24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Spider-Man

Rhys Ifans, carrying on a 'Spider-Man' tradition

October 11, 2010 |  1:20 pm


Spider-Man may be getting rebooted with up-and-comers Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, but when it comes to the villain, the filmmakers are following in the path of the first group of pictures: They're bringing on an older actor with a more august pedigree.

Sony announced Monday that Welsh actor Rhys Ifans has been given the part of the as-yet-unnamed lead villain. Ifans has a staggering number of art-house movies on his resume, including "The Shipping News," "Vanity Fair" and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age." And he has a classical background that includes numerous Shakespearean theatrical productions in his native Britain -- "Hamlet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" among them. (He also had a part in "Notting Hill" and is poised for a more commercial turn with the character part of Xenophilius Lovegood in the upcoming "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." But mostly, he's a prestige actor.)

Sony got to know Ifans in the upcoming "Anonymous," which, though it's directed by action staple Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day"), is a film about the authorship of Shakespeare classics.

Although the Marc Webb re-imagining of "Spider-Man" is starting everything over from scratch, Ifans isn't a departure. The first three "Spider-Man" pictures brought on a number of actors with similar backgrounds to play villains, including Willem Dafoe -- a stage veteran himself with the Wooster Group -- and Thomas Haden Church. When it did stray to a less-experienced actor, it didn't always turn up roses. James Franco pulled it off, but Topher Grace didn't work out so well.  The bet is that movie-goers don't need a marquee name for the villain, and that the part requires more depth if it's to transcend mustache-twirling cliches anyway.

In explaining his choice, Webb cited Ifans' "incredible ability to embody both warmth and rage." Fair enough, though given fans' tendency to go out and rent all the movies a new superhero actor has starred in, we're expecting a Netflix run on "Dancing at Lughnasa."

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Rhys Ifans (center) in "Vanity Fair." Credit: Focus Features


Emma Stone lands 'Spider-Man'

The strangely logical choice of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man

Spider-Man will spin a Webb



Emma Stone lands 'Spider-Man,' but it could mean she won't go undercover with 'Jump Street'

October 5, 2010 |  4:26 pm

Sony this afternoon said that "Easy A" star Emma Stone will be the female lead and Spider-Man love interest in Marc Webb's reboot of the superhero tale.

The news got fanboys a'twitter with the revelation that said lead part would be that of Gwen Stacy, the science student who is Peter Parker's other love -- and not Mary Jane Watson, the character inhabited by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi's take on the franchise and the more central of Spidey's love interests in the Marvel comic books.

But while answering one question about a Sony movie based on a well-known property, it immediately raises another, this time about "21 Jump Street." After initially thinking of the Jonah Hill-penned and -starring reboot of the undercover-cop show as a male-male picture, filmmakers and the studio have been leaning toward dual male-female leads, with Stone right at the center of its plans.

The idea has been to take the actress, already beloved at the studio after the success of "Zombieland" and "Easy A," and cast her opposite Hill. That would give them a different dynamic than a male-male tandem and attract a female fan base to boot. (It wouldn't be without precedent: The original show, about a group of policemen who enroll in different high schools and pose as ordinary students to infiltrate crime rings, also starred a female cop (Holly Robinson Peete), opposite male policemen Johnny Depp, Dustin Nguyen and Peter DeLuise. And Stone, after all, knows a little bit about not fitting in at high school after "Easy A.")

But the Spidey role now muddies the waters. "Jump Street" could recast with a different actress or go back to the male-male concept. Or the film could get pushed so Stone could do both. While some familiar with "Jump Street" said the latter was still possible, it would mean the reboot of the Johnny Depp series wouldn't shoot in early 2011, as had been hoped, since Spidey is shooting through the winter.

There also would be a potential scheduling issue down the road, since it's unlikely Sony would want to bring out another Stone vehicle so close to its July 2012 release date for Spidey. Looks like it's Gwen 1, Hoffs: 0.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Emma Stone in Zombieland. Credit: Glen Wilson/Columbia Pictures


Hero Complex: Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man finds his Gwen Stacy

The strangely logical choice of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man

July 2, 2010 |  3:05 pm

In the end, the most watched piece of film casting in recent memory went to the actor whom few were watching.

Andrew Garfield, a veteran of some very acclaimed but very little-seen films, bested a group of more intuitive choices to land the role of a teenage Peter Parker-Spider Man, Sony announced Thursday, in its upcoming reboot of the mega-franchise made famous by director Sam Raimi and actor Tobey Maguire.

The 26-year-old Garfield beat the fan favorite (“Percy Jackson and the Olympian’s” Logan Lerman), the emerging action star (“Terminator Salvation’s” Anton Yelchin), Hollywood’s dweeb du jour (“Kick-Ass’s” Aaron Johnson) and others.

The selection of the dark horse Garfield is certainly a triumph for director Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer”) who has a sensibility that favors the emo and the introspective — the very skills Garfield brings. Webb was able to sell Sony on Garfield’s traits even though studios typically prefer bigger names for their franchise pictures. (It clearly helped that Sony already liked Garfield in one of its big fall movies, “The Social Network.” And as a relative unknown, Garfield’s presumably lower price tag couldn’t have hurt either.)

The blogopshere went into overdrive even faster than usual debating the wisdom of the move, which we suppose is what a studio gets when it tries to reboot a franchise that most people still remember pretty clearly. If you’re going to go through the trouble of bringing all this back, fans seemed to say, give us an actor that will make us forget the guy who played him before.

There’s no question Garfield is a good performer who can bring a subtle sensitivity to the role — that was clear in his “Red Riding” and “Boy A,” and it will be evident in the fall movies “Never Let Me Go” and “The Social Network,” both of which look like strong awards contenders. (This may be the first time an actor would be considered in performance categories for two movies while also preparing to shoot one of Hollywood’s biggest franchises.)

But subtle sensitivity is beside the point for some skeptics, who have, among other things, raised concerns about Garfield's age. A 26-year-old playing a teenager, as Garfield will here, poses not simply a cosmetic issue but an acting one. No matter how young someone looks, an actor in his mid- to late 20s may simply have too much life experience to persuade an audience that he is on the cusp of adulthood.

And then there’s the question about whether Garfield can, as the expression goes in Hollywood, fill the suit. Few doubt that the actor will bring the vulnerability to the Peter Parker part of the role. But the question is whether he can bring the brio and swagger to the Spider-Man side. Good actors can star in all kinds of films, but superheroes demand a different quality: presence.

So, at least, goes the argument from the likes of Team Lerman and Team Yelchin. But it’s hard not to feel that the sentiment is a little misplaced. Actors grow into parts all the time (especially actors who’ve not yet been given a chance to show their skills). The role makes the actor as much as the actor makes the role. 

When he was cast in the original “Spider-Man,” after all, Maguire himself was mainly an art-house actor known for roles in upscale dramas such as  “The Ice Storm” and “Wonder Boys.” The acting chops he developed in those sorts of movies served him well in “Spider-Man.” Garfield may have a big suit to fill, but there’s reason to believe that his art-house background will help him to crawl up the same walls.

“There’s a tremendous depth, vulnerability and tenderness, but there’s an edge to him too,” said Fox Searchlight production president Claudia Lewis about Garfield, whom she worked with on “Never Let Me Go.” “He brings a different kind of masculinity.”

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Andrew Garfield in "Red Riding." Credit: IFC Films

"Spider-Man" finds its new Peter Parker

"Kick-Ass" star Aaron Johnson on the short list for "Spider-Man" reboot

Kathryn Bigelow turned down "Spider-Man"

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

'Spider-Man' finds its new Peter Parker: Andrew Garfield

July 1, 2010 |  5:10 pm

Sony Pictures has found its new Peter Parker: British heartthrob Andrew Garfield.

The studio announced Thursday afternoon that it had cast the 26-year-old star of the upcoming "Never Let Me Go" and "The Social Network" in one of the most closely scrutinized casting decisions in recent Hollywood history. Garfield also starred in "Lions for Lambs," "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" and the acclaimed British miniseries "Red Riding."

The fourth film in the series is planned to be a "Spider-Man" origin story that Sony earlier in the year said would focus on "a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises."

Sony, worried that a fourth film with original director Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire would be too costly, decided to scale back and reboot the series. The studio hired Marc Webb, the director of "(500) Days of Summer," to helm the project. It is due in theaters July 12, 2012.

"From the first time we saw him in the upcoming film 'The Social Network,' to his glorious screen test, which floored all of us, we knew that we had found our new Peter Parker,” Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures, said in a statement.

Among those said to be considered for the part were Josh Hutcherson ("The Kids are All Right"), Aaron Johnson ("Kick-Ass"), Anton Yelchin ("Star Trek") and Jamie Bell ("Billy Elliot").

-- John Horn

Photo: Andre Garfield in "Boy A." Credit: The Weinstein Company

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

'Kick-Ass' star Aaron Johnson on the short list for Spider-Man reboot

June 11, 2010 | 12:13 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Since it was announced back in the winter, some have hoped/worried that Marc Webb's Spider-Man reboot will go in a "Kick-Ass" direction, a not unreasonable thought given multiple parallels between the two stories as well as the warm reception (if not exactly hot box office) that greeted "Kick-Ass."

Could it now go that way literally?

You can add two names to the growing list of (very early) candidates for the young Peter Parker, and one of them is Aaron Johnson, who played the titular nerd-hero in "Kick-Ass," sources say.

Johnson, who for months has been the subject of relentless online speculation about his suitability for the part, would indeed in many ways make an appropriate choice. His role in "Kick-Ass" saw him as a seemingly ordinary teenager transformed into a superhero, much in the way of Parker's Spider-Man. Of course, the analogy is also off in several key ways: Johnson was a fake superhero, not a real one, and his star in the film was eclipsed by Chloe Moretz's Hit-Girl.

The second actor to make his way on to the shortlist of the Sony film, according to sources, is Anton Yelchin, who has been coming on strong since his 2009 double-whammy of "Star Trek" and "Terminator Salvation."

Yelchin would have his champions too. His supporting role as Chekov in "Star Trek" didn't leave a deep impression, but he did steal the show as Kyle Reese in "Terminator Salvation."

Both of the new names are a bit more prominent than the actors who have previously surfaced. That list includes "Billy Elliot" star Jamie Bell, "Harry Potter" actor Frank Dillane, "The Kids Are All Right" costar Josh Hutcherson and up-and-comers Alden Ehrenreich and Andrew Garfield.

Of course, just the fact that these actors are being considered means little in practice. Over the last few months, director Marc Webb has canvassed a wide group of young actors with the aim of seeing which one he and and the studio should anoint to take the role previously filled by Tobey Maguire. Screen testing is expected to start shortly. And the hue and cry over whether the right choice was made will follow shortly after that.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Aaron Johnson (center) in "Kick-Ass." Credit: Lionsgate

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

Kathryn Bigelow turned down 'Spider-Man,' and other Oscar-winner project tidbits

March 9, 2010 | 12:12 pm

Those who enjoyed watching Jeff Bridges woo his way through the Oscars or Christoph Waltz waterboard another metaphor during his acceptance speech will see a lot more of both actors in the coming months -- they each have big movies coming out in December ("Green Hornet" for Waltz and "True Grit" and "Tron Legacy" for Bridges).

BigelFor the rest the Oscar class of 2010, we may have to wait awhile. Sandra Bullock is taking her time deciding on a new project -- she's contemplating a legal comedy called "Bobbie Sue" that once had Cameron Diaz involved, but she has made no firm decisions. She in all likelihood won't have a movie coming out in 2010 (of course, she could not have a movie in 2011 either and still be considered prolific after her output this year).

On the "Precious" side, Geoffrey Fletcher is said by people who know him to want to go back to directing (which is how he began his career). He has a handful of possible movies he's contemplating but is on nothing that's ready to go. Mo'Nique is pretty much going to stick with the talk-show thing for the time being; she's got no film projects lined up. (For a photo gallery of the winners and what they are -- or aren't doing -- next, please visit The Envelope's collection here.)

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit comes out of "The Hurt Locker" camp, where sources say that Kathryn Bigelow was offered the Spider-Man reboot but turned it down. The mind dances at how she would have put her stamp on the franchise and how her version might look different from Marc Webb's (cue easy Sandman joke, and maybe tense web-dismantling scenes).

Instead her next project will likely be her reteaming with Mark Boal on "Triple Frontier." The Paramount film is an adventure story set on the border of several South American counties. Boal is still working on the script, and judging by the early word, it is kind of a Spanish-language variation, of a sort, on their previous collaboration. So a movie we should perhaps dub "Taquilla de Dolor."

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Kathryn Bigelow at the Oscars. Credit: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

'Spider-Man' will spin a Webb

January 19, 2010 |  5:29 pm


New York Magazine’s Vulture blog says that “(500) Days of Summer” director Marc Webb  is now officially the director of Sony's "Spider -Man" reboot.

The Vulture item, which moves forward a story from Deadline New York’s Mike Fleming last week that had Webb sitting atop the studio’s list, reports that the director is actually signing on for three movies, with the rebooted franchise focusing on the "private life of Peter Parker." The studio confirmed that Webb had been hired but mentioned only one picture, with Sony co-chair Amy Pascal and Columbia Pictures president Matt Tolmach saying they had sought -- and, in their view, found -- a director who could "capture the awe of being in Peter’s shoes."

As Vulture reminds, Webb was already a favored son at Sony, narrowly losing out (to Bennett Miller) the gig to direct the studio’s “Moneyball” (though the story attributes it to Sony chief Amy Pascal worrying about Webb's whimsical style; we’d heard that star Brad Pitt was a little more keen on Miller, who had directed the star of his last movie, Philip Seymour Hoffman, to Oscar gold).

Webb is also attached to a remake of “Jesus Christ Superstar" at Universal. Producer Marc Platt told us last week that there was still a possibility Webb could direct “Superstar,” though with this news that’s pretty much out the window; three superhero movies can tie you up for a while. Webb also has an apocalypse-themed project called “Age of Rage” at Fox Searchlight. It's safe to assume that one’s been backburnered too.

Frontburnered, however, will be the rumors/hopes that “(500) Days” star Joseph Gordon-Levitt could end up as “Spider-Man," though, as natural as that would seem in some ways, the phrases “28-year-old actor” and “high-school protagonist" may mesh like water and black goo.

Perhaps the bigger question is what kind of "Spider-Man" Webb will direct (and more important, what kind of movie the studio wants). The fan-boy skepticism will be that, while Webb may be able to adroitly depict the mind of the troubled young male, he has little track record with big action scenes. But unless you’re bringing in a high-priced hired gun, director hires on many superhero movies involve a jump of some kind – Sam Raimi himself made a switch from the lower-budget horror/comedy realm. And Webb is a music-video guy, which means he should bring the flash; he isn’t all Regina Spektor and Morrissey shoe-gazing.

That said, the prospect of Peter Parker dancing around to Hall & Oates after he’s consummated his love with Mary Jane Watson is kind of a fun idea to contemplate.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (left) and Marc Webb. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

'Spider-Man 4:' What went wrong?

Rob Pattinson can't be the new Spider-Man

Rob Pattinson can't be the new Spider-Man

January 14, 2010 | 11:41 am


A story today from the Reelz Channel website, picked up like a found dollar bill by sites all around the Web, offers the tantalizing and stupendously specious news that Rob Pattinson is being cast as the new Spider-Man.

There are several reasons this can't happen. For one thing, as the studio points out, the director would need to come first, and if Marc Webb or anyone else is on it, they'd certainly want to canvas the town before making a hire. The second problem is age -- Pattinson is now 23, and this clearly is going to be a high-school movie. And finally, it would be a terrible idea. There's already a question mark on the movie -- why bring in an actor with questionable skills? Next they'll have Taylor Lautner as Captain America. Or as, um, Max Steele.

Of course, the Pattinson story isn't true at all. The site that originated the item (origin story?) belongs to the Reelz Channel -- you know, the place Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein went to work after the Washington Post. And even the Reelz people didn't believe it: The dateline on the story is April 1. (It looks like it was republished today after first being published on the actual date, though it's tough to tell.)

Of course that didn’t stop half of these sites from reporting the “news,” straight-faced, and sourcing it to “reports.” Somewhere in India, Sidd Finch is laughing.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Robert Pattinson. Credit: Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times


'Twilight' Producer: 'Breaking Dawn' could begin shooting this fall

'Spider-Man 4:' What went wrong?

Tobey Maguire's career direction? It's a tangled web

January 12, 2010 |  6:13 pm

Maguire There's been a lot of speculation about who might replace Tobey Maguire as the new Spider-Man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems like a no-brainer). But almost as interesting is what happens to the man who's been playing him.

After all, Sam Raimi will go back to, one can assume (read: hope), the horror/suspense movies of earlier in his career (the rightly lauded "A Simple Plan" and the underrated "The Gift," to name two). (At least we're hoping he does; it's likely he takes on the bigger-budget video-game adaptation "Warcraft" first.) But Maguire poses a trickier question.

He's been associated with -- and in some ways tethered to -- the "Spider-Man" franchise for nearly a decade, and the scrapping of the superhero character opens up a new vein of possibility. The actor recently wrapped production on a dark comedy called "The Details." And of course he can be seen this awards season in the (tepidly reviewed) war movie "Brothers." With his "Spider-Man" days over, does he continue in a more specialized direction or go back to the blockbuster?

There's certainly no shortage of big vehicles he can sign on for. A while back, Sony was working on a sci-fi effects-fest called "Worlds," based on the art-heavy bestselling book by Alec Gillis, that was being developed with Maguire in mind. And there have been rumors of the sci-fi epic "Robotech" and the Guillermo del Toro-directed "The Hobbit." Both would create Spidey-level fandom -- but, also, Spidey-level time commitments ... and not offer nearly as much character nuance.

Several development experts say this is a chance for Maguire to move in a more dramatic direction. One project that's starting to get momentum: "The Limit," the story of rival Grand Prix race-car drivers, which is being developed by Sony and Maguire's own production banner, and also has a nearly completed script. He can also take aim at awards with the civil-rights drama "The Crusaders," which would pair him with hot writer Danny Strong ("Recount") as well as the Oscar-nominated Gary Ross.

The actor has also been ramping up his own Maguire Entertainment, which has such movies as the Nicolas Cage thriller "The Hungry Rabbit Jumps" in production.  In fact, there are plenty of active development projects at his production company. But Maguire has a bit of a DiCaprio-esque reputation: signing on to produce a lot of films as potential starring vehicles but in the end opting not to play in them, So the problem may not be finding the vehicles. It's deciding whether he wants to drive them.

 [Corrected, 4 p.m.: A previous version of this post reported that "The Hungry Rabbit Jumps" was about to start shooting; it is already in production.]

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Tobey Maguire. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times


Spider-Man film team is squashed

Could a slowed Spider-Man be good for superheroes?

Maguire feels he can be a good brother

'Spider-Man 4': What went wrong?

January 11, 2010 |  6:07 pm


The blogosphere buzzes with the collapse of "Spider-Man 4" -- and the decision to turn the origin story that had loosely been called "Spider-Man 5" by some into the next movie (sans Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire and many others associated with the franchise heretofore).

Sony is essentially forsaking the fourth movie and its many irresolvable debates over various villains and characters. Instead, it's hoping that a movie about "a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises" can reboot the franchise less than 10 years after it was rebooted in the first place.

At the very least, the new movie will probably cost a couple fewer shekels, though there's a superhero-sized paradox, namely  -- how do you make a fourth installment an origin story after the first installment did pretty much just that? More on our Company Town blog, and more here as the story unfolds.

Photo: "Spider-Man 3." Credit: Sony Pictures


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: