THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Director Marc Webb Discusses Reinvention & Comic Inspiration

The filmmaker talks about looking into the storied comic history to find the character's essence and updating the classically awkward superhero new relevance in age where "Nerds are running the world."

Webb shared his feeling of obligation to the "iconography of Spider-Man" as found within the comics siting the essential elements of the origin (such as the radioactive spider bite and Uncle Ben's death). He stated that, with this, he felt a "responsibility to reinvent it in some ways."


When asked to elaborate, he brought up Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's portrayal of a stereotypical nerd in Spider-man's first appearance in 1962. "The idea of what a nerd is has changed in 40 or 50 years. Nerds are running the world. Andrew Garfield made a movie [called The Social Network] about it. Nerds are no longer pariahs and knowing how to write computer code is [no] longer a [mocked] quality. What was important in those early comics was this notion that Peter Parker is an outsider and how we define that in a contemporary context."

He went on to define exactly the filmmakers tried to do to get that point across in this new age, "The 90-pound weakling, that’s who Spider-Man is when he gets bit. So much of the DNA of the character is the fact that he was a kid when he got bit. He is imperfect, he is immature and has a bit of a punk rock instinct. In his soul he’s still a 90-pound weakling even after [the transformative bite]."

In portraying this idea physically, Webb shared that Andrew Garfield's intense training was to create a more agile character similar to what was conveyed in the Ultimate Spider-Man series. Continuing that inspiration, the director also wanted to "develop[] rigs so he could swing in a way that wasn’t computer-generated. Obviously there’s going to be enhancements and CG [sequences], but it’s based in a physical reality and that’s a new technique [for this film brand]. When you walk out of the theater, I want the world you see to resemble what you saw on the screen." The same approach went into making the controversial new costume.

Another point of contention for The Amazing Spider-Man was that it follows after the mostly well received series of Raimi films that are still fresh on the public consciousness. In response, Webb said, "I like the other movies and I was a little bit skeptical but then I asked myself if I wanted to see [this new story and interpretation] and the answer was yes."

With San Diego Comic-Con 2011 looming this weekend, the director shared how he welcomed the interaction the forum allowed, "Legends of Hall H — people should write songs about it. A lot of our credibility is based on fan perception in some way. I’m really excited to connect with the fans."

The Amazing Spider-Man, which is now in production and is being shot entirely in 3D, will be released on July 3rd, 2012. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field. The film is directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad, and Matt Tolmach are producing the Marvel Entertainment production for Columbia Pictures.