I've been talking about the Amazing Spider-Man 2 for a few posts now, and I want to finish up today with what I consider to be the unforgivable error the movie makes: Spider-Man himself. Or, to be more accurate, what Spider-Man. Or, to be super-duper accurate, what he doesn't do, which is everything.
I'd like to think that with all the superhero movies coming out in the past few years, we're slowly working on building a definition of what a "superhero movie" is. (Or, if you prefer what a "superhero movie" should do.) This is particularly exciting for me to think about because it's strange why some movies get classified as "sci-fi" or "action", despite having quite a bit in common with superhero movies -- such as Pacific Rim or The Matrix -- and some movies are called "superhero movies" even though they have very little in common with the rest of the genre. The Dark Knight, for example, is really about a wealthy vigilante fighting criminals in and outside of the law, but the dude wears a cape, so he must be a superhero. Right?
I don't think I'm getting too crazypants wackytown when I suggest that a big part of the superhero genre is heroics. Your superhero needs to be superheroic. Now, how a movie defines "heroic" is up for discussion, and I think a lot of movies, across all genres, vary in levels of success for how they establish what "heroic" means and how their characters exemplify this. A common theme across X-Men films (especially the most recent) is the idea of not only forgiving someone that has wronged you, but working towards their benefit as well. The X-Men are not heroes just because they shoot laser beams out of their eyes, but because they infinite patience in and hope for the racist morons of the world.
With this mind, I ask: What does Spider-Man do that is heroic in Amazing Spider-Man 2? In fact, what does Spider-Man do throughout this entire movie to advance the plot?
One of the things that Sam Raimi's film set out to do from the very beginning, and largely succeeded in, is showing that Peter Parker does love Mary Jane, but pushes her away because he knows a relationship with her will put her in danger. He sacrifices his own happiness for her safety. Webb's Parker doesn't do any of that. At the same point where Raimi's Peter is continuously pushing Mary Jane away and feeling awful for it, Webb's Peter is stalking Gwen Stacy, trying hard to get her back after breaking up with her, and then following her to fucking London, which would abandon his aunt.
Speaking of, why does this guy not have a job? His aunt is apparently going broke, and he just kinda loafs around throughout the entire movie. Not to mention that he doesn't seem to have a plan in place for college. So, Peter breaks up with his girlfriend right after graduation, stalks her, mooches off his poor, windowed aunt, has no job or plans for college, vows to follow his girlfriend across the world because he'll be super sad if she leaves...this is a sociopath.
Not only does this Spider-Man act irresponsibly and selfishly, but the plot is controlled by others throughout the film, and moves along nicely without Spider-Man displaying any cognizance of the events going on around him. "Hey, there's an electric monster downtown. I wonder how this happened?" is not a thought that even pops into his fucking head. Not once does he go, "Hm, last year there was a lizard monster from Oscorp. I bet Oscorp's behind this and I should investigate!" You know, like a normal fucking person who wasn't entirely focusing on shooting his webbing over Emma Stone. It falls on Gwen Stacy to actually look into Max Dillion's past, and Harry Osborn to follow-up on his situation. Peter does none of this and doesn't even ask those guys for any help.
So what exactly is Spider-Man doing this entire time? Well, looking for clues about his parents to solve the mystery of whether they were super-good people or not, I think. I'm not sure what he's looking for exactly. Is it where they are? What they were doing? If it's where they are, well, the parents are dead and there's no way to find that out, so that would be a pretty pointless plot point. If it's what they've done, we learn that they made a spider that can give people spider powers, so, thank god we found that out.
And then he spends the rest of his screen time Rossing Gwen Stacy's Rachel. They start out in love in the beginning of the movie and then end up in love at the end of the movie. Clever folks may have noticed that this is a net result of nothing fucking happening. I get that real people do this, and I get that this happens in romance movies, sometimes to get success, but usually events propel that forward or characters undergo an arc that facilitates changes in their personal relationships. However, none of that happens in Amazing Spider-Man 2. They break up, they miss each other, and they get back together. Powerful stuff.
This post is getting long and people on the internet have already torn this movie apart better than I ever could, but I need to touch on this point. I heard and read a lot of comments about how good Garfield's Spider-Man -- not his Peter Parker -- was. This is wrong. Spider-Man is for sure a bit of a jokester in a fight, but not to the point of recklessness. In the scene with Rhino and the truck, Spider-Man latches on the driver's side door and tom fools with Rhino for a bit, when he could have taken him out at any time. Meanwhile, people are shooting at cops, and Rhino is hitting cars with his giant-ass truck, which would probably, I don't know, kill whoever's inside. And did you really need to put on that fucking firefighter hat?
1) Well made? - This movie is a great example of how so many things in a movie can be amazing, but everything can turn to suck with a bad script.
2) Contributed? - To someone's bank account.
3) Good time? - I won't lie, the scene with Gwen Stacy almost made me forget all the other problems with this film. But, it didn't.
4) Watch again? - Only if I wanted to rip on it more
5) Worth it? - I have been reading Spider-Man comics since I was five or six years old, and I wish I hadn't seen it.
6) Who should watch this? - Future screenwriters for a lesson of what not to do