WARNING: This post contains spoilers. So don’t read it if you haven’t seen the film. Otherwise, you have no one to blame but yourself.
First of all let’s establish something; Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man is far from a great film. It is a pretty average superhero movie at best, but a good kind of average – the right side of wrong. For every moment of rib tickling comedy, there is a moment of uninspiring CGI. For every stylistic web sling, there is a cheesy speech. Despite this rope pull between substandard comic book fare and worthwhile reboot, one thing is certain; The Amazing Spider-Man is much better than its predecessor.
[Insert fan boy abuse] I know, I know, some of you will consider that statement to be wildly inaccurate and inflammatory. But if you would be so kind as to grant me an audience for the next few minutes, I will explain myself.
1. Andrew Garfield Is A Better Peter Parker
Tobey Maguire was definitely a very brave actor for taking on the Spider-Man role when he did. In today’s environment of Dark Knights, Green Lanterns, X-Men and assembled Avengers, it’s hard to imagine a time when comic book films were considered a gamble for a young actor. The 2002 Spider-Man film spent 25 years in development hell, and when things finally got moving at Sony, studios executives where very hesitant to hire Raimi’s first choice of Maguire. The baby-faced actor was considered something of a nobody and was in competition against the likes of his better known peers Leonardo DiCaprio, Freddie Prince Jr and a post-Knight’s Tale Heath Ledger. No one except Raimi wanted to see Maguire as Peter Parker, but they held to their guns and he turned out a performance in strong alignment with the comics.
That being said, Andrew Garfield is a much stronger performer. His take on Parker is more in keeping with how you’d expect a 17-year-old modern geek to be. Garfield’s Parker doesn’t sit in his room weeping and hiding inside lockers at school, he has a level of personality, charm and heart. Parker still gets bullied, he still has no friends, and he is still a massive science nerd, but Garfield portrays it with a level of panache. It has always been a hard sell that Maguire’s mega dweeb would grow to such a powerful and confident superhero, but Garfield’s Parker feels as though in another life he could have been born into this position. The thing that sells Peter Parker’s transformation as believable is that he had this hero within him all along, this ability to do great things; Maguire still looked weak even in the spider suit, whereas Garfield wears it well.