HOLLYWOOD — "Spider-Man," the popular Marvel Comics superhero of the past half-century whose notoriety spiked after an aughts-era film trilogy and Broadway musical, is getting a Hollywood reboot with a new cast and fresh, street-smart take on the story of his New York origins.
"You know, if you're going steal cars, don't dress like a car thief," said the Spider Man.
"Are you a cop?" asked a thief.
"Do you seriously think I'm a cop in a skin-tight red-and-blue suit?" responded Spider Man.
Of course the sarcastic teenager behind the mask is Spider-Man's alter ego, Peter Parker, the high school science nerd who is transformed into a superhero capable of amazing feats after being bit by genetically engineered spider.
Donning a flashy costume with "web-shooters" of his own design, and possessing the ability to climb walls and a knack for sensing danger, the teenager swings from street lamps to buildings to bridges on a personal crusade against violent crime.
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But instead of embracing his crime-fighting skills, New York police see the web-slinger as a threat to public safety. The "vigilante" label, says American-born, English-raised actor Andrew Garfield - a surprise pick for new film's lead role - is accurate, at least at the beginning.
"He doesn't create this symbol with any kind of high-mindedness," said Garfield at a promotional photo call for Columbia Pictures in June. "He creates it searching for his uncle's killer, and I think that he is a vigilante for a period of this particular story, acting out of those kinds of impulses. Then he accidentally discovers that he has created something bigger than him that can be used for good."
With all this going on, Parker also falls in love with classmate Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone.
"This kind of swept me off my feet, because she is truly in love with him and I wanted, again, to experience that feeling of first love ... that 'I know what love is' uncomfortable [feeling]," she said. "It was a matter of un-learning and really becoming 17 again."
Director Marc Webb, whose previous film was the quirky relationship comedy "(500) Days of Summer," is new to action movies, but wants to assure "Spider-Man" fans that he is one of them.
"I'm a huge Spider-Man fan and I'm an even bigger fan of Peter Parker, and I love this idea that there is this kid who has the same problems that we do," he said. "Those little domestic dramas are what I think makes my connection to the character that much more profound - that you care about the person behind the mask."
"The Amazing Spider-Man," which opened Tuesday, also features screen veterans Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Peter's Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Welsh actor Rhys Ifans plays the scientist whose experiments turn him into a deadly villain.
Denis Leary plays the police commander who learns to appreciate having a Spider-Man on the side of good.