I really liked Amazing Spider-Man and from what I understand, I am in the majority to a very vocal minority. One of the things I liked most about it is that it sets up for what could be a spectacular sequel, one that I will naturally have higher expectations for. Here are some things I would like to see to reaffirm that this trilogy is on the right track.
1. Matured Peter Parker
At the end of the movie, Flash Thompson tells Peter “you’re coming along, Parker”. I hope I’ll continue to agree with that in the future. One of the criticisms Spidey has faced this time around (one I think is being overblown) is that Peter Parker can, at times, be a bit dickish. I would say that, at times, Spider-Man’s signature snark does indeed seep into Peter’s personality, but I’m still good with it for a first movie.
More than ever, Spider-Man feels like a real person under the costume this time. They didn’t just drop him into superhero-dom, but are allowing him to grow into it. As time goes by, he should naturally progress into the bearer of responsibility we know him as.
That in no way means his Spider-Man persona needs to change. That was just fine, as is. What should change is that Peter will hopefully reach a point where he doesn’t yell at his Aunt May to go to sleep, tell Gwen to shut up, mid-make-out, and be so quick to start arguments with the chief of police. Stuff like that can exit any time.
2. J. Jonah Jameson
One of the two biggest casting challenges for next time will be the editor-in-chief of The Daily Bugle. J.K. Simmons so perfectly portrayed that character in the previous movies that it’s a hurdle enough to try and imagine anyone else filling that character’s shoes. If they don’t pick someone who already practically embodies that character, then whomever they do chose is going to have to step up their game to deliver as memorable a performance.
3. The Osborns
Speaking of shoes to fill, the Spider-Man universe’s most dysfunctional family requires special attention. Craftily introduced as a looming presence behind the curtain here, Norman Osborn’s revealing should arrive in part 2. All signs point to Osborn having a significant role in the disappearance of Peter’s parents, which should provide some interesting twists and turns in the overarching story. Whether his maniacal alter-ego, the Green Goblin, should feature prominently in the sequel is debatable, but the more build up he gets the better.
While we’re talking about one Osborn it may be prudent to mention the other. Since Harry’s descent into revenge was the overarching story of the previous trilogy, it doesn’t seem at all necessary to revisit it again here. However, Harry’s involvement in Peter’s life isn’t insignificant enough that he should be left out, either.
4. Artist Control
One thing that uncomfortably reminded me of Spider-Man 1 & 3 is that Amazing Spider-Man is not the baby of the director or the writer. It is Sony’s/Columbia’s product, above everything else. They, no doubt, had the last word for everything that happened in the movie, with the predetermined laundry-list of requirements for the movie in hand.
Webb and Vanderbilt were still able to put enough of their stamp on it by the time it hit theaters, luckily. Next time around the leash should be loosened quite a bit, if the studio knows what’s best for the movie. How many big superhero sequels have turned out to be great because the studios entrusted more control to the director (Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight, X2, X-Men: First Class) and how many have tripped up because the head honchos wouldn’t give any slack (Iron Man 2, Spider-Man 3, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance).
Allow Webb and whichever writer ends up with the biggest input to take the story where it naturally needs to go, instead of dictating action plot points that don’t gel with what’s going on in the story.
5. Different Villain Set
It’s not like the mad scientist run rampant (who also happens to be one of Peter’s father figures) is a bad villain archetype, but to say it’s been done in these movies is an understatement.
It’s perfectly alright to have one or two side villains that don’t have a personal connection to Peter in some way (for once). A technologically or biologically enhanced criminal or enforcer on the side could make for some great action scenes. Someone like Mysterio, Shocker, Sandman (minus the Uncle Ben drama), or Electro could all fill this role.
If this iteration of Spider-Man wants to draw more comparisons to Nolan’s Batman movies, organized crime is an area no Spider-Man film has touched before. I’m not sure of the current legal status of using Kingpin due to him being declared part of the Daredevil universe, but anyone from Tombstone, Silvermane, or Hammerhead could fill the crime boss role, and maybe even be the employer of the supercriminals previously mentioned.
This is the area of the Spider-Man movie universe that now needs the most mixing up, so practically any change will be welcomed.