Comics on Film: Andrew Garfield and the Tangled Future of the 'Amazing Spider-Man' Franchise

Comics on Film: Andrew Garfield and the Tangled Future of the 'Amazing Spider-Man' Franchise

Dec 17, 2014

Director Marc Webb's reboot of the Spider-Man film series has been a surprisingly polarizing topic among comic book fans and movie lovers. While 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man was well received and managed a respectable box office gross, some people were left scratching their heads at the idea of a reboot for a successful franchise happening barely a decade after the original series began. Still, Webb's direction and the solid performances by the film's cast -- with particular praise being leveled at Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy -- led to the inevitable sequel: this year's The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

The second film, while featuring vibrant production design and another solid turn from its two leads, was less well received, and it currently stands as the lowest grossing Spider-Man entry to date, even when adjusting for inflation. Some feel that change to the franchise is in order, a topic that this very column has touched upon in the past: namely, Spider-Man going home to Marvel Studios, taking his place alongside the Avengers.

Recently, rumors have began to persist about some sort of accord being reached between Disney and Sony in regards to the future of Spider-Man on film, the most divisive of which discussing the possibility of recasting the Webhead himself. If these rumors end up panning out -- of which there's certainly no guarantee at this point -- would recasting Spider-Man be necessary?

 

The Problem with Being Amazing

The Amazing Spider-Man films make for a strange experience if watched back-to-back. For people familiar with Spider-Man's history and his origin story, they took a very different approach by adding an element of predestination and destiny to his ultimate choice of becoming a hero. That in and of itself is a polarizing topic, since some fans see that as removing an essential element of chance to the creation of the hero, which fits in line with the "everyman" perspective that Spider-Man has largely had over the course of his 52-year history.

On the other hand, you could say that it elevates Spider-Man's larger importance in the world of the films, since it shows that the hero will firmly be needed in the overall scheme of things. It's not entirely an original idea either, as comic book writers like J. Michael Straczynski have also played with the notion of Peter fulfilling a destiny to become Spider-Man as opposed to the bite in that radiology lab being a random occurrence of happenstance.

Still, these are the ideas that drove the screenplays of both films. Andrew Garfield was merely chosen as the man to bring this iteration of the character to life, and to do so with his own flair. Critics largely have reacted positively to Garfield's take on Peter Parker, as the actor has chosen to go with a more contemporary demeanor than Toby Maguire, while also more successfully incorporating the character's trademark quick wit and verbal-comeback skill.

The only problem with that from the perspective of the decision makers, though, is that Garfield is the figurehead for this iteration of the franchise. When we see one of the film posters, it's his face plastered on the front (if the mask is off). It's his name at the lead of the credits, and he's playing one of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world. If a change is coming to Spider-Man in the future, then recasting may be the only option in the eyes of the studios involved. Similarly to how it's unlikely for Ryan Reynolds to play Green Lantern again in Justice League, or how Henry Cavill took over from Brandon Routh for Man of Steel, studios seem to feel that a new iteration of a familiar franchise needs a new face to succeed.

 

A Tangled Web

Spider-Man has continually proven that he's a strong cinematic force, and while there's no official indication that anything with the franchise will change, the rumors continue to persist. If there's some kind of franchise reboot or relaunch that takes place, it's likely that the studios involved will want to recast. Still, The Amazing Spider-Man 3 may have been delayed to 2018, but it hasn't been outright canceled. Sony still seems to have a desire to follow through on plans laid out for new Spider-Man films and spin-offs, and we expect to hear more in the new year.

Whatever people may perceive to be the problems with the new iteration of the Spider-Man franchise, it would be very unfair to blame them on Garfield. Not only is the man a solid fan of the character he gets to embody, but a lot of other issues behind the scenes and an arguably flawed creative vision at the script stage should deserve the blame. Andrew Garfield has been a great Spider-Man and Peter Parker, but too many cooks in the writing kitchen have muddled the world that he gets to play in.

Whichever way things ultimately go, one thing is virtually certain: Spider-Man will be present in movie theaters for a long time to come. The only thing that could be uncertain is who's under the mask wen we see him next, and who will be standing beside him.


Chris Clow is a geek. He is a gamer, a comic book expert and former retailer, the Junior Editor at GeekNation.com, and a freelance contributor to The Huffington Post and Batman-On-Film.com. You can find his weekly piece Comics on Film right here at Movies.com. Check out his blog, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

 

 

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