I was eight years-old when I fell in love with Spider-Man. I remember the texture of the comic book paper. It was more like newsprint than what they use today. The colors tended to bleed, and they often had little color check boxes on the sides of a page. The first issue I remember clearly is Spider-Man getting buried under tons of cement and pipe work after battling one of his villains.
As a young lad, I thought his powers were cool, and his costume was pretty rad. I liked his supporting cast, and his clearly articulated archive of enemies. But what stuck with me, what made me really love the character, was that issue of him buried under all that concrete. He didn’t give up. He didn’t stop. He would have to climb and pull and break his bones, but he made it out to save his friends and family. He was unflappable. Shortly after, Spider-Man (and the X-Men) led me into my first comic book store, full of nervous excitement. Spider-Man introduced me to one of my favorite things in the world – super heroes, and has lightened my checking account considerably in the last 21 years.
What I didn’t realize as I walked into the movie was how much of that little boy still lives within me. I knew very little about the film, as I had avoided most trailers and spoilers, so I could get an unbiased experience. I am a fan of the Sam Raimi trilogy, so I kept my expectations low for this reboot. But the second the opening credits flashed, I grinned from ear to ear. A child-like grin. Edge of my seat joy.
The Amazing Spider-Man was everything I wanted in a Spider-Man movie. Peter Parker was an unsure, intelligent outcast. The trauma of losing his parents was far more apparent in this version than the previous. You could really call this movie The Amazing Peter Park, as it was more his story than Spider-Man’s. And yet, they are so intertwined in my mind, I don’t think you can get away with doing one well and the other poorly.
Lucky for movie-goers, Andrew Garfield excelled at both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He was believable and likable. He was inspirational. He played well off his talented supporting cast. Emma Stone made me like Gwen Stacey for the first time. Her charm and intelligence came off effortlessly. Rhys Ifans was an equally steady villain, though maybe his motivations were a touch under-played to serve the story.
Marc Webb did an amazing job balancing the reality of being a super hero in modern times with the essence of Spider-Man’s origin. He updated it with care and solid nods to the past. He really gave us the best of both worlds – original Spider-Man and modern Spider-Man, geeky Peter Parker and confident super hero. Most importantly, he understood the core of Spider-Man. He’s not just a super hero that bounces around New York City. He’s an accidental hero standing up for good, even when he didn’t have to.
The Amazing Spider-Man felt like a present for that eight year-old kid, reawakened in my mind. One I hope many others will enjoy.