There are scores of world-saving superheroes popping up on movie screens these days, but Andrew Garfield believes that the titular webslinger from “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” stands out from the pack.
Spidey, theorizes the actor who plays him, is the superhero who you’d want to take home to meet mom.
“I think what sets Spider-Man apart from the other superheroes is that, yes, he does have to save the city, and, yes, he does have to [keep in mind] a bigger picture, but, in the process, he is going to walk a kid home and help an old lady across the street and save a cat from a tree,” muses Garfield.
“He’s the working-class hero, which I think is what we all wish to be in some secret part of ourselves.”
Garfield first brought Peter Parker to life in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” the 2012 hit which swung away with more than $750 million at the worldwide box office.
For the follow-up, Peter is still connected to gal pal Gwen Stacy (Garfield’s real-life main squeeze, Emma Stone). But he’s also got his share of bad guys to battle, including Rhino (Paul Giamatti), Electro (Jamie Foxx), and his boyhood friend, Harry Osborn (Allentown native Dane DeHaan), who morphs into the deadly Green Goblin.
Directed by a returning Marc Webb, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” was expected to be such a big hit that Sony has already committed to two more “Amazing Spider-Man” films, scheduled to drop in 2016 and 2018, as well as spin-offs featuring villains Venom and the Sinister Six.
Webb has his own theory about why the latest “Spidey” movies have been so popular.
“First and foremost, it’s the Gwen Stacy saga,” says Webb. “The Gwen Stacy storyline in the comic book was very specific. It hadn’t been rendered before.
“And [her story] was something that was intended from the beginning, from the get-go, and built up from the get-go. … Thematically, there are ideas and notions that I don’t think had been explored before.”
While Garfield and Stone prefer not to discuss their off-screen relationship, it’s clear that their bond makes the chemistry between Peter and Gwen highly explosive.
Stone insists that its not just Garfield but the entire “Spidey” cast and crew who’ve become like a second family to her.
“We can talk like a family, we can love like a family, we can argue like a family,” says Stone, who’s best known for her work in “Superbad” and “The Help.”
“We’ve been working together on this movie for over a year, and when you combine the time from the first film, plus all the time in between, it’s been like three or four years. It’s such a nice thing to know we’ll see each other again.”
According to Webb, the delightful banter between Garfield and Stone is a result of a both scripting by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Jeff Pinker as well as hours of improvisation by the actors.
“What’s so great about [Stone and Garfield] is that they’re really flexible,” says Webb. “They can build on each other’s quips and nuances and that creates a different kind of feeling than you normally get in a movie.
“That sense of authenticity and realness is a really great thing to see. It’s sort of [our] secret weapon.”
Both Garfield and Stone have spoken often about how deeply connected they feel to their characters. Garfield, in particular, has been a Spidey fan for more than 25 years.
“I’ve felt like him since I was 3,” says the actor, 30, who has a photo of himself at 3 dressed up as the superhero for Halloween. “I feel like the beauty of [Spider-Man] is that he is all of us, you know?
“He is an everyman. He’s very ordinary as Peter Parker, and he’s struggling with the same things that we all struggle with, whether it’s his love life… or trying to figure out who he is… or, you know, having to do his laundry or having to make ends meet money-wise.
“He’s definitely this working-class kid. And then there’s this extraordinary thing that he has, this extraordinary gift. To me, that’s a metaphor for the extraordinary gifts we all come into the world with, whether it’s a gift for acting, journalism, jewelry-making, table-setting, landscape designing, whatever it is.”
For her part, Stone can connect the dots between the science-oriented Gwen Stacy and members of her own family. The actress says she based the character at least partly on her “badass” aunt who has worked on vaccines for Gardasil and MRSA.
“I only have superlatives for [Gwen],” says Stone, 25. “I love the character so much. It was so nice to modernize [her] from the comic books and bring her into the woman that she is in this movie.
“My aunt is a scientist, a really brilliant scientist. [Through this movie], I got to know that aspect of my family a little bit more. It was really an honor to play Gwen. She is such an iconic figure in comic book history, and there were so many great facets of [her story].”
Garfield, Stone, and Webb might be a tight-knit trio, but they were more than happy to welcome newbies Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan to the “Spider-Man” party.
“What is amazing about Jamie is that he’s got this real soft heart underneath all of these bells and whistles,” says Garfield, who has also appeared in “The Social Network” and “Never Let Me Go.”
“And Jamie’s got bells and whistles. He’s a performer, and it’s amazing to be around him. But underneath that is just a tender little boy that is a fan of other people and supports other people.”
Garfield personally recommended DeHaan for the role of Harry Osborn after catching the younger actor in an off-Broadway play called “Aliens.”
“I think in order for the fallout [of Harry’s transformation] to be impactful, you need to feel that these two should be bound by the root,” notes Garfield. “We needed to make sure that [Harry and Peter] were of the same blood somehow, that we were kin.
“I did a play reading with [Dane in which we portrayed] Leopold and Loeb, and I felt like [he was an actor] that made [me] come alive. Em is one of those actors that you can’t help but come alive with, and Dane is another one.”