John Gholson is a life-long comic book fanboy who has previously covered all manner of superhero news at AOL. After dabbling with comic book self-publishing in the '90s, John moved on to study sequential art at the Savannah College of Art & Design, and currently produces a regular web comic, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ for Tapsauce.com. You can also read his Avengers Countdown here at Movies.com.
Amidst the slow roll of weekly hype for Marvel’s The Avengers and the constant, steady stream of spy pics from Warners’ Batman sequel The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man feels like the rare superhero blockbuster that’s downright silent. Sure, there’ve been some images released here and there, and a trailer that most folks have already forgotten about (did anyone see that trailer in a theatre or just online?), but otherwise, this Big Summer Movie is about as quiet as a Big Summer Movie can can be. Why is that? Here are five possible reasons why Sony’s being so quiet with The Amazing Spider-Man...
5. Sony is unsure how to sell it.
The issue here is that Spider-Man 3 was a massive commercial success and fans still have a lot of goodwill toward Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire, even if that film felt like a stumble when compared to the first two films. Sony is smart enough in this case to recognize that the massive stack of Spider-Man 3 cash doesn’t equate to universal critical love. They might not have been so lucky with a fourth, so they’re going out of their way to revitalize the franchise with an all-new cast and director (Marc Webb). How do they keep all the movie-goers who came out for the first three, while still selling a new cast and story?
The first trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man is slick, but timid. Iconic origin story beats are covered without much flair, and the tone feels more dour than what we expect from Spidey. Meanwhile, by all accounts, the San Diego Comic-Con footage from the film was quite different than that trailer, with the humor and action we associate with Spider-Man, as well as some exciting glimpses of Spidey’s foe The Lizard. I don’t know why Sony hasn’t allowed the SDCC footage to go public, but I speculate it’s because they’re stifled by a desire to sell the movie like it’s The Dark Knight -- a brooding “real world” comic book movie. Sony’s hard lesson at the end of the day might be that Spider-Man isn’t Batman, but there’s still hope they’ll settle on a tone for the advertising as the full marketing blitz hasn’t even begun.
4. It’s still shooting!
Pick-ups and re-shoots are part of the filmmaking process, and, according to ComicBookMovie.com, Amazing Spider-Man sent out a casting call for actors in NYPD uniforms for scenes to be shot later this week. Kind of hard to sell a film when you’re still doing principle photography on it.
3. Sony could benefit from The Avengers’ goodwill.
This ties in to my first point about advertising. If The Avengers underperforms (it won’t), Sony will probably play up the darker aspects of The Amazing Spider-Man to paint it more in line with the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises. If The Avengers is a huge hit (it will be), Sony will most likely position Spider-Man as a continuation of the high-octane fun audiences associate with Marvel in general.
2. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance comes first.
There’s another Marvel superhero that Sony’s hoping will redeem himself from his last film -- Ghost Rider. While the film doesn’t have Spider-Man’s tentpole clout, the trailer promises a weirder, more violent film than 2007’s Ghost Rider (which was a moderate hit, even through poor word-of-mouth). Despite returning star Nicolas Cage, it’s obvious that directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank 1 & 2, Gamer) are pretty much tossing Mark Steven Johnson’s movie out the window to do their own thing.
It’s important for Sony to turn Ghost Rider into a successful film franchise or risk having to return the rights to the character to Marvel Studios. The challenge is similar to the one Marvel faced when releasing The Incredible Hulk -- how can they let audiences know “this one will be a lot better/different than the last one” while recycling the iconography that audiences associate with that character? They’re doing a good job so far, with teases that have audiences talking about Spirit of Vengeance’s grittier look and splashes of absurd humor. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance comes out February 2012, the first superhero movie in a year that’s full of them.
1. It’s just too far out from release.
All of the reasons above could basically be summed up with this statement, but to get more specific, a special effects-heavy movie like The Amazing Spider-Man will have post-production work done right down to the wire. The effects (and 3-D) will be tinkered with all the way up to the film’s first screening. That being said, Sony would really be missing the boat if they didn’t release a splashy new trailer in time for the upcoming holiday blockbuster season.
A Question for Spider-Man Fans
In my Countdown column for The Avengers here at Movies.com, I do a brief episode guide for Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Since this is the inaugural edition of The Amazing Spider-Man Countdown, I want the fans to have a voice in which Spider-Man TV series I cover in the column. Your choices are the original 1960s cartoon Spider-Man, my personal favorite Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, or Fox’s Spider-Man cartoon from the '90s. Leave a comment below with your choice and I’ll start reviewing the series in the next installment of this Countdown.
There are 232 days until the release of The Amazing Spider-Man on July 3, 2012. The Marc Webb film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Rhys Ifans.