The Amazing Spider-Man was no more or less clever or original than the much-lauded Avengers, but I liked it far better. Not because the story surprised me more, or the quips amused me more, or the cheesy bits melted my heart more, but because I cared about Peter Parker more than I cared about any of the characters in The Avengers.
The Avengers had kabooming action to spare, but little in the way of character development or personally focused story lines. These things were beside the point: The Avengers celebrates its superheroes super-ness; it’s not overly devoted to their alter-egos. Plus there are so many main characters, once you give each of them a few cool action sequences, five or six long stretches of chops-displaying dialogue, and a big old let’s-conquer-our-differences-and-work-as-a-team finale, you’re two hours in with, at most, a coupla Ironman quips to spare.
But aside from the opening Black Widow scene, which I appreciated as a signature Joss Whedon strong-woman moment, I barely remember the movie. I remember thinking the big Hulk reveal was far less of a big Hulk reveal than I expected (I mean, I’m angry most of the time too), and beyond that – some people zipping around some places and zapping some other people.
Spidey necessarily was going to give me more of the personal storyline it turns out I crave. (Why did I not know this about myself? Also, am I a gender stereotype here or what? Personal Drama > Heroics + Spectacle.) I knew the storyline, I’ve seen past Spideys, but I still enjoyed it, in large part because I appreciated Marc Webb’s/Andrew Garfield’s take on Peter Parker. I found him more empathetic/less clichéd than Tobey Maguire’s by-the-book, pushing-glasses-up-the-nose-bridge nerdly Peter Parker.
I liked Garfield start to finish, and I loved him in the scene where he discovers the full scope of his Spidey powers. Completely exhilarated, he swoops and glides and swings and climbs around a construction site. He seemed full of pure joy, and watching the scene filled me with the same.
I didn’t buy Jed Bartlett as Uncle Ben, though I liked the way Webb handled the relationship, which seemed slightly more believable and stronger than past Spideys. And who doesn’t love Gidget? Except Sally Field’s face has melted. She didn’t look old; she looked melted. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Plastic surgery gone bad? Strange makeup? Instead of listening to her words, I found myself pondering her facial features.
The rest: solid. Denis Leary was Denis Leary, blond girl was blond girl, bad guy was 1950s’ sci-fi creature.
The intrigue surrounding Papa Parker may well be a step beyond solid. We’ll find out next time, as @harbordove and I learned when we saw the little teasey bit at the end. Thank you man-gaggle in the back of the theater; without your hyper-focus on the credits, we would have headed straight for the powder room and missed the Easter Egg.