‘Amazing Spider-Man 2′ – Where the Rebooted Franchise Will Go Next
“Ultimately the audience will tell us if they want one.” That’s ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ director Marc Webb talking recently about ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2.’ But this is a silly statement because, first of all, the audience didn’t really want a ‘Spider-Man’ reboot yet got one anyway, and, second, Sony has actually been planning the trilogy for a while now. In fact, ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2‘ is already in the rewrite stage, courtesy of ‘Transformers’ scribes Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, and is set for release on May 2, 2014. So what will happen in ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2?’
Sure, there’s an infinitesimal chance that ‘ASM’ could disappoint at the box office, but even with critics and fans divided on this movie it’s likely to perform well enough to continue with the new series continuity. Unlike the problems with unintended one-offs such as ‘Superman Returns’ and either attempt at starting a ‘Punisher’ and ‘Hulk’ series, most of the faults of Webb’s origin rehash are easily dismissed and moved on from. Given how much ‘Spider-Man 2,’ ‘X2: X-Men United’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ improved on their respective predecessors, even if you didn’t like the first installment you can look forward to ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2.’
One thing we do like about ‘ASM,’ however, is the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy, as well as the overall performance from each. So there is no problem with them remaining in the roles going forward, and this exception is common among the film’s many detractors. We’d be fine with an action-less, villain-free sequel that focuses on the young couple’s romance. That almost seems to be what Webb was going for here anyway, more Archie Comics than Marvel, with the Lizard storyline and fight sequences feeling like they were sloppily thrown in last minute just to ensure a male audience.
Of course, ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ will have action, much more of it, and a villain, or maybe a few. Like all comic book movies, where the sequel goes really depends on the villain(s). Yet there is also a foundation in ‘ASM’ of a storyline that will be maintained. As if people weren’t upset enough about the movie being another telling of Spider-Man’s origin, that origin is not even over yet. We’re still left with questions about Peter Parker’s parents and the possibility of there being an actual plan for the boy to be bit by the radioactive spider and become the wisecracking wall-crawler. During the obligatory mid-credits teaser a shadowy figure enters the prison cell of Dr. Connors/the Lizard (Rhys Ifans) solely to ask if Peter knows the truth about his father. He doesn’t. And neither do we.
Who is that figure at the end of the film? Nobody seems to know for sure, and that’s probably also true for the studio and the filmmakers. Played by fill-in actor Michael Massee, this “Man in the Shadows” is just ambiguous enough to have the fans debating whether he’s the oft-referenced and said-to-be-dying Norman Osborn (aka the eventual Green Goblin), or Mysterio, Morbius, Electro, Chameleon, the Vulture, the Jackal, Shocker, Sundown or Proto-Goblin.
That last one is presumed to be the future fate of Oscorp’s Rajit Ratha (Irrfan Khan), who for some reason was forgotten about after the scene on the Williamsburg Bridge, when Spidey forgot about pursuing the Lizard in order to save C. Thomas Howell’s kid. A production still released back in May proves Ratha had another scene in the Lizard’s sewer lair that was left on the cutting room floor, probably deleted just to allow more characters to be candidates for the identity of the mysterious shadow man.
And that ambiguity is maddening since it means the scene’s only function is to tell us that an unknown person is to be met in a future installment. Well, yeah, obviously. He may not even be a villain. Some believe it could be Peter’s father (Campbell Scott), still alive and in hiding. Unlike post-credit scenes in most superhero movies, this one offers no substantial clues let alone certain revelations for the true fanboy to “get.” It’s a cop-out on the part of the studio so they can wait longer to decide who the next villain is and then write the character around that presently useless bit. They probably appreciate us all fruitlessly discussing it, though.
Regardless of who the concealed character is, Norman Osborn is still expected to show up at some point. I would prefer it if this series did not repeat the previous one and have Green Goblin as a major villain, even if Christopher Nolan has shown us that recycling bad guys is okay if you do them better the second time around. The character could easily be improved on from the 2002 ‘Spider-Man,’ but we seriously need a burst of freshness after the dull familiarity of ‘ASM.’ The only way a Green Goblin redux could work is if he is in ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ and kills Gwen Stacy at the end, leaving the series on a down note, because this would be ballsy, especially since everyone is smitten with Stone in the part.
To be honest, I don’t really care what villain is employed or what pre-existing comic storyline is mined for the sequel so long as it’s actually a consistent, cohesive and coherent film, which is not the case with the first ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ film. Sony has already decided they’ll be doing another one, but now it’s ultimately up to the audience to tell them they want a better one.