After their success with 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony decided to make a sequel like all movie studios do when a movie is a box office and critical success. So came The Amazing Spider-Man 2 just two years later! It promised to continue Peter Parker’s story along with including Harry Osborn as well as kick start a Sinister 6 franchise and solo Black Cat and Silver Sable movie. Does this sound like a mouthful? Short answer, it is.
We start off with the death of Peter Parker’s parents, because why not? After a series of James Bond-esque action sequences where Peter’s father fights off an assassin, their plane crashes. We then cut to Spider-Man (played by Andrew Garfield) swinging across N.Y. as he’s about to go stop The Rhino’s (played by Paul Giamatti) rampage. After a brief skirmish, The Rhino is captured by Spider-Man, while Peter runs to his graduation ceremony. He arrives and catches up with his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone) who gives her valedictorian speech. Peter begins having feelings of guilt over not upholding his promise to her deceased father, Captain George Stacy.
Meanwhile, Harry Osborn (played by Dane DeHaan) visits his dying father, Norman Osborn (played by Chris Cooper) and realizes that he will also die of a genetic disease called Goblin’s Disease. Harry is made the new CEO of Oscorp and is bent on finding a cure. Meanwhile, Oscorp engineer Max Dillon (played by Jamie Foxx), who was saved by Spider-Man when he stopped Rhino, becomes obsessed with Spider-Man. One day, when Max is cleaning a tank of electric eels, he gets stuck and the eels shock him until he turns into Electro. With his new powers, he goes to Times Square and causes a black out. Spider-Man arrives and attempts to de-escalate the conflict. However, when he failed to remember Max’s name, Max attacks him. Spider-Man eventually defeats him, and Max is arrested and dragged away to Ravencroft Institute. Harry begins to feel the initial symptoms of Goblin’s Disease and deduces that Spider-Man’s blood is the key to a cure.
Before we get to why I don’t like this movie, let’s start with what I liked. Andrew Garfield did a great job as Spider-Man. He played the confident, snarky side of Spider-Man almost perfectly. Emma Stone was very likeable as Gwen Stacy and Jamie Fox did a great job even though his character was subpar. Paul Giamatti wasn’t that awful, and if in a better film, could have been a great over-the-top villain that he seemed to be going for. Finally, Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn did a good job with what he was given. His appearance alone gives off a vibe of someone slowly spiraling out of control, which is made stronger by him being much saner at the start. The only flaw with his performance is in the climax, where he goes way too over-the-top. He ultimately sells Osborn’s downfall, and makes me wonder what could have been if the film were more focused.
Another positive is the film’s production, which seemed to be a running theme with superhero films, at least post-MCU ones. The cinematography gave us some really good shots, especially the web-slinging scenes and the final shot where Peter fights Rhino. The Spider-Man suit in this movie is one of my favorite suits in the live-action films. The effects, while not being especially amazing, are good enough and don’t hamper the story, instead letting the story hamper itself.
Finally, while the film as a whole is bad, it has a number of scenes that are actually quite good. The best example is Gwen Stacy’s death despite being forced in. They bring this scene to life beautifully, enhanced by Garfield’s performance and by Emma Stone being likeable throughout the whole film, thus making her death a brutal gut-punch. It’s unfortunate that this scene and several other scenes were wasted on this film, along with basically all the cast and crew who clearly gave it their all for something that was built on a pillar of sand. Actually, it was a pillar of money.
Now onto the bad. First off, the opening scene. Seriously, why would you open up the film with Peter Parker’s parents? It makes no sense and just detracts our attention from the story. Not to mention that the opening scene looks like something out of a James Bond movie rather than a Spider-Man one. The Parkers fight an assassin in a plane while Peter’s dad simultaneously tries to upload his work on his computer. This scene doesn’t flow into the next scene with Peter web-slinging across New York, and just feels like Marc Webb crammed in scenes from two completely different films.
Secondly, did the plot summary for this review sound convoluted? The film is no better. That summary was the abridged version, and all that plot takes up around a third of the film. This was made worse by the film cramming in too many characters in an attempt to create a cinematic universe. You have Electro as the main villain, however, Harry becomes the Green Goblin out of nowhere and attacks Peter during the third act. When he finally fights Peter, he gets knocked out in seconds. Speaking of Harry, the film tries to sell us the idea that Peter and Harry have been friends throughout their childhood. If that’s the case, why didn't he appear in the first film? He didn’t even get a mention from Peter at all! The film treats their friendship as the two just walking around and reminiscing about their lives.
You know what this reminds me of? Anakin and Obi-Wan’s friendship from 2002’s Attack of the Clones! Seriously, did the writers get their ideas of close friendship from the Star Wars prequels? In the Raimi films, their friendship is much more believable, since we see Peter and Harry help each other, as well as go through tough times together, not just reminiscing about old times that we don’t get to see. We aren’t even given a flashback of the two, which really would have benefited the story. Instead, we get the opening. Hooray….Ugh.
Despite the mixed to poor reception of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), Sony decided to go ahead with the sequel and their spin-off Black Cat and Silver Sable movies, because the film made over $700 million on a budget of $200-293 million. The third film would’ve centered on Peter Parker using a potion to bring back all the people who died in his life.
The Sinister Six would have also appeared in the film, with Norman Osborn appearing as the King Goblin. Shailene Woodley would appear as Mary Jane Watson, while Gwen Stacy would appear as Spider-Gwen. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the third film was cancelled when Garfield pissed off the CEO of Sony by calling in sick to a gala promotion. Due to Garfield not being able to make the event, he was fired from the project and all Spider-Man related films were shelved indefinitely. It would be another two years until Sony would share the rights of Spider-Man with Marvel for Captain America: Civil War (2016) and subsequent films.
Overall, 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has so many problems. Its story is a cluttered mess of corporate mandates that blots out any good story element that was present. While the acting and production was strong enough, the plot just buried all that good in exchange for a would-be cinematic universe that never came.
Co-Written by: Owen Gonzalez