a definitive version. Like, we’ve yet to see the definitive Batman, despite Christian Bale doing a really great job. Of all the comic book characters we’ve seen in movies so far, the only ones I’d called “definitive”—so well realized and consistent that they overtake how you read the character in the comics—are RDJ as Tony Stark, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and Heath Ledger as The Joker (props to Clark Gregg for making Agent Coulson feel like he came from the comics, when he did not). Well, add Andrew Garfield to the list. Because he owns the sh*t out of Peter Parker.
Spider-Man has never been my favorite superhero. He’s a whiny little brat, a lot of the time. But with Garfield inhabiting the role so well, balancing Peter’s smart mouth with a sense of kid beat down by life, the first thing I did when I got home was dig out what Spider-Man comics I have and re-read them, with this new iteration of Peter in my head. Immediately I liked him a lot better, reading him in Garfield’s voice. Garfield’s Peter is sympathetic yet imperfect. The set up for his Uncle Ben’s death—the moment that drives him to become Spider-Man—is perfectly managed, with Garfield striking the right tone between petulant and heartbroken. And physically, he’s a great match for the character. Garfield was 27 when they shot the movie, but he looks every inch a high school student and his lanky build suits Spider-Man’s acrobatics better than stocky Tobey Maguire ever did.
I could gush forever about how amazing Garfield is in this movie. Before the movie, I was against a Spider-Man/Avengers crossover in one of the upcoming Avengers movies. After seeing it—I’m all for it. This Spider-Man could totally exist with those Avengers. Even if it’s just a cameo, I’d be down, where previously, I didn’t care at all. That’s how good Andrew Garfield is as Spider-Man. He made me care about a character I didn’t even like, and he made me care enough that I was immediately craving more.
Attached - Garfield at the LA premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man