Director Marc Webb ("500 Days of Summer") and star Emma Stone ("The Help") met with the press at WonderCon in Anaheim on a rainy Saturday to discuss their highly-anticipated Spidey franchise reboot, "The Amazing Spider-Man."
Given that fans have been clamoring for any sort of footage or information about the latest big screen iteration of the wallcrawler, which features Andrew Garfield ("The Social Network") donning the iconic hero's tights, the aptly-named director spoke about the attention the film received at the recent International trailer event and at last year's Comic-Con International in San Diego. "There's just such a curiosity and it's incredibly intimidating, but really, really fun," he said. For me, it's like what I got involved in movies for -- it's just to connect to people and the idea that there's this character that people have such an affinity for, it's really cool. It's really fun. It's just downright exhilarating."
Since "500 Days of Summer" dealt with a much smaller budget then the upcoming super hero actioner, Webb was asked about the challenges involved in directing a more expensive action film. "It depends on what the scene is about," he answered. "Ultimately, it's important to try to keep the actors feeling authentic and real, but making sure that those performances track with the audience in a different way." Webb also acknowledged that creating a big-budget super-hero movie does come with a pretty specific set of rules. "Doing a movie like this, it's like a sonnet. There's a form that you have to adhere to, to a certain degree, but there's enormous flexibility within those barriers and within those restrictions."
Focusing on important character details was just one of the ways Webb was able to redefine his version of Spider-Man for a new generation of filmgoers. "Things like mechanical web shooters, which I thought was a fun part of the comic, and it's also -- I remember talking to Stan Lee very early on. I was like, 'So, what's your feeling on these?' And he was like, 'It was a way to dramatize Peter's intellect -- his scientific quality.'"
It was noted that nearly every masked hero has a defining moment when his mask is either ripped or torn away, leading to a question of whether this now-common film trope is something critical to allowing an audience to stay connected to the character, to which Webb replied, "One of the great things about Andrew in the suit, is that he was very specific about the movements and how he kind of behaved. You could track the Peter Parker character in the suit. There's a scene we did with this car thief that is in some of the trailer -- you see it is Andrew in the suit. It's not a stunt guy."
As Webb explained, Spider-Man's mask and costume are importantly significant for the hero, especially as it relates to the character's fans. "He is, I think, one of the only superheroes whose whole body is covered, you know? You don't see skin color, and that is -- in one of the marketing meetings very early on, they said, 'Spider-Man transcends all these different countries because everybody can see themselves in him.'"
Confirming that there was a fair amount of improvisation in the film, Emma Stone, spoke about how shooting on digital allowed the cast to have the freedom to take risks with their characters. "It was really kind of exciting to -- even at the camera test -- he [Webb] was like, 'Alright, just kind of do what you guys want to do for a little bit.' We could veer off and find things, and I think that was really incredible, because it brings an authenticity [to the movie]."
Webb echoed this sentiment, adding, "That spontaneity, I don't think you find it very often in big movies because you have to be so specific, usually, with visual effects and stuff like that. Certainly, there were a lot of moments where there were heavy amounts of orchestration, but when you have actors like Emma and Andrew who can -- and Dennis Leary, too -- who can go. They are horses that want to run, man, and you're just sitting back and watching that. You just get the hell out of the way."
Alert fans in several cities may have noticed the film's "Mark of the Spider-Man" viral marketing campaign, which has included several local graffiti tagging events. When Webb was asked if he had any input into the campaign, the director looked rather pleased. "Yes, I talked a little bit about it. I'm following it. I'm really intrigued by it. I want to know where it goes." Stone agreed, relating a story about being surprised to find a giant spider artfully tagged on a wall in New York City, exclaiming, "It's crazy when you find it!"
"The Amazing Spider-Man" opens in theaters July 3.