Comic-Con has just kicked off today but things are going to get far busier over the next few days with lots of comic book and genre movies showing off early footage in the 6,500 capacity Hall H. One filmmaker who has already experienced the effects of the fanaticism inherent with bringing early footage to Comic-Con is Marc Webb, who had the daunting task of rebooting The Amazing Spider-Man, following a very popular series of movies by Sam Raimi.
Webb and some of his cast have returned to the annual San Diego fanfest with the very first footage from the anticipated sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and we’ll be live-blogging the panel tomorrow, Friday, July 19, at 4PM Pacific.
As a lead-up to what’s likely to be a full room, SuperHeroHype/ComingSoon.net got on the phone with Webb following his appearance on Entertainment Weekly‘s “Visionaries” panel in Hall H along alongside Edgar Wright and Alfonso Cuaron.
Although we only had ten minutes, we covered quite a bit of ground in terms of the new villains, as well as trying to figure out why Mary Jane Watson is being saved for future movies.
SuperHeroHype: Being back at Comic-Con, it has to be a little less nerve-racking because you were there two years ago when no one knew what to expect from Andrew and Emma as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy and you were the new guy. Are you excited about the presentation tomorrow?
Marc Webb: It is really fun. The last time I didn’t know what to expect and we were always a little shy and we were wondering whether or not the world was going to think we deserved to be here, but this time around I think all of us, and I know myself, I feel a real sense of confidence. I think we’re pretty excited about the movie we’ve got and think it has all the DNA of Spider-Man—its humor, its wit and the emotional depth of that character we’ve grown to love. There’s something in this film. The film starts off with Spider-Man being really good at being Spider-Man. There’s a little virtuosity that you get to witness and experience at the top of the film that is great and it’s great to jump out of the gate. I’m really excited to unleash that character again on the world.
SHH: My first experience with the first movie was the worldwide presentation of 6 minutes of footage and that was really great. How does the stuff you’re showing tomorrow compare? You have more time to finish the movie so how far along are you in terms of FX?
Webb: It’s very, very early days. We just finished shooting three weeks ago, so the footage that people will see is unfinished and a lot of times what you see at Comic-Con, whether it’s pirates of the Spider-Man movies, there’s a lot of unfinished comps and there’s storyboards in there, but I think the audience here appreciates seeing behind the curtain a little bit, but there’s so much wonderful brilliant stuff that I’m really excited about. I have to take out a little bit of humility here, but there’s a lot of really fantastic stuff that I think people are going to get a sense of how big and epic this movie is going to feel.
SHH: You’ve really focusing on Electro as far as the preview stuff, like the cover of Entertainment Weekly and the teaser clip, so will the people tomorrow see some of the Rhino? Do you have some of that finished and done because I know that’s fairly CG-heavy as well.
Webb: There won’t be any Rhino in that footage because there’s too much work to be done there, but listen, Electro is the main villain. Rhino sort of makes a teasing appearance in the film in a very calculated and careful way, but the main villain in this movie is Electro and you get a real sense of the power and magnitude of that villain. Electro to me was somebody I was always curious about, because he’s inherently cinematic, or has that potential, not in the comics necessarily but some of the ones I really love, he has that quality. There is something terrifying and God-like about Electro. He is elemental in the way that Poseidon or Zeus is—you feel a sense of bigness about him. He’s somebody who just his touch has the power of a thousand third rails and will obliterate anybody near him. I think it’s incredibly exciting to play with that kind of power. Spider-Man’s greatest weapon is that web and when he shoots a web at Electro, there’s a current and webs are conductive and that’s going to pose some real issues for Spider-Man so I thought that was a really fun villain to unleash on New York and on Spider-Man.
SHH: One of the things we learned with Hurricane Sandy is that when somebody has the power to take over electricity, it really screws people up big time, so having Electro as a villain in New York is scary in that regard as well.
Webb: Yeah, it’s not just about just turning off the lights, you know? That is just the beginning of Eletro’s terrifying power. He’s somebody who can travel at the speed of electricity, at the speed of light, and disembody himself and reappear when he wants to reappear. I think the idea of Spider-Man having to fight a foe that is that transcendent unleashes a lot of possibilities.
SHH: Absolutely. One of the concerns some of our readers have is because they know there’s two villains as well as introducing the Osborns that there will be some of the problems when there are too many villains. You’ve already said the focus is on Electro, but what do you want to say to these readers who are worried this will be like “Spider-Man 3.”
Webb: Eh. Don’t worry about it. Rhino is in a couple scenes, you know, so he’s a really terrifying and a fun villain, but Electro is our main foe.
SHH: You also bring in Chris Cooper and Dane DeHaan as the Osborns, Norman and Harry, who play such a big part in the Spider-Man mythos. Can you talk about casting those guys and bringing them in? I’m also curious about working with Avi, Matt and Sony to decide who to introduce this time?
Webb: We talk to a lot of people. Like casting Emma Stone, you want to find a chemistry that works between the actors and I think there was a very cool interesting dynamic that developed between Dane and Andrew. Harry and Peter need to have an ease about them. Our conceit is that they were friends from when they were much younger and in order for that to work, you need a sense that there’s a history there and there’s a real great depth to their relationship. They’re sort of like brothers in a way and that’s really palpable. Dane’s a really funny guy, he’s a very funny actor and I think people will start to appreciate that. It’s also exciting for me to find people who aren’t over-exposed, like Andrew with the first movie. Dane I think is somebody that the world is starting to discover just how wonderful an actor he is, how great his look is, how dimensional his performances are. That was a really fun thing to play with. Then Chris Cooper is a genius, he’s an icon, and when you’re talking about Norman Osborn, who is somebody whose presence is known far outside the Spider-Man fans. Everybody knows who Norman Osborn is. You want to feel that. In the first movie, we tried to create an enigma around that and to find an actor that can withstand and support that was tricky, and luckily, Chris agreed to come on board and live out that role.
SHH: I was going to ask about Shailene Woodley, who was originally going to play Mary Jane Watson, but she’s currently in Hall H appearing in two panels for pretty major potential franchises, so she’s clearly too busy. Are you going to look for another Mary Jane?
Webb: Shailene was a wonderful actor and such a delightful person and with this movie, we wanted to be very careful to focus on that relationship between Gwen and Peter. That’s really what the movie hinges on, that’s the heartbeat of the movie. Shailene was only in a couple scenes so it wasn’t a deep cut necessarily, but I just wanted to focus on Peter and Gwen. That’s such a powerful dynamic there and that’s what we were trying to do.
SHH: Last time we spoke, you’d just finished the first movie and it was tough to commit to a second movie. Now that you’ve finished shooting that second one, do you feel better about seeing the whole series through to the end having done so much work to build these characters that you have to be there to guide it?
Webb: Yeah, it will be hard to give up. I have to tell you that we had a blast making the movie and I love working with Andrew and Emma and Jamie and Chris and Dane. There was a thrill and there was a liberation that we didn’t necessarily feel on the first movie. We were exhilarated by it.
SHH: It’s a great ensemble you put together and I have to imagine it’s like doing a play every night.
Webb: I think that’s great and then Sally Field on top of that, it’s like “What did I do right in a past life to work with these actors?”
SHH: Eventually you’ll probably have to kill off Gwen Stacy and I’ll ask Avi about this tomorrow. How does that feel that in one of these movies she’s going to have to die?
Webb: Do we have to?
SHH: They never got to kill her in the Sam Raimi movies and I feel the fans and readers are expecting it this time around.
Webb: Why are you so violent? You have such blood lust!
SHH: It’s not me, it’s the readers! It’s what happened in the comics.
Webb: Are they demanding it? Oh, boy.
SHH: I love Emma and I’ll be very happy if we see her in all four movies to be honest.
Webb: (laughs) Yeah, it’s an extraordinary thing the dynamic between Peter and Gwen and you know, we’ll have to see what happens.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens on Friday, May 2, 2014.
Make sure to check out our live blog of Sony Pictures’ panel presentation on Friday, July 19, at 4PM Pacific where we’ll describe the footage shown and post quotes from the filmmakers and cast. Also look for our interview with producer Avi Arad sometime later this weekend.