Note: The following post reveals major spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Now that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has made roughly $92 million in its opening weekend and everyone and their cat has seen it, it seems appropriate that we can actually discuss the movie's tragic, shocking ending, in a fairly open way. So we discussed the conclusion of the film with Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb last week, and it goes without saying to turn back around if you haven't seen the film yet. Major spoilers ahoy!
We talked with Webb about whether or not he ever considered ending the movie on a truly bleak note, more along the lines of something like Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, why that wasn't feasible, and what went into the truly amazing staging of that finale. (Our favorite moment of the whole movie is probably the webbed "hand" reaching out for Gwen as she falls.) The way Webb tells it, it was a heavy scenario, both because of the historical importance of Gwen's death from the comics and the emotional standpoint of making these two actors, who are very much in love in real life, act out such a tragic occurence.
Movies.com: Did you ever consider ending this straight-up Empire Strikes Back style?
Marc Webb: To me, I knew, even before the first movie, to the point that my involvement was predicated on the idea that we get to address this part of the comics. It was fascinating and what was daring and interesting about this comic. So I wanted to confront the death of Gwen Stacy. And I knew, and I believe, that you have to find meaning in that. That's the job, especially when you're dealing with kids, which is a huge part of the Spider-Man audience and was me, reading those comics. It was important to find meaning in loss and find meaning in that tragic event. And that required a dénouement. It's what Aunt May provided for Peter Parker that gives the whole meaning.
Movies.com: And the staging of it is so incredible.
Webb: It was an adventure to shoot. I think the movie works best when you combine drama and action and thematic resonance, all at once. It was funny because there were parts of it, like when they are fighting on the cog, that would just be tedious to shoot because it's all of these little moments, but then it culminates in something very emotional. I'm going to step back… When we were dissecting the death and how to deal with it and why it was meaningful and how to make it resonate, what became thematically important was this idea of time and valuing the time with the ones you love, because the death of Gwen was inevitable and we wanted to build that in from the very beginning. So there was the idea of putting that sequence in the clock. Partially because in the comics the death takes place on a bridge, so we had that scene on the bridge kind of as a head fake.
So that scene in the tower was a way of readdressing that theme of time and very specifically, they're literally on the cogs and there's a stalemate between Goblin and Spider-Man. And the web is in the notches of the cog that's about to get snapped and he flings his foot over and he's trying to stop time. That was the moment that was the inevitable conclusion to the thematic lines of the movie – that ultimately it's not Goblin who deals the deathblow; it's time. I like the idea of the very simple visual component of that scene, which is: even a superhero can't stop time. It's the cog that snaps – it's not Spider-Man, not the Goblin, that ends the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen.
And his effort to save her, it was a really tricky thing to deal with, because he does in fact web her, but it's tricky for an audience because when he webs her, people associate the web with salvation – when that web touches you, you're safe. But we wanted to push that as far as we could. So there was that impact and that snap. Because unless you have that impact, people didn't believe – and we tested it and they didn't believe it. So that was a really tricky sequence to do and then on top of that there's incredibly raw emotional space for Andrew and Emma to be in. So we went in and shot that without rehearsal. It was the first time they had seen each other in days and it was the first take and he gave something… Everybody was utterly silent. It was a sacred moment and we all knew it.
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