The Amazing Spider-Man is heading our way as the web slinger prepares to return to cinemas this summer…

Next year there is another round of superhero action films to tempt the cinema-going public. It seems every year the hype for these movies gets bigger and bigger, what with the final part of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Marvel’s super group franchise The Avengers and a new Superman on the horizon. But for me, the most anticipated movie of this genre will be the re-boot of Marvel’s flagship character: The Amazing Spider-man!

The story of Spider-man’s journey to the big screen is almost worthy of a film itself. During the 70’s ‘golden’ period of kitsch television shows, Spider-man was one of several attempts by Marvel to launch their characters into a new medium. It failed due to terrible special effects and poor villains and inevitably the essence of the character was completely lost, despite an attractive turn by lead actor Nicholas Hammond. It took another 23 years of legal wrangling, studio bartering, director finding (both Tobe Hooper and James Cameron were attached at one point) before Spider-man met Sam Raimi. This was a gamble for the studio as Raimi had not had a mainstream hit before, but his enthusiasm and vision for the film won them over. The resulting film was a resounding hit, breaking several box office records and raising the standard for the superhero genre along the way.

The sequel followed two years later and was an even bigger critical and commercial triumph. All Raimi had to do was maintain his integrity and artistic control and deliver the final part of a trilogy that would improve on the second film. Unfortunately he was inevitably swayed by the studio opinion and interference and, against his better judgement, made a film full of flaws which ultimately disappointed. It was, however, the biggest commercial hit of the three and proved that the public hunger for Spider-man’s big screen adventures had not abated. So what next?

Due to the critical thumping he had received for Spiderman 3, continual studio interference in the emerging script and an ageing lead (Tobey Maguire turns 37 in 2012) who no longer convinced as the teenage Peter Parker, Raimi quit. The studio had two choices: recast and continue in the similar way that Superman Returns had done or re-boot the franchise a lá Batman Begins. Superman Returns, for all its artistic and critical positives, had been seen as a commercial failure, unlike Batman Begins which, like Spider-man before it, had raised the bar even further. It turned out to be a no brainer.

The re-booted franchise begins next year. Out goes the more mature version of our friendly neighbourhood hero, out goes the controversial organic web shooters in favour of the comic’s mechanical invention, and perhaps even more controversially, out goes one of the best characters from the original films in Peter Parker’s irascible boss J. Jonah Jameson. In is an all new origin story, more emphasis on Peter’s high school years, new baddie in The Lizard and a new interesting Spider-man – Andrew Garfield.

The trailer is already out and hints at a darker, grittier tone. It has a lot to live up to but seems to be heading in an exciting direction. We now have not just Spider-man but The Amazing Spider-man!

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