Thursday, October 7, 2010

Emma Makes Spidey a Must-See. Seriously.

Sent a brief tweet about this when the news dropped yesterday, but a few additional comments are necessary.

I have not been a fan of the idea of a brand-spankin'-new Spider-Man franchise being crafted out of whole cloth. For proof, allow me to remind you about my posts from last year, first when I lambasted the very idea of starting a perpendicular Spidey franchise, and later when I discussed the hiring of Marc Webb as director, which was a good move given the guy's obvious filmmaking panache, but made me worry about his future career for jumping into a Spider-Man franchise that is attempting to ignore Sam Raimi's billion-dollar cash cow.

Of late, British actor Andrew Garfield signed to play Spidey, and lately he has made a splash as part of the brilliant young cast of David Fincher's The Social Network. Based on what I've seen of him, he will fit right into the Peter Parker persona.

And now, the news from yesterday: Emma Stone has been signed to play Gwen Stacy in Webb's new Spider-Man. And now I will be lining up early for this one.

Stone was the greatest possible hire that this franchise ever could have hoped to make. If you don't believe me or don't understand, go watch Superbad. Then watch Zombieland. And right now, while you can, go see Easy A in theaters, then stay to watch it again. It's brilliant. And she is especially brilliant.

Stone was originally rumored to be playing Mary Jane Watson, but Webb's film has moved on to another of Peter Parker's comic-book love interests -- a wise move, because it gives this new franchise a distinction from the Raimi films, which cast the wonderful Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane. Good for them for not imitating or attempting to over-match, and good for them for nabbing a casting coup.

Gwen Stacy did appear in Raimi's ill-fated Spidey 3, played ever-so-briefly by Bryce Dallas Howard, whose talents deserved better than the throwaway role she received. Now the character will get a full character arc, and will be embodied by the most infectious leading lady of the moment. No lie...Emma Stone has made me get excited about seeing the new Spider-Man.

Instead of dread, I now have anticipation. Instead of cynicism, I now have hope. And this development has also made me re-think the other pieces of the puzzle. Garfield is a very interesting actor, and it will be interesting to see him assume the Peter Parker role. As for Webb...(500) Days of Summer is a fabulous movie with oodles of style. That is just about undeniable. He will bring a very specific attitude to this franchise that will be fresh and interesting, especially with this cast.

For the record, I am still wary of jump-starting a new franchise only a few years after the demise of one of the most critically- and financially-successful franchises of the last decade. I would feel that way about any such endeavor (certainly the Ed Norton Incredible Hulk, which was horrible and unnecessary), and certainly about Spider-Man, which was so seamlessly and wonderfully crafted by Raimi, Maguire, Dunst, et al.

But maybe -- just maybe -- one of these reboot franchises can come together and work well. You can't make this many good decisions and leave me uninterested.

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