MARVEL’S CINEMATIC universe looks as strong as ever. Phase 1 was a success, culminating with the smash hit “The Avengers”; Phase 2 looks to bring even bigger box office with “Thor: The Dark World” performing well and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” leading the charge in 2014 — as the countdown begins to “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” in 2015.
But Marvel Comics, of course, doesn’t have complete moviemaking control over all its stars, including arguably the biggest one of all: Spider-Man.
We’ve been reminded of Marvel’s splintered film rights when 20th Century Fox recently released a trailer for “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (and again today when director Bryan Singer reportedly announced a new X-men film for 2016). The echo is even louder today with Sony offering the first full trailer for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
As we pick up the action, Andrew Garfield is trying to cement his status as the Peter Parker of a new generation (Tobey Maguire is still fresh in the minds of many Spidey fans). He’s now apparently battling multiple villains (always a risky move — are we seeing the formation of The Sinister Six?). And perhaps the biggest addition in this sequel: Jamie Foxx is playing Electro.
Here are Comic Riffs’ Five Takeaways from today’s trailer:
1. Spidey’s look: In the first installment of “Amazing Spider-Man,” a nontraditional, black-lens, less weblike approach was taken with the look of Spider-Man. Now? The suit looks as though it jumped straight out of the pages of a Mark Bagley-drawn issue of a Spider-Man comic. Verdict: Ol’ Web-head has never looked better onscreen.
2. It’s all about power: With great power, as you know, comes great responsibility. But as Peter continues to use his powers to help people, he begins to ponder what happens when the day comes that there’s someone stronger than he who is not on the side of the good guys.
That moment arrives as we get our first look at Paul Giamatti’s rhino suit — and then we get Foxx putting on a light show with his electrical powers. It’s easy to forget sometimes with all the web-slinging that Peter is so strong (that superhuman strength is on display when we see Spider-Man catch a police car over his head to save a cop). But there are clearly now more powerful forces in New York.
It appears as though Sony is looking to put together the Sinister Six, — and that game-plan looks to be shaping nicely.
3. Ghosts and goblins: Peter is still looking into the mystery of his parents’ “death.” A search that leads him to an underground lair, where he discovers a (possibly) posthumous message from his father that says Norman Osborn and Oscorp are behind some pretty horrible things.
Speaking of the Osborn clan, we get our first look at Harry. Peter’s Greek tragedy-like friendship with the son of his soon-to-be greatest enemy is on display. The brotherly bond is there, but we know where this is going. Especially when we glimpse a super-tech suit equipped with a glider. But is Norman going to be the Green Goblin? Harry? Both?
Harry, despite his closeness to Peter, appears loyal to his father. We’ll see where this goes and see whether future trailers reveal more of Harry’s true loyalties. Meantime: Did you happen to catch the robotic octopus like arms and vulture wings in Osborn’s lab? Our spidey-sense says more bad guys are due soon.
4. Peter and Gwen: As for romance, we are getting a more intimate look at the relationship between Peter and Gwen Stacy — unlike when Stacy simply made an appearance in “Spider-Man 3” (Bryce Dallas Howard) and was more of an innocent rival to Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane. There’s still no Mary Jane in sight, but it’s clear that Peter and Gwen (Emma Stone) have grown their romance since “Amazing Spider-Man.” A key question — given the obvious impending debut of the Green Goblin — is: Will Gwen meet her tragic fate at the hands of the Goblin in “Amazing 2”? Or are they saving that for “Amazing 3”? Or: Will it ever really happen on film?
We see Peter at a cemetery in the trailer. It could just be him visiting Uncle Ben. But who knows?
5. Jamie Foxx as Electro: Foxx’s being cast as Electro caused quite the buzz (as it were). One theme of the chatter: Electro is not black in the comic. Is the casting of Foxx a big deal? Should it be in 2013? If there is to be diversity in these big-budget comic-book adaptations, moves like this must be made to overcome the fact that most major superheroes — most of whom were created in the ‘60s or earlier — lack diverse casts (the whole mutant metaphor aside). Anyone who says Electro is such an important rogue to Spidey that he must be played by a white actor to maintain the illusion — well, sorry: No.
Plus, Electro isn’t as big a deal as the Goblin or Venom, so he was a lower-risk candidate for making a move like this (much how “Man of Steel” did with Lawrence Fishburne playing Perry White).
As for Foxx, he appears to have quite a few Spidey battles in “Amazing 2,” perhaps putting to rest any prospects he might be a sentimental villain.
The original Spider-Man sequel with Maguire — and Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus — is widely considered to be the best of the original Spider-Man film series. “Amazing 2” has a high bar to top — but it’s clear that Sony has no plans to let Marvel Studios get all the glory.