Marc Webb knows all about the theories surrounding the plot of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," but, sorry, he's not going to reveal anything.
When we sat down with the Spidey director at this year's Comic-Con, Webb was frank when it came to spoilers about the upcoming sequel. Unfortunately for him, he still has another year before "Spider-Man 2" hits theaters (April 14, 2014), increasing the potential for more bits and pieces to leak their way onto the Internet. Still, the director is trying his best to keep it all under wraps.
Below, read our full conversation with Webb, where he talks about the confidence he had coming into "Spider-Man 2," the lessons he learned from directing the first film, what we can expect from the film's villain, Electro (played by Jamie Foxx), and the unbelievable chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.
Welcome back to Comic-Con.
Thank you! It's good to be here!
You were here in 2011 to promote the first "Spider-Man." Do you feel more confident this time around?
Yeah, you know, last time I had never been here; I didn't know what to expect. But one of the things I learned is that there is such incredible profound and very true uncynical love for these characters here, and it's really fun to be around that energy.
Yeah, uncynical is definitely a good word for it. Actors and filmmakers get a real, unadulterated view of fandom here.
It's true, you really get a sense of what people love about these characters.
Were you also more confident going into the second film than you were on the first?
Yeah, the first one was sort of terrifying. I wanted to crawl under a rock some days. But also, I was driven by this adolescent excitement. I really value this incredible opportunity. So this time around, we just had a blast. Everyone had so much fun making the movie and it was terrifying in the right way, it was challenging in the right way. The degree of difficulty was quite high, I think, but everybody was on the same ship standing in the same direction and operating with a lot of muscle and clarity.
Was there anything that you learned on the first film that you wanted to avoid the second time around?
Yeah, sure. In the first movie, the Lizard. We really tried to sort of keep Rhys [Ifan's] performance in the Lizard, and creating an entirely CG character was very difficult and imposed certain limitations. Fortunately, Rhys, who I think is a wonderful actor, was very nuanced. [For "Spider-Man 2"] I wanted to sort of, not make it about technique so much when I was talking about the villain. I wanted to keep that character more alive. So in designing Electro, we were very careful to make him more practical. There are still visual effects involved, obviously. But, the emotion of his performance is incredibly intuitive and that was something that came out of planning in the early stages and not making it too reliable on CG.
On the flipside, were there any techniques or things you learned on the first movie that you wanted to repeat?
There were things that worked really well on the first movie, like the dynamic between Andrew [Garfield] and Emma [Stone]. Gwen and Peter's relationship is again a very important part of this film. Gwen gets a phone call early in the film that has potentially drastic consequences to their relationship, and she's got to sort of deal with that. You're seeing a new inflection of two kids that are growing up and having to deal with the issues that we all have to deal with when we are trying to become our fuller selves. Peter Parker has a destiny. Gwen also has a destiny and a future she has to chase and understand, and that's going to manifest itself in an interesting and complicated way for Peter Parker.
Musicians talk about not wanting to listen to other people's albums, so they go in with a fresh perspective on their own music. Does that work for directors, too? Do you try to avoid other current superhero movies just so you're coming up with something new?
I am obviously very aware of the genre. But you know, superhero movies were never my thing growing up. I am often surprised to find myself directing a Spider-Man movie because I just didn't imagine myself doing that. I imagined myself doing smaller dramas and things that are character-based. That's what I thought I wanted to do, and then this came along. What's wonderful about it is there's elements of that in this movie and I feel like I get to exercise that muscle.
But to answer your question, I didn't refer to any other superhero movies when I was trying to make this. You know what? There are references -- this is going to sound weird, and maybe pretentious. The stunt guys and I watched a lot of Buster Keaton.
Yeah, like "The General" and "The Electric House" and a lot of his short films, because there's a lot of physical comedy in the movie, which required some long takes and a sense of play that I think is elemental to Spider-Man. It was a way to sort of mess around with that universe and use some of that cinematic language. And for some reason that has disappeared. The best versions of that are in Pixar movies or in animation, and Keaton, Lloyd, and Chaplin. In terms of cinematic precedent, that is something that we did study.
So a third and fourth "Spider-Man" has been announced. Is it hard not think ahead to those two films even though we're still a ways from the second one being released?
It's really about focusing on what's in front of you. There are certainly elements that we're teasing out that are part of a larger plan that will expand over the next films. But all of our energies are really about composing and building out this second film.
Between you and Bryan Singer, you guys have started a new wave of marketing movies and breaking film news by tweeting out photos from the set on a consistent basis. Do you find that beneficial?
Well, my assistant Katherine was largely in charge of tweeting those photos. What was tricky was I didn't want to reveal too much. We were intentionally coy about what these things were and we sort of wanted to spark a conversation and engage the fans. And it was really an experiment. Most directors I know don't tweet. Most actors I know don't tweet. But I think I was curious now to see people would respond and the reaction has been amazing -- especially for the hardcore fans interested and engaged and reward that level of interest.
The hardcore fans have really been pressing you recently on specific spoilers, in particular things regarding Gwen Stacy. Do you try and balance that at all as a director, hoping to please hardcore Spider-Man geeks while also not wanting to reveal too much to those not familiar with the original story?
I just don't want to tell anybody the plot of the movie. The joy that comes from being surprised in the theater is under attack at all times. It's not really a conundrum or a dilemma to me -- I just don't want to tell anybody what's happening. But, I will tell you, I am aware of the theories floating around, and every theory I have read is wrong. I guarantee you you will be surprised.
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