The Amazing Spider-Man 2 once again kills an entire Spider-Man franchise in one fell swoop. By recreating the exact same problem that Spider-Man 3 had. Yet somehow ending up the worst reviewed Spidey flick ever made. It’s definitely the one I’ve seen the least. I expected a sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, but I was only sort of on board with the new franchise. All that initially changed when the cast was revealed. Then I realized Sony was gonna stuff the movie with an excessive amount of supporting characters all over again. They didn’t even have to get to 3 movies this time. The obvious reason was the continued success of the MCU.
Sony was so desperate to have a cinematic universe that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 feels more like a preview then a continuation. At this rate, I don’t think we’ll ever see the Sinister Six or Black Cat on the big screen. The other problem was a very noticeable tonal shift. Marc Webb’s first movie was plenty humorous, but its look was consistently dark. The sequel is brighter with the colorful very comic accurate Raimi inspired costume to match. But while that tone worked for that trilogy, it feels more out of place here. The juvenile humor, over-the-top villains, and cringy moments don’t belong in a Spider-Man movie that tackles a storyline Marvel fans could see coming from a mile away…
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 began to lose me in the first 10 minutes. With an unbearably long opening action scene featuring no Spider-Man whatsoever. Why did they think that was a good idea? It’s enough to know Peter Parker’s parents perished in a plane. We don’t need to see Richard and Mary Parker fight an assassin on a crashing plane before downloading vague scientific research. Things at least start to pick when Spider-Man shows up. Even though Andrew Garfield’s Spidey banter can get childish at times, he does continue to embrace the role. Which is easier when the costume looks like it leapt off the Ultimate pages. As Spider-Man, Peter is a hero beloved by New York. Along with the usual debate about superheroes and vigilantism. Which is shown in a semi-cheesy montage.
As far as High School is concerned, Peter once again graduates. This time it’s in the beginning with another in your face Stan Lee cameo. This time as a guest who sees Peter change out of his costume. Since Garfield was dating Emma Stone at the time, Peter and Gwen Stacy hold the audience hostage with even more cutesy relationship stuff. Gwen’s valedictorian speech is all about how young people aren’t immortal and living life to the fullest (I’m sure it’s not foreshadowing anything). Despite being so in love, Peter breaks up with Gwen after seeing visions of the ghost of Captain Stacy. Which looks a lot more bizarre than they probably intended. Easiest money Denis Leary made. Despite graduating, Peter is still living with Aunt May. Although Sally Field wasn’t a fan, she does give May more depth. Her comically not discovering her nephew’s secret identity is fine, but there’s no reason to include a subplot about nursing school. At least Peter finally starts selling pictures of Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle. It’s just a shame J. Jonah Jameson is an unseen cameo.
During their breakup, Peter begins stalking Gwen as Spider-Man while she gets accepted at Oxford in England. I get that Andrew Garfield is British, but do they have to be so on the nose. The totally unnecessary parent subplot is finally addressed in the most convoluted way possible. As Peter creates a crazy obsession wall, he discovers coins in his father’s calculator that lead to a subway train which contains answers that lead back to Oscorp. I still like how Oscorp is represented, but the series of conveniences is a lot even for Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 once again has too many supervillains to know who the primary threat is. Yet they surprisingly never overlap.
The villain the posters, international title, and interviews favor the most is Electro. A classic Stan Lee/Steve Ditko antagonist I always hoped would appear in a Spidey film. If only he didn’t turn out to be one of three truly terrible villain interpretations. How can you take an Oscar winner like Jamie Foxx and turn him into a cartoonishly unrealistic nerd? This Max Dillon is a “nobody” electrician who develops an equally over-the-top obsession with Spider-Man after he saves his life. Instead of a freak accident on a power line, Max is shocked by a power cable and falls into a tank of electric eels. The electric current somehow gives him electrical powers and fixes his teeth for some reason. Turning him into an Electro that’s the furthest thing from the original comics. I get that his yellow & green lightning suit from the comics looks ridiculous, but the blue skin look isn’t much better. Same with his generic black suit. Electro’s weak reason for hating Spider-Man is thinking he’s selfish for getting attention.
Their first fight at Time Square would have been better without the one liners that aren’t even ironically fun. His web shooters are fried, but water shorts him out. Electro is then taken to Ravencroft where a ridiculous Russian scientist version of Dr. Kafka examines him. Since Oscorp is so important, it was only a matter of time before they did the Osborns all over again. Except ten times worse. Dane DeHaan plays a bizarre bratty rich kid version of Harry Osborn. Meanwhile Chris Cooper briefly plays a butchered version of Norman Osborn. Who dies due to “Goblin disease.” Harry inherits Oscorp and spends his time searching for a cure to his hereditary affliction. He’s been friends with Peter for years despite zero mention of that (and a sheer lack of chemistry between the actors). Harry discovers Spider-Man’s blood might be able to cure him. So his weak villainous motivation is thinking he’s a fraud for not doing that.
So Harry teams up with Electro and they get revenge on Oscorp for casting them aside. Although he might as well have played Adrian Toomes, Colm Feore plays another minor antagonist. An Oscorp CEO who’s covering up the fact that the company is trying to weaponize their research. Which is what Peter’s father was trying to fight. The most convoluted part was making his father the reason the spider gave him superpowers. An unnecessarily complicated detail that nobody asked for. It’s why the spider blood turns Harry into a literal Green Goblin. I can’t believe a movie that has a near perfect costume for the hero, can create such a horrible looking villain. The glider & pumpkin bombs are about the same, but the scales, swooped hair, green armor, and pointy teeth are awful. The climax begins after Peter chooses to stay with Gwen. Except she foolishly puts herself in harm’s way.
The Electro fight matches the already cartoony character with electric dubstep and all his other random electric powers. He’s eventually defeated using a whole lot of science. Saving the planes and hospital that they continuously cut back to. In case it wasn’t glaringly obvious by the inclusion of Green Goblin or Gwen Stacy’s infamous death outfit, this is based on “The Night Gwen Stacy Died.” Except the tragedy takes place in a clock tower instead of a bridge. When Harry is incapacitated, Peter desperately tries to grab Gwen with a symbolic web hand. Sadly, he doesn’t catch her in time. As cheesy as the movie can get, this comic accurate moment is easily the best. It’s impossible not to cry.
Just like the first movie, it’s the speech of his deceased loved one that gets him back on his feet. The first and last villain is an excessively hammy Paul Giamatti as the Russian hitman Aleksei Sytsevich. He’s not too bright like the comics, but their first fight is just ridiculous. When the mysterious “Man in the Shadows” returns, it’s to set up the Sinister Six that we’ll never see. All we get is Doc Ock’s tentacles and Vulture wings. Then Aleksei becomes a less than accurate version of the Rhino at the very end. Dressed in a weaponized mech suit instead of just being a muscular dimwit with artificial rhino skin. I know what they’re trying to do, but the kid dressed as Spider-Man standing up to the Rhino is just painful to watch. Spider-Man returns and the fight we were promised in the trailer is never seen.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is all show with no real payoff. Obscure villain Alistair Smythe is just a throw away employee who sets Electro’s origin in motion. Felicity Jones is completely wasted as Felicia Hardy. Rather than become the Black Cat, she’s just an Oscorp employee who Harry promotes. The most intriguing tacked on character wasn’t even in the movie. Shailene Woodley was actually cast as Mary Jane Watson. Her unflattering set photos made me nervous, but I was still disappointed to learn she was cut. They already crammed in a bunch of other characters, why not throw MJ in as well. The only deleted scene that survived was one involving Peter’s living father visiting him at the cemetery. Which makes no sense. Although I feel bad for Garfield, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was just the kind of failure Sony needed to ensure Ol’ Webhead’s home in the MCU.
Preceded by: The Amazing Spider-Man