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 supervillain 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.
There's a big close-up of the electricity fixing the gap in Max's front teeth when he's getting turned into Electro.
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 overly perfect (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). Some also insist that killing off the hero's love interest is a hackneyed, sexist trope that all modern media should avoid, even an adaptation of the Trope Maker. Others think her death is 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.
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.
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 Studios' 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 Spidey 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."
Peter and Gwen's relationship in the movie, with or without her death, can be a lot more awkward to watch after Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone broke up.
Heartwarming in Hindsight: The movie ends with a child dressing as Spider-Man to confront the Rhino and actually getting a villain to stop in his tracks long enough for the real Spider-Man to appear. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tom Holland confirmed that a young Peter Parker was the Heroic Bystander in Iron Man 2 who did something similar with an Iron Man custome, and earning some praise from Tony Stark.
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 demonstrated in one segment of How It Should Have Ended's video. As io9 pointed out, this is especially bizarre since the initial argument about the blood happens in the Oscorp building itself.
However, given how analyzing the blood to make safe for Harry to use would take a lot of time, and since Harry was in the stage of his disease where he didn't have much more time to live, he would have most likely died before the blood was made safe to use. Plus, with Oscorp's vice-president Donald Menken immediately framing Harry for covering up Max Dillon's accident, and Harry getting evacuated from Oscorp altogether, Harry couldn't command those scientists to analyze the venom in Oscorp's basement that his assistant Felicia Hardy told him about. Harry was just at the point where he had to take quick and reckless actions to save himself from dying since he just didn't have anymore time to wait.
Even if there was no way to analyze the blood thanks to Donald Menken's actions, Peter should've at least offered to donate the blood immediately, making him less of a jerk which could have saved Gwen Stacy. Harry is already dying, there's nothing left to lose if it turns out to be a flop. If there are any worries about the recreating what happened with Dr. Conners, Peter can just stop him right there and then.
And even though Peter may seem like a selfish jerk for not wanting to donate his blood to Oscorp, there's a scene after that where Peter finds out from his father's recording that Oscorp has been wanting to weaponize the venom that could cure Harry of his disease. So if they got their hands on the venom, they would less likely try to help cure Harry's disease and try to hide it and use it for weapons. If this scene came before Peter denies Harry his blood, it would make Peter look less selfish and more understandably untrustworthy about Oscorp.
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.
Jerkass Woobie: Electro. His descend into villainy does cause him to become pretty ruthless and cold but considering how badly he was treated by nearly everyone before, it's not hard to feel sorry for him. The fact that no one even bothered to give him a chance to explain himself after his accident and instead throw insults towards him makes him come off as more sympathetic than the New Yorkers.
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.
In a dark example, those wanting to see an adaptation of The Night Gwen Stacy Died showed up to watch Gwen Stacy plummet to her doom.
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.
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,okay 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 preceding X-Men films, 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.
Many have noted that the film had too many villains to focus on through one film, which was one of the primary criticisms aimed at Spider-Man 3 and one of the main reasons for why the Sam Raimi trilogy was ultimately rebooted. It's hard not to mock Sony for failing to avert this mistake.
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.
Padding: During the climax, two planes are set to crash into each other unless the power can be turned back on in time. There's not a single person we care about on either of them, and none of the main characters have any idea it's happening. It ends up just feeling like the whole thing was thrown in during post-production because the fight needed some kind of ticking clock.
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 was fine and the original was good, 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 Its 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 review even compared him to The Underminer in The Incredibles, being a villain whose main purpose is to show up at the end (although the review was written years before Incredibles 2 was made).
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.
Aunt May struggling to make ends meet and working as a nurse has literally no effect on the storyline.
Richard Parker is being framed for trying to profit off the military applications of his research. Peter absolves him, then promptly forgets about the whole thing.
Oscorp goes after Gwen when she tries to investigate the supposed death of Max Dillon...only to stop the second she leaves the building.
The establishment of the Sinister Six is a plot thread that seems promising, but will never be touched upon as a result of the film being the end of the series.
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.
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 after he injects himself with blood that he hastly didn't test to see if it was safe. Even for those that agree with the Alternative Character Interpretation point with Peter being selfish, there's just no coming back after what Harry did as the Green Goblin in response.
Alternatively, Peter. As mentioned in Alternative Character Interpretation, his refusal to give Harry what he wanted can come off as unjustified, when in Harry's perspective, it was his last hope to avoid dying of his disease very soon.
Seeing as how the New Yorkers come off as insensitive and Too Dumb to Live in an incredibly precarious situation, what with them booing and heckling while Spider-Man is trying to talk down an unstable, super-powered stranger and then treating their ensuing fight as entertainment, a lot of people didn't feel bad for them when Electro started shooting at them a few minutes later.
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...
Author's Saving Throw: The conversation between Spider-Man and Harry Osborn lacks the Idiot Plot aspect from the film listed above. Rather than just outright refusing to give him blood for vague reasons, Spider-Man explains to Harry that he needs time to make sure it would be safe (something he feared that Harry would neglect to do in his desperation), and additionally points out that other lives could also be endangered if Harry became like the other Cross-Species.
Broken Base: 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.
Once again, Venom is completely absent barring one tiny Mythology Gag, while Carnage once more takes a pivotal role without the character that, frankly, was entirely responsible for Carnage's very existence.
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.)
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.
The Problem with Licensed Games: While praised for not directly following the film, the game was criticized for having some very poor visuals practically on par with a PS2 game, lanky combat and plenty of bugs and glitches to boot. Showcasing this was rushed to meet the release date of the movie.
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 there 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.