Marc Webb certainly has the name for Spider-Man, and with the The Amazing Spider-Man 2 he’s proven he’s got the directorial chops too. Back when Amazing Spider-Man came out, Webb was a music video director best known for his feature debut, the charmingly quirky romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer. But now he’s been thrust into the world of big-budget moviemaking, not just as a filmmaker but, with Sony’s ever-expanding spider franchise, an overseer of an entire universe. That’s a pretty big web. Or is it Webb?
We got the chance to talk to Webb about where Mary Jane was supposed to have fit into the movie, the things that he got right with this one that he might have fumbled with the first film, and why New York is so important to the Spider-Man mythos.
Movies.com: Where was Mary Jane supposed to fit into all of this?
Marc Webb: There was one little scene at the beginning where she is next door and it took place right around the montage where he comes back and there was another little moment between Gwen and MJ. But it just tipped over. The relationship between them [Peter and Gwen] is so sacred and so powerful, that it just didn’t feel right. And it sucks because Shailene is such a f**king great actress and so cool and magical but it was just about having this obligation to this romance that I thought was sacred. It was just one of those things.
Movies.com: Is she going to be back?
Webb: Well, Divergent is a massive hit and I think it’s going to be tricky for schedules.
Movies.com: Is this a character who you still want to introduce into the franchise?
Webb: Oh absolutely. The question, of course, is can Peter ever love again? And that will be something that we have to address.
Movies.com: And you’ve set up another potential love interest with Felicity Jones’ character, since she’s had a dalliance with Peter in the comic books.
Webb: In the comic books, yes. Who knows what’s going to happen with that in the future. But there are a few possibilities we’re exploring but in terms of theme, that’s certainly an interesting thing to play with.
Movies.com: You’ve talked about correcting some things with this movie that you didn’t quite stick with the first one.
Webb: Well the suit is one thing that I talked about and it was just, on an aesthetic level, something that I wanted to go back to the iconic elements of the Spider-Man that I loved. There was an idea when I was making the first movie and the suit is tied into this, was that I wanted everything to be grounded and realistic. But then you’re shooting a scene where a giant lizard crashes through the wall chasing a guy wearing a leotard. And you’re like, “This isn’t grounded.” That’s not the right word to describe this universe.
I wanted to embrace that surreal, mystical, massive spectacle that I loved from the comics. In terms of the suit, I was like, “How could he actually do this?” And that’s why the lenses were so small: they came from sunglasses; a kid’s going to make it. He can’t machine eyes. So this time around I wanted to give myself some freedom with that and commit to the iconography that has become so beloved over so many years and has become time-tested.
The other thing was I wanted to embrace the humor and the playfulness of Spider-Man. That’s why we did that opening sequence that way – in the daylight, with the illustrative, bombastic version of these characters. They’re hyperbole in a way – Max Dillon with his comb-over, and Paul Giamatti being expressive – and we really asked a lot of questions about who we were making the movie for. And it kept coming back to kids. There’s this eight-year-old kid, and it sounds so sound bite-y but it’s f**king true, in all of us. There’s this kid who, when you were first exposed to Spider-Man, we wanted to try and access. That’s why there’s that kid in the last fight sequence with Rhino. We wanted to please that part of ourselves when we were playing with those bombastic villains and playful, cartoonish scenarios.
Movies.com: Somewhere during the course of making this movie you went from being the director of Amazing Spider-Man 2 to a coarchitect of an entire universe. Did that change the way you were putting the movie together?
Webb: No, it was a very organic evolution because we were talking about how, before we do a movie, we do a deep dive into the comics and make sure we have precedent for certain decisions and to find characters and moments and Ravencroft and Kafka and all of these smaller characters. There’s a way to access that. And one thing that kept coming up and one thing that I wanted to address early on was the Sinister Six. There were so many characters that deserve their time in the sun — like Venom, Carnage, Sinister Six — that in the studio they were obviously interested in developing all of that. So in ending this one I really did want to set up the Sinister Six and I was kind of shocked with how intrigued people were by it and I think the studio was too. And I think it got them excited about developing those movies. Obviously this is my movie but how it expands is a big part of what I had to do with this movie.
Movies.com: How important was New York City to this movie?
Webb: Well it was the first movie we shot entirely in New York so we had the freedom to go out on the streets. We had the freedom to go shoot in Brooklyn for a little scene with New York City in the background. And our production designer was emphatic about finding certain landmarks. It informed the attitude of the movie – that sort of bombastic spirit that I was talking about before, that was New York. And another interesting thing was the first car chase, where we drive by Oscorp and we’re at Alice Tully Hall, all the way through Chinatown, you realize how much diversity there is in Manhattan still, even though it’s been wildly gentrified. And when you get that Spider-Man costume out there, it’s a little microcosm of the planet. That’s what makes New York so special, in terms of Spider-Man – it speaks to the border-busting quality of Spider-Man. It doesn’t matter what political party you are or what race you are, there’s just a kind of undying love for the character. And it’s awesome.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits theaters on May 2, 2014.
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