This movie was good. Like, really good. Like, better than the first one. I am writing this immediately after seeing it at an advance screening. This will not be a review of movie; there are plenty of those already floating around the internet. Besides, I already said the film rocked. Instead, this will examine the canonicity and fan service I observed after one viewing of the film.
Firstly, “The Amazing Spider-Man” followed the canon of the source material quite well. I enjoyed how the story involved Peter’s parents, a topic that had yet to be explored in-depth in the Spider-Man film franchise. If you are a not a fan of the comics, you will still enjoy the movie for its pure entertainment value. If you are a fan of the comics, you will appreciate the references to the comics as well as the pure entertainment value.
Regarding fan service, “The Amazing Spider-Man” there were many winks at the comics. Call them Easter eggs, call them whatever you want. Here are just a few that I noticed (I’m sure there are some I missed):
There is a brief shot of Peter Parker wearing a protective rubber suit. This is probably a nod to Amazing Spider-Man #425, where Spidey creates his “Electro-proof” rubber suit.
There is a brief image of the Roosevelt Island tram car. This may be coincidence, but it may be a reference to the first Tobey Maguire movie, where he saves the tram car full of children from the Green Goblin.
In Peter Parker’s room, he has a Ramones poster on his wall. The Ramones famously recorded a cover of the 1967 Spider-Man animated series theme song. (This is like in “The Avengers” when Tony Stark is wearing a Black Sabbath shirt, a clear nod to their hit song “Iron Man.”)
Peter’s cell phone ringtone is the 1967 theme song.
Spider-Man (almost) ruining Peter Parker’s graduation is just like Amazing Spider-Man #185.
In Oscorp’s secret laboratory, there are bits of gear for other Sinister Six members, such as Doctor Octopus’s arms, the Vulture’s wings, the Rhino suit, and what appears to be Mysterio’s helmet.
Ravencroft, the supervillain containment facility (complete with Dr. Kafka), appears, and its counterpart, The Vault, is mentioned in passing.
One of the Oscorp employees is named “Felicia,” likely supposed to be Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat. Max Dillon calls another employee “Mr. Smythe,” clearly Spencer Smythe, the creator of the Spider-Slayers (this also makes sense, given that he works at Oscorp).
The iconic death of Gwen Stacy was handled quite elegantly. With such a famous storyline (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122), it had to be done carefully. There are slight deviations from the strictest comic book canon, specifically her death taking place in a clock tower instead of at the George Washington Bridge, and also her death being at the hands of Harry Osborn, not Norman Osborn, but for the purposes of the narrative, I think these artistic choices were just fine. Her death was tragic, just as it should have been.
I did feel like there were a few minor problems with the movie. Firstly, the graduation scene felt similar to the Tobey Maguire films. I think this is a common complaint among lukewarm fans, since they feel like the Maguire films were not far enough in the past to warrant a reboot. As a fanboy, I eat these movies up, but even I still was thinking, “I’ve seen this already.” I know Hollywood has to make this series stand on its own two feet, apart from its predecessor, but I think it’s safe to assume that the average viewer has seen the old films. Thus, when I see the same stuff rehashed, it just makes me want to see something new.
The inclusion of the Rhino felt forced. I love the character of the Rhino, but it seemed like he was just included as a teaser for the next movie and fodder for the movie’s trailer. I get that it was supposed to symbolize that everything had come full-circle in the story, but I think that character could have waited until part 3. At least his costume looked cool.
I thought the new movie developed the characters of both Harry Osborn and Max Dillon sufficiently. I felt pity for Electro. I liked how they made him a nice person who means well. When he first appeared in the middle of city, he was genuinely afraid. Most other villains would start blasting heads off right away. Dillon didn’t want to resort to violence. He was provoked. I enjoyed this tragic, misunderstood Electro character. Harry Osborn, too, was well done. He reminded me of Draco Malfoy, in his slimy-yet-somehow-lovable personality. His character’s slow descent into madness was underplayed, but in a good way. The film didn’t make it too obvious, and I appreciated that.
All in all, this was a very good installment in the “Amazing Spider-Man” series. People were speculating that it would fall victim to the same problem from the third Maguire movie had: too many villains, and not enough character development. And the dance scene. (But I won’t beat a dead horse.)
I feel that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” was well-made and enjoyable. It appeals to both longtime fans and to those non-fans who think they might have seen one of the Tobey Maguire films, but they don’t remember which one it is, but they think it was the one with Octopus Man, but they aren’t sure. I certainly recommend giving “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” a watch, wherever you fall on that spectrum.