Comic-Con 2013: Avi Arad on Amazing Spider-Man 2 and More
Avi Arad gave you comic book movies, at least in their modern form. The producer of most of the Marvel comic book adaptations brought the game-changing Blade to theaters, leveling the playing field for the medium and making room for X-Men and the blockbuster original Spider-Man franchise. Now he's rebooted that franchise with The Amazing Spider-Man, and sequelizing it next summer in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which just premiered footage at San Diego Comic-Con 2013.
I sat down with Avi Arad backstage to talk about the long, difficult road he traveled getting comic books treated fairly in Hollywood before transitioning to his new uphill battle: getting video game adaptations treated the same way. He sees Mass Effect as a philosophical property, and Metal Gear Solid as a version of The Bible. He's taking this responsibility very seriously.
Take a look inside Avi Arad's head to see the future of the Amazing Spider-Man franchise and video game movies in Hollywood.
CraveOnline: You must be sitting pretty pretty, right now. You got one of the most anticipated things at Comic-Con, total.
Avi Arad: I agree and I feel it in the street, I feel it on the floor, I mean it's a lovefest. It's really a lovefest. I think… I don't know. They just feel it. They know. You look at Marc [Webb] and his happiness and ease, and Andrew [Garfield], who is a funny guy in real life. Everybody’s comfortable in their skin, so we walk into this movie with freedom. We don’t need to spend the time that we needed to spend on the origin. We had to. You cannot start, you cannot reboot without an origin. So, we had to do that and if we didn’t do it, we would have got hit harder on the head, so I’m glad we did. We had to establish Peter, Emma [Stone]…. I mean, that's it. Going to the future, so you can start the movie with a bang, if you will. That's what we're doing.
I was here for I think, it was the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man panel, back when they didn't even have Hall H. There was like, a couple hundred people crammed into a room.
I tell people about it.
It was amazing and I still have my Daily Bugle hat that you gave away.
[Laughs] I have them. I'm a collector, I just put things in warehouses.
You're really good about trying to establish a connection to the fans. You reach out and Comic-Con is the place for that. You did a great job last time, with Andrew Garfield showing up in the audience.
I think that if we don't understand how the Marvel legacy started… I remember a friend of ours actually bought Marvel for very little money, then he sold it to Paramount. If I was more of a savvy guy versus a toy designer and comic guy, I would have bought it but I didn't understand these things. Without the fans, who are great ambassadors, this thing would have never happened. Without the fans' criticism, because not only do we have to educate ourselves but we have to educate everybody; studios, distributors, people have to understand this is real literature. There are more metaphors in a comic book than…
There was so much resistance for so long.
I know! Tell me about it! [Laughs]
You know first hand!
It took me forever. Think about it. The first movie that made it for Marvel, was Blade.
Of all superheroes, Blade.
And he didn't have his own book!
Yeah and he hadn't had one for years!
It only had a book after the second movie, so you're talking about… Okay, Tomb of Dracula started Marvel. Pretty funny.
Isn't that weird?
It's awesome. And you know, aside from maybe Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle, we haven't really had a lot of black heroes in the franchises since.
It is unfortunate.
Many years ago, like 50, America didn't know there were actual Black people out there. Actually, Sam Jackson is a neighbor of mine and a friend. He was here before, as you know. We had a pretty white universe. I mean aside from Robbie, The Daily Bugle was white. So, thankfully, it's enough… Two hundred years! How long do you wanna wait? One of the things that makes Spider-Man what he is, is he's everybody's man. It's not isolated. If I wanna be him and I wanna be inside him, I pretend it's fine because what you see is [just] what's on the outside. What you feel and what you do, it's that which allows you to wear the mask. So it's sort of preachy, but it's true. I think he became such a role model and parents trust it. Parents' influence today is greater than in many, many years because of all the media.
Yeah. They get to decide what their kids are going to absorb.
They get to decide, and they're afraid. They say, "I want something that I understand. I want something that has some moral fortitude." Not in a church sermon kind of way but in a "life" kind of way.
Fables. These are our modern fables.
Exactly! Spider-Man gives us the obligation and the license and the creative opportunity. Movie one [Amazing Spider-Man], one of my favorite things about this movie is that we finally attack the question that so many adults, millions and millions of them have… "What happened to my parents? Why did they get divorced? Why am I a forfeiture? Oh, I'm adopted? Why, what really happened?" A parent dies at a young age. It's profound to the grave. It's not like you outgrow it by the time you're 13. You never outgrow it. That's the biggest influence one has. We want to deal with it and in movie one, we finally asked the question.