Alternative Character Interpretation: As with the first film, is Peter a sympathetic Woobie or a self-centered asshole? The movie does a better job proving that he's a heroic Nice Guy than the original movie, but certain actions of his, mainly showing up as Spider-Man in front of Harry Osborn just to tell him that he won't give him his blood, even though attempting to get help for Harry would be the sensible thing to do regardless of what happened with Curt Connors) make him look Unintentionally Unsympathetic. However, others argue that Spider-Man is extremely likable and sympathetic, there being no clear solution he could have chosen. He didn't want to give Harry his blood because the last time he tried to help someone by giving them a piece of his father's research, he accidentally created a supervillian that killed at least two people, and endangered several more. He also told Harry that he was willing to help him find another way to cure the disease, but Harry proves he's not so innocent himself, as he shows his true colors by losing his temper and after trying to bribe out a solution, he resorted to attacking Spider-Man. In short, it was a lose-lose situation for Peter. Use his DNA that could very well produce a monster based on seeing hints of Harry's ruthless pragmatism, or let his best friend die while feeling the guilt.
Peter's casual smarminess in breaking his promise to a dying Capt. Stacy in the last movie (who, we might add, was dying because of a Heroic Sacrifice to save Spider-Man's life) rubbed some viewers the wrong way. This movie establishes early on that, even before the inevitable tragedy happens because of it, Pete knows he's wrong to go back on his word and the guilt over it is eating him alive. Of course, he also knows it's wrong to break Gwen's heart instead of moving on from his guilt. Breaking his promise isn't in good taste at all, but keeping it causes them both nothing but pain, and given they've both lost their fathers so recently, they've been through enough. At the very least, this film sensibly shows that it was a difficult choice for Peter to make.
In regards to this movie itself, the supplementary material makes amends to accusations that They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character in implying that Norman Osborn is alive and hiding, and would have served as a major antagonist if future movies were made.
A frequent criticism of many Spider-Man films was that Spidey removes/loses his mask way too often, in increasingly contrived ways. This is the first film to avoid that. Not only does Spidey very rarely remove his mask, the few times he does, it feels a lot more justified than in previous films.
Base-Breaking Character: Harry Osborn is either a sympathetic individual trying to find a cure for his disease or an entitled angst-wanking and arrogant creep. His "Strawman Has A Point" moment detailed below helps those in favor of the former interpretation, and those in favor of the latter cite the murder of Gwen Stacy as proof of the other. His default response to learning that Peter cannot help him use his DNA to make a cure is to demand a price and lash out at him, but it's ambiguous if this is pure brattiness or desperation combined with him being used to using his money to get things. His "everybody wants my money" line lends a bit more credence to the Lonely Rich Kid interpretation.
The trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past in the theatrical credits. In fairness, this free advertising was the only way Fox would let Marc Webb out of his contract so he could direct the film. Though the agreement only covered the theatrical run, so the DVD and Blu-ray releases got to leave it out.
Peter's manifestation of his promise to Gwen's father as the man himself silently judging him. There's no dialogue or much attention given to these moments, ultimately don't amount to much of an impact on his choices from what was already implied, and aren't referenced outside of those scenes. In total there's about five minutes of material that seems to have been added at the last minute to satisfy criticism, and could have been cut with little to nothing lost.
The scenes foreshadowing the Sinister Six spinoff are now this due to the movie being cancelled.
Nerdy Peter Parker vs Teenage handsome Peter Parker.
Spidey's reason for not giving his blood to Harry to find a cure for his disease, fearing that it could do something "worse than killing him". Was it a legitimate and understandable reason, or just a jerk move on Spidey's part to create contrived drama? There are arguments for both sides.
Gwen being explicitly smarter than Peter (even Emma Stone says "he's the muscle, she's the brains") has also proven divisive; some fans are delighted that it turns her into a stronger, more capable character who knows her own mind and is a genuine asset to Spider-Man. Other fans feel her upgrade came at the expense of Peter who Took a Level in Dumbass compared with the comics or even the first film where he was portrayed as a genius, and turns Gwen into a borderline Mary Sue (but then, that's always been an accusation thrown Gwen's way ever since the comics); although all things considered, Peter is still portrayed as highly intelligent in this movie, performing scientific experiments and conducting an investigation into the deaths of his parents.
Gwen's death. Even though it was in the comics, she's survived in other recent adaptations (such as the original Raimi trilogy, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane and The Spectacular Spider-Man, and even the Ultimate Spider-Man comics resurrected her after her initial death) and some viewers think it's too predictable to kill her off (and would make an effective Not His Sled moment), while others think it's too big a part of the Spider-Man mythos to let her live. Many fans also considered the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone to be the best thing the Spidey reboot had going for it.
The very last scene with Rhino. Even with the five month Time Skip, it can still feel jarring to have Spidey acting like his old quippy self mere minutes of screentime after Gwen's death, and there have been accusations that the scene only exists because the crew chickened out of giving the film the Downer Ending it should have had. Others argue that this is a very core concept of Spider-Man, no matter how much tragedy he faces, he always picks himself up, dusts himself off, and gets right back to saving the world one person at a time. Because of that whole power and responsibility thing Spidey does.
Many people have noted similarities between Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon (pre-Electro) and Jim Carrey as pre-Riddler Edward Nygma in Batman Forever. Both are obsessed with the main character (though Nygma was obsessed with Bruce Wayne, not Batman, while Dillon is obsessed with Spider-Man, not Peter Parker), both are unpopular employees of a major science-focused Mega Corp., and they're even both rather nerdy◊ in appearance◊.
Electro also shares a couple of visual cues with the cinematic Dr. Manhattan, right down to the destructive shockwave in Times Square.
The Rhino has gotten a couple comparisons to The Underminer from The Incredibles. Both of them are shamelessly hammy bad guys who use similar equipment for their villainy and basically exist solely to set up a And the Adventure Continues moment.
There have also been some comparisons to Batman & Robin: Both movies have a venom-powered, green-clad Big Bad who doesn't fight personally until the final act; both villains ally themselves to a bald, blue-skinned Heavy/Tragic Villain who controls an element of nature and is very powerful, but easily manipulated. In addition, both movies have a third bad guy who acts simply as The Brute. Both movies were also the Franchise Killers for both respective series, though Batman & Robin is much, much worse.
Yet another comparison can be made with Iron Man 2, since both films feature two main villains- an vengeful-obsessive who is taken out at the end of the first act, only to be rescued by the second villain, who is a bitter corporate type with a rivalry with the hero-, and both are accused of being more concerned with setting up future plots than focusing on their own (though IM2 was setting up future Avengers movies, while this film is at least setting up its own sequels). In both the villain begin taken out of the picture early- if temporarily- means that the second act and much of the movie focuses on the personal issues the hero is going through as well.
Critical Dissonance: This movie has had the least warm reception from critics out of both Spider-Man series, but audiences seem to at least like the movie, though not unanimously (just like the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels).
Ending Fatigue: Just when it seems like the film's reached its climax with Peter defeating Electro, there's the entire section after with Harry showing up as the Green Goblin and Gwen's death. And even then there's one more bit after with Spider-Man facing the Rhino at the very end. In fairness, the last one was just under ten minutes long.
Aleksei Sytsevich/Rhino has the least to do out of any villain in this movie, yet he's somehow become the most praised for his entertaining hamminess.
Many feel that Dane DeHaan completely stole the show with his performance as Harry/Green Goblin, with many wishing there had been less focus on Electro and far more on Harry.
On the flip side, Electro's earned many fans for the fantastic makeup and effects applied to his electricity and facial movements, coming off as a very sympathetic and tragic villain, and his memorable leitmotif.
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like with X-Men: Days of Future Past. Both Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield have, again, expressed a desire to do an MCU crossover one day. The film's mixed reviews have fueled this debate even further; some MCU fans believe that the reviews will detract from the film's success and possibly lead Sony to work out some deal with Marvel for help. Others believe that The Amazing Spider-Man will become a Cash CowFranchise Zombie (see Broken Base above). The movie underperforming has led to Sony seriously considering leasing the character to Marvel Studios in an attempt to boost interest.
Heck, with X-Men: Days of Future Past as well, as it seems that so many people considering Marvel Studio's film franchise the best means the runner-ups owned by Sony and Fox must duke it out to determine which is second-best. Made especially odd in that this movie promoted that one (twice, if you count the trailer in addition to The Stinger), but fans still aren't content with one another.
And finally, the franchise's fans have expressed major frustration with both, feeling that whatever one's views on Sony as a company, the films deserve a chance to be judged on their own merits, and feeling Marvel fans bash the movie just because it's not a Marvel movie. Not to mention that a major source of criticism about Spidy in general is that his kind of down-to-earth, working-class hero stories don't crossover well with the Avengers and similar more adventure-founded heroes in comics, and are doubtful it would work much better on film.
Foe Yay: As noted above, Electro seems to have an infatuation with Spidey even before he becomes a villain.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In the United States, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 debuted to a $92 million opening weekend - just short of Captain America: The Winter Soldier's $95 million - and has had a much more mixed reception than the well-received Winter Soldier. Overseas, it's the other way around in terms of box office, and the movie's Rotten Tomatoes rating was in the mid-70s before the American reviews came in.
Dane DeHaan is clearly enjoying himself as the Green Goblin, but not taking the role as seriously as he did with his similar role in Chronicle. On the other hand, it's still the Green Goblin. If you're not going over the top with the role, you're doing it wrong.
Paul Giamatti is clearly thinking "I'm only in the movie for a few minutes, so I'm darn well going to make an impression."
Spider-Man is apparently planning to join with Gwen Stacy to England. Spider-Verse would later introduced William "Billy" Braddock, a British Spider-Man who observed Alternate Universe Gwen Stacy as Spider-Woman in his first appearance.
This is a second installment in the Spider-man franchise, which features Electro as the main villain, and he can turn himself into an Energy Being. Hmm...
One of the villains teased for the Sinister Six movie that didn't happen was the Vulture... who would later go on to become the primary antagonist of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Ho Yay: Peter and Harry, as usual. The scene with Harry and Gwen in the elevator makes Harry look like a jealous romantic rival. The whole plot, really-the affectionate jibes, the childhood-friends reunion, the tragic illness-none of it would be out of place in a romantic dramedy. At least, up until Harry goes full DIY trying to cure himself and attempts to kill Peter.
On the bad guys' side, Max's I Just Want to Be Loved tendencies give a bit of this vibe to his and Harry's relationship. Max's awed face when Harry tells him he needs him....
Idiot Plot: The entire subplot about Harry's blood relies on Harry and Peter not realizing the obvious compromise for the situation: Have Oscorp scientists thoroughly analyze Spider-Man's blood sample to make sure it's actually safe before they inject Harry with it. This way, they can be sure there won't be any dangerous side effects, thus putting Peter's worries to rest. As io9 pointed out, this is especially bizarre since the initial argument about the blood happens in the Oscorp building itself.
Internet Backdraft: Just like its predecessor, ASM2 got this months before filming even started, largely due to the film not being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (again) and its Ash Can Copy nature. When the movie came out and the mixed reviews came in, this multiplied tenfold.
It Was His Sled: Unless you know next to nothing about the basics of Spider-Man, Gwen Stacy's death will not be a shocker.
A weird inversion, as some people have said the scenes that simply show Peter and Gwen's relationship are the best part of the film, and with a little rewriting could probably stand on their own as a great romantic comedy, to the point that it's a disappointment whenever the superhero stuff interrupts it.
Level Breaker: After absorbing the electricity from the area, Electro really lets loose, laying waste to Times Square. His creepy theme music plays at full blast, the entire scene making him come off as an unstoppable force of nature. Then a high pressure water stream blasts into him, and we cut to Spider-Man wearing a fireman's helmet. A funny image to be sure, but perhaps not the best scene for it.
Love It or Hate It: If the reviews are to be believed, the film is very divisive. Its either a narmy, cluttered and predictable mess a la Spider-Man 3, or a well-paced, moving and enjoyable movie that corrects the mistakes of its predecessor and steps out of the Raimi shadow. Some Take a Third Option and argue that it's a mix of both.
Corrupt Corporate Executive Donald Menken took a long running jump over the MEH by framing Harry for Max Dillon's condition and subsequent treatment just to get him ousted from the company, when he knows for a fact Harry is going to die without the company's research. Menken even has the gall to mock him for it.
Not that it makes Harry as the Green Goblin setting off the chain reaction ending with Gwen's death, just to spite Peter, OK by any stretch of the imagination, of course.
Jamie Foxx's performance as Electro is filled with this. In the hands of a lesser actor, the over-the-top humiliation he receives makes it almost hilarious in a Black Comedy sense. And yet, the acting is so excellently done that you actively want the poor guy to get a break, particularly when he sings his own birthday song to himself, because there's nobody else to keep him company. Bonus points for managing to take Electro's cheesy catchphrase ("You don't know? I'm Electro!") and actually make it sound equal parts awesome and intimidating.
Additionally, Electro playing "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" during his second fight with Spiderman; Is it cheesy as all get-out? Yes. Does it showcase how much control Max/Electro has gained over his abilities since the last fight? Definitely.
A behind-the-scenes case, with the fact the film underperformed at the box office. It actually only underperformed in the sense Sony were unrealistically optimistic about how much it would earn (they thought it would get past a billion dollars, despite none of the Spider-Man films reaching that point previously), and that it earned less than previous Spider-Man films; it still earned $700 Million, surpassing most of the Phase 1 MCU films (only The Avengers actually surpassed that), DC's Man of Steel, and all the X-Men films save for X-Men: Days of Future Past and Deadpool, making it actually about average what the MCU films earn each installment. Despite that, however, people generally talk about it like it was a giant bomb and a financial failure and use this as a point of criticism for why Spider-Man needs to be given back to Marvel, a mentality that Sony themselves seem to have taken concerning the film given what happened after. That being said, due to problems with the marketing, the overall profit for the film was still less than $100 million, which isn't all that impressive when the budget of the films is around $200 million.
The very blatant sequel/spin-off baiting ended up becoming one of the most mocked aspects, and a symbol of Sony supposedly not knowing what the hell they're doing.
Aleksei Sytsevich is a two-scene wonder - one as a memorable Mook, and the other as the Rhino.
As is Norman Osborn, who (allegedly) kicks the bucket after the only scene where he's alive.
Pandering to the Base: The inclusion of Rhino and the set-up for the Sinister Six was done in part at the request of Avi Arad, who claimed that he thought that this is what the fans wanted (similar to Venom's shoehorning into Spider-Man 3). It seems that this plan backfired, and that more people thought that the movie became more cluttered for these inclusions.
Sequelitis: From a critical standpoint. The movie currently sits at 52% on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to its predecessor's score in the 70s, making it the worst-reviewed Spider-Man movie of all. Major criticisms being that the film is stuffed with too many plotlines and characters just like Spider-Man 3 as well as spending too much time setting up its own sequels.
So Okay, It's Average: Some fans believe that both this film and the original were both decent, but had room for improvement.
Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Those of the opinion that the original movie was So Okay, It's Average cite the trope in mind, and that this movie is a Growing the Beard point for the rebooted series that showed great potential, prematurely canceled before it had much of a chance. With better pacing, much more fleshed out characters, a brighter, more enthusiastic color scheme, excellent costume design for Spidey, a love-interest that's not just there to be there which fans criticized the Raimi portrayal of Mary-Jane, and a much more accurate portrayal of Peter's humor and philosophy.
Averted, when it was revealed that Spider-Man's costume was changing to one more closely resembling the comics, as well as the one from the previous trilogy, winning over more than a few Sam Raimi fans in the process.
Played straight, at least with some fans, when it comes to Green Goblin, with some of It's the Same, Now It Sucks since his armored suit looks much like Willem Dafoe's suit from the original 2002 film, minus the mask (although few seem to think it's worse than Dafoe's infamous "Jet Jaguar" look).
A number of people think that Electro's Character Development doesn't make any sense after his first fight with Spider-Man - specifically, the fact that he goes from a mild-mannered (if eccentric, unstable, and paranoid) nerd to a man who is understandably confused by gaining superpowers to a sociopathic murderer with a God complex - and that he would have been better as a villain if the transition wasn't so jarring. There are also those that believe the film would have been better if the Green Goblin and the Rhino hadn't siphoned screentime from the character.
Norman Osborn. He only has a single scene before his death when the trailers implied he would be serving as a major character, and the previous movie implied that he would have a large role in the franchise. He doesn't even get to interact with Peter, which is widely considered to be a hugely important part of his character. The only thing that would have alleviated this in the movie was the original post-credits scene revealing that his death was faked and he was preserved cryogenically, but this was cut out of the film.
Comic fans seem to think that the movie's In-Name-Only version of Dr. Kafka was a waste of the character that appeared in the comics, and that said character would have been good for building the universe that Sony is trying to set up.
The Rhino. Despite getting a fair amount of coverage in the promos, he has about five minutes of screen time and doesn't even get a proper fight scene with Spider-Man. While most of his time was for setting up the Sinister Six movie, most fans wondered why they even bothered including the Rhino if he wasn't going to do anything.
One of the most common complaints about the movie is that it tries to set up too many plots too quickly, and the more interesting plot threads get lost in the web of all the storylines and the unresolved questions set up by said storylines.
One such storyline that people seemed to have missed was the introduction of Mary Jane to the movie franchise. Given that Gwen's death impacted her as much as it impacted Peter in the comics, her presence in the movie could have made for a more compelling ending instead of setting her up as a Replacement Goldfish.
One commonly noted plot point to have not been resolved from the previous film was Uncle Ben's killer still being on the loose. This is doubly notable, since the video game does include this as a plot detail.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: It's clear that Electro was supposed to be sympathetic up until he freaks out and goes stir-crazy with the electricity. After he'd been taken down - even though it was obvious he did what he did because he was scared and confused - can make Spidey come across as a jerk and Electro come across as the one worthy of sympathy.
Though he's much better about being a more selfless individual this time, Peter Parker falls into this in the eyes of some viewers. Peter's decision to not give Harry his blood is understandable the first time as he fears that he may create another violent supervillain (like what happened with Curt Connors). However, showing up at Harry's mansion as Spider-Man just to tell him that he can't give him blood comes across as a dick move, no matter how well-intentioned it may be.
Like How It Should Have Ended points out, Peter could have given Harry the blood so he can research the cure from it with his vast wealth and research at disposal, not directly inject it into himself. As a brilliant student, Peter should have noticed this. Instead, depending on one's interpretation, the act of refusing Harry the blood may come up as Peter being too selfish to give his identity away through his blood, rather than the safety of his friend, considering that said friend is dying anyway.
Also, many reviewers have cited that the attempts at making Harry sympathetic just don't come off due to how creepy, entitled and arrogant he is. And then he sets off the chain of events that ends with Gwen Stacy dying. Not quite as unintentional that time, eh? Even for those feeling the above point with Peter is valid, there's just no coming back after what Harry did as the Green Goblin in response.
People have claimed that the Green Goblin looks a lot like both Beavis and Butt-Head in a number of shots.
The Rhino costume got flak for having Aleksei Sytsevich look like he's in a baby carrier.
While Electro's appearance in the movie is the most praised costume for any villain in the movie, the lightning bolts on his costume have gotten some derision. Others feel this just verges on nitpicking.
The Tie-In Game for the 2014 Film
Alternate Character Interpretation: Let's see: Spider-Man steals the Shocker's gauntlets (which he knows full well belong to Oscorp) and steals a high-tech Oscorp suit from the Russians for himself, and when his buddy Harry asks Spider-Man to kill him after the boss fight, Spider-Man essentially tells him to spend the rest of his terminally ill and brief days making up for his attacks on the city. In short: Spider-Man is an asshole. And that's without the player deciding to ignore the petty crimes and let citizens die so they can collect comic books...
Broken Base: Carnage is in the game, with the only sign of Venom being Carnage's place in the "Venom Project".
The fact that Gwen and Peter broke up in-between games. The negative side at the fact that the whole point of the first game was to save her. The positive being she was Spared by the Adaptation.
Catharsis Factor: Tired of the Hero/Menace system? Replaying missions allows you to choose the time of day and you aren't bothered by the system, although random crimes wont happen either. Just swinging around the city can be surprisingly calming. Just don't head to the objective. (And optionally turn off voiceover volume and subtitles.)
Most Annoying Sound: Spidey wont shut up in free roam. Luckily, he can be silenced with the voiceover volume setting.
Narm: Most of the rescuing civilians side missions involve lifting debris off them... debris that is sloped completely over the civilian and not trapping them in any way. It looks less like they're in danger and more like they're too lazy to get off the ground.
Scrappy Mechanic: The Hero or Menace morality system sounds cool on paper, but when you learn that there's no benefits to becoming a Menace and if you fail to stop crimes - which can occur across town and simultaneously, with more cropping up all the time - your rating will go down. If your rating does go into the 'Menace' region then you'll have to deal with a task force of flying goons able to keep up with your web-swinging at its highest speed. And the game will also drop your rating down to Menace at certain points of the story, regardless of how high it was earlier. To make it simple, when a game mechanic makes you stop caring about saving people, there is something wrong with it.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The fact that Peter and Gwen having broken up sometime after the first game means that their could have been a lot more Ship Tease between Peter and Whitney Chang like in the first game. However they never interact face to face once in this game.