Given that he was coming off the indie success of 2009's (500) Days of Summer, it's not a surprise that director Marc Webb wasn't exactly prepared for the intense fanboy feedback that dogged every aspect of his helming The Amazing Spider-Man. Everything from the casting (how dare you cast a Brit as Peter Parker!) to the eye lenses of Spidey's mask earned rants from every corner of the Internet. No pressure, right?
Luckily, it didn't hurt box office, as The Amazing Spider-Man brought in $752 million worldwide and earned Webb the right to direct this summer's sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In an exclusive interview with Blastr, Webb says that, instead of ignoring the chatter, he took the fan feedback to heart and used it to make significant choices about the sequel.
The Amazing Spider-Man was a complete sea change in genre and tone from your first film. What did you learn the most working on a blockbuster summer movie?
In terms of what I've learned, there are so many things, including visual effects. I hadn't taken to completion that level of visual effects before. I think the first one taught me to be more efficient and thoughtful and confident in what could be accomplished and what needed to be done practically. This time, the process was more fun. I was more confident to be able to use visual effects in a powerful, narrative way for film.
What about the fan reaction?
They are an abstract thing, and the first time around I didn't quite understand the scope of how intense people were about the Spider-Man universe. When we were developing the script on the first one, it remained that way until the movie came out. Then you go to Comic-Con and you realize how important it is to them and how valuable they are to the life of the film.
What feedback influenced the sequel?
It impacted how we designed the suit this time around. In the first film, I wanted everything to feel like a kid could do it and I wanted it to be based solely on reality, which is why the lenses came from sunglasses. I think some people were uncomfortable at that and bristled at that, so we went back to the comics to make a suit as iconic, familiar and precisely made as we possibly could. We went through 30 or 40 incarnations of it, and it took a massive quantity of time to get the webbing right and the feel of it, because translating an image from illustration into live action is very difficult, but I realized how important it was for the credibility of the film.
What was easier heading into the sequel?
I think this time around Emma [Stone], Andrew [Garfield], myself and the writers [Alex Kurtzman, Bob Orci, Jeff Pinkner] all understood each other. Everybody had a purpose, so it was a well-oiled machine, which allowed us to achieve the kind of film that surpasses the first one in many ways.
A lot of fans wanted more about Peter's missing parents. How much focus does it get this time?
To me, Peter losing his parents creates a hole and a long shadow that is cast over all of his life. That gnawing sensation and how he deals with that will forever be present. To me, it's more important than the spider bite in Peter's life and identity. In terms of solving of mysteries, people will be satisfied when they watch this film. A lot will be answered.
What about the fan concern about there being too many villains for Peter in this sequel? It was a big problem in Spider-Man 3.
I understand it, but when people see the movie, they'll understand how integral and well calculated all of us were in creating the world. It's not the kitchen sink, where we are just throwing in villains; they are carefully placed. Until they see the film, they probably will have those questions, but I am confident when they see it the world is nuanced and built to withstand, and to expand, into a lot of different universes we're talking about.
Are they each vital to Peter's growth?
Yes. The fun of these movies is how [Peter] overcomes obstacles and the attitude in which he overcomes them. How do you stop a creature [Electro] that disappears into a socket in the wall? How do you stop someone who has power and technology that starts as your own?
You're building an ambitious Spider-Man universe with the upcoming Sinister Six and Venom films. Are you tapping the Marvel mothership for advice on how to lay out the installments in the Avengers model?
Yes, Marvel is our friend and collaborator in a very good way. These are also the kind of movies that are universal and powerful pieces of mythology, and it's really great to be part of it.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens May 2, 2014.