It’s easy to think that it has ever been thus, but Marvel’s strategy of interconnectivity and world building, whilst a fanboy’s wet dream, was novel and risky when Tony Stark suited up for the first time. DC had never openly considered linking, say, Batman and Superman, and their push for a Justice League property has the whiff of someone coming late to the party after the booze has been drunk and the good-looking girls have all gone home.
But the model has been demonstrated to work, and I don’t expect it to go away anytime soon. Inconnecting films are in vogue. Hollywood.com has been in conversation with The Amazing Spider-Man producers Avi Arad and Matthew Tolmach, and it looks as if Spidey’s world is in the for the same kind of linked storytelling.
While promoting Spider-Man, Arad and Tolmach strayed onto the subject of their next movie: Venom. They suggested that that film would be developed in a similar fashion to Spider-Man so that the two potential franchises could eventually be tied together.
"What I'm trying to say to you without giving anything away is hopefully all these worlds will live together in peace someday," said Tolmach.
Venom is a very interesting character, sorely misused in Spiderman 3’s villainy bloat. The film is rumoured to have been offered to Josh Trank (Chronicle) and will follow Eddie Brock as he encounters the alien parasite who has been shunned by Peter Parker after he realised the danger that it posed.
Arad explained that the film will be following The Amazing Spider-Man's grittier, realistic approach: "It's an Eddie Brock story. We want to be as close to the comics as possible. Especially in Eddie Brock's story. But again, pseudo-sceince is becoming science. All these tidbits about webs, artificial webs, is a huge industry now. Spiderwebs have unique qualities that will be huge for communications, fibers, and so forth. So we have taken the approach that we want to make the huge amazing movie about Eddie."
Brock’s character will be true to the source material. "He was a journalist. He had the wrong story, he got in trouble for it, he got fired," explains Tolmach, who also went on to describe his and Arad's approach to adapting Marvel properties. "The whole essence to us is the Marvel characters. Stay close to the bible, stay close to the emotional story, and the rest is fun."
The Amazing Spider-Man and Venom will be cut from the same cloth. As Tolmach puts it: "Look for the worlds to make sense with one another."
But what about the webslinger himself? The first new film in the rebooted franchise is due in July, and the strong (although perhaps a little too explicit) trailer and teasers have me expecting something more encouraging than when the project was announced in 2010.
I have spoken to a couple of contacts who have seen the finished article and they were impressed, particularly with the standard of the performances. It’s a big film for Sony because their contract with Marvel requires them to continue making Spider-Man movies and the only way that that is going to happen is if they continue to be successful. Remember the rumours that Spider-Man was going to make an appearance in The Avengers? It’s not just in geeky wet dreams that Peter Parker shakes hands with Tony Stark, Thor and the rest of the team. Marvel would love to get their hands back on the property.
So Sony are gambling here, big-time. They’ve jettisoned Tobey Maguire (although he was probably too old for the part now), passed on Sam Raimi (who may not have been interested in another Spidey film) and blown up the colourful, fantasy worldview of the previous three films. Andrew Garfield dons the blue-and-red, Marc Webb takes the helm and the production is aiming for a more realistic slant on the property, and a return to the wisecracking protagonist that fans will recognise from the comics.
But what will the audience think of a reboot so close to the last (and successful) trilogy? That’s the gamble (and you have to assume that Warners are keeping a close eye on that because they are in a similar quandary with the end of Chistopher Nolan’s Bat-franchise).Three short clips from The Amazing Spider-Man have been released to further whet the appetite. You can argue that this is information overload (as David did, here), or you can use these one-minute teasers to get a better idea of the tone the film is intending to strike.
Here’s the first one:
The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone is critical for this film to work and I think the two share a clear spark. Stone is beautiful and spunky and looks as if she will be an able foil for the smart-mouthed Parker that Garfield is bringing to the screen.
The next clip demonstrates that smart-mouth again, and makes it clear that Garfield is going back to the character’s roots: the Spider-Man with an array of one-liners, deployed to keep enemies off-guard and, perhaps, mask the trepidation that he feels as he swings between skyscrapers. Here it is:
I understand that this scene comes early on in the film; Peter is learning to control his powers and his mechanical web-slingers but, despite being green about the gills, he is still too much for Dennis Leary and the NYPD.
The last clip gives us a brief look at the villain – The Lizard. Dylan Baker played Dr Curt Connors in the previous films, and would have made a decent bad guy, but I think the most inspired piece of casting might have been to put Rhys Ifans into the role. There’s a definite hint of arrogance in his interplay with Parker in the first clip and his monstrous alter-ego looks suitably dangerous:
The clip reminds me a little of the Velocoraptor encounter in the kitchen in Jurassic Park.
All in, then, I’m quite encouraged by what we’ve seen and I am hopeful that in a spring and summer dominated by other properties, the release of a new Spider-Man might come as a pleasant surprise.