Andrew Garfield, who reprises his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, explains the complexities of being a superhero.
There is a photo of a three-year-old Andrew Garfield wearing a Spider-Man costume on the Internet. Garfield said that it was his first Halloween costume.
“Somewhere online, there’s a picture of my brother in a Superman costume and me as Spider-Man, and I just looked very confused. I think I’m just like, I couldn’t figure out what the web thing was,” said Garfield during an interview in Singapore recently.
Despite the confusion, Garfield still remembers the feeling of glee he had donning the superhero costume handmade by his mum. Now at 30, Garfield can relive that feeling again as the web-slinger in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Peter Parker is a teenager who acquires special abilities after being bitten by a genetically enhanced spider. With extraordinary agility and speedy healing power, Peter uses his strength as Spider-Man to combat crime in New York City.
In this film, released two years after the first installment, Peter has just graduated from high school and is embracing his role as the hero of the city. However, he soon discovers that being a hero is more than just saving people.
“He is not a robot. He has desires and needs but he always has to sacrifice them if he’s going to live up to his destiny as a superhero. That is one of his biggest struggles,” said Garfield.
As Peter tries to sort out his complicated relationship with love interest Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone), his enemies are growing in strength and numbers.
Director Marc Webb believes the highly-anticipated US$200mil (RM655mil) production is the Spider-Man that movie fans deserve.
“It’s really massive. We have Jamie Foxx playing one of the most cinematic, god-like villains to ever come out of the Spider-Man canon,” said Webb.
The Oscar winner plays Max Dillon, an Oscorp employee who becomes obsessed with Spider-Man after being rescued by him. However, the feeling turns to contempt after a misunderstanding. Max unleashes his rage as Electro, someone with the ability to control electricity.
“When I got on that set, I wanted to be the type of villain that was gonna be feared. There was even a point where I said (in Electro’s voice) ‘Itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout. Down came Electro and wiped the spider out’. That’s all that matters,” said Foxx about his new role.
Other villians Spider-Man has to fend off include Rhino played by Paul Giamatti and Harry Osborn, portrayed by Dane DeHaan.
Love conquers all
Webb asserted that at the heart of this CGI-laden film is the love story of Peter and Gwen.
“Outside all that spectacle; there’s a really wonderful, lovely romance between Peter and Gwen. It becomes the engine of the movie. You can see the chemistry at work,” the director said.
In the previous film, Peter made a promise to Gwen’s late father Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) that he will no longer be with her. If his identity as Spider-Man is compromised, his enemies will undoubtedly go after Gwen.
Garfield explained that it’s impossible for Peter to keep his distance from Gwen.
“I just think it’s love. There’s no poem that sums up love well enough. It’s the greatest part of living. To experience that mysterious, unspeakable desire that love creates in us. He can’t help himself,” the British actor said.
Garfield even admitted to improvising a scene with Stone simply because he understands how much Peter loves Gwen. In the scene, Peter makes his way on stage to receive his high school diploma. On stage, too, is Gwen who is the valedictorian.
“The context is simple. He has just gotten out of his Spider-Man costume. He just saved the city and he feels incredible! He’s just riding the energy. That’s the truth in that moment.” The scene called for Peter to shake Gwen’s hand.
Garfield explained: “I want to kiss (Gwen), so I’m going to kiss her. Gwen is Peter’s girlfriend and I’m not going to shake her hand. I’m going to make out with her!”
At this point of the interview, Foxx wondered out loud about the alleged off-screen romance between Garfield and Stone when he caught them making eye contact with each other.
“I’m not saying anything. What was that? That was a little energy goin’ on …”
Stone simply replied: “A very creepy energy.”
The actress views Gwen as an important character in the Spider-Man universe. “The fate of her character (in the comic books) is something everyone loves to talk about and Marc is really embracing the storyline and telling his version over the course of these movies,” she said.
Stone added that Gwen has a more positive outlook about her relationship with Peter.
“Peter had sworn to stay away from Gwen – which she knows – but she’s more open to being with Peter anyway. It’s not just because they’re in love. Her father died and that’s given her a huge awareness of time – that everything is fleeting. Peter is more conflicted about it, and there’s a lot of tension between them throughout this movie.”
A humane superhero
Despite having amazing abilities, Garfield believes Spider-Man’s real strength lies in his compassion for humanity.
“He’s a naive kid. He still thinks he can talk his enemies out of problems, instead of using brute force. Even when they are behaving destructively, he sees the purity in everyone with his compassion. Just like Mahatma Gandhi,” Garfield said.
Unlike Batman/Bruce Wayne who is a millionaire, or the Avengers team which has the support of a government-backed organisation, Peter is a white-collar worker. This makes him a more humane hero, according to Garfield.
“He’s a warrior. No matter what the situation, a warrior will be asked to kill and he’ll decide if it’s for the right cause. Spider-Man will try to reason and try to give the bad guy a chance. To me, that’s beautiful,” Garfield reasoned.
Webb describes Spider-Man as a rescuer: “That’s what the webs are for. He create nets so that people can be saved and that doesn’t always require violence.”
While Garfield plays a fictional superhero, his brother – the one who wore the Superman costume on Halloween many years ago – is a real life hero. The actor says his brother, a doctor in London, is someone who is always on duty and never has time to sleep. Thus Garfield understands all too well, that great power comes with great responsibility.
“The original meaning for the word ‘king’ is sacrifice. Spider-Man is arguably a king and he has has the great ability to protect a kingdom. In this sense, New York City. He has to sacrifice a lot for the sake of something greater. That is a painful yet beautiful thing for anyone to do in life.”
>>The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens in
cinemas nationwide today.
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Watch: Jamie Foxx explains how Electro got his voice