As the lights dimmed, fans expected to see the cast of next year's "The Amazing Spider-Man" take the stage. But something was awry. The audience microphone was live in Hall H at Comic-Con International in San Diego, and a strange fan in a shoddy Spider-Man costume ambled up and began stammering into it.
As the spotlight came up, fans began to suspect this was a set-up. A moment later, "The Amazing Spider-Man" star Andrew Garfield removed his mask to the roar of the audience. The moment was captured on a hundred smart phones from multiple angles for those lucky enough to be surrounding the star.
Garfield, in a nervous and still-stammering voice, began reading a letter to the crowd. In the heartfelt note, he stressed to the fans that he was one of them, that the character of Peter Parker was important to him, and that this was the coolest moment of his life. The crowd went crazy as he finished, and Garfield followed it up by proudly introduced the panel's attendees, including director Marc Webb and co-star Emma Stone.
An extended trailer was shown, featuring Spider-Man shooting his mechanical web-shooters, crawling up buildings and bantering with a car thief. Then some high-altitude web-swinging, all shown in 3-D, closed the clip. The crowd once again roared with approval.
"I'm going to first say, I'm a huge fan of the first three movies," Garfield told the packed Hall H crowd. "We're huge fans of Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Sam Raimi...that should be said. We're approaching this like it's Shakespeare; it's a modern myth. We still want to watch these stories -- in 3-D, I might add. It's another chapter in a comic book story that means so much to so many people."
Emma Stone, who plays the lovely Gwen Stacy, agreed. "I'm viewing it the same way, from a new perspective -- I fell in love with Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker," she said. "But I can't play it without making it my own a little bit. So hopefully we [made] Gwen and Peter's story new and fresh."
During the preview, Peter Parker uttered the name "Dr. Connors." When the question of the villain came up, Webb confirmed that it would be the Lizard, played by actor Rhys Ifans ("The Replacements," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows"). Webb then introduced another clip of the movie, this one centered on the Lizard.
In the clip, Ifans is shown meeting with the Peter Parker's high school class. He later experiments on himself, trying to regenerate his own arm. In a later scene, two girls are in a bathroom stall together, about to burn a photo of an ex-boyfriend. Suddenly the toilet is pulled through the floor and out crawls a 10-foot-tall, CGI Lizard. The Lizard corners the two girls, then slowly flicks his tongue at one of them. The clip ended with the Lizard jumping at the screen.
A fan asked about Spider-Man's web-shooters, and Garfield confirmed that they were not organic but manmade by Peter Parker himself. That change drew a few shouts of approval from the crowd. "They're mechanical; Peter designs them himself with his scientific genius," Garfield said. "He figures it out with his connection with Oscorp. It's pretty awesome."
Another fan asked about the changes to the Spider-Man costume. The spider emblem is different, the eyes have been changed, and it also looks like Spider-Man might be wearing shoes.
"We looked more at the Ultimate [Spider-Man] body type," Webb said. "How does a kid make a suit? It's natural a kid would use some of those elements. Andrew is incredibly fit, but skinny."
Garfield smiled broadly, adding, "Because how great is it to see a skinny guy beating up big guys?"
Stone was asked how it felt to be cast as Peter Parker's love interest. "To be honest, I've been trying to be as 'present' as possible," she replied. "I'm sitting on the stage at Comic-Con for Spider-Man; it's the most awesome thing in the world."
Another fan asked if Garfield and Stone experienced any hesitance to take on roles that might define the rest of their careers.
"A bunch -- I hesitated for a month," Garfield admitted. "I always wanted to play the role. The 4-year-old in me said, 'You're playing this role, man, there's no decision!' I just like being an actor; I was really scared of the big crowds, still am. I couldn't say no, ultimately."
Stone also felt some reluctance in taking part in the revamped film series. "Absolutely," she said, quickly adding, "I had come [to Comic-Con] before for 'Zombieland,' but being backstage for '[The Amazing) Spider-Man' is a totally different thing. This has to do with anything in life...any job you're afraid to take, if you love it, then the fear will be set aside."