My biggest cause for concern had been the news that Peter Parker’s previously anonymous parents were being remade into an integral part of his origin. The magic of Spider-Man was that he was an aspirational character. Any awkward teenager could imagine themselves in Spidey’s red and blues. Spider-Man made superheroics seem tantalizingly possible. All you had to do was be in the right place at the right time and be lucky enough to get bitten by a radioactive Spider. Thankfully, Peter’s father, Richard, is treated as more of a convenient plot point to direct the soon-to-be wallcrawler to Oscorp’s labs, where he meets his father’s old partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).
Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is arguably the most comic-accurate portrayal we've seen thus far (at least until Ultimate Spider-Man comes out in 2022 - kidding! Or am I?) The British actor, convincingly playing a character ten years younger than him, is entirely believable as the eponymous hero and his emotional arc is the film's beating heart. The family dynamic between Peter, Aunt May (Sally Fields) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) makes the inevitable tragedy that eventually drives Peter to use his great power for great responsibility all the more heartrending. Unlike in previous adaptations, Aunt May and Uncle Ben are real characters with depth and nuance. Sheen’s casting is a particular stroke of genius and we feel his loss as keenly as Peter does.
While a stellar ensemble may be the film’s greatest strength, the narrative gives the cast more than enough to work with. The pacing is perfect and the script is humorous without getting camp. In a move that’s truer to the comics than any other filmic adaptation we’ve seen, it doesn't shy away from the truly terrible things that can happen when you start fighting crime in home-sewn spandex. Ifans' mad scientist dances perilously close to Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, but his motivations elevate him to the status of a truly compelling villain. The greatest villains are the kind that dares you not to sympathize with them. Dr. Connor’s own flawed humanity and misguided optimism are what drive him into the arms of evil and eventually into the body of a giant man-lizard.
The Amazing Spider-Man will be released worldwide on July 3rd.