Like the picture I made?

I just got back from watching The Amazing Spider-Man (on the 4th of July, how fitting). It was, as expected, pretty amazing, but I’ve had my doubts ever since I found out that they were replacing Tobey Maguire. Then I found out that Andrew Garfield was the new guy and I was torn. Thankfully this was after I’d watched The Social Network and Never Let Me Go, or else there wouldn’t even have been any question about my hating the idea of Tobey Maguire being replaced.

He did an absolutely fantastic job in this movie. It was worth every one of the 136 minutes plus commercial time I spent in the theater (and usually I get bored really fast in long movies). There were some minor mistakes that irked me (how in the hell does Spider-Man get cell phone reception inside a state-of-the-art bio lab, on the Manhattan skyline, and even in the freakin’ sewers? How does the Lizard have electricity down there and why isn’t he electrocuted because of the water?), but overall, it was super entertaining.

I wasn’t altogether thrilled about Peter Parker missing his quintessential best friend in this version, but the rest of the storyline made up for it. I especially liked that the girlfriend did something here other than playing the victim. As for the characterization of Peter Parker himself…well, I could tell that Andrew Garfield tried really hard to seem credible as the stereotypical nerd/loser/scientific prodigy, but compared to Maguire, he kinda fell short.

It’s not really his fault. The fact that the script included him saving a fellow loser from the school bully instead of chasing down a school bus took its toll. But there’s just something about how they look…maybe it’s Garfield’s painstakingly moussed hair in contrast to Maguire’s clean, unpretentious schoolboy haircut and shy, hesitant voice. Andrew tried to make up for it with hunched shoulders and a shuffling step, but it was still kind of a stretch to believe that he’s a social outcast at school. Tobey Maguire was already toeing the limit for how gorgeous one of those usually is, and Andrew Garfield is just too handsome, dammit. High school kids are obsessed with looks; there is no way a dude that symmetrical would go unadmired. Not to mention that he got entirely too comfortable going in for kisses later on in the film, no matter how adorably embarrassed he was at the beginning.

On the other hand, having Parker make Spider-Man’s web material by himself added a lot to his character. The previous movies didn’t show much of him applying his smarts in a practical way like that. And having him remove his mask so the little boy he was rescuing could wear it was a great touch. It differentiated the plot even more by not making it revolve around the secret of his identity, and made the statement that he’s not scared of being confronted.

In all fairness, I think it’s still too soon to make a judgment about who played Spider-Man better. I know there are a lot of people who are already doing that and it’s a hasty call in my opinion. Maguire had three movies to prove himself in this role; Garfield has only had one. He could keep getting better and better as his character develops, or his Spider-Man could end up only going downhill from here. I’ll wait and see, but in the meanwhile, DEFINITELY go watch The Amazing Spider-Man!