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“The Amazing Spider-Man” producers on going back to the comics and the post-credits scene

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The Amazing Spider-Man” swings into theaters today (July 3), offering a fresh new spin on the origin story of Marvel’s friendly neighborhood webslinger.

While much has been made of the studio’s decision to relaunch the record-breaking franchise after 2007’s “Spider-Man 3” — which did well at the box office but received poor reviews — it’s worth noting that “The Amazing Spider-Man” is indeed a very different film than Sam Raimi’s franchise-starting 2002 film with Tobey Maguire. Not only is there a new face under the mask with “The Social Network” actor Andrew Garfield taking over as Peter Parker, but director Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”) has gone back to the character’s comic-book roots for the film, which unfolds during the character’s high-school years.

IFC sat down with “The Amazing Spider-Man” producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach to discuss the new film, what sets it apart from the previous franchise, and why this movie is a story about Peter Parker first, and Spider-Man second.

IFC: When you decide to reboot a franchise like this, where do you start? What’s the first thing you have to consider?

Avi Arad: Well, this particular team was together for 12 years. We started the whole madness with Spider-Man. For me, all my life has been around comics. And we now understand what Peter Parker’s responsibility is to the people around the world who love the character. So what else do we want to know about him? Well, we want to know how he deals with what life deals him. Most important, though, is showing everyone out there watching it that they’re not alone in dealing with these things. You see this kid, Peter Parker? You love him. If you could choose your best friend, you’d want it to be Peter Parker.

Matt Tolmach: There’s another thing which sounds simple, but it’s true: you go back to the comics. When you’re looking for where to go when making a Spider-Man movie, you go back to the comics. This character’s story has been told over and over again, sometimes with more emphasis in one area or another, and sometimes the comics deal with what happened to his parents, and sometimes they deal with things like Gwen Stacy and her genuine love for this boy, Peter Parker, which is different than Mary Jane Watson and that relationship. There’s that question of what happened to this boy, and what made him this person. What we want to do is be faithful to the Peter Parker and Spider-Man story and put a different emphasis on it. This is the origin of Peter Parker, as opposed to the origin of Spider-Man.

IFC: That’s an interesting distinction to make with the character…

Arad: One of the things we take to our graves are questions about our childhood, because this is where we take the hardest knocks, and some of us thrive and some of us stay timid forever. There’s a speech in the movie by Emma [Stone] about the irony of having both a superhero in her life and someone like her father, and the angst she’ll have to go through forever. You can’t be married to a firefighter if you don’t become desensitized and accept that this is the life I signed up for, but that’s all Gwen has ever known. When Peter looks at her and says, “I get you,” this is amazing stuff that young people have to think about. All these emotions are going to resonate with people in the audience because each one of us has something like that inside them.

Tolmach: We have zero regrets about anything that happened with the other three Spider-Man movies. They’re perfect and we love them. But what changes is the world we live in. Marc Webb wanted to tell a Spider-Man story set in this world, right now — the world outside this building. The nerd who was getting sand kicked in his face invented Facebook and has paved the way for other people to feel empowered. So that changes behavior, and you get scenes like the one early in the movie when Peter Parker doesn’t shrink away from conflict. He’s leaning into it and he’s going to get smacked for it, but he’s going to take that. He knows that it’s going to happen, but he has a barometer for injustice that’s too powerful to ignore. He’s not even Spider-Man yet and he’s doing that — and that’s a very modern character. Sure, he’s an outsider, but his character is informed by this thing we became obsessed with in this movie: what happened to him as a little boy. He’s a little boy who was left behind and has an axe to grind with his parents, because he feels abandoned by them. That informs the guy who sees someone else being picked on and stands into that.

Arad: The biggest decision with “The Amazing Spider-Man” was how to adapt it to today. With everything going on today in high schools with bullies and everything like that, to see a guy out there with no powers defend someone — that’s a big moment. We need to make movies about moments like that.

IFC: One of the initial observations a lot of people made about the film was that it seemed darker than the previous Spider-Man movies. People wondered if you were going the Batman route with Spider-Man. Was there a conscious decision to go dark?

Arad: On one hand, this movie is darker, because we’re not shying away from real emotions.

Tolmach: It’s just real. I don’t think it’s dark.

Arad: And it’s actually funnier than all of the previous three combined, too.

Tolmach: Every real conversation about Spider-Man has to begin with a story that’s emotionally true. You have to tell a great Peter Parker story. Sure, around that is everything that comes with big summer movies, but the heart and soul of the movie has to be Peter Parker.

Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man

IFC: I remember all of the buzz when you first announced Marc Webb as the director. A lot of people were skeptical, but I feel like anyone who really knows Peter Parker and all of the angst of his early years in the comics recognizes that Marc is a great choice. What went into the decision to have Marc direct the film?

Arad: I remember being called in to watch “500 Days of Summer” by my daughters. I thought it was pretty genius, and I said, “Okay, bring me this chick-flick guy,” and we started to talk. [Laughs]

Tolmach: What Marc Webb did with “500 Days of Summer” was make this real, brutally honest love story that ends with a broken heart. But it was a real movie with real emotion. And he wanted to tell a Peter Parker story with “The Amazing Spider-Man.” It isn’t about darkness, it’s about his vision for truth and the world and who Peter Parker would be today. And it actually seemed really obvious, because if you turn back the hands of time to who Sam Raimi was when we hired him all those years ago, it’s not much different of a situation.

Arad: Sam always cringes when I say why we loved him. It was because he did “Indian Summer.” And when you meet him, he is Peter Parker. An hour into our first meeting with Sam, he suddenly got up and said, “Thank you so much for considering me. They told me i had one hour.” And then he started to leave.

Tolmach: [Laughs] He got up in the middle of the conversation and walked out of the meeting. We were all like, “Where the fuck are you going?” And he’s like, “I was told I had one hour and didn’t want to take up any more of your time.” And Marc is this version of that, and embodies that perspective in life. And that’s why he was interesting.

IFC: If all goes well with “The Amazing Spider-Man,” there’s bound to be sequel — and it’s already being written, from what I hear. What’s the latest on it?

Tolmach: Well, we have a script being written now. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are writing it.

Arad: It’s an awesome story.

Tolmach: They’re the greatest, and they understand how to build franchises. We’ve been talking about where the story is going from the very beginning, because there’s no modular Spider-Man movie. This is the beginning of his journey.

IFC: [SPOILER ALERT] So tell me about the post-credits scene in “The Amazing Spider-Man.” You hinted at Norman Osborn’s presence throughout the film, and the post-credits scene has a mysterious person addressing Curt Connors. Should we assume that’s Norman Osborn… or anyone else from the Osborn clan, for that matter?

Tolmach: If that feels right to you, okay… [Laughs]

“The Amazing Spider-Man” hits theaters July 3. You can read our review of “The Amazing Spider-Man” here on IFC.com.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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