Fans slept in line overnight for the chance to see world premiere footage from “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” and — judging by the cheers, screams and applause from the packed crowd in Hall H at Comic-Con International in San Diego — their devoted efforts were well worth it.
Introducing the footage was director Marc Webb, producers Matt Tolmach and Avi Arad, and actors Andrew Garfield and Dane DeHaan. Garfield opted to enter as his big-screen alter-ego, sauntering into the crowd in full Spidey gear after a video introduction and answering questions as Spider-Man for the first ten minutes.
And he clearly had fun with the gag. He proclaimed Comic-Con “The only place I fit in,” and when Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey was mentioned, he exclaimed, “She’s hot!”
Stone wasn’t present, but sent a video message from a location shoot in France — as she proclaimed her excitement about the film, the video was interrupted by flashes of Jamie Foxx’s Electro — thus heralding the entrance of the actor behind the film’s villain (his swagger on stage set to Kanye West’s “Power.”)
Taking a star-struck stance, Spidey swooned, “I loved ‘Django!'” Foxx said, quoting his ‘Unchained’ character, “I like the way you die, boy.” The pair continued with some light banter, until Spidey finally announced he had to leave, saying, “I’m getting the senses and stuff and I have to go to the bathroom.”
Before playing the world premiere of the footage reel, Webb warned that they’d just wrapped shooting three weeks ago, so the visuals weren’t finished and there were still some green screen shots and storyboards throughout.
The extended trailer emphasized the set up of Foxx’s villain from nerdy, ignored Max Dillon to electricity-harnessing, all-powerful Electro. Conversely, it showed Spider-Man’s fall from his comfortable perch as a fun-loving, carefree hero. The tease promised plenty of battle sequences between the two, one of which involved Electro hovering over midtown NYC shooting electricity bolts from his hands, resulting in a power outage throughout all of Times Square. Also revealed: how Dillon transformed into Electro, via a fall with a live power plug into a tank of electric eels.
On playing a villain, Foxx noted, “You don’t have to color inside the lines. When I got the call about this [role] my three-year-old…she’s playing on her Spider-Man jumper, she’s having a Spider-Man birthday and they called and said, ‘We want you to play Electro.’ My daughter was like, ‘Spider-Man is gonna kick your ass!'”
Foxx displayed a clear understanding of his character, delving into Dillon’s back story as a lonely, unloved engineer explaining, “What we wanted to accomplish was having him betrayed by three things: love, family and his work. We added one thing — when you see Max, it’s actually his birthday…and even his mom doesn’t remember his birthday. …You immediately see that he’s in a hole, so when he turns into Electro it makes sense that he has so much venom and so much anger…I wanted Electro to be a serious individual who wants to burn the city down — and burn Spider-Man along with it.”
By this point, Garfield re-entered the stage sans suit, as himself. “Oh man, it’s so nice to be back here! I have the fondest memories in this room from two years ago — it’s just the greatest thing!”
Of his role as Garfield’s childhood friend Harry Osborn, DeHaan said, “It’s really amazing. I have a lot of respect for Andrew and Marc and Jamie, and to be welcomed into this family and to bring a modern take on Harry is an awesome thing.”
Garfield held court throughout the panel, graciously thanking fans, interacting with cosplayers and being the generally good-natured and enthusiastic presence that’s made him a beloved figure for fans and industry professionals alike — and he especially shined during the audience Q&A portion.
When a fan asked Garfield how he manages his swagger and hinted at the fact that he’s by far the sexiest Spider-Man, Garfield good-naturedly set the record straight, saying, “You are mistaken on all accounts — Tobey Maguire was a sex machine and still is and he will always be Spider-Man. No matter who fills those shoes, it’s always going to be Tobey’s role.”
Another audience member brought up Garfield’s recent comments about Spider-Man’s sexuality, to which the actor responded eloquently, “Spider-Man stands for everybody — black, white, Asian, gay, straight, lesbian bisexual, transsexual. I think it would be illogical and it just wouldn’t make sense in the third movie suddenly I was with a black guy. [Foxx shrugs, the audience erupts into laughter] To me it’s not a social issue, to me love between two consenting adults is love and no one outside of that couple has any right to judge. It’s a philosophical question that I think is worth asking, and part of the beauty of Spider-Man is that he’s covered head to toe — you don’t see any skin color, you don’t identify him with any sexual orientation, he is a hero and that’s what’s important.”
A high school student took the mic to ask Garfield how he juggles acting with his personal life, lamenting that he’s an aspiring actor who just failed chemistry class because he couldn’t strike the right balance. “You want to be an actor — why are you caring about chemistry?” Garfield responded, to wild hoots and laughter from the crowd. Garfield went on to embody his inspiring big-screen character, imploring the young man to follow his dreams and passions no matter what.
DeHaan shed some light on Harry Osborn’s situation in this film, saying, “In this version, Harry and Peter are childhood friends and Harry gets sent off to boarding school…he cuts off pretty much everything that had to do with his life…then they graduate high school and its time for him to come home and he has to reconcile his relationship with Peter for the first time in a really long time.”
Webb added, “With Peter Parker, you never really see him have a true friendship…it really does complicate his life in a significant way in the film…there’s so much spectacle in this movie…but the basis of it is these very real understandable relationships. The intimacy of those relationships is what all the spectacle is built on.”
A brave fan confronted Webb about the fact that The Rhino, Electro and Harry Osborn are all being introduced in this film, asking, “Do you feel like you’re putting in too much?”
Webb was adamant in his response: “It’s just the right abount of stuff.” He then expanded,shining a light on Paul Giamatti’s smaller-than-expected role, “The main villain in this movie is Electro. Paul Giamiatti makes an appearance in a few scenes…that was to establish sort of a fun tone.” He described Electro as “an incredibly powerful villain” and called him “god-like” before posing the question, “How does Spider-Man fight someone who, if you touch him, its like touching a thousand third rails?”
And the panel ended with nearly as big a bang as it opened when, asked to name his ideal Spider-Man storyline for a future movie, Garfield responded, “I’d like to see him with The Avengers.” Judging by the reaction of the crowd, he’s not alone.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” hits theaters on May 2, 2014.