The Amazing Spider-Man trailer looks like a superior blockbuster product, the kind of film that should generate good reviews and strong box-office prowess. It looks tonally different from the other Spidey films (enter: Nolanesque angst, darker moods, exit: color and camp), and I think director Marc Webb will provide one of next summer's most satisfying films while Andrew Garfield will make for a solid awkward Peter Parker. In short, it should -- and will likely be -- a smash.
And it's depressing.
After I watched the trailer this weekend, something happened to me, something kind of terrible. Nothing I can hold Sony Pictures accountable for or anything, it was just my time, I guess, and The Amazing Spider-Man trailer just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm really feeling the dearth of creativity now. This notion is often romanticized. We make a ton more original movies today than, maybe, ever before. And yet I feel we can do a lot better when it comes to our more commercial fare. I consider myself a highly optimistic fellow who would never, ever root against any movie being good, even movies I'm philosophically against. I was against the idea of a Karate Kid remake because it struck me as so unnecessary, but I never rooted against it. The Footloose remake looks pretty vomitous and while I think it is also unnecessary, I'm rooting for the film, not fighting it. I don't like the idea that Hollywood is relying on all these remakes to entertain its masses but, again, I'd never root against a movie (unless it stars Kevin James). Quite the opposite. I'm happy The Karate Kid was as enjoyable as it was. I want to see good movies. And I hope Craig Brewer proves skeptics (like myself) wrong when Footloose turns its Baconless head this fall. I'm an optimist. And yet I felt a little of that optimism decay once the latest Spider-Man reboot's trailer came to an end.
Am I being overly dramatic? I really don't think so. Because it actually happened: I'm rooting against this movie being good. It's a pretty awful admission, partially because it actually looks like it's going to be good. The film appears to be well cast, it has some visual panache (if not some unfortunate visual theft) and the director's last film was one of my favorites of 2009. Also, I'm a big Spidey fan who was severely let down by Raimi's last film. I'm as hungry for a good new Spider-Man film as anyone.
But I can't root for this "do-over." I may well be the villain in some '80s retro ski movie where the nerdy Webb and Garfield kick my blond-headed Zabko butt on this figurative K-12. If it's a good movie, I'm sure I will enjoy it and have to pull off a metaphorical slow-clap as I nod my head before its "They were right, I was wrong" greatness. But until then, I feel like this movie is the villain, part of the bigger overall problem, and I hope the result smells like an old man's double-shift-at-the-bowling alley's shoe. I'm not even going to pretend it's a logical feeling. I was incredibly amped to see Chris Nolan's take in Batman Begins, after all. Maybe it was because we hadn't gotten a Batman movie in eight years, or I hadn't gotten the Batman movie I wanted to see (the truth was, we hadn't gotten a passable Batman movie since Tim Burton's original in 1989). Sixteen years later, Christopher Nolan rendered it virtually irrelevant, not because it was new but because it was such a better take. And yet, it is entirely fair to say that perhaps maybe many others feel they haven't gotten the Spider-Man film they want to see. While I truly believe Marc Webb can make a better movie than Sam Raimi's original (which for my money had a really great first hour or so and a so-so last act), maybe even better than Raimi's superior first sequel (admittedly, more doubtful as I think it's one of the superhero genre's very best), I still find myself having a hard time embracing this new Spider-Man feature. And I think it all boils down to two words: too soon.
Tough to convince anybody with that argument. You can't argue when something is too soon or not. Is it too soon to make an Amy Winehouse rehab joke? There is no timetable for preference. But for me, right now, this movie ... it's too soon. And let me be clear, it isn't too soon for another Spidey movie per se. I have no problem with the concept of another Spidey movie. I have a problem with a complete reboot, a rehashing of a story we. Were just. Told. Aiming to replace the work of Raimi and Maguire (who, admittedly, strikes me as a more appropriate nerdy Parker type, but it looks like they are going more emo-social outcast here or something) from the public consciousness, yet another (gulp) origin tale. I'm origin-taled out as it is and I saw a pretty darn good one for this particular brand of superhero not too long ago. If Webb teamed up with Garfield for a refreshing, quasi-sequel, I'd be on board for that. But we have already been living in a world of constant reboots and remakes because Hollywood understands the power of established fan bases and safe bets ... and for some reason this movie is the straw that's breaking my two-humped back. Because for me, it's just, yup, too soon, and I fear the big fat green light that will shine on every studio head's face, bursting from the success this movie will no doubt be, a poisonous kryptonite glow that slithers into their ears, a shuddersome voice articulated in Parseltongue: if you reboot it, they will come.
As a culture, we just barely embrace history, foolishly deeming all things of (even not so) long ago as irrelevant. This is a problem especially invasive in, for example, sports, where past accomplishments are quickly disregarded because whoever is playing now must be "the best." So I'm rooting for this film to fail. Bring all the remakes and reboots down, let them come crashing violently to the ground and let the filmmakers who are thinking outside the box, who are taking film into newer and more exciting places rake. Hollywood only follows the least dangerous route to a bag of cash. They have to. So let's force them through dangerous alleyways or alienated highways of discovery. Make them want to break their own trends or at least heed or lead revolutionary ones.
At Comic Con this week, Francis Ford Coppola (who seems a lot more excited about the possibilities of cinema than most of his younger counterparts, planning a 30-city tour where he will re-edit his new vampire film, Twixt, live and based on how an audience is reacting) was quoted as saying, "I think when they remake films, it's a pity, because that money could go into investing in new ideas." I understand this Spider-Man is based on a different series of Spidey comics (the wildly successful Ultimate Spider-Man series). And I get that the death of new ideas is nothing new in Tinseltown. But when The Amazing Spider-Man is a huge hit next summer, we may all be entertained, but we will get that much further away in forcing Hollywood to embrace originality, to give us something new, to really blow us away. And it's never too soon to get something we haven't really seen before.