Was Andrew Garfield Channeling Kristen Stewart in Amazing Spider-Man Comic-Con Clips?

By

When Sony green-lit its Spider-Man reboot, there were rumors that the studio wanted a more intimate take on the mythos that emphasized the sort of teen love story that Twilight has recently made big business. Yesterday, when director Marc Webb showed off new clips and footage of The Amazing Spider-Man at Comic-Con, it was clear that he'd succeeded in the most unlikely way. Where Tobey Maguire once employed his natural, stunned-eyes bafflement to play Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield goes for a high-style approach. He ducks his head self-consciously. He wears hoodies and nervously plays with his hair. When trying to talk, he stammers, his sentences trailing off into nothingness. If Sony wanted to channel Twilight, they got it, because Garfield might be playing Kristen Stewart herself.

And you know what? That's not a bad thing. Most important, it's a different thing; when the Amazing Spider-Man trailer was released last week, the rehashed origin story beats seemed far too similar to Sam Raimi's 2002 original. Garfield's Peter Parker, though, is a different, initially more tortured take on the character, and his transformation into the strong Spider-Man is all the more resonant because Webb makes those first few high school scenes a living hell for Peter, who gets beat up by bullies at every turn. (It really does get better for the web-slinger.)

Will Webb be able to reconcile his appealingly small-scaled character story with the big-studio impulse to add a giant, decidedly effects-created bad guy? (If only Webb had used a human villain for his more-human take on Spider-Man.) It remains to be seen; the director has also stated that he'll be using practical web-swinging in the movie, but that stunt work was nowhere to be seen in the sizzle reel, instead replaced by the trailer's vertiginous but clearly computer-generated swing through the city. Webb and Garfield have their hearts in the right place, so let's hope the studio heads don't get in the way.

The director also cast his villain well in Rhys Ifans, who brings quirk and offbeat line readings to the expository role of Dr. Curt Connors. It's that character's transformation into the Lizard, though, that presents a problem. Suddenly, Ifans is a generic CG beastie, a giant green Hulk with a lizard tongue who wreaks computer-generated damage and, in the weirdest scene presented at Comic-Con, backs two high school girls into a corner where he attempts to lasciviously tongue one for an interminable beat. It's like the Ripley/Alien mid-movie face-off in Alien 3, but in a movie that's ostensibly for families.

Will Webb be able to reconcile his appealingly small-scaled character story with the big-studio impulse to add a giant, decidedly effects-created bad guy? (If only Webb had used a human villain for his more-human take on Spider-Man.) It remains to be seen; the director has also stated that he'll be using practical web-swinging in the movie, but that stunt work was nowhere to be seen in the sizzle reel, instead replaced by the trailer's vertiginous but clearly computer-generated swing through the city. Webb and Garfield have their hearts in the right place, so let's hope the studio heads don't get in the way.