I don’t know if it should be called Marvel fever but there needs to be a diagnosis for studios trying to mimic the comic giant by creating vast universes in which they can “expand” characters and keep people coming to see where the character has gone since the last installment. Marvel (specifically Disney/Marvel) kicked it off with their wildly successful Avengers film that connected all the previous installments into one mega-movie that teamed up everyone together and created this new disease plaguing studios.
What other studios don’t get is that what makes Marvel’s The Avengers so great is the different flavors each hero brings: Thor is a demigod and is fighting to keep peace in a whole different dimension, Iron Man is a wise-cracking super genius who is also a loose cannon, Captain America is as patriotic and clean-cut as it gets and the Hulk is raging ball of science that destroys everything in his path. Sprinkle in other characters like Nick Fury, Black Widow and Hawkeye and you have a difference in the personas of the characters.
This isn’t the case for Sony and their incessant need to create an expanded universe for Spider-Man.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers mainly from the hand of the studio looking to cash in on their next endeavor and forgetting that putting out quality work on their present property is the gateway to do that. Director Marc Webb tries hard to bring some sort of expression to the movie but it is sucked away to make room for the Sinister Six and anything else Sony has planned.
The movie brings back Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy and begins with some rocky waters in terms of their relationship. Peter is clearly filling his schedule with Spider-Man duties and is wrecked with guilt over the events of the previous movie. But more trouble is on the horizon in the form of Electro (Jamie Foxx), a introvert scientist who is looking to finally be noticed, and the Green Goblin/Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who returned home to take over the family business after the passing of his father, Norman (Chris Cooper).
If the movie gets anything right, it has to be with the chemistry between Garfield and Stone, who also share an off-screen romance. Webb is able to capture the humor and emotion of the relationship well, or at least before it is shunned for some more pointless villains. Garfield brings a wise-cracking, smart-ass wit to the character which makes Spider-Man more fun to watch when he is swinging around taking down criminals.
This is where the movie works best, when it allows its hero (and Garfield) to just enjoy the role and be the character everyone wants to see. Instead, that is sidebared for pointless evolutions of villains with stupid motives. The reason Electro is attacking the city is because Spider-Man forgot his name and the reason Harry is angry with Peter is because Peter would not give him a sample of his blood to help cure his family (but Harry loved to forget that he was away for 10 years almost dissolving the friendship already).
It really is sad because Webb shows at times that he still has that creative touch that garnered him the job but it seems his work is muddled with the extra agenda that is being laid out and the final product comes out stale and filled with pop songs and other movie tie-ins. (I can’t wait for his tell all book when he is released from this).
Overall, the film has its fun moments but feels more like a bridge to the next thing on the list for Sony. The fact that they believe a whole universe within Spider-Man will work is foolish when they don’t seem to care enough about the main hero to give him the treatment he deserves. Instead, we are left with yet another disappointing try to rival Disney and their superhero empire.