Why Reboot Spider-Man? Marc Webb Talks Origins, Gwen Stacy, Spoilers, and Spidey's Future

Amazing Spider-Man - Marc Webb Interview - Spoilers

Rebooting the Spider-Man franchise just five years after Sam Raimi completed his own $2.4 billion trilogy was a controversial move in itself, let alone the idea of revisiting Spidey’s origin story, one of the most familiar and popular beginnings in comic book lore, yet again. But whatever qualms you might have about The Amazing Spider-Man treading familiar ground — this time with Andrew Garfield as a skate-boarding high-schooler/vigilante nursing abandonment issues — director Marc Webb himself wrestled with the very same issues from the start.

Webb rang Movieline to answer a barrage of questions about this week’s Spider-Man re-do, which re-frames the Marvel superhero’s journey as a teenage Peter Parker’s struggle with responsibility — not necessarily springing from great power so much as from choosing between doing good, and doing otherwise. Relationships are key here, not only between Peter and his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), but between the orphaned hero and Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a newfound mentor and scientist with murky ties to the parents who left young Peter behind years ago.

But the heart of The Amazing Spider-Man, and that of Peter Parker himself, belongs to Gwen Stacy, Spidey’s first love, brought to life with crackling energy by Emma Stone. Fans of the comics know where Peter and Gwen’s story eventually leads — and while Webb remains amusedly mum on the future of his would-be Spider-Man trilogy, he acknowledges that some parts of Marvel canon cannot be tinkered with. “It’s a very controversial part of the comics,” he teased of Gwen’s fate, “but let me tell you, I’m a fan of the comics.”

Read on as Webb addresses criticisms of his reboot, discusses the importance of the Gwen Stacy-Peter Parker relationship, explains why some questions raised in The Amazing Spider-Man were left deliberately unanswered, and talks about that eyebrow-raising post-credits scene.

[Beware: Some spoilers follow.]

Amazing Spider-Man - Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone

The marketing campaign for The Amazing Spider-Man has been attempting to court female audiences, and the romantic element is a significant part of the film. How important did you feel it was to explore and emphasize that side of the Spider-Man story?
Spider-Man is of course this huge action film — there’s a boy behind the suit. But one thing that’s different in Spider-Man comics from many other comics is how important the relationships are, in particular female relationships. You can talk a lot about villains, but Spider-Man’s relationships with women are as iconic, if not more iconic, than the villains. You have Mary Jane, and you have Gwen Stacy, and Gwen is very different than what we’ve seen before. One of the reasons why I wanted to use Gwen — first and foremost, she’s his first love in the comics. Let’s just set the record straight, it’s not Mary Jane. But I like the idea of following somebody who is as smart, if not smarter, than Peter Parker. And Emma Stone is the perfect woman to play somebody who is much more proactive, much more intelligent and feisty. I just like that dynamic in relationships in movies where they’re kind of lovers as rivals, you know? There’s this back and forth that I love, in the laboratory, and there’s just this great bond that you feel between them. She’s not just a prize, she’s not just a damsel in distress. She’s a confidante, and that was a really important thing.

And their relationship is so different because of this — it’s like they’re the only two people in the world.
I thought that, you’re 17 years old and falling in love for the first time, some part of the thrill of that is openness, and you get to express a part of yourself and confide in somebody the things about you that no one else knows. It’s such a thrilling part about being in a relationship at a young age, and all your feelings are apocalyptic, all your emotions are so huge, that I felt that was an interesting and new foundation to lay for the character. It also raises the stakes of that relationship. So it becomes more meaningful when he has to let it go.

For those people who are familiar with Gwen’s fate in the comics, the depth and pull of their emotions makes it even more bittersweet. You even include a shot in the film in which Peter throws her out of a window that seems like foreshadowing of a sort…
[Laughs] Well, we’ll have to see. It’s a very controversial part of the comics, but let me tell you, I’m a fan of the comics.

But Gwen’s story is kind of one of those things, among other developments and plot specifics, that you kind of have to stay faithful to canon on. Right?
Honor, yes. I mean, Marvel has certain hard and fast rules, like about the spider bite — you have to have Peter get bitten by a radioactive spider, and Uncle Ben’s death has to transform Peter Parker into Spider-Man, you know what I mean? He has to learn a lesson by that. But I’m trying to find new inflections and new context so that the story feels new. Because I do think the character is different; you want to honor the iconic elements of Spider-Man but you also want to reinvent the world around him so that it feels interesting and new, and that’s a tricky line to walk.

It seems even trickier for you in this instance more than other folks rebooting a familiar franchise, just because it hasn’t been very long since the last Spider-Man movies and you’re also starting with an origin story.
It’s tricky. We have seen the origin of Spider-Man, but we haven’t seen the origin of Peter Parker and that was my entrée into it.

It does feel like more of a Peter Parker story than a Spider-Man story, which a lot of fans of the comics might get hung up on. How do you respond to those criticisms?
For me, I thought about it a lot when I was building this up and I really felt like the Peter Parker that I was creating was a different reflection of the character. And in order for the audience to understand that, I thought I needed to build that from the ground up. To me, the most definitive moment in his life — way more important than the spider bite — is the moment he was left behind by his parents. It had a huge emotional impact on his character. That’s where the narrative begins, but it’s also where the character is defined in a very significant way. I mean, anybody who’s left behind by their parents at that age is going to be distrustful of authority because authority has let him down before – so that’s part of the dramatic texture of his relationship with Captain Stacey, and the conflict he has with Uncle Ben and Aunt May. It’s also that he has this attitude, this sort of trickster, sarcastic quality, which is in some ways a defense mechanism that comes from that moment in his life. He’s an outside, but he’s an outsider by choice; he’s a smart kid but he just wants to keep everybody at a distance. That’s why I think the relationship with Gwen works so well; he can trust her.

We look at this as a reboot, so can we assume the story here will continue into at least a trilogy, but there are a number of plot points and questions raised in the film that don’t necessarily get answered within the span of this film. How intentional was it to plant those seeds here?
I wanted a universe that could sustain a larger story, and the broader arcs I worked out with Jamie Vanderbilt early on. Obviously you want the movie to work on its own, but because so many of these movies typically have sequels, I wanted us to do a little bit of groundwork that could pay off in later movies. The mystery that surrounds Peter Parker’s parents is the long shadow that’s cast over all of the story, and there’s a relationship between Peter’s parents and Norman Osborne, and Oscorp, all that stuff… so much of the story is in and around Oscorp; Oscorp is the place from which all crazy shit emerges in this universe, and I like that idea, that simple notion that this obelisk, this Tower of Babel, is like a splinter in the side of the universe. All of the stories come out of there.

NEXT: Webb on Gwen's future, his stars' chemistry, Curt Connors and that post-credits scene

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  • Drew Blalock says:

    They can't kill off Gwen Stacy ... She is way to likable, and its a side of Spider-Man people have never seen before. Its a much fresher love story than what we have had numerous times with Mary Jane. Plus the reason they killed her in the comics was because they had to choose between Peter proposing to her and telling her his true identity of Spider-Man, or having a TRAGIC accident that left her to die. In the movie she knows his identity, so they can stay together. I personally think it would be bad marketing to kill her, but its also bad marketing not to have Mary Jane... That is why you have Emma Stone dye her hair back red and be Mary Jane 😀 lol. You have to at least keep her till the third. Possibly introduce Mary Jane in the next one, and have her and Harry around, as they were in the comics. Maybe volture or venom can be the villain in the next movie, (because Spider-Man 3 did venom no justice). Then the green goblin in the third, or you introduce some of the more popular villains in the Spider-Man saga that have never had justice outside of video games. I'm just saying that it would be great to have a fresher spider-man with new villains and a somewhat less popular girlfriend in Gwen Stacy. P.S. I wish that Marc Webb could read my ideas! 😀

    • Gary Richards says:

      I totally agree! It would be nice to show a side of Spider-Man that has somewhat been neglected in all the movies except this one! I would like to see Venom in the 2nd and maybe finally we will get to see Carnage in the third!!! That would be epic since the 4th was cancelled before we got to see him! Lets face it Venom is arguably spideys biggest villain and we havent seen a good one, because Spiderman 3 didnt show venom well at all!!!

    • Erik says:

      I absolutely agree with what you have to said about killing Gwen Stacy. They shouldn't kill her. I would be so upset that I would go into a depression and not leave the house for like weeks. lol. This IS a different Spider-Man story, so they should let Peter get his happy ending with Gwen. He deserves it. So Mark Webb, if you kill Gwen Stacy in the Amazing Spider-Man film franchise, I WILL BE VERY ANGRY!!! thank you.

    • Morgan says:

      I 100% Agree Gwen was hardly mentioned in the first installment and yes MJ is a huge character too but Gwen was his FIRST love and it would be bad marketing to kill of Gwen but put MJ as a side character but I love Gwen's character and I love the chemistry between Andrew and Emma...sure it helps that they really are a couple but I think that it would be insanely hard for a new actress to have to rekindle that chemistry if Gwen is killed off and I just love where this story could go with there love 🙂

    • nick the spider says:

      if any one can get in touch with Marc Webb tell him he specifically said that this story line was the UNTOLD STORY of SPIDER MAN, you cant kill Gwen off it has already been done, drew was so right, the only reason why they killed her off was because peter had to make a choice of proposing to Gwen or giving up his other side. he is way to young to handle marriage, and he obviously gave the secret up. introduce Mary Jane, but she should be with Harry Osborn so there isn't any jealousy. green goblin should be the next villain who has just recovered from his sickness, and do the same thing like in the comics, make spidey choose from saving the school bus and Gwen, it is stormy out so the web he uses to save her is struck by lightning and it conducts it when hitting Gwen. and the school bus is safe with all the kids. and save her in the mid credit scene. she can only be save by taking the electricity out, and the doctor explains that in the movie,and the only one who can do that from the comics is Electro. and there is the new bad guy. but there should another way for her to get hurt because the decision between the school bus and the girl has been done in a movie already, and some fan jerks will comment "that's BS it has already been done before". and if you do more than a trilogy put venom and carnage in XD. if you are reading this Marc Webb and you haven't thought of this yet, well here you go a present that came totally free

    • just myself says:

      I agree.I want a fresh take on this story and Gwen was originally supposed to marry Peter. 'Plus the reason they killed her in the comics was because they had to choose between Peter proposing to her and telling her his true identity of Spider-Man, or having a TRAGIC accident that left her to die.'
      Pretty much.There should be at least one incarnation of the story that follows Stan's original plan.I'm hoping it's this one.But Mary Jane should still make an appearance.I'd be sad if we didn't see her get some fame in this take.

  • I can't stand this - they say this in every interview. Gwen Stacey was NOT Spidey's first love. Peter Parker's first love was Mary Brandt, a clerk at the Daily Bugle. Then he got "involved" with Mary Jane - but it was always at arms length. Then came along Gwen and he fell big. And then "spoiler alert" Gwen died and then, and only then and much later, he got involved back with Mary Jane.

    On the Today Show, Emma Stone (who I love) said that Gwen was Spidey's first love - not true. The director keeps saying this - and its not true. In fact when the first movies came out a decade ago I kept wondering where was Gwen and why were they pushing MJ? You have to understand these new producers and directors rarely care what is "true".

    • Actually the character's name is Betty Brant, not Mary Brandt. And while Betty was his first true love, Gwen Stacy was his first real girlfriend. I'm guessing since she was a less known character, it was brushed over.

      • Oh Shyt Nerd off!
        I love it!

      • Drew says:

        I thought Betty was just his first girlfriend. That's why it was so tragic what happened to Gwen, because she was Peter Parker's first real love. I mean from what I understand Betty was really just a first girlfriend. That's why when they broke up he didn't really know how to cope with that and aunt May being in the hospital. That's why it seemed to Gwen that he was kinda brushing her off when they first met. Needless to say, Gwen was his first true love. And Betty was in the Sam raimi films as j.Jonah Jameson's secretary at the daily bugle.

  • cainepene says:

    They remade it because it will make a F*CKTON of money. And only 0.0000001% of that audience has read even a single one of the original comics. Spiderman has an appeal to 8 year old boys that seems insatiable. There are new 8 year olds every year.

    • Technically they remade it because Sony Pictures had to remake it in order to keep the license for the character. If not, Spiderman would go back to Marvel and they would have rebooted the series. Either way we would have been getting a Spiderman reboot and it would make a F*CKTON of money. Cainepene, you dramatically and epically over generalize the audience of any Marvel pictures many of the audience are fans of the original comics, cartoon series, etc and not just insatiable 8 year old boys (and girls, BTWs). Besides, is it SOOOO bad if people learn about the character from the movies? It's not like they won't have 50 years of comics to look up if they become interested in the character afterwards. For Marvel, it's a win-win. And when the movie is good, like Amazing Spiderman is, then it's a win-win for fans as well.

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  • Rudy says:

    Why is Spidey being rebooted? It's because Sony owns the rights as long as they keep making Spider-Man movies, not because they have more stories to tell.

  • Morgan says:

    I think i would cry if they kill off Gwen, she is so iconic and i love the comics too but i feel like there was so much chemistry and the previous trilogy was primarily MJ and Gwen was a back drop so i feel like if MJ makes an appearance that is ok but don't start a new love if Gwen does end up dying...I also secretly hope that the Green Goblin isn't in this series of films

  • Black Spider says:

    I think it was Norman osbourne...in the last scene with Curt...the only thing this movie was missing was Harry..lol It'd be awesome for him to be in the 2nd..and introduce Mary Jane.
    I think the next villain should be Shocker and the Enforcers with Tombstone as the crimeboss with Oscorp creating shocker's suit
    Then if they dont do Green Goblin then HobGoblin, or Scorpian or Vulture...
    I kinda would like the sinister 6 being the 3rd..it'd be amazing...or in the next trilogy? if you do one...(:
    The third if not w/ the sinister 6 should be a big time villain..Like Venom then you could lead in the next trilogy with venom giving birth and Cletus becoming Carnage.
    Then in the 4th the great battle against Carnage(: It doesnt need to be the original sinister six(;
    then have carnage kill gwen if you have to kill her off..everyone knows Hollywood doesnt go by the books..
    Or green goblin in the second or vulture then green goblin and rhino as the first. lol..
    But seriously in the third have a epic battle go on...like an amazing one.
    SpiderMan vs Scorpian and Electro
    Spiderman vs Venom.
    and have Eddie be a new kid at school who rivals peter in class or something..?

    • Morgan says:

      I just don't want Gwen to die but if she is killed off don't do it till the 3rd (end preferably) and I would like it to be like the comics

      • jake osborn says:

        There is so much more story to be told after her death though so they will probably have to keep her

  • jake osborn says:

    I would cry if they killed of Gwen. I love her character and the love was so real. The reason they killed her off in the comics was because they didnt know what to do with her. Please keep Gwen she is an awesome love interest for Peter Parker. To most people, Gwen is most famous for her fate. personally, she should be famous for the way she loved Peter and she was his first true love. The characters of Gwen and Peter were portrayed like a boss! If they decide to kill her what the hell are they gonna do to find a good MJ. They could have Emma Stone die her hair and play MJ but then it would be weird and it would screw up the romantic part of the whole story if Gwen already was dead. So keep her!! There has to be a way to do the comics justice but keep Gwen because people loved the Raimi films and he totally ripped the comics off. Hopefully Marc Webb hears us out and keeps her.

  • jake osborn says:

    Venom has been done but he needs to be done again. it was so shittyin the raimi series. put carnage in too

  • jake osborn says:

    Here our cries Marc Webb!!!!!!!!!

  • BoxCar says:

    Don't kill Gwen I REPEAT, don't kill Gwen in the trilogy! we love her so much! I think i have a crush on her lol ;p

  • kaylee says:


  • Stephanie says:

    Just. DON'T kill Gwen Stacy! How many characters need to die for Spidey to become mature? He seemed well off with uncle Ben, if you ask me. Most people don't know the tragic story of Gwen, and they only know of MJ. Which really pisses me off. Not that I don't like MJ, I LOVE her. How can you not? BUT. Gwen is unknown, and a really great character. Better than MJ, and we just had a trilogy featuring MJ as Peter's main love interest. Why can't we see Gwen? Why must she be only known for dying? DON'T. KILL. HER. Introduce MJ, though. Have her with Harry, so that there is no love triangle or any BS like that.

    Leave her death out, damn it.

  • Annabeth Stacy says:

    Just please DON'T KILL GWEN! she's to nice, there's a lot of characters for you to kill, i know in the comics she died but don't do it in the movie..please...MJ isnt a problem, harry osborn is there she could have her happily every after part with him, if there somebody who can complete Peter Parker that's Gwen Stacy the ONE AND ONLY GWEN STACY dont kill her please, put up a love triangle of all sorts just dont kill her

  • spidey says:

    ohh.. Originally in the comics captain stacey was killed by dr octopus. In the new spiderman series, by mr curtis cornnor,so here you guys are trying to make it a different story at all, comics are need to keep alive so you have to add some twist to it, thats why they kill gwen so that story can continue but while making a movie you do it once so please think 1000 times before killing gwen stacey, remember one thing marc webb only you are responsible to make history now, so please if you read this Dont kill gwen stacy, as emma has already made a huge impact on the mind of audiance and we all wanna see how she progress with spidy.