Designed to be the biggest Spider-Man movie

Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) - May 5, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The new Spider-Man movie is now open in theaters. It is expected to shatter box-office records worldwide. This writer saw a preview back in November and I can declare that the 30-minute clip shown to us was indeed amazing!

The Spider-Man summit in Los Angeles was held two weeks after the Philippines was devastated by Supertyphoon Haiyan. When Andrew Garfield learned that I was from the Philippines, he told me he was sorry for what just happened and he surprisingly requested our roundtable to offer a minute of silence for my country. He closed his eyes and I saw him whisper a prayer.  

“It is really crazy what’s happening there. I am thinking about you guys,” he said to me afterwards. It was a gesture that reinforced my initial impression of him: There’s a good man playing Peter Parker/Spider-Man.

Earlier in our interview, Andrew humbly expressed that he doesn’t think he’s earned the right to call himself a successful actor yet. “I am not stopping and looking back yet. I am moving. I am creating and moving as much as I want to,” he said. “I haven’t got enough distance; I am not far enough away from me yet. I am still very much in the moment of feeling where I want to be and trying to act in a way that I want to act.”

Like his character, Peter Parker, Andrew stated that he, too, is not immune to struggles in life and that he felt the enormous weight of his responsibility to the fans of the series when they were filming the sequel. He also said that playing the human alter ego was more challenging than being Spider-Man himself.

“The ability to step into a superhuman energy is a escape and a fantasy. You are living out a dream. And then, ultimately, you can’t stay in that dream — you have to wake up and you come crashing back down to reality and then you look in the mirror as you take off the mask and you are the same old Peter Parker and it’s a bummer because a minute ago you were saving this person and feeling this incredible feeling of flight and now you have to deal with bills! You are back to being human, you can’t avoid being human.”

The British actor, who was carrying a bag filled with some books during the summit, showed the depth of his knowledge when he shared with us that, in literature, the word King means sacrifice. “Inherent to a hero is sacrifice,” he remarked. “There’s sacrificing of one’s personal needs and desires in order to fulfill your purpose and your destiny.”

When he touched on the purpose and destiny of every superhero, this writer immediately thought of a question that I thought was legitimate and relevant at that time.

Every superhero has people and cities to protect and in the light of the recent tragedy in the Philippines, this writer asked Andrew this question: “Is it possible for Spider-Man to venture out of New York and help other people in other countries?”

“It’s a fun idea. I wonder how that would look. I think that would be a really cool thing,” he quickly replied. “It’s a wonderful thought, an important thought because he does stand for every culture and every race.”

Also present at the two-day summit were Andrew’s co-stars Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan and Jamie Foxx, who played table tennis with his daughter between roundtable interviews. Director Marc Webb, who was surprised to hear me ask about his breakthrough film and one of my all-time favorites, 500 Days of Summer, during our visit to his editing room was also in attendance.

Legendary comic icon Stan Lee, Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer and Grammy-winner Pharrell Williams joined the cast during the morning press conference on Day 1.

Of course, Stan received the biggest applause when he was introduced.

“Thank you. Wow. What an array of talent on this platform. And I get a chance to sit here,” Stan excitedly declared. “You know, it’s incredible. I wrote these stories a million years ago and that was it. And now, they make these magnificent movies based on them. They do all the work and I get a lot of credit.”

It was during the press conference when a Japanese journalist asked Andrew a rather direct question about the sequel: “Could you tell me how better this film is compared to the first one?” she asked.

“How much better it is than the last one? It’s so much better than the last one,” Emma quickly volunteered the answer before Andrew could form a reply.

“Well, it’s a loaded question and it’s hard to not give a loaded answer,” started Andrew. “I think Marc started us off on a really great place. I think we now all feel ownership over this new chapter that we are embarking upon. Whereas in the first installment, we had to establish ourselves, but now we have the freedom to own the character and explore — expand the character and expand the relationships. And we have these guys, which is a huge deal to be up here with these two actors and this lovely young woman. So that’s a huge step for us in this franchise, I think.”

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is designed to be bigger, if not the biggest of all the Spider-Man movies in the past decade and Sony did a calculated move to reveal as little as possible about the movie which has millions and millions of fans worldwide clamoring for as much information they could get before the global release of this spectacular sequel.

The clips shown to us at the summit were not chronological and only one villain was shown. Take that as a hint. Entertainment Weekly reported that several villains would be introduced in this sequel with some boldly predicting that the notorious Sinister Six will make an appearance — which has not been confirmed by anyone.

And if one wants a direct confirmation, this writer thinks the best person to approach would be Stan, Spider-Man’s creator himself.

“You know, the first thing they think about when they start a new movie, is what cameo will we give Stan?” Stan joked during the press conference.

“Once that’s settled, then they decide on the villain and the plot and all of that. The other part is downhill. That’s easy.”

Or, perhaps it’s best to just discover along with the rest of the world what a great superhero movie we have in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 because sometimes knowing the facts just ruins the excitement and mystery of the whole thing. Take for example what we learned after Stan was asked to explain the meaning of the iconic phrase he coined years ago: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Here’s Stan’s reply in full:

“I wrote that sentence and it was just really a throwaway line, like all of them are when you’re a writer. I mean, you write something, you hope people will relate to it and you go on to the next thing. So it seemed like the right thing to say at the moment and that was the end of it. I never thought that the line would really catch on that much, or become so well-known. If I had known, I would have told the letterer to letter it bigger and put my name right under it, but I didn’t think of that. As far as what it means to me, I never realized I was so philosophical until I read the line over and over again and people keep talking about it. And now I realize I’m much more profound than I ever thought I was.”


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