Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was one of the first live-action comic book series to kick off the superhero craze. It wasn’t just the fact that the beloved comic book character was hitting the big screen for the first time ever, but the films were actually really good. To this day, many fans consider Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 to be the best film in the entire Spidey saga. Following the abrupt end to the series, Sony instantly rebooted the brand and came up with The Amazing Spider-Man. The films weren’t exactly treated with much love and fanfare as the Sam Raimi versions.
Many agree that Andrew Garfield was the perfect choice to take over the role and in fact, there’s a debate that Garfield is a better Peter Parker than Tobey McGuire, but the overall feeling of The Amazing Spider-Man saga isn’t particularly a good one. So, what happened? Why does The Amazing Spider-Man feel like a forgettable blimp on the Spider-Man radar? For one, the biggest issue is that the second version failed to separate itself from the Sami Raimi saga. Uncle Ben dies because of a random robbery? Check. Peter Parker gets his powers from a radioactive spider? Check. Peter Parker has a love interest, who’s like Mary Jane, but isn’t Mary Jane. Check. The Amazing Spider-Man desperately needed to be different. The franchise was fresh off the Sam Raimi films so the events of his version still ring in the minds of audiences. I get the “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentally by going with Peter Parker once again, but Sony should’ve taken a major risk by going with a different name. There are over 20 different versions of Spider-Man: Spider-Gwen, Silk, Miles Morales, and Miguel O’Hara just to name a few. The Spider-Man brand itself was a hot commodity because there will always be fans who flock to these films thanks to the comics, but upon release, The Amazing Spider-Man looked like a carbon copy of the very first live-action feature minus a few details.
It doesn’t particularly help that The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connor felt like a downgrade from Green Goblin. The reboot didn’t inspire confidence in audiences to check it out since many hold the Sam Raimi series in high regard, despite the mixed reaction to Spider-Man 3. However, it wasn’t just the fact that it was Peter Parker’s story and world once again, but the overall tone, style made the popular comic book series feel one-dimensional and bland. Thankfully, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 veered away from the overall Sam Raimi direction, but it actually created an even worse problem. Around this time, it was heavily rumored that Sony was looking to expand the Spider-Man universe by doing a Sinister Six feature. That was no more evident than the unnecessary inclusion of Rhino. The supervillain had no impact in the story whatsoever. He wasn’t the cause of Peter’s problem nor was he standing in the way of Spider-Man at any point. The purpose of Rhino was to build towards the future, making the filmmakers lose sight of the movie right in front of them.
Sam Raimi did an excellent job of building towards the future, but none of the individual movies feel incomplete or a time waster. The Harry Osborn Jr./Peter Parker saga was brewing for two films until the third finally had the two friends turn into rivals. The difference is that Harry played an important role in Parker’s life. His arc never interfered with Peter Parker’s story, and there were actions that drastically affected the choices Spider-Man made. The plot of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a mess, dealing with multiple villains in a way where the story never felt coherent. Bringing back the Green Goblin felt forced and Dane DeHaan’s version paled in comparison to Willem Dafoe’s. Gwen Stacy dies in the second film, which should’ve felt huge, but it simply didn’t. That’s due to the fact that the chaos surrounding the sequel installment overshadowed one of the most prominent moments in the comic book.
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man set a high standard for comic book films in general, but Spider-Man 2 vastly raised the bar to incredible heights. The series had audiences in the palm of their hands, and The Amazing Spider-Man never came close to reaching the heights that the first incarnation did. More importantly, there was simply no closure for the Sam Raimi saga. Sony rushed into The Amazing Spider-Man without providing some type of ending that could’ve prepared audiences for the next chapter. People were invested in Tobey McGuire’s Spider-Man and by simply moving onto another Peter Parker, most audiences felt that they wasted their time in a story that ultimately has no ending. Is there a reason Sony just couldn’t get a new director for Spider-Man 4? Sam Raimi is great, but he didn’t need to finish off the series. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man left a shadow that The Amazing Spider-Man simply couldn’t overcome.