Everyone’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is going back to his roots—and we don’t just mean high school.
With Spidey senses tingling in anticipation of the webslinger’s big-screen reboot, stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone sat down for a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday and offered up some tantalizing clues as to what Peter Parker, his arachnid alter ego and moviegoers can look forward to in The Amazing Spider-Man.
Here’s what they, along with the film’s producer Avi Arad, had to say:
1. Just call him Little Orphan Spidey: While the Sam Raimi-directed trilogy starring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Kirsten Dunst as love interest Mary Jane Watson gave moviegoers a worthy origin story in 2002’s Spider-Man, Arad said there are plenty more tales from Stan Lee’s Marvel canon left untold, first and foremost a chronicle about where Peter came from.
“After three movies, we finally got the opportunity to tell what really started Peter Parker on his journey. The fact that he lost his parents. He doesn’t know what happened to them. No one talks about them,” the producer told reporters. “So we found a very, very good story about the true origin of what makes a human being, what sets their destiny.”
2. The Lizard is a link to Parker’s past: Parker’s heritage was left unexplored in Raimi’s series, which dealt more with the theme best expressed in Uncle Ben’s mantra, “with great powers come great responsibility,” words Spidey learned to live by. In the new installment, the emphasis will be on Parker’s journey of self-discovery beginning with Dr. Curt Connors, played here by Rhys Ifans, who doubles as The Amazing Spider-Man‘s prime villain, the Lizard, and is the key to unlocking the mystery to Peter’s parents, or at least what happened to his father.
“In the great tradition of a novel, Dr. Connor will be connected to Peter Parker,” reveals Arad. “Right there, the challenge in dealing with the villain who is also the mentor is [that he’s] the only one you can look at and say ‘what really happened to my dad.’ That’s really hard to find.”
3. 500 Days of Webslinging: Producers felt they needed a director who could pack an emotional punch, not just a big effects wiz. Enter the aptly named Marc Webb, who had a knack for relationships, having helmed 500 Days of Summer. Along with bringing heart to the movie, he also “set it in the real world,” noted Arad. To facilitate that, he also brought in the legendary stunt team led by Andy Armstrong, veterans of the Indiana Jones and the James Bond movies, who tested Garfield physically.
“It was a great challenge and a lucky one,” recalled the actor. “A lot of the stunts are practical and grounded in reality and that was something Marc…really wanted to make sure happened in this movie and set it apart from previous ones…I had about four months of training…before we started doing any shooting where I’d exhaust myself every day and get into near-death experiences on the hour every hour.”
Garfield also had three stunt doubles who helped him think about Peter’s evolving body and “the idea that he has spider DNA running in his system, what that will do to the sensitivity of his skin.”
Sticking to Webb’s practical vision, unlike Raimi’s version where Spidey had webs shooting genetically out of his wrists, the web-spinning in The Amazing Spider-Man comes via mechanical devices the ever-handy Parker designed himself.
4. Sorry, Mary Jane. Peter’s true love is…really Gwen Stacy: That’s the position Amazing Spider-Man is taking at any rate. Marvel geeks have long debated which of the two gals truly has won Peter’s heart. In the comics, Stacy was introduced as a secondary character whom Parker meets in college and her eventual death at the hands of the Green Goblin spurs Peter and Mary Jane’s romance. For the film, however, the screenwriters have elevated Stacy to a place some fanboys say is long deserved, not only as a love interest to Parker but a real intellectual friend and rival.
On the differences between her Stacy and Bryce Dallas Howard’s take on the character in Spider-Man 3, Stone said: “[Howard’s version] wasn’t in high school, she wasn’t Peter’s first love, she was kind of coming between Mary Jane and Peter Parker. [In the new movie] we haven’t even met Mary Jane at this point.”
5. Gwen and Peter will kiss—though how is, uh, up in the air: When asked if The Amazing Spider-Man will try to create an iconic moment such as the upside down kiss Maguire had with Dunst in the first flick, Stone demurred.
“You don’t want to know. You wanna watch the movie and find out,” said the actress, “but there is a nice first kiss and it’s different than the upside down one and we liked it.”
If all goes according to plan, audiences will be head over heels.
The Amazing Spider-Man premieres first in Japan on June 30 before unspooling in the U.S. on July 3.