I have tried to lay down my thoughts on The Amazing Spider-Man all week. First i want to say that I wasn’t the biggest Spider-Man fan. I liked him, but I was always more of an X-Men guy. But I have read my fair share of Spidey stories over the years, so I like to think I have a good grasp on the character and his story. I also enjoyed the Sam Raimi movies–the first two at least–and I admit I thought it was kinda silly for Sony to reboot the character so soon. Going into the movie, I knew I had a bit of a bias against it, but I gave it the chance all movies deserve.
While I liked Raimi’s movies, I will be the first to admit there were flaws or omissions that I felt were integral to Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Luckily, we got some of those in this movie: He’s actually intelligent, he has to create webbing, he has his Spidey Sense, and a female counter part that is on the same footing as him–I didn’t mind looking at Kirsten Dunst, but that was such a wimpy Mary Jane. And along with it came this movies own flaws. Like why the hell did they take that shoddy 90′s arc about Peter’s parent’s being secret agents? Why did they not have the “with great power comes great responsibility” line from Uncle Ben?
What I had very hard time with were my thoughts on Andrew Garfield‘s performance and Marc Webb‘s vision of Peter Parker. Then it came to me, they weren’t smart enough to do the traditional, intelligent, Peter. I have to give Raimi and Toby Maguire credit, they went for more a 90′s “he happens to be smart when he needs to” Spidey than the original 60′s “I’m at the same level Reed Richards was in high school” Spidey. That let them do emotional stories which any actor can do. Playing a smart person is very hard, because if you aren’t as smart as that character, you are going to look like a moron.
Back in my heavy roleplaying days, my friend Dustin used have a rule that you played a character with high intelligence, you have to play high intelligence. If you couldn’t think your way out of something, just having the stat didn’t let you recon your choices or actions. It was a good rule because otherwise you could have someone playing a genius and do something stupid and when the repercussions hit say, “Wait, I would have figured out that would happen so I didn’t really say/do that.” It happens a lot, trust me. And that is basically what happened though this whole movie in both actions and portrayal of an intelligent teenager.
Action wise is really ease to point out glaring moments. I mean, if you have a bullet wound, wouldn’t you bandage it before climbing a skyscraper? But the subtler thing, the portrayal, is harder to get down to, but it is something we all know innately. When I went to college, it was a college of smart teenagers. Not 18 or 19 years-olds, but 15, 16, 17 years-olds. I was actually old for the college since I turn 18 my freshman year. What I don’t think a lot of people understand about very smart teenagers is that they will respond emotionally like any teenager–if they don’t, they are a sociopath and need help–but they are also rationalizing and analyzing what is happening.Smart kids are socially awkward because there is always that part of them that seeing everything as, for lack of a better description, a data set. They may react “emo” when something bad happens to them because not only is a painful moment, but most of them have started to develop their identity around the fact they are smart. So, it becomes a failure of not knowing something or getting the wrong answer, which is not supposed to happen to them.
Emma Stone did a decent job, and I think her role in Easy A helped that. But when it came to Peter, it was like there were two of them: Smart Peter and Emotional Peter. Smart Peter was okay when left to be smart only. Once emotions came in or it was time for Emotional Peter, things just didn’t mesh well. He was too normal. I didn’t see him try to think a head. I said to my dad, “He’s just a punk.” My dad said, “He was always a punk.” I disagreed, but I did my research and read the first few issues of the original Amazing Spider-Man comic. Yeah he was kinda rebellious, like any teenager was, and a little “emo” side his Uncle was killed and he had to take on Uncle Ben’s responsibilities on top of everything else. But he wasn’t a punk. That is something peter got later in the comic, but considering all the crap he goes through in that time, I think anyone would get some punk in them too.So if I can leave you with any word of advice it’s this: You don’t have to be smart to know when intelligence if faked. We see it enough in people around use that we have gathered the subtle clues to pick it out. If a character doesn’t feel smart, then he’s not, no matter what is written or portrayed.