Filmmaker Marc Webb on how he has woven an interesting tale around Peter Parker as an abandoned seven year old in the much-awaited The Amazing Spider-Man
Marc Webb seems just the man to helm the Spider-Man reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, releasing in India on June 29, a week before its U.S. release. Apart from the serendipitous name, the director, who created some iconic music videos for bands such as Green Day, Fergie and My Chemical Romance, made his feature film debut with the sleeper indie hit 500 Days Of Summer.
In 2002, when Spider-Man directed by Sam Raimi came out, it won our collective hearts with jolly colours, stunning set pieces and winning cast of Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man and Kirsten Dunst as his love interest, Mary Jane. Part II (2004) and III (2007) followed. Also directed by Raimi with the cast reprising their roles, the films were a heady combination of superlative action with a strong, relatable emotional core.
So the question begging to be asked is why reinvent the wheel. “It is important for me to have an interesting and new story for the fans,” explains Webb over telephone from Los Angeles. The Golden Globe nominated 500 Days Of Summer was about young love and interestingly The Amazing Spider-Man also goes back to Peter Parker as a teenager.
“Since we were re-establishing Peter Parker, we had to build the audience’s relationship with him from the ground up,” says the 38-year-old director. The story begins with Parker as a seven year old whose parents leave him with his uncle Ben and aunt May. “Peter Parker is a kid,” Webb explains. “It is pretty interesting when a young person has a massive quality of power. Being young, he is not sophisticated. He is a young punk.”
Followers of the comic book know that before Mary Jane there was Gwen Stacy. Spider-Man III The Amazing Spider-Man explores this relationship. “He experiences love for the first time. There is a playfulness and swing to the character.”
Casting, according to Webb, took “many, many months. Peter Parker is an iconic role. When I saw Andrew (Garfield) perform, I realised he has the necessary emotional gravitas as well as the humour. I needed someone who could preserve the legacy, handle the role, do the action and also be a teenager. Andrew had it all.”
Webb says everyone from Emma Stone as Gwen to Rhys Ifans as reptilian antagonist Lizard, Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Sally Field as Aunt May did a brilliant job. About Irrfan Khan who plays Dr. Ranjit Ratha in the film, Webb says, “I saw Irrfan in The Namesake and was completely beguiled. He has the physical presence and sophistication for the role.”
500 Days Of Summer was a small movie and a very different ball game from a huge special effects crammed summer blockbuster. Webb, however, begs to differ. “At the end of the day, a movie is a movie. 500 Days of Summer was about a lot of small moments. It was about squeezing the details. Spiderman has a similar foundation. What was different was the action. It was quite exciting. There is plenty of CGI with a lot of help from people in Mumbai.”
When Spider-Man made his comic book debut in August 1962, he was quite the geek. “A geek means something quite different these days than it did 50 years ago when the comic book came out. Geeks rule the world now. Peter Parker is the ultimate outsider. He is a little more than a geek. He is a science wiz. The film is a celebration of the intellect. Spider-Man has gone beyond being the celebration of geek culture to being a celebration of culture, how about that?”
And finally does he get the celebrated line “With great power comes great responsibility” thrown at him often? “All the time!” Webb signs off with a laugh.