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Inside 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' -- And Sony's strategy to supersize its franchise

This appeared in the April 4 issue of Entertainment Weekly.

WITH GREAT MARKETING comes great responsibility. In December, Sony released its first trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — the idea, as always, being to spill exactly the right number of secrets and not half a secret more. “I was nervous about it,” says director Marc Webb. “But we wanted to raise the stakes. We want people to appreciate the scope of what’s to come both in this movie and in subsequent films.” So fans saw their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) swinging exuberantly between the gleaming skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan. They saw him verbally sparring with his love, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and facing down evil in the sparkling blue form of Electro (Jamie Foxx). Spi-hards also got the briefest glimpse of two other famous foes, Rhino and the Green Goblin. And, in a tease that elevated the trailer from a pretty good ad for a movie to a document that fans studied with Zapruder-like intensity, they saw Vulture’s signature wings encased in glass at Oscorp, and wait, were those the long, telltale mechanical arms of Doc Ock?

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'Amazing Spider-Man 2' behind the scenes: Can Spidey save the day and get the girl? -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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It’s pretty much a given that the hero saves the day and gets the girl in any big-budget blockbuster. But, no such luck if the man of the hour is Spider-Man.

In this exclusive behind-the-scenes look at The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the cast and crew reflect on Peter Parker’s biggest dilemma — balancing the relationships of those he loves with Spidey’s sworn duty to protect his city. READ FULL STORY

'Amazing Spider-Man 2': Marc Webb talks new approach for super-sequel

As the release date for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 approaches, the anticipation among fans is nearing a fever pitch. Factor in the release of the so-called “final trailer” on Wednesday, and you have an added layer of excitement for a comic book franchise whose fans always have something to say.

So director Marc Webb — fresh off the announcement that he won’t be directing the fourth installment of the series — hosted a Q&A in New York City for journalists and revealed the top five things fans really, really need to know before heading to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 when it hits theaters May 2.

This film reflects a new approach. “I didn’t want to be bound,” Webb said of revamping his approach for the sequel. The first film was emotional and origin-driven, but this time around the 39-year-old said he embraced the “12-year-old-kid in me, the one who thinks ‘this is awesome!’” and opened up the sequel to everything that he enjoyed while reading comic books. “There were things I wanted to try, like moving the camera around for the big Electro sequence,” Webb said. “But I wanted to keep the characters.”

Pay attention to the soundtrack — seriously. Webb paired up with Hans Zimmer and The Magnificent Six — which includes Pharrell Williams and Johnny Marr — to make music an integral part of the film’s experience beyond just a soundtrack. “They were incredible,” Webb said, “really committed to the process of understanding the film.” And that applies to character development too. In fact, Pharrell and Webb worked extensively to “create a balance between Electro’s psychosis and his pathos.”

“He came up with the idea of voices in his head,” Webb said of Pharrell’s contribution. “There’s a scene in Times Square where I had to have Electro switch against Spider-Man and those voices become dominant yo help signal that. … The music literally became part of the character. It’s a way to connect the audience to the thought process of the character.”

Hello, multiple bad guys. This film offers so much more than the first movie in the way of pricey special effects, punchy lines, and expertly choreographed action sequences. Fans will get not one, but three villains in the upcoming film — completing a roster of bad guys who lend extra dimension to the superhero otherwise known as Peter Parker. “Different parts of the character are challenged by different villains, different adversaries,” Webb said of the cast. “One of the great things about the Marvel universe is the complexity of the villains. There’s often a pre-existing, domestic relationship, like with Harry Osborn, that makes those conflicts more emotional and endearing.”

Electro will shock audiences. Shaping the look and dialogue for Electro (Jamie Foxx) was a particular challenge for Webb, who strove to create a parallel between the Oscorp employee-turned-blue bad guy and Spider-Man — with loads of extra-cool special effects, of course. “The cinematic possibilities of that character, I think, were extraordinary,” Webb said about Electro. “I had to explore that, in thinking of the nature of this villain.” Foxx delivered complexity to a character who “wants to be seen,” said Webb, so fans: Make sure to take note of how the hero and villain “react to their situations in a way that defines their characters.”

Gwen and Aunt Mary get a bumped-up storyline. The ladies of The Amazing Spider-Man — Emma Stone and Sally Field — are back for round two. But there’s an extra character (no spoilers!) who adds some extra dimension (and sheds some extra light) on who Peter Parker really is. It’s no mistake that girl power is central to the storyline, Webb said, joking that his mom was his inspiration for the film’s pumped-up female presence. “We’re surrounded by really wonderful women,” Webb noted of the women on his production staff. “It’s just important for the universe…the [women] are a crucial part of Peter’s life.”

'Spider-Man' director Marc Webb will leave after 'Amazing Spider-Man 3'

Sony’s aggressive expansion of its rebooted Amazing Spider-Man franchise began last summer with the announcement of release dates for Amazing 3 and 4 in 2016 and 2018, respectively — meaning that the 2010s will be the first decade in human history with one Spider-Man movie every two years, so take that, 2000s! However, not everyone will stick around for the full quadrilogy: Director Marc Webb will take himself and his contextually perfect surname away from the director’s chair after Amazing 3. READ FULL STORY

B.J. Novak's secretive 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' character revealed?

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Marc Webb is being sneaky.

In a seemingly inconsequential tweet Monday, the Amazing Spider-Man 2 director made a joke about almost wanting to shoot the film in black and white —  until he realized that B.J. Novak’s book trailer beat him to the punch. Webb also left a little parenthetical clue about Novak’s as-yet-unannounced Spider-Man 2 role: “B.J. Novak (A. Smythe).”

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'The Amazing Spider-man 2' teaser debuts on New Year's Eve with glimpse of Times Square brawl

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Your friendly neighborhood Spider-man kicks off the new year with a new teaser of The Amazing Spider-man 2, which debuted in Times Square during the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Comics legend — and Spider-man co-creator — Stan Lee introduces the clip, which features Spider-man  (Andrew Garfield) battling a plethora of villains including Electro (Jamie Foxx), the Rhino (Paul Giamatti), and a mysterious figure on a familiar-looking hover board.

Directed by Marc Webb, the superhero sequel stars Garfield as the web-slinger and young New Yorker Peter Parker and Emma Stone as scientist and Parker’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy.

Check out the new footage here:
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Comic-Con: 'The Visionaries' discuss stunts, technology, and their complicated reservations about 3-D

“A visionary is not just someone who imagines amazing things, but really someone who can take the things in their head and make them real, who can let us see through their eyes,” said EW’s own Anthony Breznican, who moderated Entertainment Weekly’s Visionaries panel at Comic-Con on Thursday.

Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men), Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man), and Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) sat down with Breznican in front of a sea of fans in Hall H to discuss long takes, relationship movies in disguise, and the technological challenges of suspending Sandra Bullock in space. Take a look at some of the best moments after the jump.

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Casting Net: Matthew McConaughey rumored for next Nolan project; Plus, a 'Vacation' reunion, B.J. Novak in 'Spider-Man 2', more

• Matthew McConaughey may have been offered the lead in Christopher Nolan’s next film, Interstellar. As with any Nolan project, details are being kept tightly under wraps, but this project has been floating around for years. The story is based on the works of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, who posited, among other things, that wormholes can be used for time travel. Nolan’s brother Jonathan (The Dark Knight, The Prestige) wrote the script, and they’ve already set a release date for November 7, 2014. As for McConaughey, if the reports are accurate, it seems like it would be a no-brainer. [Deadline]

• Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo are in early talks to play the Griswolds once more in an upcoming Vacation reboot. In the film, Ed Helms would play Rusty, who is attempting to take his own family on a road trip. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein — the team who wrote Horrible Bosses — penned the script and also plan to direct the project, which also stars Christina Applegate. Chase and D’Angelo’s roles are reportedly small. [Variety]

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Shailene Woodley offered the role of Mary Jane Watson in 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'

Peter Parker, you two-timing devil. EW has confirmed that Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) has been offered the role of Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming sequel to last summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man. If the deal goes through, Woodley would join Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and director Marc Webb on the film, starting production in early 2013. (Variety first broke the story.)

The news could scarcely come at a better time for Woodley; ABC Family just decided to end her series The Secret Life of the American Teenager after its upcoming fifth season.

Played by Kirsten Dunst in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, the red-headed Mary Jane (or MJ) was introduced in the comics as a romantic rival of Parker’s other love interest, Gwen Stacy, and ultimately becomes the love of Peter’s life (and, for a time, his wife). READ FULL STORY

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