Sony’s advertising strategy for Amazing Spider-Man (ASM 2) and now Amazing Spider-Man 2 (ASM 2) has been to saturate all potential media with Spider-Man content. Granted, that’s pretty much just what all blockbusters do now, but Sony seems far more aggressive than most, specifically in the amount of footage they’ve put out there in the lead-up to the film’s release and number of media outlets they’ve made their producers/directors/stars available to for interviews. The result is that for a movie which has been out less than a week in the U.S. and China, the two leading global markets for film, and less than a month everywhere else we already know a fair deal of behind the scenes trivia and insights into what did and did not make it into the finished film.
So, here are 13 things we’ve learned about The Amazing Spider-Man 2:
1. Gwen’s “I’m choosing to put myself in danger” moment came from a re-shoot this past January
What if at the end of Spider-Man 2 after Mary Jane Watson told Peter Parker how she chose to be with him despite the inherent danger it placed her in a supervillain showed up literally minutes later, scooped her up, and dropped her to a quick demise? Welcome to Gwen Stacey’s world in ASM 2. It’s okay, though, because she made sure we all knew she chose to be there, placing herself in danger to help Peter. Vulture joked, “I could smell the studio note there: ‘We have to make it clear that Peter did not want Gwen involved, and is therefore not responsible for what happens to her.’ I practically expected Spider-Man to present her with a waiver beforehand.”
Actually, that’s fairly spot-on. In a BBC Radio interview with David Morrissey, Emma Stone admitted, “That particular scene we did in re-shoots because they were afraid it didn’t come across that Gwen is really choosing to be there, and that’s pretty pivotal at that point in the movie-that you understand she is putting herself in that position. So, we re-shot that in January, and I do think it’s really useful in that moment to have that reminder.”
2. Gwen’s costume and the clock tower’s hand is an homage to her death in the comics
In Amazing Spider-Man #121 (“The Night Gwen Stacy Died”), the Green Goblin kidnaps Gwen Stacy, and throws her off the George Washington Bridge. Spider-Man shoots a strand of his webbing which catches her mid-fall so suddenly the resulting whiplash breaks her neck. It is one of the most infamous deaths in comic book history.
So, when you dress Emma Stone up like this:
Every one is going to notice the similarities to this from Amazing Spider-Man #121:
Gwen’s outfit wasn’t the only homage to Amazing Spider-Man #121. Prior to re-locating to the power grid and clock tower for the film’s climax, the bridge Peter and Gwen are on – the one where he spells out “I Love You” with his webbing – is the same one she died on in the comics. Plus, if you look really, really closely during the final fight with the Green Goblin when the clock tower’s hand begins to spin rapidly it ultimately lands on 01:21, as in #121.
3. They filmed multiple versions of Gwen’s death, including one in which her neck broke exactly as it did in the comics
Speaking to ScreenCrush.com about Gwen’s Death, director Marc Webb revealed originally Gwen “didn’t hit the ground. She just bounced and her neck was supposed to break. But, what was interesting was people, when they watched that, the web represents salvation to people. They did not understand or believe or were not willing to accept that she had died — which is how it was done in the comics. So, we had to add a moment where there’s an impact wound.”
4. As Spider-Man’s webbing reaches out to save Gwen it takes the form of a hand, to visualize Peter reaching out to save her. The “hand” part was an accident.
Webb also told ScreenCrush.com, “I remember talking to one of the animators who is in charge of the webs, and I was describing how I wanted ]the webbing] to sort of move. The camera is here and it’s going to pass right by us. And I was like, ‘It’s going to unravel like this!’ [Webb demonstrates by unraveling his fingers.] They watched me do that [with my hand] and they thought I meant it literally. So, they took a video of it and then they actually made it into a hand. And I hadn’t thought consciously about that. But, that’s what emerged.”
5. It was Andrew Garfield’s idea to have Peter Parker’s ringtone be the Spider-Man theme song
Luckily for Garfield, they actually had the rights to the melody, as producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach told Empire using the song was Garfield’s idea but there was a long period of time in the past where Marvel didn’t actually have the rights anymore.
6. To punch up the script, they brought in a panel of funny, famous Spider-Man fans to look for ways to inject more humor
Exactly how filmmaking-by-committee was ASM 2? Tolmach gave Empire an insight into just how by-committee they approached the script, specifically the humor:
“The comedy on this movie was a very big part of what we wanted to do. We put together a comedy roundtable, which you sometimes do on movies, of people who love Spider-Man and are funny to just go through the script and find jokes and moments because you’ve got Andrew, Emma, Jaimie Foxx, and Paul Giammati. You’d better mine that. So, we had this kind of dream team of really funny, talented people.”
He didn’t specify who exactly was on the “dream team,” though one assumes he’s not referring to the credited screenwriters, Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Jeff Pinkner. Either way, if noted-Superman-fanatic Jerry Seinfeld hears about this surely he’ll start to wonder why the Batman Vs. Superman people haven’t brought him in to punch up their script with more jokes for Superman.
7. There was one joke which everyone loved, but they cut it for fear of offending children/parents
Marc Webb has told anyone who’d listen that a guiding principle for ASM 2 was to always remember the children in the audience and play to them. In what way did that approach actually subtract something? Webb told Empire, “There was one moment during the final battle with Electro where Spider-Man gets decimated by an Electro blow, and he collapses to the ground. When were doing the actual stunt, Andrew improvised, ‘Aww, shit!’ prior to being hit. It killed, but we just couldn’t have that. There’s kids, and we didn’t want to alienate parents. That was a really funny moment, but you do have to protect some portion of the audience when you’re doing that. So, there was one profanity that we cut out.”
8. Paul Giamatti revealed he wanted to play Rhino 2 years before he’d even been cast
Paul Giamatti unabashedly hams it up as Rhino in ASM 2, and while it may seem odd seeing a beloved and respected character actor like Giamatti going crazy in a film of this size for him it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. He told Collider, “I totally wanted to play a villain in a comic-book movie. I’ve been waiting my whole life to be a villain in a comic-book movie. When I was a kid, I didn’t even know I wanted to be an actor, but I knew that I wanted to be like The Wolfman, or some bad guy in something.” Not just that, though. Two years before he’d even been cast to play Rhino, Giamatti actually raved during an appearance on Conan O’Brien about how much he wanted to play Rhino in a Spider-Man movie.
9. A clown from Britain choreographed all of the physical comedy
Remember the scene where Peter Parker engages in some slapstick-y physical comedy to distract the Oscorp goons long enough to allow Gwen to run away? According to Webb, “That kind of choreography, as fun as it is, is really difficult. We had to do like 17 takes because it was this one long thing, spilling coffee here, tripping somebody here, all while pretending not to do anything.” So, who was responsible for the choreography? Is Garfield just naturally that good? No, but he’d heard of someone who was, bringing British theater director Cal McCrystal to the production to choreograph the physical comedy.
McCrystal is most know for being the associate director for James Corden’s play One Man, Two Guvnors. Actually, that’s a lie. Most people don’t even know McCrystal had anything to do with that play, simply assuming the physical comedy on display is due to Corden’s natural abilities and Nicholas Hytner’s stage direction. However, in truth, the physical comedy in the show was all choreographed by McCrystal, whose expertise stems from his years directing independent theater in the UK and training in clown theatre at École Philippe Gaulier, which counts Sacha Baron Cohen and Roberto Benigni among its graduates.
10. The X-Men commercial was a contractual compromise
And that played over the ASM 2 closing credits because Sony helped Marc Webb get out of a promise he once made to Fox. Actually, it was more than a promise. He had a contractual obligation to direct a movie for Fox, going back to his deal with Fox Searchlight for (500) Days of Summer. As such, there were many who assumed Sony would bring in a new director for ASM 2 because they’d be unwilling to wait for Webb to complete his commitment to Fox and return to them. As it turns out, Sony and Webb managed to get around that by making a deal with Fox whereby they’d advertise for Days of Future Past over the closing credits for ASM 2. So, sorry, but an X-Men scene showing up in the credits of a Spider-Man film in absolutely no way means we are closer to Sony, Fox, and Marvel Studios allowing all of the Marvel characters to play together on screen.
11. Originally, even Max Dillon’s mother forgot about his birthday
Max Dillon already has a pretty crappy birthday in ASM 2. The power goes out in his apartment, his boss dares speak ill of Spider-Man, and then is just a general douchebag to him, a B.J. Knovak speciality. Heck, at the end of the work day Dillon’s forced to work overtime on his own to fix a power coil next to a research tank full of electric eels. You already know how that works out for him.
However, it was almost a wee bit worse. In a scene likely to show up on the Blu-Ray, Dillon’s own mother was revealed to have also forgotten about his birthday. Webb told Empire they cut it because upon second thought it just seemed way too sad.
12. Mary Jane Watson was cut from this film, but isn’t guaranteed to show up in Amazing Spider-Man 3
In June of last year, Shailene Woodley revealed her small part as Mary Jane Watson in ASM 2 had been cut. Jump ahead to the present, and while promoting ASM 2 Webb told Movies.com what exactly with Mary Jane had been cut, “There was one little scene at the beginning where she is next door and it took place right around the montage where he comes back ,and there was another little moment between Gwen and MJ.”
If Mary Jane’s part was so insignificant why did they even put her in the script to begin with? Tolmach told Empire, “We were so ambitious with this script when we started this movie, and there is only so much room. There was the practical challenge of shooting a script that was just massive, and also finding what was essential. You find that when you start making a movie. You start to hit your stride, and realize what everything is really about.[…] and because this movie is very much so about Peter and Gwen it became clear what we needed to focus on.”
The result is Shailene Woodley’s time as Mary Jane Watson is almost definitely over, Webb pointing out the obvious to Movies.com, “Well, Divergent is a massive hit and I think it’s going to be tricky for schedules.”
When asked by Empire if they’d decided whether or not Woodley was coming back or if Mary Jane would be re-cast, producer Tolmach admitted, “We haven’t. We are just now in the process of breaking story, and not just breaking story on Amazing Spider-Man 3 but on Sinister Six and on Venom.” Avi Arad teased the possibility of going with an entirely different love interest than MJ, “We also have lots of very interesting women in the Spider-Man universe. So, sometimes what seems obvious may not happen.” When pressed if this meant Felicity Jones Felecia Hardy could be the love interest for ASM 3 Arad offered a quick, “No comment.”
Gwen Stacey herself has offered an endorsement for Mary Jane, with Emma Stone telling comicbook resources, “I’m excited to see what happens with Mary Jane. I think him overcoming such a horrific experience in his life is one of the most inspiring things, that you can love again. That you can feel responsible and still pick yourself up and find a way to let your love in.”
Obvious solution here, people: cast Emma Stone as Mary Jane, and just have her dye her hair red again. Done and done. The only thing this franchise has going for it beyond Spider-Man brand recognition is Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and losing Stone is simply not an option. Right?
13. There was originally a Friday the 13th Part 2 ending involving Norman Osborn’s severed head
File this in the “Thank God this was cut” category, but there was originally a post credits scene where Gustav Fiers, aka The Gentlemen, aka The Man of Shadows from ASM 1, visits the cryogenically frozen head of Norman Osborn and commands, “Wake up my old friend.”
So, yeah, that almost happened. Wow. And we dared think the end credits scene with Fiers and Dr. Connors from ASM 1 was bad.