Spider-Man Director Marc Webb on Rebooting, Andrew Garfield, and More

Jaimie Trueblood / Columbia Pictures

What compelled you to sign on to this Spider-Man franchise reboot?

Director Marc Webb: When they brought it to me, the 17-year-old kid in myself was excited. I was hesitant at first, but I thought there was so much stuff from the Spider-Man canon that hadn't been explored yet. The Gwen Stacy saga is a really famous and at times controversial storyline in Spider-Man, and I'd always wondered about Peter's parents, and the Lizard is a great villain we hadn't seen before.

How does the tone of your film differ from Sam Raimi's trilogy?

I think what Sam Raimi did was pretty brilliant and loyal to the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko comics from the early days. I went back to the moment where Peter Parker was left behind by his parents, which made him look at the world with a little chip on his shoulder. He's less trusting and more sarcastic than what we've seen before. Tonally, I was trying to do something different, where it felt like a more contemporary world and to treat it in a less stylized fashion.

I heard that Bridesmaids director Paul Feig came onboard to help out with some dialogue?

Paul came in and did a little bit of a favor. He gave us some humor and created a couple of characters for us in a few high-school scenes. Paul's a friend and a really talented observer of character.

The casting search for Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy was pretty exhaustive. Why did you choose Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone?

Andrew is a master of looks, shrugs, pauses, and the moments in between talking. He's also incredibly charming and a little tortured. Plus, he's just f--kin' funny. Everyone knows how funny Emma is. She has everybody on their heels because she's so quick and alive in a scene, and, putting them together, I just realized how good Andrew was at humor. You can't just throw actors together. You have to cast a dynamic and a chemistry. They, as actors, worked really well off each other. There's some multiplier effect when they're together.

Your film appears to be more about a love story than the original Spider-Man trilogy.

Everyone understands how it feels to like a girl—that sense of attraction and what's at stake. I like the dynamic in movies of lovers as rivals, like the old Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn dynamic in Adam's Rib, where they're equally smart and the banter is really funny.

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One of the iconic scenes in Raimi's first Spider-Man film is the upside-down kiss. Did you try to one-up that?

You can't one-up the kissing scene. We have our own language and we're trying to do our own things. I can't compete with that!

The Amazing Spider-Man is in theaters July 3.