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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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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.

Healthcare

From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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