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How soon is too soon to reboot Spider-Man? That’s a question Columbia Pictures has been nervously asking itself even as it embarked on the Marc Webb-directed, Andrew Garfield-starring movie that will hit theaters next summer.
What became evident Friday in Hall H is that answer the answer to that question is: not soon enough.
THR’s COMPLETE COVERAGE: Comic-Con 2011
The studio handily made a case for the reboot, both with the great footage of The Amazing Spider-Man shown at its Friday panel and with the winning charm of Garfield, whose surprise speech from inside the audience — clad in a Spider-Man suit no less — had the crowd rooting for an underdog whose dreams come true.
“I needed Spider-Man in my life as a kid and he gave me hope,” Garfield said, nervously reading a speech. “He was living mine and every skinny boy’s fantasy.”
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He spoke of how Spider-Man alter ego Peter Parker inspired him, made him braver, showed him how the bruises sustained in a struggle are worth it. “He saved my life,” he said.
By the time Garfield wrapped with a rousing “This is my first Comic-Con and this is the coolest moment of my life!” the crowd’s heart was swelling.
With director Webb, co-star Emma Stone and producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach on stage, Garfield compared making a new Spider-Man movie to mounting a Shakespeare production; it’s just another version of a popular tale.
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“I’m approaching this like it’s Shakespeare or modern myths,” Garfield said. “We still want to see these stories, we still want to see these characters. It’s another chapter in a comic book story that means so much to so many people.”
Echoed Webb: “Spider-Man is perennially in our culture. He was there before I was born, he’ll be there after I die.”
Stone humbly paid respect to fans when she described taking on the role of Parker’s iconic girlfriend Gwen Stacy. “I can’t play a character without making it my own a little bit. So hopefully it’s all right that I’m playing her,” she said, greeted by whistles and hollers.
PHOTOS: Behind The Scenes at THR’s Comic-Con Lounge
While the panel opened with a showing the recently release trailer, it was the Peter Parker clips that brought the gavel down in making the case for a reboot.
Scenes shown featured Garfield as Parker being harassed by bullies in school, fighting back, dealing with his powers, impressing a scientist (played by Rhys Ifans, also present) in a field trip, building webshooters, taking on crime, being branded a criminal and hunted by police.
The centerpiece perhaps was a scene in which Martin Sheen (Uncle Ben) gave Parker a life lesson that led into Parker nervously asking Stacy on a date. The scene was dramatic, with Sheen making an excellent Uncle Ben, then effortlessly glided into romance and humor, with the audience as excited as Parker when Stacy says yes.
The Parker footage was set to Coldplay‘s new song “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” suggesting the movie is very concerned with being emotionally real and grounded, and less concerned about a comic-book world painted in broad strokes. Parker isn’t a simple nerd but has a punk and sarcastic attitude; his Spider-Man is cocky and mischievous.
Dramatic scenes with Sally Field and Sheen as Parker’s aunt and uncle showed the characters aren’t there simply because they were in the comic but are part of the story.
Columbia knew it had to show the movie’s villain, and it did, not only bringng out Ifans, who plays a scientist-turned-monsterous baddie known as the Lizard, but also showing a clip with Ifans as an arrogant egghead using a serum and turning into a creature.
While the real-life actor scenes played very well, it’s too early to tell how the creature — very large, very slimy — will distinguish itself from other movie monsters.
But Columbia has until next July 3 to better prep that case.
Spider-Man leaves Hall H not only vindicating the reboot, but also taking the title as the Con’s must-see footage and should-have-been-there panel.
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