'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' Is a Shared Universe Cautionary Tale
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a contrived mess of four disparate competing plots and set-up for a shared cinematic universe that would never come to be. Why did Sony Pictures blow it?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Webb, 2014) was defined by two films in the summer of 2012. The first, obviously, was The Amazing Spider-Man (Webb, 2012), which was approached as a fresh start for the Spider-Man films. It distanced itself from the previous Sam Raimi-directed trilogy through a grittier, more-grounded depiction of the character, and influences drawn more from Ultimate Spider-Man comics than from the '60s-era Amazing Spider-Man comics. Despite attempting to explore different narrative avenues, such as the ill-advised subplot regarding the mysterious research and disappearance of Peter's father, the film seemed like a redundant retelling of Spider-Man's origin. It was still a decent film, however, and with the origin out of the way, the filmmakers behind The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had the opportunity to take the series in completely new directions moving forward.
These new directions were largely dictated by the other significant film of Summer 2012: The Avengers (Whedon, 2012). The Avengers redefined the superhero film genre by both presenting a colourful, faithful, excellently made work of popular culture, and by fulfilling the promise of a shared cinematic universe of Marvel Comics characters. After the massive success of The Avengers, every major Hollywood studio scrambled to create their own shared cinematic universes, but many of them unfortunately failed to produce films as well-made as The Avengers to anchor them. That's the case with The Amazing Spider-Man series as it became one of the key cautionary tales in the bumbling race to repeat the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
That said, Spider-Man was an excellent choice to be the central character of an expansive cinematic universe. Since his debut in 1962, he has been the flagship character of Marvel Comics. Marvel has continuously published Spider-Man related titles, sometimes dozens in a single month. These titles have typically attracted the greatest writers and artists in the industry, and generated the greatest villains and heroic allies of any comic book character other than, perhaps, Batman. Even without having access to the rest of Marvel Comics, Sony Pictures, the studio with the film rights to Spider-Man, had more than enough material and characters for an endless series of films based in the world of Spider-Man.
And so, they set to work. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was officially announced in August 2011, almost a year before the release of The Amazing Spider-Man. As the release of the first film approached, director Marc Webb was already publicly discussing the potential to expand the world of the films into new story possibilities. In June 2013, nearly a year before the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony announced the release dates for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 4 in 2016 and 2018, respectively. Later that summer, Sony hired writers to begin work on spin-off films featuring the Sinister Six (a group of six Spider-Man villains) and popular Spider-Man frenemy Venom. Sony also made vague allusions to other spin-offs featuring female characters (possibly the Black Cat and Silver Sable) from the Spider-Man universe.
Within The Amazing Spider-Man 2, more groundwork was being laid. Paul Giamatti appears in two scenes as The Rhino, but signed on for future films. Shailene Woodley filmed scenes as Mary Jane Watson that were ultimately cut, but she was expected to take a larger role in the series moving forward. The screenwriter took a cue from Ultimate Spider-Man comics and planned for most villains to originate from the nefarious Oscorp Industries, including subtle references to Dr. Octopus, Vulture, Spider-Slayers, and Black Cat. Sony Pictures was planning the long game with their Spider-Man series, and were building a large, complex world.
At this point, some of you may be wondering why you have never heard of The Amazing Spider-Man 3 or 4, or the Sinister Six; why you have never seen the Black Cat or the Spider-Slayers or a new Dr. Octopus on film; why Sony released
Venom (Fleischer, 2018) last year, but it had nothing to do with The Amazing Spider-Man. That's because Sony Pictures put the cart before the horse. The studio was so focused on making an expanded universe out of the Amazing Spider-Man films, that they forgot to actually make The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a good move. The film is overstuffed and unfocused, with four competing plots that never coalesce into a unified narrative. All the while Peter Parker/Spider-Man, of all characters, gets completely lost in the shuffle. As a result, the film was poorly received by fans and critics, and remains the lowest-grossing live-action Spider-Man film. The nascent Spider-Man Cinematic Universe crumbled before it began because Sony Pictures tried to make a half-dozen other films rather than one satisfying film.
But putting the cart before the horse was not a mistake made solely by the producers behind the aborted shared universe. This mindset also afflicted the screenwriters of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Jeff Pinkner. Going into this film, their goal was to adapt "The Night Gwen Stacy Died", possibly the greatest Spider-Man story, which appears in Amazing Spider-Man #121 (June 1973). In that issue, the Green Goblin, looking to torture Spider-Man, takes Peter Parker's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, to the top of a bridge and throws her off. Peter shoots a web and catches her by the leg, but her neck snaps with the sudden jolt and she dies instantly. This event has haunted Peter ever since. Not only does he worry that he may have killed her, but he's certain that his career as Spider-Man endangers those close to him.
As explained by Orci and Pinkner on the DVD commentary, to adapt the storyline faithfully, they needed the Green Goblin. But they didn't want to rush the origin of that character, so they pushed the Goblin's full emergence to the third act of the film. This left them without a villain for Spider-Man to fight earlier in the film, so they added Max Dillon/Electro to the script to fill that role. That is how three plots of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 were reverse-engineered by the screenwriters. It's also why the Electro plot, a major focus in the first half of the film, peters out, if you will, in the third act, and why the Green Goblin, gradually introduced earlier, feels tacked on anticlimactically at the end. It also explains why the Gwen, Electro and Goblin plots seem so disconnected from each other and, worst of all, disconnected from Peter Parker. They were all thrown together mechanically rather than growing out of a unifying theme or character arc for Peter. What it does not explain, however, is the baffling choice to also include a fourth plot focused on Peter's father, building on unsuccessful elements from The Amazing Spider-Man. Had any of these plots been removed, and the remaining been reworked to tie more closely together and to Peter, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 might have been a good film. But there was clearly no time or impetus to do that, not with so many other Spider-Man projects in the works, resulting in the film being a poison pill for the whole enterprise.
I will begin with the plot about Peter's father, as it is the most unnecessary and, for some reason, opens the film. The Amazing Spider-Man begins with Peter's father, Richard (Campbell Scott), and mother, Mary (Embeth Davidtz), dropping young Peter at the home of Peter's Aunt May (Sally Field) as they flee from a mysterious threat. Over the course of that film, we learned that Richard was a geneticist working for Oscorp, and there were vague allusions to the idea that Peter (Andrew Garfield) was somehow destined, by fate or Richard's experiments, to become Spider-Man. This "untold" aspect of Spider-Man's origin was meant to represent something excitingly new to the Spider-Man mythos, but served only to undermine the character's most endearing quality: his relatability.
Peter is an ordinary kid, bitten by an extraordinary spider, who develops powers and feels compelled to become a superhero while also grappling with ordinary problems. Spider-Man is meant to represent what would happen if any of us became a superhero. Seemingly everyone can identify with his everyday problems and project themselves into his adventures. But not everyone has a geneticist father who worked with souped-up spiders. On the commentary for Amazing Spider-Man 2, the writers claimed to be intrigued by the Richard scenes in the first film, and compelled to explore the unanswered questions. I believe they are the only ones who felt this way.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens by expanding on Richard and Mary leaving Peter with May, then cut to them on a very unrelatable-to-the-everyman private plane as they flee. They're attacked by a man posing as the copilot (Bill Heck), who sets the plane to crash and shoots Mary before Richard overpowers him. Mary insists that Richard complete a data upload to "Roosevelt" before she dies, and then the plane crashes. All the while I'm thinking: where is Spider-Man and why does this matter? The film then cycles through the other three plots for quite some time, with Richard's briefcase in Peter's bedroom as the only indication that Richard is still a part of the film. At one point Peter, suddenly inspired by nothing in particular, decides to investigate his parents' death. Later, I will discuss how this may have worked much better with slight edits, but as the existing film it comes out of nowhere. May is troubled by Peter's investigation, and the film tries to wring some emotion of her feeling hurt that Peter would care about his disappeared parents when it is she who raised him. She then reveals that Richard may have sold his research to bad people -- or something. The twist is unclear but it doesn't matter, because Peter immediately discovers Richard's secret lab under the abandoned Roosevelt subway station. In the lab, Peter learns that Richard was targeted by Oscorp because he refused to make weapons for its CEO, Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper), and that he coded his genetic experiments with his own DNA to prevent them from being used effectively on anyone who does not share his genes.
This plot is so unnecessary and so uninteresting. It has no bearing on the rest of the film except for its slight connection to the Green Goblin plot, but that connection seems to be actively avoided by the editing. The film offers no real explanation for why Richard's research is important to Peter, or why he investigates it. The revelations don't grow his character but rather diminish it by confirming that only Peter, with his Parker DNA, could have become Spider-Man. Without this plot, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 could have either been a shorter, tighter film, or used the extra time to properly expand or intertwine the other three plots. How or why such superfluous plotting made it to the final cut of such a major film is beyond me.
The introduction of Spider-Man after the plane crash sequence is actually very well done, lest readers think that I hated every part of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. We meet Peter as he gets involved in a high-speed chase through Manhattan. A truckload of plutonium from Oscorp is hijacked by Russian mobsters, led by Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti), and they are pursued by police. Peter swings in enthusiastically, greeting people on the ground as he goes and skillfully taking out the mobsters. He banters with Aleksei with a Bugs Bunny-type of glee that begins to approach the silliness of Deadpool, and the effects are spectacular. We soon learn that the chase is keeping Peter from his high school graduation, and he may miss the valedictorian speech by his girlfriend Gwen (Emma Stone). All in all, this sequence is the most quintessentially "Spider-Man" scene on film up to this point. Unfortunately, the sequence doesn't tie into any of the other plots of the film, and only serves to give audiences a tantalizing taste of what a Peter-centric version of Amazing Spider-Man 2 might have been.
The sequence does, however, introduce Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), an extremely awkward Oscorp scientist who is saved by Peter during the chase. Max, who has always felt like a nobody, feels singled out by Spider-Man and begins to imagine himself as Spider-Man's friend. This is not a bad place to start for a soon-to-be villain, but the storyline immediately stumbles due to a combination of broad writing and Foxx's over-the-top performance. After an indeterminate time-jump, we meet Max again in his apartment, which is plastered with pictures of Spider-Man. Max speaks his most inner thoughts to an image of Spider-Man in a totally artificial, inauthentic raving that begins to approach Jim Carrey's performance in Batman Forever (Schumacher, 1995). The character of Max and Foxx's performance would feel right at home in the more gaudy, juvenile comic-book films of the late-'90s or early-'00s, but it doesn't fit into the more grounded, reality-based world established by The Amazing Spider-Man. To be clear, Jim Carrey's performance in Batman Forever represented the actor at the height of his powers, doing exactly what he was hired to do, and fit perfectly into that film. Foxx, on the other hand, had won an Oscar for Ray (Hackford, 2004) less than a decade earlier, and was likely cast in the hopes he would give Max some dramatic weight. The character never lands as planned, however, as he is too much of a cartoonishly needy, loner nerd to fit into the rest of the film.
Max goes to work, where he's immediately pushed around by his bullying superior, Alistair Smythe (B.J. Novak), but has a nice moment with Gwen, also an Oscorp employee. Later in the day, Smythe orders Max to stay late to fix a malfunction with the city's power grid, which is run through a laboratory in Oscorp tower for some reason, and Max's story goes completely off-the-rails. First of all, why send a lone employee if this malfunction threatens the whole city's power grid? When Max radios for someone to shut down power to the lab as he fixes it, the person on the other end says he is going home and cannot do it. So the supervisors of the city power grid clock-out at 5pm? That's ludicrous. But worst of all, this laboratory power station inside an office building also houses several tanks containing dozens of large electric eels! Why? Do they generate New York City's electricity? Are they decorative? No, they are a plot device, as something for Max to fall into and magically be transformed into Electro, a blue-skinned, electrically-charged supervillain. At this point, Max's story becomes so heightened that I'm shocked the filmmakers chose to model Electro after the more modern, Ultimate Spider-Man version rather than the campy original version sporting green and yellow spandex.
Jamie Foxx as Electro / Max Dillon (Amazon)
Oscorp tries to hush-up Max's accident, but he awakens in the morgue and stumbles to Times Square. His arrival there interrupts a sweet moment between Peter and Gwen, as Peter rushes in to reason with Max. At first, Max enjoys the attention and his face projected on all of the Times Square screens. I like that Peter is friendly, trying to talk Max down as he is cheered on by the assembled police and onlookers. But when Max loses control for a second and a police sniper fires on him, Peter has to take a more physical approach and steals the spotlight from Max. This is underlined by by a dreadful musical cue on the Hans Zimmer score that vocalizes the voices in Max's head turning him against Spider-Man. If there was any other way to make Max's psychosis seem more over-the-top, it's putting his frenzied inner monologue into the score. Peter saves the endangered bystanders and takes out Max with a fire hose. The sequence is the visual effects standout of the film, with Max and Spider-Man's powers beautifully realized. This is also the second and final sequence of the film that demonstrates Peter's skill as Spider-Man and the city's adoration of him. If the whole film had matched the tone and focus on Peter of this sequence and the truck chase, it would have been legitimately amazing.
After Times Square, Max begins to fade from the film. He's no longer needed as the Green Goblin plot moves to the forefront. Max is transferred to the Ravencroft Institute, an off-the-books Oscorp facility for studying strange cases. Ravencroft was introduced in Spider-Man comics in the '90s as their answer to Batman's Arkham Asylum, a place for crazed supervillains to be housed after the heroes defeat them. It's presided over by Dr. Kafka (Martin Csokas), who somehow manages to outdo Foxx with his ridiculously campy, awful performance. Arkham Asylum first appeared on film in Batman Forever, making the Max storyline appear like a remake of that film. The entire subplot, including Foxx and Csokas' broad performances, would seem more at home in that era of filmmaking. Max is experimented upon and growls dull, boilerplate supervillain threats against Spider-Man. He's freed by Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who breaks in to the heavily guarded facility so that Max can help him break into the presumably less heavily guarded Oscorp building. Like so many elements of Max's story, this doesn't make any sense. It's clearly a plot contrivance meant to bring together the film's main villains. But after this very brief team-up, Max leaves to shut down power to the city before he's defeated by Peter and Gwen. This is not even the climax of the film, as it occurs before the Goblin and Gwen stories culminate. And so, the poorly-conceived, tonally dissonant Electro story peters out rather than truly climaxes.
As previously stated, Max was added to the story to give Spider-Man a villain to fight as the Green Goblin origin plays out. The Green Goblin plot begins with Harry Osborn returning to New City to visit his father, Norman, on his deathbed. Norman is dying from a terrible, degenerative genetic illness, and has spent his whole career, including work with Richard Parker, looking for a cure. He failed, and now Harry will inherit Oscorp and the illness. It seems a shame to waste Chris Cooper on such a minor role, although Norman was reportedly meant to return in later installments. The filmmakers were also attempting to avoid repetition ofSpider-Man (Raimi, 2002) by killing off Norman Osborn (traditionally the Green Goblin) and having his son become the villain. Harry assumes leadership of Oscorp, and immediately focuses on researching a cure for himself. This rubs some board members the wrong way. He also reconnects with Peter, who was his good friend when they were children. There exists some thematic unity between them, as they both grapple with the the legacy of their fathers' work. Unfortunately, Richard's impact on Peter is so poorly handled that the parallels are never clear. Peter's history and relationship with Harry could have anchored the film, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fails to fully realize that potential. Instead Harry just broods, mostly separate from Peter or Max or Gwen, existing in isolation. DeHaan has a dangerous intensity in his early scenes, recalling his breakout performance in Chronicle (Trank, 2012), and Harry comes off sympathetically. Unfortunately, his performance and likeability degenerates as the film quickly pushes him towards mania.
Eventually Harry puts together, very astutely, that Spider-Man must have gotten his powers from Oscorp and he asks Peter to help him get a sample of Spider-Man's blood. Peter visits him as Spider-Man, refusing for reasons that are never really clear. Here is perhaps the biggest missed opportunity of the film, where the filmmakers could have tied the disparate plots together. Harry's request should be the reason Peter starts investigating Richard and his research, but Peter started his investigation several scenes earlier. Also, Peter should have refused to give Harry his blood because he discovered that Richard's research only works with Parker DNA, but he doesn't discover that until later. So, instead of Harry's plot driving Richard's plot, creating narrative unity, Peter starts investigating Richard for no reason and he refuses Harry for no reason. A few simple edits, switching the order of those events, and everything would have made more sense. Alternatively, Peter could have given Harry his blood, not realizing it would cause horrible side effects, only to find out later and blame himself for creating the Green Goblin. That would have been very "Spider-Man". All of the raw pieces are there to tie these plots together and make a better film but, as it is, nothing ties together.
Harry discovers that a secret Oscorp department may contain the resources to cure him, but he's ousted as CEO before he can access it. So he breaks into Ravencroft to free Max, then uses Max to break into Oscorp which, again, doesn't make sense. The whole point of those scenes are to artificially tie Harry and Max together, albeit briefly. Another plot contrivance is the rapid progression of Harry's illness, which drives his increasingly desperate search for a cure. Why did the illness allow Harry's father to live into his 60s, but nearly bring Harry to the same point while he is in his 20s? Because the plot demands it. Harry accesses the secret department and takes some of the serum from Richard's research. It seems to heal his illness somewhat, but transforms his features into something more... gobliny. In his pain, he conveniently finds an exoskeleton suit attached to a glider that fits him perfectly and heals him, and Harry is suddenly the full-fledged Green Goblin. Perhaps the filmmakers thought that, with so much else going on, audiences would overlook the extreme convenience of Harry's immediate discovery of a high-tech glider and suit complete with weapons that he instinctively knows how to use. I don't, and the once-promising Harry story falls apart. He attacks Spider-Man right after Max's defeat, starting the film's second climax.
Dane DeHaan as Green Goblin / Harry Osborn (IMDB)
To get to that point, we should examine the fourth and final plot running through the film. At the end of The Amazing Spider-Man, Gwen's father, Police Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary), died helping Peter and asked Peter to stay away from Gwen. That film ended with Peter implying to Gwen that he could not keep that promise, seemingly sealing her fate. In this film, Peter and Gwen are together, but Peter often sees visions of a stern-looking Captain Stacy. Wracked with guilt, Peter has repeatedly broken up with Gwen but they have always been drawn back together. When he tries to break it off again, Gwen is fed up and does the breaking herself. Peter still pines for her, however, and keeps tabs on her as Spider-Man. Meanwhile, Gwen gets a chance to move to the United Kingdom to attend Oxford University, potentially ending any possibly of reconciliation. Meanwhile, a couple of encounters with Max and Harry at Oscorp are meant to tie Gwen to the other plots, but fail to do so. Peter and Gwen's relationship remains separate for everything else until the end of the film.
Gwen attempts to reconnect with Peter as friends before she decides about Oxford in a sweet sequence. Garfield and Stone, an actual couple during filming, have such great chemistry, and I could watch them flirt all day. This more than anything makes me feel invested in their relationship, wanting them to be together. I also like the tension of knowing Gwen will likely die if she stays, and seeing her, in her iconic outfit from Amazing Spider-Man #121, on her way to the airport. But Peter convinces her to stay. Then Max shuts the city's power off and Gwen insists on helping. The screenplay is so heavy-handed in making it clear that Gwen is deciding to stay of her own accord despite knowing the danger involved, lest the film be accused of killing a female character simply to progress the male character's story. That narrative trope has become endemic to comic book storytelling, but Gwen Stacy's death predates (and perhaps created) the trope, so I think it gets a pass. And so, when Harry arrives on the scene as the Goblin, and sees Spider-Man with Gwen, he realizes that Peter is Spider-Man.
Harry grabs Gwen, taking her to the top of a tall clocktower. Peter and Harry fight inside the gears of the clock, and Gwen falls. Peter saves her with a strand of webbing, and continues to fight Harry. Harry looks silly, heavily made-up as the Goblin, and the music is over-the-top, but none of that matters once the strand of webbing is cut by a gear. The clock ticks to 1:21 (a nice touch), and Gwen falls. Peter shoots another webline, which unfurls in slow motion to resemble a hand reaching out for her. It catches her just as she's inches above the ground, but she seems to still hit the hard surface and is killed. Peter rushes down to cry over her body. I love this sequence. I love it because of the classic comic story it adapts. I love all of the little dramatic touches. I love the audacity of actually killing a character played by Emma Stone, the biggest star in the series. But I wish the sequence existed in a better film. This one is too unfocused, with no clear narrative, character arc or theme. The drama and emotion of the sequence is unearned by everything that came before it. It's a perfect scene in isolation but, like so much in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it's disconnected from the rest of the film.
And that's because the film loses its focus on its main character. Peter is merely present in each of the film's plots, but he doesn't drive any of them. Richard's research passively involves Peter, but revelations about his father never seem to connect to Peter emotionally. Max is fixated on Spider-Man, but that has no effect on Peter's character. Peter didn't have anything to do with Harry's illness or transformation, except refusing to give a sample of his blood (a non-action). Finally, Gwen breaks up with Peter, decides to go to Oxford, then decides to help Peter all on her own. Peter is a passenger in his own film. And so, when he's wracked with grief over Gwen's death, gives up being Spider-Man for a while, but then decides to return, it has no dramatic impact. If the film was not about Peter all along, it cannot decide to be about him in the final five minutes, when Richard, Max, Harry and Gwen are all gone. The tagline of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was "His greatest battle begins." After several viewings, I still don't know which battle that refers to, which of the four plots. And now, I'm not sure if the "His" in the tagline even refers to Peter. I have a feeling that the filmmakers didn't know, either.
Unsurprisingly, critics and audiences were not kind to The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The film made $202 million at the North American box office, a far cry from the $403 million made by Spider-Man back in 2002, and a 27 drop in tickets sales from the last film. It was very popular outside of North America, making over $700 million worldwide, but this was still a disappointment. In response, The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was delayed to 2018, and its vacated 2016 release date was filled by the previously announced Sinister Six film. Sony announced plans to move forward with a Venom film and other spin-offs, but none of these films were necessarily going to feature Spider-Man. Why was the studio building films and a cinematic universe around Spider-Man if they were so intent on sidelining the character? Outwardly, it seemed that Sony Pictures was still moving ahead with their plans with slight alterations. Then, the Sony Hack happened.
Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy
On 24 November 2014, a group of hackers with reported ties to North Korea leaked personal communications from Sony Pictures employees online and crashed their internal network infrastructure. It was assumed that this was a reaction to the imminent release of The Interview (Rogen & Goldberg, 2014), a Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy about a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea. The leaked communications mainly focused on potentially embarrassing gossip and production information. The emails related to Spider-Man included notes on an early cut of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from Marvel Studios creative chief Kevin Feige from late-2013. The notes were insightful, including advice to reduce the number of plotlines, particularly the Richard subplot, tone down Max's character, and put Harry at the centre of the film.
More significant were communications about Spider-Man after the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Sony executives were very displeased with its performance, and were attempting drastic measures to fix the series with methods such as bringing Sam Raimi back to direct or negotiating with Marvel Studios about Spider-Man joining the MCU. These negotiations had broken down before the hack. Nevertheless, as part of the fallout, all future Spider-Man projects at Sony were cancelled. In February 2015, Sony and Marvel Studios announced that they would share the cinematic rights to Spider-Man, recasting the role and introducing him to the MCU in Captain America: Civil War (Russo Brothers, 2016). Sony Pictures had aimed high with plans for a shared universe of Spider-Man films, but failed to build that universe out of a well-made film. As a result, they were forced to very publicly walk back all of those major plans, and cut short their Marc Webb-directed, Andrew Garfield-starring Spider-Man series. Thankfully, what came next for the wall crawler was much more promising.
Stan Lee Cameo Corner: Stan attends Peter's high school graduation, and recognizes Spider-Man. That is 20 cameos in 32 films.
A mid-credits scene in the theatrical release was, oddly enough, a scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past (Singer, 2014), a Fox film released three weeks later. This came about after negotiations over Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb. Webb was contracted to direct another Fox film after his breakout (500) Days of Summer (Webb, 2009), but he had been directing Spider-Man ever since. Fox agreed to delay this follow-up film in exchange for free promotion of their next big Marvel Film.
Had this Spider-Man series continued, Dane DeHaan, Chris Cooper, Paul Giamatti, Felicity Jones, B.J. Novak and perhaps even Jamie Foxx would have returned. But as it stands, none have appeared in further Marvel Films.
Next Time: Generations collide in the superb X-Men: Days of Future Past.