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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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

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

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.