The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 are often criticized by the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, as neither Sam Raimi's original nor the iteration was incorporated directly into the film, which is thus less acclaim. For Andrew Garfield's Peter, being a great hero means being a good person.
Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) from The Amazing Spider-Man is the most well-rounded iteration of the character to be shown on screen so far. He is openly and unabashedly supportive of Aunt May in his opening scene, demonstrating a positive relationship for Peter borne out of respect and affection. Even later, Ben remarks that Peter has outgrown Ben's education level at the age of 10.
The second major character development in Spider-Man is uncanny: Ben repeats the idea that "with great power comes great responsibility." When Peter avoids his duty to take Aunt May home, Uncle Ben responds in a kind of retaliation. He tells him that "if you could do good things for others, you would have a moral obligation."
Gwen and the Female Gaze
The Amazing Spider-Man stands as an encouraging outlier in a world of superhero movies populated with bulky dudes who are often overlooked female protagonists. Mulvey explains that many women in films are often defined only by what they represent to the male protagonist, often resulting in sexual objectification. They are considered significant to the narrative because of their association with a more developed male character, rather than as individuals themselves.
Aunt May is no longer relegated to being a one-note pearl of wisdom that is physically tossed around by Spidey's villains, but rather a complex character with her own hopes, fears, devotions, and flaws. Where this film truly shines, though, is in the relationship between Peter and Gwen (Emma Stone); their connection is one of reciprocity and mutual respect, acting as a central focus of the film.
Gwen is a character who is equally as (if not more) academically gifted as Peter, is never sexually objectified, and critically retains her authority throughout the film. Instead, Peter is dangled over a ledge by a villain for Spider-Man to save like Raimi's Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) at the climax of the second film to reveal his secret identity.
With No Shirt Comes Great Responsibility
When it comes to healthy masculinity and the female gaze, it's important to pay attention to how the three versions of Spider-Man treat Peter as he is shirtless. In reality, these images are often aimed at male audiences. These images provide fuel for a male power fantasy, a fantasy of an idealized self. Where this differs from the objectification of women is when the muscular men are depicted as more powerful than ever.
The female gaze inherently does not exist in the same way as the male gaze, since the latter is a sign of a sociological power imbalance. By contrast, Andrew Garfield's shirtless scene contributes to a shared tenderness and vulnerability in his relationship with Gwen.
A Vulnerable Peter Parker
Garfield's portrayal of Peter is permitted to express a wide spectrum of emotions, avoiding the repressive stoicism of many other superheroes of the time. While Raimi's Peter goes down, there is a boyish component of shame and helplessness that accompany Andrew Garfield's loss. In this way, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) all suffer great tragedies in the
In Spider-Man: No Way Home, we learn that Peter has somewhat regressed in his emotional development. He tells Tom Holland's Peter that he was "raged" and "bitter" during Gwen's death, but also declares to them "I love you" at the start of the climactic final battle.
"You're My Hero, and I Love You"
Following the death of Uncle Ben, Peter becomes the worst Spider-Man man you can imagine, ignoring the dangers of toxic masculinity. Rather than helping others, he pursues Ben's killer in his vendetta for his own personal gain. In one of the most emotionally powerful Spider-Man scenes ever, the kid is empowered to leave the vehicle.
Spider-man isn't just amazing for his heroic powers, but for how he empowers others to be brave. This Peter's ability to humble himself and prioritize the needs of others is what makes him a hero, not just a crime fighter in a suit. Such a message can only be conveyed by Andrew Garfield, who shows how simple his kindness is.