Comic-Con Exclusive: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Producer Avi Arad

Continuing our Comic-Con coverage of Sony Pictures’ The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we have another interview, this time with co-producer Avi Arad, who has been involved with the Marvel Universe all the way back to the animated shows of the ’90s but who became more involved when Sony picked up the rights to make live-action movies based on Spider-Man around the same time.

With the announcement of two more movies, Arad and his co-producer Matt Tolbach probably have the best idea what the plans are for the future and during a phone interview, tried to learn more about those plans for the movies currently scheduled for June 10, 2016 and May 4, 2018. While Arad skirted the issues of whether Gwen Stacy may indeed die sometime in the next two movies and which villains we might be seeing in the future building up to the finale, he hinted that there was a lot more humor in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as well as a lot of tidbits about how they’ll be building up to the Sinister Six.

SuperHeroHype: I spoke with Marc Webb yesterday and he seemed very excited about the new movie and being back at Comic-Con and showing more footage. Have you asked him about directing the next two movies? He seems very excited about carrying on.

Avi Arad:
I don’t know about the deal yet, but obviously our hope is that he is coming back and all indication we have from him is… This movie was a revelation for him in terms of he’s having the greatest time of his life, and he’s at the top of his game. He put together a cast that is just outrageous. His sense of humor kicked in big time, because the first movie was a big challenge. 500 days to Spider-Man, making a reboot, I mean it’s scary stuff! Scary for someone who made 20 movies and this time he finished the first one and became… but he’s gotten so comfortable and Andrew is really Peter Parker now. Everybody owns their role. You look at Emma Stone and she’s grand and she’s happy to be grand, everybody is in the movie now. And then we have this incredible injection of energy in Electro. He’s crazy, he’s a brilliant actor, he has a great energy, it’s Jamie Foxx, it doesn’t get better than that. By having an incredibly visually exciting bigger than life with the power of God in his hands coming from the same point where Peter Parker comes from—anonymity, an outsider, everything else, and it’s an incredible way to show the difference that one guy took all these call it handicaps and turned it into “I want to do the right thing for everybody” not outright “I want to be a hero but I got a gift that I must use for the right thing” and Electro got the same gift but he’s still angry and he’s willing to take his hatred, his confusion on humanity and especially on Spider-Man. What represents one of the top serious villains in the movies is that you need a personal story yet the villain has to do something so big that you have to find ways of how does it affect the whole city? It’s not easy to do otherwise. You get into the personal story and then you have to come up with some scenario, but if you have the power of the power then you can imagine what he can do to all of us… and to Spider-Man because he has something in his powers that makes him vulnerable to the Electro powers. And it challenges the brain for science, the wits, of first Peter and then Gwen to come up with a solution: what do we do with this guy? So we have a movie now that is exciting and visually amazing, our cast is just great, but you can see that directors tend to put themselves on the screen so if you pick right, jackpot! And we have a director that is happy now and his joy working with the actors appears on the screen.

SHH: I asked Marc this too, but is it a little less nerve-racking knowing that Marc and Andrew and Emma already work when presenting footage at Comic-Con and that fans will be ready to see them again?

Of course. Of course everybody will always be nervous, but it’s the excitement that makes you nervous. It’s like, “I hope they love me,” that’s normal. You come here to the public and you have the best fans and the toughest critics and if they put their mind to see it, then there’s no bigger love than you’ll get in this town. And if you look at Marc this time, I mean he’s a star. I’m telling you what he did with this movie, I’ll pick him up again and he’s best in the world and he’s right up there.

SHH: When I spoke to you and Matt last year, you guys hinted at building to a Sinister Six with the villains and here you have Electro and Rhino and you’re bringing back the Osborns again. You also have dates for the next two movies so how far along are you on figuring out what to do with the next two movies and what villains to bring in? Obviously the fans have very specific ideas of who they want to see and who they want to see return.

Well, as you know, Rhino appears in the beginning a little bit and the end, and it’s a joy to have Paul Giamatti in the movie, but he really kicks in big time in the future, because we really want to be more centric on Electro. It’s a full story. As far as the future, it’s like we finished the movie two-and-a-half weeks ago so we discussed it a lot on the set, but we have a few ideas that we believe move the story forward, like #2 moved the first story forward. Again, we had to do an origin first. If we didn’t do an origin, we would have gotten in the piece, “Oh, what happened to the origin?” and others “We know the origin already” and you cannot win this and it’s not about that. At the end of the day, we all have to make a movie that we believe in instead of franchising for many years to come and I think this can be accomplished and we were able to deal with an issue that to me was a very important issue is that kids without parents getting over the terror of having lost their parents and now we have a guy who is assisted by an adopted life as Spider-Man and he loves being this guy and he changes thoroughly. He turns it into a fun film quips, it’s because of Spider-Man that he really survives.

SHH: I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to see the Wolverine movie yet, but I had a chance to talk to Hugh and James Mangold and they talked about how they go off the comics to keep the fans surprised rather than recreating them verbatim. Is that the approach you want to take with your future movies as well so that you can surprise the fans and what they expect from the comics?

When you talk about the Wolverine movie, I didn’t see it yet of course—I didn’t read the script—but we always wanted, even in the first one, for it to be Silver Samurai, which is one of the great, great stories. I’m not sure how much of it is in the movie, but I hope a lot of it. Every time you see Hugh Jackman is exciting and actually every time you see Jean Grey again it’s giving me chills and she looks fantastic. You want to always keep your head to the source material, you really need to do that, but at the same time, when you’re given the big screen you almost have a responsibility to enlarge the landscape and you can do things that a living, talking actor can bring to life and make it really clear and still be incredibly respectful to the origins.

SHH: I think one of the things that people are expecting is the death of Gwen Stacy which is a big part of the comics, maybe not in this movie but in a future one, so as the producer, how do you justify getting rid of one of your main actors who is bringing so much to these two movies. Do you have to appease the fans or can you ignore the comics and keep Gwen around?

Well, you know every morning the first thing that people like me do is go online and we want to know what you all think, what do you want to see? Maybe for you to see that, it takes a little preparation like a movie before it. (Note: And at this point Arad skirts the question completely.) You look at “The Avengers” and just in the gameplan forever that you had to have enough villains, so when we add villains we’re trying to think one.) We want to do something visually, two.) We want to be different than the one before, three.) We want it to try to exist in the universe in the comic books. Sometimes an idea comes, a casting idea married to a villain. As far as I’m concerned, there are no bad villains in the Spider-Man universe, they all have their own madness and their own villainy if you will so when you think of teaming them up, you look at this say “Okay first we have this other guy and he turns into a Lizard, so we have to do something that… Spider-Man looks too happy in this movie. Let’s see how we can bring him down and you find someone who makes him vulnerable.”

SHH: A lot of people want to see the Vulture still and I know that was an earlier plan and the Vulture offers something different—he offers flight which we haven’t really seen yet.

I’m sure his time will come. (Note: Colm Feore is rumored to play Adrian Toomes in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, so the chance of seeing him don wings for the third movie is very likely at this time.)

SHH: Do you think you might bring back some of the other old villains now that you have brought back the Osborns in this movie? Doctor Octopus is a popular Spider-Man villain and Sandman is as well, both members of the Sinister Six, too.

Well, let’s put it this way, when you see the movie, you tell me. But that’s all I’m going to say.

SHH: So I’ll have to wait until May to get my answer to that one.

You’ll see the movie and you’ll tell me “Hmm… I think I have a feeling…” (Note: Marton Czokas is listed as playing “Dr. Kafka” on IMDb, a character who has been closely associated with another Spider-Man villain, Vermin, so there’s clues right there of who might appear in the third Spider-Man movie.)

SHH: So we’ll know more of your plans when we see the movie. That’s good to know. What else are you and Matt developing right now? Have you had time to do other things or is Spider-Man such a huge focus now that you have to make two other movies?

Well, we’re absolutely developing many things… nothing I can talk about specifically… but our focus is really… Sony already announced the next movie and we have a release date, so it’s not like we’re getting rid of these, and I think the announcements explained how busy we’re going to be.

SHH: I know my editor really wants to see an “Uncharted” movie…that’s all he talks about.

Oh, we’re doing good there. Your editor will be very happy probably.

SHH: He’s been waiting a long time for that one.

Ah, well, me, too, and we’re getting very close there. We’re almost there.

SHH: That’s good to know.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens on Friday, May 2, 2014.

Make sure to check out our write-up on Sony Pictures’ panel presentation where we describe the footage shown and quotes from the filmmakers and cast here. You can also read our earlier interview with director Marc Webb by clicking here.