The Amazing Spider-Man is a film duology of the iconic Marvel Comics superhero, starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. It is a Continuity Reboot of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man Trilogy, but is still handled by Columbia Pictures (which is owned by Sony). It was produced by Avi Arad (who also produced the aforementioned trilogy) and Matt Tolmach. The film series is notable for being profitablenote , but ultimately being cancelled due to numerous creative woes that Sony faced in trying to build a Shared Universe without access to the characters of the greater Marvel Universe on which the Marvel Cinematic Universe is constantly thriving meanwhilenote . The cancellation led to many wondering What Could Have Been with the planned movies.
After Sam Raimi had a falling out with Sony over the creative direction of the fourth film in his Spider-Man series, Sony decided to cancel his franchise and reboot the series without him, leading to the removal of trilogy stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, as well. Most of the crew who worked on the trilogy remained on board to work on the rebooted franchise, but were now entirely under Sony's creative word.
The series was planned to span at least four main films, and the first two of these were directed by Marc Webb. Webb was also set to direct the third installment, but would not return for the fourth. Spinoff films starring Venom and the Sinister Six were planned, the former to be directed by Alex Kurtzman, and the latter to be directed by Drew Goddard. Sony had initially stated that the movies may be released before The Amazing Spider-Man 4, and that the plan would eventually be to release a Spider-Man movie every year (counting spin-offs).
The movies also got their own video game tie-ins.
However, the production plan changed after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out. The film was met with a more polarized reception, primarily being criticized for introducing too many plot threads at once and not having enough action at times. Sony was extremely confident with the future of the franchise at that point, moving forward with the two main sequels in addition to the spin-offs before the movie even came out, but began to backpedal in response to the more tepid reaction to the film. While The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was moving forward, the creative team behind the film requested more time to address the criticisms of the previous movie, and the film was pushed to 2018. The film order was originally meant to alternate between an Amazing Spider-Man film and a spin-off for every other year, but the schedule was altered - three spin-offs would precede The Amazing Spider-Man 3, most likely done in such a way that the antagonists of the Sinister Six would have time to develop on-screen. An October 2014 rumor stated that the Venom movie was dead, the Sinister Six movie would be a soft reboot that would ultimately involve an Enemy Mine where the villains team up with Spider-Man to face a larger threat, and that Sony's focus would primarily be on Spider-Man, with side characters being considered for spin-offs based on their popularity. The rumor also mentioned that recasting would probably be in order, allegedly due to Sony's unhappiness with Andrew Garfield both blowing off a dinner that would have announced the third film, and blaming them for ruining the second movie in an interview he made that September. Another plan was for Sony to merge the Sinister Six and Venom: Carnage films into a single movie, with Spider-Man wearing the black suit and teaming up with the Sinister Six and either Venom or Carnage being the superior threat that unites them. All of this was set to happen at the same time that an animated feature from the creative team behind The LEGO Movie would be released. There was even talk at one point of Sony bringing Sam Raimi back to the series in an "overseeing" capacity, similar to how 20th Century Fox had brought Bryan Singer back to the X-Men Film Series in 2014 after a decade long absence.
The movies are not a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although the Oscorp Tower from these movies was originally meant to appear in The Avengers as a cross-company promotion, but it was cut from the film due to time constraints in digitally rendering the building. Sony was initially hesitant to share Spider-Man with Disney after the success of the first movie, but rumors have appeared suggesting that Sony and Disney both wanted to work out another cross-company deal due to Sony's financial instability (along with the sequel under-performing) and Disney's goal to obtain the rights to every Marvel character (Sony would benefit from receiving greater promotion from Disney, and Disney would benefit from having the character appear in their media). At that point it was unclear if the Spider-Man that would appear in those movies would be Andrew Garfield's version of the character in an Intercontinuity Crossover or a different take on character (similar to how Quicksilver is a different character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe than he is in 20th Century Fox's X-Men Film Series, in spite of appearing in both). While most presumed that the character would appear in 2018/2019's Avengers: Infinity War (the end of Phase Three) at the earliest, rumors have since suggested that he could make a debut as early as 2016's Captain America: Civil War (the beginning of Phase Three), and even a suggestion that he could appear in The Stinger to Avengers: Age of Ultron. (In the end, the rumours were right about Civil War, but not about Age of Ultron).
The rumors about these talks were confirmed in December 2014, after hackers leaked e-mails from Sony. Disney proposed an opportunity to reintroduce the character in Phase Three, and then reboot the film franchise again with a new trilogy of standalone films starring the character in Phase Four and beyond. In turn, Sony would retain distribution rights of the franchise, with the boons of having some of the marketing perks, some creative rights, and profits to these movies. While these plans initially were reported to have broke down, Sony's dire financial situation and the revelations from the hack brought it back to the forefront. The company's plan for the Spider-Man franchise was discussed in January 2015 at a summit, with the outcome of said summit to be announced in February.
Just as it was predicted, the reveal of the partnership came to pass in February 2015, when it was confirmed that Spider-Man would be joining the MCU. As a result, the continuity featured in these two films is ceased and Spider-Man is set to be recast before appearing in the MCU - first in Captain America: Civil War, and later in a new standalone Spider-Man movie. Joss Whedon wanted to put Spider-Man on the new lineup for the Avengers at the very end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, but, due to the deal just passing through as production wrapped, along with the need to re-cast the character, Spidey's debut would have to wait until 2016. The character will be in his high school years throughout Phase 3 of the MCU, so Marvel Studios and Sony opted to defy Dawson Casting to the best of their ability with the new actor, Tom Hollandnote . The reboot will not put a heavy emphasis on his Origin Story beyond Peter learning that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, and chronicles Peter's Coming-of-Age Story in high school while becoming a key Avenger. In essence, the reboot is not too different from the initial concept that Sony was going for when it started The Amazing Spider-Man as a series, only now there are significantly less creative limitations on the character now that he's in a larger Shared Universe.
The animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Venom were the only survivors of Sony's planned slate, while everything else was cancelled or reworked from square one. To summarize what happened with the fallout of this series, see the list below:
Films restructured into other settings:
- The Amazing Spider-Man/Marvel Cinematic Universe crossovers — Originally planned for 2016 with Captain America: Civil War and Sinister Six; plans changed to a new iteration of Spider-Man in Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017, followed by two more crossover appearances in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame and one more standalone appearance in Spider-Man: Far From Home between 2018 and 2019. A third standalone Spider-Man movie in this series is also planned, alongside one extra MCU appearance, before Marvel and Sony have to negotiate any additional appearances.
- Venom — Released theatrically on October 5, 2018. The project is completely unrelated to the MCU, and represents the start of Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters, a Spiritual Successor to the TASM-Verse concept. A sequel is set to release in 2021.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Animated film starring Miles Morales, released on December 21, 2018. Not part of either this series or the MCU, which is a major plot point within the movie.
As mentioned above, the leaked Sony e-mails also revealed a wealth of information on the movies that Sony had planned at varying stages of time (and no, the rumors that Sony had plans for a spy movie about Aunt May were not true). When counting Into The Spider-Verse and Venom, Sony had plans in varying stages for over thirty movies involving the Spider-Man franchise — most of which were tied to this very setting. There may have been more — given that the e-mails from December 2014 to February 2015 were not leaked — but the ones that are known about are listed below.
- Numbered installments
- The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (originally 2016, later pushed back to 2018)
- The Amazing Spider-Man 4 (originally 2018, later removed from the schedule)
- Other main installments
- The Amazing Spider-Man: Kraven (planned for second half of 2016)
- The Amazing Spider-Man: Black Cat (originally 2017, moved to second half of 2018)
- The Amazing Spider-Man: Carnage (planned for 2019)
- The Amazing Spider-Man: Jackal (planned for second half 2019)
- Sinister Six
- The Amazing Spider-Man: Venom (originally 2017, moved to first half of 2018)
- Untitled Agent Venom spin-off
- Spider-Man 2099 (planned for 2nd half 2017)
- Untitled Spider-Man 2099 sequel (planned for first half of 2020)
- Silver and Black — Planned for release in February 2019. Eventually cancelled in favor of solo Silver Sable and Black Cat movies.
- 20th Century Fox-Marvel crossoversnote
- Other installments
This franchise contains examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The series is largely inspired by the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, but also takes a lot of different elements from the mainstream Spider-Man mythos.
- Alternate Continuity: This series in comparison to the Spider-Man Trilogy and the Marvel Cinematic Universe - all of them feature Spider-Man, but they are both separate fictional universes.
- The games and the films became this, with the second game following a very loose adaptation of the second films plot. The iOS versions of the games are also set in their own continuity, being very loose adaptations of the films, though the second iOS game adapts elements of both the second film and the second game.
- Bittersweet Ending: The second movie - which also serves as the end of the franchise. Gwen dies, and Peter sulks for months on end before finally getting back into the game. Harry has been turned into the Green Goblin, and The Gentleman is still out there plotting something.
- Canon Foreigner: Oddly enough, Spider-Gwen was originally conceived as a character for the unproduced movies due to the popularity of Emma Stone. While the circumstances of her return are unclear (be it via an Alternate Universe version of the character, coming Back from the Dead, or being cloned) - or how she even became Spider-Girl - she was set to star in a team-up movie. Marvel was very fond of the idea, and she was written into Spider-Verse, which is her first appearance in any medium. Given that this film series was outright cancelled - and the team-up movie with it - Spider-Gwen is one of the few concepts that made it out of Sony's drawing board.
- Continuity Reboot: Of the Spider-Man Trilogy.
- Cut Short: Seeing as the The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the final film in this series, many things will be left unresolved, such as Spider-Man's battle with the Rhino, and Harry Osborn's and The Gentleman's formation of the Sinister Six. Also, the setting up of future super-powered characters such as Alistair Smythe and Felicia Hardy will never be brought to fruition.
- Darker and Edgier: The franchise is overall grittier and more grounded than the Sam Raimi films, though the sequel is lighter in tone than its predecessor.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Oscorp as a whole is responsible for many of the superhumans, and so far only one is a good guy. This extends to Norman Osborn as well, who oversees the company without actually fighting Spider-Man directly.
- Jerkass Has a Point: For any and all of Peter's faults, it's always very understandable where he's coming from; ignoring the mistakes he makes that any normal human would make, the things he does tend to have a lot of justification for them. Hitting back at Flash (who had been bullying him and others for a long time), yelling at Uncle Ben (who was trying to guilt trip him at the time, which was pretty unfair), not keeping the promise to George (as noted by Gwen in the second film, it's not George's decision if the two date, and the promise was likely to hurt Gwen a lot (who, frankly, needed her boyfriend to be there for her after what just happened) if they kept it), and refusing to give Harry his blood (which as well as giving him false hope as there's no guarantee it would work the way he believes, but also risks turning Harry into a monster, if not just killing him quicker) are all good examples.
- Knight of Cerebus: Green Goblin was intended to be this. Following his murder of Gwen Stacy, the series was going to become darker and more dramatic. His being the first villain in the series to kill a character did indeed make him the darkest villain by that point. Had the films continued, from that point on, things would be much more dramatic. Unfortunately, the rest of the film series being canceled means this was never followed through on.
- Meta Origin: Every superpowered character's origin is connected to Oscorp in some way.
- Movie Superheroes Wear Black: The Amazing Spider-Man doubles-down on this trope from Spider-Man Trilogy, making the costume's colors much darker and changing the overall design to be more modern. Fans were not amused. The Amazing Spider Man 2 averts it, making the colors much brighter and redesigning the look to be as comics-accurate as possible. The fans were still not amused.
- Myth Arc: The ongoing mystery of what happened to Richard and Mary Parker, Peter's parents, and how Oscorp ties into it. The first film touches upon it, while the sequel expands on it to a greater degree.
- Mythology Gag: There are quite a few in the movies themselves, but the Daily Bugle Tumblr features a ton of references to characters that have yet to appear in the film series.
- For starters, the Daily Bugle's staff includes John Jonah Jameson, Kathryn "Kate" Cushing, Isabel "Izzy" Bunsen, Joy Mercado, Edward "Ned" Leeds, Dilbert Trilby, Eddie Brock, Frederick Foswell, and Ken Ellis - all of which appeared in the comics and worked under the news publisher. As an added bonus, most of the articles written by these characters refer to their preferences in reporting.
- In the first newscast, the Russian Mob is mentioned as one of the threats the NYPD is focused on dealing with - and it's eventually revealed that Aleksei Sytsevich, the man who becomes the Rhino, is among them.
- The Big Man is mentioned as a recurring criminal, who is later revealed to be Frederick Foswell. Interestingly, Foswell also wrote many articles on the his alter-ego, and noted that he disliked the name that the police gave him. He even mentions that he assembled "The Enforcers", which was something his comic counterpart did all the way back in 1964. He also mentions the Crime Master, another villain from that period of Spider-Man comics. He's then killed off while serving his sentence.
- Donald Menken works at Oscorp, like his comic counterpart.
- Spencer Smythe is mentioned for being responsible for creating a military flight harness and advances in robotics, which allude to the Vulture's wings and the Spider-Slayers, respectively. He also mentions that his son, Alistair Smythe, could take his job at the rate his engineering skills are developing. Indeed, he is forced to resign after the NYPD investigates Oscorp, and his son does take his position. Adrian Toomes also worked on the wings in question, and is not pleased when their development apparently falls apart.
- Dr. Curtis Connors claims that the crimes he committed were not his own fault, but the fault of his insane Lizard persona. This is an excuse used by Connors in the comics. Anne Weying served as his defense attorney, and in the comics, she became She-Venom. He is eventually sent to Ryker's Island, a prison that is eventually used to contain supervillains - though officials from Ravencroft, a similar institution, claim that their prison is better suited for him. His wife is eventually interviewed after the trial, and she mentions their son.
- One editorial from JJJ himself is entitled "Spider-Man: Threat Or Menace?" This same headline appeared as far back as 1981, and has been a recurring joke across many Marvel adaptations that feature the character.
- The construction of hydroelectric towers is discussed semi-frequently, which are strongly implied to be blueprinted by Max Dillon (Electro), and their presence could also be alluding to Hydro-Man. These are seen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
- Several of the citizens reported upon for "Spidey Sightings" allude to Spider-Man characters or characters from the whole Marvel Universe, though it's possible that they are coincidences. These include:
- "Ian C.", which may be an allusion to this character.
- "Melissa B.", which may either be an allusion to a minor character from Ultimate Daredevil And Elektra, or (more likely) the mother of recurring Spider-Man character Tandy Bowen, better known as Dagger.
- "Robert B.", which most likely would allude to the person that becomes Speedball.
- "Kevin B.", potentially alluding to a minor character.
- "Jack H.", which could be referring to Deadpool's sidekick Weasel, real name Jack Hammer.
- Flash Thompson also is included in one of these, geeking out over Spider-Man.
- There is a robbery reported from the G.K. Mason Bank - which is a reference to a character that appears in the Superior Spider-Man series that was running at the same time that the blog update was posted. The writer behind the update gets bonus points for using the Goblin King's initials - which may also counts as foreshadowing towards the identity of the character. Furthermore, Stanley "Stan" Carter is an NYPD representative (as he was in The Spectacular Spider-Man) that looks into the incident, and in the comics, he became Sin-Eater. In addition, Herman Schultz (the Shocker) is the one behind the crime. Jean DeWolff expresses disgust with him upon his arrest.
- A report by Joy Mercado features a GIF that zooms in on a white room in the Oscorp facility. A variant of this room is seen in a deleted (but plot-important) scene where Norman Osborn's head is preserved after his apparent death. Otto Octavius (the man who becomes Doctor Octopus) is mentioned as a scientist that Oscorp is in contact with.
- Daniel "Fancy Dan" Brito, Jackson "Montana" Brice, and Raymond "The Ox" Bloch (The Enforcers) get into a conflict with relatives of Silvio Manfredi (known later as Silvermane) before Spider-Man gets involved and curbstomps the criminals, delivering his trademark insults as he did so.
- The phrase "'Nuff said" is used on the page - a phrase that was commonly used in comics written by Stan Lee.
- Fireheart Industries (originally known as Fireheart Enterprises in the comics) pays for repairs to Midtown Science High School. The CEO of that company, Thomas Fireheart, becomes the Puma.
- Harry Osborn was sent to Europe to study, as he did in the comics, and Donald Menken prophetically mentioned that Harry is a little "green" when it comes to running Oscorp.
- The Empire State University (which Peter is slated to attend) is apparently studying into the cloning process - and it's being taught by Miles Warren (Jackal). You should know what this means.
- A gesture that Flash Thompson does at a basketball game is referred to as the "Spider-Signal" - which is one of Spider-Man's tools.
- Fittingly enough, Eddie Brock reports on the arrest of Serial Killer Cletus Kasady - the former becomes Venom, and the latter Carnage.
- Non-Indicative Title: It's called The Amazing Spider-Man but it draws most of its inspirations and influences, and stylistic aspects from Ultimate Spider-Man.
- Orphaned Series: The movie series was abandoned in favor of the MCU version of Spider-Man, although the Myth Arc of this franchise may be told elsewhere.
- Superhero Movie Villains Die: Averted. Villains in this series have a very good chance of surviving their films, most likely because Sony wants to make villain-based spin-offs, as well as the fact that Sony only has the rights to Spider-Man villains as opposed to the entirety of the Marvel Universe. The only (possible) exceptions may be Electro, who disappears but can regenerate, and Norman Osborn, who dies offscreen but is shown being preserved in a jar in a deleted scene. Avi Arad, the producer of this series, actually said that he wants to defy this trope. What tends to happen to villains instead was that they would simply be Put on a Bus. The Lizard reverts to Dr. Connors and is sent off to Ryker's Island, and while Electro disentegrates, it is established that he is able to regenerate.Avi Arad: One of the things that's unique to Spider-Man... was that Spider-Man cannot destroy a villain. He cannot kill a villain. We'll never cross that line.
- Trilogy Creep: The main film series was announced as a trilogy, then had a fourth film added before the second was even finished. And then it was expanded into a hexalogy before the final trailer for the second movie was released, provided that you're counting spin-offs. Subverted as of 2015, as it seems that the franchise is being abandoned in favor of a cross-company deal with Marvel. However, as mentioned above, there were as many as 34 movies that were planned to be made as potential sequels, spin-offs, and Alternate Continuities.
- Villain Episode: The two spin-offs that were planned focused on members of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery. These are notable in the sense that they were going to be the first big-budget Superhero movies announced that star the villains of their franchise... until Suicide Squad (2016) was announced to be released well before the original release date for Sinister Six.