There's been a big presence at this year's Comic-Con for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but the press conference today with director Marc Webb, producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach and stars Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan was the first real word on what the film has to offer.
"The universe that we conceived of began before we started shooting the first movie," said Webb of the over-arching story, "but the primary focus was executing this movie as best we could. This is operatic. There's a hugeness of scale to this movie. The ensemble is extraordinary, but it's cohesive and direct, and there's a simple unifying theme at the heart of the film that I think will be impactful. But it's fun teasing other characters, and if you pay attention to this movie you'll see what we're setting up what might come next."
He also discussed the film's take on new bad guy Electro, played by Jamie Foxx.
"There are a lot of incarnations of Electro in the comics, and I tried to think about a yellow and green suit and couldn't make any logical sense of that. There are elements of his creation I want to protect, but I'll say that when you see a storm cloud come over the horizon and there are those flashes of incredible lightning, that's what we wanted from Electro. I also wanted to protect the emotion of Jamie's performance, and step away from a mask to create a creature that felt human but also godlike. It felt important to give Spider-Man an antagonist who felt creepy and threatening but also immensely powerful."
Foxx explained the character a little more. "We wanted Electro to be serious; I wanted him to be a formidable opponent. I told him, I really want Electro to be angry. It makes the fight more epic - he doesn't want to talk anymore, he wants to fight, he'll burn the city down to get revenge.
"We wanted to do three things: Max [Dillon, Electro's real name] needed to be betrayed by love, by family and by his work. What happens is that it's his birthday and even his mom doesn't remember. That sets it up, the fact that when he turns into this guy, you understand where he's coming from. We gave that journey more than one side."
Andrew Garfield also got a little closer to his character this time. "What I discovered on this one is that Peter's a mess, Spider-Man's a mess, but when we meet Spider-Man at the beginning of this film he's taking great pleasure in his power and is in full control of it. A bit like Usain Bolt before he runs the 100m, his preparation is play. Spider-Man now has the confidence to be heroic, but it's not boring; he has the ability to be heroic while also making fun. This time they created a story that didn't just rest on Spider-Man's shoulders; it's a real ensemble. It's enough to attract talent like this (Foxx, DeHaan) and Paul Giamatti, so I got a little more rest this time."
He also got a new costume. "The eyes are much bigger and better. It's still as tight, but I was able to urinate in this one more easily. I loved the first one, I did, but it's mostly the ability to urinate that I'm happy about."
Dane DeHaan also set up the back story for his character, Harry Osborne, and Peter this time. "In this version Peter and Harry were childhood friends, and then Harry was sent off to a boarding school at a young age. He has a complicated relationship with Norman and never really went home. He ignored his home life, stayed at school and partied and got into things he shouldn't have got into. He tried to buy his way into happiness with his trust fund. Now he's graduated and home for the first time and seeing Peter for the first time, and they have to reconcile their relationship; I think what binds them is their complicated relationships with their fathers."
A slightly more difficult question concerned Shailene Woodley; she had been cast to play Mary Jane Watson but was cut from the film already. "We miss Shailene," said Arad, "but we all felt the story got too big to have two girls. So it was the right thing to wait with it. The next movie will be in 3 years from now, so we love this girl, and time will tell."
First of all, time has to tell on The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which will arrive in your friendly neighbourhood cinema on April 18, 2014. For more details, be sure to pick up the new issue of Empire, out July 25.