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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Not-so-Amazing Spider-Man 2

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is entertaining. Some might even say funny, dramatic or well-animated.

But amazing? Not quite. Sadly, director Marc Webb relies far too much on unexplained plot and backstory, with a healthy dash of sexism and worn-out cliche, to craft his narrative.

The film follows Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), who acts as New York City’s personal superhero, and his battle against his former friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and Spider-Man fanatic Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx).

Supporting Parker throughout the movie is his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who embodied to 1950s trope “Damsel in Distress.” To put it simply, without her boyfriend, Gwen has no purpose in the film.

Case in point: Literally every single one of Gwen’s scenes features Peter. The few moments that she shows a spark of personality, such as being gutsy enough to investigate an employee’s mysterious disappearance or getting interviewed for an Oxford scholarship, Peter has to show up and save the day for her.

In fact, Peter goes as far as breaking Gwen’s heart because he’s afraid she’ll get hurt, then creepily stalks her throughout New York. If Peter really cared about Gwen, though, he wouldn’t force her to stay away from him; he would instead tell her about the risks and let her make her own decisions like an adult with agency.

This is a failure on the movie’s part because it legitamizes unequal relationships, an especially damaging message to young men who might now think this is appropriate behavior.

Spoilers in the next two paragraphs: In the movie’s climactic battle, Peter first essentially handcuffs Gwen to a car so she won’t follow him to the battle, even though she just helped him figure out how to make his spider silk electricity-proof, and she’s the only one who knows how to turn New York City’s power grid back on. When she finally makes it to the battle, the most important contribution she makes is to press a button when Peter tells her to.

Again, this choice weakens the film by reinforcing the stereotype of women as inferior, especially in combat situations, instead of portraying equality between men and women.

In the next battle, she’s literally dead weight, as Peter has to hold on to her with a bit of silk, make sure the line isn’t severed and battle his enemy. When she dies, the audience gets to enjoy a full two minutes of Peter crying over her body. But because she was so underdeveloped, I barely felt sad about her death.

As for the antagonists of the movie — let’s just say it doesn’t get any better. The first guy is electrical engineer Max Dillon, who initially worships Spider-Man. After an accident at work, he gets weird bluish skin and starts attacking Spider-Man with electricity, because he believes Spider-Man set him up to be shot.

Unfortunately, during that particular moment in the film, I was too confused by the plot to be amazed by the visual effects. His transition from happy-go-lucky Max to Electro, who would kill innocent people because he thinks one person betrayed him, was not explained at all.

The other main villain is Harry Osborn, 20-year-old heir to a billion-dollar corporation, who spends his days wishing his father loved him and obsessing over the prospect of getting Spider-Man’s blood to save his life. Because this is totally the first time any of us have seen the Freudian excuse of “My daddy didn’t love me, so I’m an insane serial killer.”

In short, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” sticks to Hollywood’s tried-and-true formula of marginalizing women and giving the generic “White Male Hero” the spotlight. If that’s what you want, by all means buy your ticket today.

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