The Amazing Spider-Man: trailer analysis

Trailer James Hunt 4 May 2012 - 08:10

There’s loads of stuff going on in the latest trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man. James takes a closer look to find out what it all means...

We’re now only weeks away from the release of The Amazing Spider-Man, and that means there’s just about time for one more trailer before the big day. Let’s see what we learned from this, our latest glimpse at the Spider-Man reboot!

Spider-Angst

From the first line of the trailer, we’re given the impression that maybe being Spider-Man isn’t actually that much fun. Especially when you’re an orphan AND your girlfriend’s father has the entire NYPD hunting you AND you feel responsible for turning your friend/mentor into a man-sized lizard. “This life is not an easy one” indeed.

Never mind, though, because angst has always been a big part of the Spider-Man mythos. With the film apparently pursuing a moodier direction than Raimi’s series, it’s not exactly a surprise to see them playing it up to a greater degree than usual.

Yes, we might think it’s funny to nickname this film “The Amazing Spider-Mope”, but if anyone has a reason to throw a strop, it’s Spider-Man. It’s just a shame Joss Whedon recently made being a superhero (even the Hulk!) look so much fun, because suddenly this rather more dour approach feels just a little out-of-touch…

Webb Design

The more we see of the new costume (and we see a lot of it in this trailer) the more it becomes clear that it is, without hyperbole, awful on just about every level. The Steve Ditko design, refined by John Romita, has stood the test of time with good reason: you just can’t better it. Plenty have tried. Only the Black version of the suit ever came close to succeeding. The fussy, overly embellished version of the costume used in The Amazing Spider-Man just looks wrong. Wrong like putting Superman in a costume without his underpants (Oh, wait…).

At the same time, we also get a reasonably good look at the Lizard in this trailer, and surprise surprise, it’s no better on screen than it is as an action figure. Spider-man’s rogues gallery is, bar only Batman’s, the best in comics. The more changes you make to those villains, the less you look like you know what you’re doing, as Raimi’s terrible Green Goblin redesign demonstrated. We’re not suggesting that the Lizard should be wearing a lab coat like he used to in the comics (although there is apparently a nod to that after his initial transformation) but is it too much to expect him to look more like himself than Killer Croc?

At least there’s one part of the film’s visuals we can praise, and that’s the city. Where Raimi opted for an art deco version of New York, all limestone and elevated railroads, Webb has opted for ultra-modern appearance characterised by glass, steel and lights. It’s completely different, but equally as brilliant.

Wrist Action

If there were any doubts left that this reboot was going to use mechanical web-shooters, those doubts have been dispelled by this trailer, which gives us a good look up close of them being tested and mounted on Spidey’s wrists.

However, those fans who complained about Raimi’s biological web-shooters (which, by our reckoning, was actually a fairly sane change to make) may come to regret getting what they wanted. The web-shooters in this film appear to flash little red lights every time they’re fired. That’s… an interesting decision. And by a real stroke of luck, it’ll probably make selling web-shooter toys a little easier too.

Family Threads

The death (or, if you prefer, disappearance) of Peter Parker’s parents is a subject rarely discussed in Spider-Man stories. Why bother, when it’s such a flatly accepted part of the story that he was raised by his Aunt and Uncle? This trailer, even more so than the last, takes pains to remind us that Peter’s search for his parents is a major element of the film. The question is, can they sell it to us as something that we care about when it’s never mattered before?

Comics fans know that this area of Spidey’s backstory is a minefield of crazy revelations that are probably best ignored (short version: his parents were Agents of SHIELD. Yeah, that’s why no-one talks about it much.) so presumably the movie will be taking a wildly different tack – but what? Corporate manslaughter? Academic jealousy? Either way, this time it looks like it’ll be more personal than ever.

As for poor old Uncle Ben? He doesn’t appear in a single frame of this trailer, let alone have any lines. He should probably speak to his agent.

Spider-dickery

Everyone knows that Peter Parker is Midtown High’s only professional wallflower, and it’s only when he gets into costume as Spider-Man that he finds the confidence he lacks in the real world. So why is the former doing skateboard flips and cracking wise while Emma Stone drapes herself over his rippling pectorals? Isn’t that a bit like sitting down to watch Superman and finding Clark Kent beating the hell out of Lex Luthor then sweeping Lois Lane off her feet?

Now, to be fair, Gwen appears to know that Peter is Spider-Man by that point in the film, so maybe the whole purpose is to demonstrate that he’s comfortable enough to expose his whole personality (and torso) to her – but even so, we can’t be the only ones who find it strange that this version of Peter Parker feels more like he’d be the one stuffing Flash Thompson in a locker, rather than the other way around?

The Osborn Identity?

About halfway through, one shadowy figure asks an apparently jailed Curt Connors: “Did you tell the boy about his father?” The giant Oscorp logo splashed across the trailer’s opening scene leaves very little doubt in our mind about who this is. That, friends, is Norman Osborn, the original Green Goblin and Spider-Man’s greatest foe.

There’s value in setting up Norman Osborn in advance, of course, but the danger is that with the story of Norman Osborn so well-known, Webb and Co. are going to accidentally steer expectations in the wrong direction. From the moment Osborn gets on screen, we’ll all be waiting for him to Goblin-up. If that doesn’t happen until a sequel (and we’ve got no reason to suspect otherwise) it’ll be hard not to be disappointed.

There’s a chance it’s not Osborn – after all, he does look a little older than traditional depictions – so let’s give even odds on it being Osborn and 3-1 that it’s Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture. Whoever he is, we can expect to see that guy back as the villain in film number two.

Backwards?

Is it just us, or does a section of this trailer run BACKWARDS? We’re talking about a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene at the seven-second mark. Perhaps it’s an honest mistake, but let’s face it, the last time we saw a superhero film run a scene backwards it was Batman And Robin (see on YouTube if you don’t believe us) and that’s not exactly a comparison anyone should be pleased to invite…

All sniping aside, the 10-minute preview we saw was much less moody than any of the trailers have been thus far, so we’re cautiously optimistic that these promos tell us more about who the film is being marketed to than about the film itself. It wouldn’t be the first time a trailer lied to us.

And there are still things we don’t know about this film – what IS the secret behind Richard and Mary Parker’s disappearance? Will we find out where Mary-Jane fits into all of this? And is Samuel L Jackson going to turn up at the end and apologise for the rights issues that prevented Spidey joining the Avengers?

We just don’t know (although probably not that last one). At least we only have to be patient for a few more weeks. After which, as the saying goes, action will be our reward.

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