As I’ve written before, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 is probably my favorite superhero movie after the original Christopher Reeve Superman. (I’m not in love with the Nolan Batmans although I get why people like them.) It’s one of the very few superhero films with an autuer’s imprimatur, and it’s just plain goofy as heck, veering between horror pastiche of the directors own work, sappy musical and a sad meditation on middle-aged loneliness. Raimi is old enough to have the original Ditko Spidey as his inspiration, from the upside down kiss to the rogue’s gallery of old men in greying wife-beaters—supposedly one of the reasons Raimi and the studio parted ways on Spidey 4 was that Raimi wanted the Vulture as the villain, and the studio wanted a more up to date bad guy.
In Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, all the references have been updated. This is the ultimate world of Bryan Hitch, Greg Land and Greg Horn, all blazing cgi and mottled, gloomy photoshop. The soundtrack has been similarly updated, with a group known as the Magnificent Six—which includes everyone from Pharrell Williams to Johnny Marr—blasting catchy singles. In what passes for innovation here, a scene where Peter Parker does the obligatory Google search to find out a mystery, instead of the chugging string music of every other superhero movie, we get a Phillip Phillips song.