Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Now that's how you do a panel! Andrew Garfield has always seemed genuinely into Spider-Man as a character and his comics as a whole. I mean, his first Comic-Con appearance he showed up in a cheesy Spidey suit to ask a question before pulling his mask off to reveal himself to the audience.
He one upped himself this time. Marc Webb, producers Matt Tolmach and Avi Arad, Dane DeHaan came out and said they had a surprise, that Spider-Man himself, the actual Spider-Man, was there, but hasn't arrived yet. They called for a camera outside the Hall and the room goes dark and on the screen a very funny and very awesome video pops up.
In the video, Spider-Man runs around downtown San Diego, over rooftops, trying to get to the convention center. They shot this much like the first movie, with lots of POV shots of Spidey's hand as he crawls up and down walls. He finally gets outside Hall H only to be stopped by security, who won't let him in. “I'm supposed to be in there! I'm Spider-Man!”
”Yeah, yeah,” says the guard. “There are already 10 Spider-Man's in there.” Spidey web-zips up to the balcony and runs in, which of course corresponded with Spider-man in full movie costume running into the Hall (from the side door, but I'll forgive them a little geographic continuity for a well-intentioned and fun gag) running down the aisles, giving rapid high fives to the fans as they stand and cheer.
And it wasn't just any dude in a Spider-Man suit. He was called up to the stage and, out of breath, Spider-Man takes a seat (behind a name card that actually says “Spider-Man”) and speaks... it was definitely Andrew Garfield, but he played it with his American Peter Parker accent the whole time and they played it out to be that Spider-Man is real and a consultant on the movie. He even asked where “Eduardo Saverin” was. “You mean Andrew. He's an actor,” said Webb. “I thought he invented Facebook?”
”Sorry I was late, there was a Chewbacca flight I had to break up,” - Spider-Man.
”I love coming to Comic-Con because it's the only place I can feel normal. No one ever hassles me, I kind of blend in.”
Emma Stone was in France filming, so she did a taped greeting, saying she wishes she could be at Comic-Con, etc etc etc. The tape begins to spaz out and then cuts completely. Flashes of electricity appeared on the screen and then we heard a creepy whistling version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Yep, it was Jamie Foxx's big entrance. The crowd went crazy.
Spider-Man started geeking out over him, saying how awesome Django was (to which Jamie responded with an ominous “I like the way you die, boy” directed at ol' webhead) and how great he was in Any Given Sunday. What's great about that is it led to Spidey rapping My Name Is Willy alongside Jamie Foxx. Foxx kept asking Webb “Is this the real Spider-Man?” “Yeah!”
Yep, it was that kind of panel. Crazy, funny and full of personality... exactly what had been missing in Hall H since Edgar, Nick and Simon left. The rest of the day was full of fan service, a lot of mediocre to decent looking footage and some bored-sounding pretty people (Mortal Instruments, I'm looking at you).
The moderator asked Spider-Man (again, still playing along that it's the real Spidey) why he chose to be a hero. With his powers he could have been a movie star, a stunt man or a pro-athelete, why a masked hero?
”At the risk of sounding earnest, I really have an over-developed sense of responsibility. I was given these powers and I guess I feel like I gotta do something with them... and I don't like assholes. Am I allowed to say the A-word?” - Spider-Man.
What's Spidey's favorite power? The flying part of webslinging? “It's like taking an airplane. When you're a kid you're super excited about it, but the third time you do it you're like, 'I really wish the internet worked up here...'” - Spidey.
With that, Spidey said his “sense stuff” was going off and he also had to go to the bathroom, so he took off. I had a suspicion that Andrew Garfield was going to pop up a little later, Clark Kent style, and I wasn't wrong, but first the moderator talked to Jamie for a while about playing a villain.
First off, I interviewed Jamie before the panel so I'll try not to repeat the stuff I gleaned from the interview (which will be posted either tomorrow or Sunday depending on how much I can get done tonight), but I'll say that Jamie Foxx wasn't a posing. Or if he was he did an amazing job at it. That dude knew his shit and in more than a “I read Wikipedia before coming down here” way. You could see the light in his eyes as he was talking about playing the role.
He also mentioned that his daughter was celebrating her Spider-Man themed birthday when he got the call that he got the job. He told her and she said, “You know Spider-Man's gonna kick your ass!” He responded, “Yeah, that'll be part of it, but I plan on doing a little ass-kicking myself.”
He painted Max Dillon as a very serious man who has had everything in life stripped from him so when he turns to the full on supervillain he's the exact opposite of the joking wall-crawler. He has so much anger in him. “I wanted Electro to be a serious individual that wants to burn the city down and burn Spider-Man along with it.”
Then they showed some footage. They just wrapped, but they cut something together to show the fans. Some greenscreens and storyboards remained, but with only a cursory mention of that the lights went down and the first footage from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rolled.
Footage stars with a big construction truck barreling down a New York street, smashing cars as it goes. Cop cars give chase and so does Spider-Man, who webslings onto the top of one cop car, jumping to another and then another, getting closer to the truck. “You know what it is I love about being Spider-Man? Everything.” He gets onto the truck and we see it's Paul Giamatti playing Aleksei Sytsevich, aka RHINO is driving (pre-suit).
Man is he pissed. Screaming in Russian, trying to fire his uzi when Spidey lands on the hood and leans into the open driver's side window.
That cuts to Peter Parker having a confrontation with Aunt May in the laundry room. She stops him from putting a load of laundry in the wash. “The last time you did it you turned everything blue and red.” Peter sputters for a second, but comes up with a save. “I was washing... the... the American flag. My flag...” “No one washes a flag!” “Not anymore!” Stern look from Aunt May and Peter gives up. “Alright, laundry Sheriff!”
The next bit we see a big street fight where (if I remember correctly) a car is hurtled through the air right at comb-over version of Max Dillon. Spidey swings in and pushes him out of the way. Max is in awe. “Spider-Man?” “Yeah, I guess the costume gives it away, huh Max?” “How did you know my name?” “Your badge,” he says, pointing to his Oscorp ID hanging off his white coat.
The crowd is chanting “Spidey! Spidey” over and over again during this talk. “Nobody knows my name... I'm a nobody.” Spider-Man puts up to fingers close to his mouth and says, “Lick that.” Dillon licks his fingers and Spider-Man starts finger-combing down Max's messy combover with his newly moistened fingers while giving him a quick peptalk. “You're not a nobody, you're a somebody! You're my eyes and ears out here!” Then swings away.
We next get a bit of Spidey confronting Aleksei (again, no suit), webbing his feet to the ground. “Ah, you are a funny guy!” he screams while aiming a big gun. Spidey web-ties one hand, pulls the gun away with another strand, then ties his other hand before doing one final move, using his webs to pull down Aleksei's pants, revealing colorful boxers.
Then we see Gwen riding in an elevator with Max, both watching the news playing on a TV monitor on the elevator wall. Spidey is saving the day somewhere, Max is watching in awe, Gwen with worry. “It must be pretty cool to have the whole world see you like that. Most people don't notice other people. I wish I was like him...”
Gwen's worry triggers a new short bit between Gwen and Peter. She tells him “You're Spider-Man and I love that about you, but I love Peter Parker more.” “This is my path,” he replies. It was around this point that they showed Gwen in a familiar blue trenchcoat looking somberly out at a bridge in the distance. If they follow the books this is going to be a hell of a bit of foreshadowing.
Then we get a little bit of Electro's origins. Jamie is repairing something in a shaft and he gets zapped, sending him falling into a vat below. Inside are electric eels, but he brings in the wires he was holding so everything gets fucked up in there. Later on we saw glimpses of a heavily charred man walking through a cloud, some of the outer char breaking off. I believe this to be almost a metamorphoses for Electro, but they didn't explicitly show that.
We also get our first look at Chris Cooper's Norman Osborn who is very sickly... like cancer sickly... laying in a bed, talking to his son. “Not everyone has a happy ending,” he tells his son, who looks angry as hell... at the world, at his dad... everything.
Electro's first close up appears here... he's in his hobo clothes, hooded, and we hear him say “I just wanted everybody to see me...” Harry Osborn replies “You will never be invisible again.” Which leads me to believe that Harry's arc is pretty different here. We may see him fall right away into villainhood instead of wait for his dad to go through the Green Goblin stuff.
”Soon everyone in this city will know how it feels to live in my world, a world without power, without mercy... a world without Spider-Man. They will see me for who I truly am... I'm Electro.” Foxx delivers this quietly, not shouting... gives it a creepy edge. It also helps that he's in what looks like Times Square and he starts to float, power gathering around him... his electricity running under his skin.
Suddenly Times Square goes dark, one section blinking out at a time. It's quiet for a beat and then everything explodes. We get flashes of Electro shooting lightning out of his hands Sith-style all around at cars. One goes flying and again Spider-Man swings in. It's a cop car and it's heading straight for a police officer. Spidey catches it mid-air, uses his swing momentum to turn it up over his head and he lands holding it up, very much like the famous Superman comic cover. He turns to the cop, car still over his head, and says, “Need a hand?”
And that was the footage.
When the lights come back up, Andrew Garfield is sitting on the panel. He gets a cheer. “I'm so sorry I'm late!”
The first question from the crowd that really stood out to me was from an attendee who identified himself a gay Asian American who applauded Garfield's recent comments about how Spider-Man could have a gay interracial relationship. (At this, some of Foxx's In Living Color roots showed as he goes, “Heeeeyyy” and pats Andrew on the back). He was asked if it was difficult as a famous actor to take a stand on social issues and if he plans to use his fame to promote other causes.
”Thank you for your great question and your vulnerability there. It was beautiful. First and foremost, I'm an actor and I only want to be an actor right now, so here's the thing... Spider-Man stands for everybody. Black, white, asian, gay, straight, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual... I think it would be illogical... it just wouldn't make any sense if in the third movie I was suddenly with a black guy...” Again, Jamie mocks being offended, causing a lot of laughs from the audience. But Andrew continued on.
”To me it's not a social issue. To me love between two consenting adults is love and no one else outside that couple has any right to judge. To me, the idea that anyone would bat an eyelid at what I said is interesting.
The thing about Spider-Man is he's covered head to toe. You don't see any skin color, you don't identify him with any sexual orientation. He is a hero. Gay, straight, lesbian, black, white, he's a hero and that's what important. He stands for the underdog and he stands for those that need protecting. I love your question and thank you. You're awesome.”
And with that, Garfield became the King of the day in Hall H (a big feat considering the poor ol' King of the North, Robb Stark, was on the panel just before). What a great answer and it came across as authentic and empathetic as it could be.
Garfield answered another question about separating Parker from Spider-Man and he said that he sees Spider-Man as the older brother and Peter Parker as the younger brother. He relates to Peter because he has an older brother. “My older brother intimidates the hell out of me. He's not super human, he can climb walls or swing around a city, but he does save lives. He's a doctor and I'm screwed from the get go. How am I going to top that?”
So this next part was awesome... a high school kid dress up in Christopher Reeves Superman attire comes up to ask a question and Jamie Foxx immediately starts singing the John Williams Superman Theme and the kid start striking Superman hands-on-hip poses. The whole place goes nuts. Foxx: “Son of Jor-el! Kneel before Zod!” Many geek points won for Mr. Foxx there
High School Superman's question was how Garfield balanced his working life and high school when he was younger because he's trying to be an actor, too, and is having a hard go, admitting he failed chemistry. Garfield's response: “How could you disappoint your father like this! (Laughs) Screw chemistry! You want to be an actor, why do you care about chemistry?!?”
Dane is asked about Harry and Peter's relationship. “In this version, Harry and Peter were childhood friends. Harry is sent off to boarding school at a young age and he cuts off everything that had to do with his life before boarding school, mostly due to his complicated relationship with his father. Then they graduate high school and it's time for him to come home.”
A fan asked Webb which Spider-Man books he pulled from for material, original run or the Ultimates. “We grabbed from all the different comics. There were parts of the canon that we felt really obligated to and there are other parts that we deviate from, but we do try to find a precedent for what we're doing when we're making big story choices. I'm a big fan of the Ultimates, but Ditko and Stan Lee all made contributions that obviously had an enormous impact on the movie as we're constructing these characters.” - Webb.
Next fan question asks Webb if he feels like having Rhino, Electro and The Osborns is too much. “I don't want another Spider-Man 3,” the fan says, getting huge applause from the audience. Webb: “Listen, it's just the right amount. The main villain is Electro. That's the obstacle he's gotta fight. Paul Giamatti makes an appearance and there's a couple scenes in the movie with him, but that's to establish a more fun tone, but Electro I think is an incredibly powerful villain and one that I think can sustain the breadth and the depth of the film. He is God-like. How does Spider-Man fight someone that when you touch him it's like touching a thousand third rails. He'd obliterate you. When your main weapon is a web that conducts electricity, how do you fight that guy? How do you fight a guy who can reach out towards an electrical socket and disappear into it? He can merge with electricity! That's terrifying.”
Here's a great quote from Avi Arad: “Loyalty to the character is loyalty to the fans.” Preach on, brother!
When asked what particular storyline or event from the comics would he like to see realized on film, Garfield said: “I'd like to see him with The Avengers, but I'm not allowed to say that!” Roof rattles with cheers. “Wouldn't that be awesome? Just sayin'.”
Garfield on meeting Stan Lee for the first time: “It was like being in a room with Mickey Mouse. He's so iconic. It's like he doesn't really exist. I was feeling like “Is it you, O creator of all that is great and holy?!?” It was profound for me and I just turned into a black hole of a person. My tongue went dry and my heart stopped. I was a mess and he was his charming, self-effacing incredible self.”
And that's that.
My overall impressions: Jamie Foxx looks like he's bringing a lot of depth and subtlety to Max/Electro. The character seems filled with pathos and isn't just evil for evil's sake. The electric effects I saw looked much better than in still form, his skin looking jellyfish-like with a storm brewing just under the surface. But the performance trumps visual effects anyway and I think he's bringing his all to this.
Fun, smack-talking Spider-Man is still in play, I love Garfield in this role and it was pretty amazing watching the audience eating out of the hands of both Garfield and Foxx.
This was by far my favorite panel of the day. I'm psyched for the movie and I'm still buzzing from the energy of the panel. This is why I come to Comic-Con.
Oh, by the way I found out where the real Spider-Man disappeared as I was leaving the hall... He was manning the Hall H video camera! Sneaky monkey...