Andrew Garfield Says: “We’re Approaching ‘Spider-Man’ Like It’s Shakespeare, Or A Greek Myth”
The cast of “Total Recall” were ushered off the stage while a massive title card for “The Amazing Spider-Man” was emblazoned on the screen behind them. Before Garman introduced anyone, he showed the film’s theatrical trailer, which hit the Internet just a few days ago, but was admittedly much more impressive on the big screen and in 3D. Apparently, it even knocked out star Andrew Garfield because he appeared in front of the microphone where attendees ask their questions – in a homemade Spider-Man suit, no less – and read an impassioned letter he wrote about how important the character was to him and his life, not to mention how the excitement of premiering footage at Comic-Con. “You have no idea how much this means to me,” he said, gushing. “Here I am as a fan.”
Before bounding up to the stage to join them, Garfield introduced his fellow panelists: producers Matthew Tolmach and Avi Arad, director Marc Webb, and co-star Emma Stone, who plays Garfield’s character’s love interest, Gwen Stacy. Webb took the microphone first to talk about how and why he decided to take on this project after making the considerably smaller film “(500) Days of Summer.” “There’s such a wealth of material that hasn’t been explored cinematically,” he said. “The Gwen Stacy saga in the Marvel comics is iconic, and he is a perennial character. I felt an incredible sense of enthusiasm – it was too intoxicating to turn down.”
Following his comments, Webb introduced a meaty clip from the film, in which Peter Parker suffers abuse at the hands of Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka). After he is transformed by the bite of a radioactive spider, however, Peter dishes out some much-needed revenge, although it lands him in hot water with the school administration. As Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) admonishes Peter for beating up another kid, Gwen Stacy walks up behind him. Ben embarrasses Peter, revealing that he has picture of Gwen on his computer, and then walks off so the two of them can talk. They fumble through an awkward conversation where they agree to go on a date, without quite ever saying what they will do, or when they will do it.
After that scene, Peter receives his father’s satchel from Ben, and he peruses the files inside it, which offer a connection between his father and Oscorp, the company where Gwen Stacy works. It is there that he is bitten by the spider, and the clip features a montage of Peter figuring out some of the iconic moves that Spider-Man demonstrates in the comic books, including swinging from building to building and shooting web shooters which, very importantly, are not biological but technological. Following the sort of training montage, there’s footage of Spider-Man taunting his adversaries, including a feckless car thief, and later, the authorities, who brand him a menace.
As the audience applauded the footage, Garfield explained his approach to the material. “We’re approaching this like it’s Shakespeare, or a Greek myth,” he said. “These are modern myths. For me it’s another chapter in a long history of a comic book story that means so much to so many people.” On the other hand, Emma Stone said that she wasn’t looking at previous versions of her character but creating Gwen Stacy from a whole new cloth. “I can’t play a character without making her my own,” she insisted. “I interpreted her my own way, and tried to make Gwen and Peter’s story new and fresh.”
After fielding a few more questions from the crowd, Webb introduced a clip featuring the film’s villain, The Lizard, who as a man is named Curt Connors. In the clip, Connors introduces himself as “the foremost authority on herpetology, which is the study of reptiles.” Pointing out his missing right arm to a group of students, he explains that he “longs to fix himself.” In the footage, Connors experiments on himself with DNA from a reptile that can replenish and re-grow its appendages. The dosage is way too high, and Connors begins to transform into a reptilian monster. After enduring some unusual changes, he explodes from beneath a bathroom stall fully-formed as The Lizard, menacing two teenage girls. The clip ends with a shot of The Lizard roaring fiercely and lunging towards the camera, which looked pretty terrific in 3D.
After Webb introduced Rhys Ifans, who plays Connors, Garfield talked about those mechanical web shooters: “They’re mechanical, and designs himself with his scientific genius,” Garfield explained. “He figures it out with his connections to Oscorp.” Meanwhile, Webb explained that details like that were an important part of giving this film some roots in a believable reality. We looked at Ultimates in terms of body type,” he said of the particular source material from which they drew, “And we also asked, how does a kid make a suit? Andrew is fit but skinny, and we wanted to use that – and the suit emerged from that notion. How great is it seeing a skinny guy beating the crap out of big guys?”
Following a few more questions about the actors’ other work, Garfield encapsulated what he connected to in Peter Parker and explained why the experience was so meaningful to him. “Spider-Man was I’ve always felt the one fictional character that I related to as a kid growing up. I bought my first Spider-Man suit when I was two. It’s always been something I felt close to personally.”
“But I was overwhelmed by stepping into it,” he continued. “It was really hard work. There was a weight I didn’t quite understand. So it was most scary because I’m one of you, in a way.” — Todd Gilchrist Photo: Zimbio