NEW YORK (Reuters) - Every young boy dreams of growing up to be a superhero.
For Andrew Garfield, that dream becomes a reality in the new movie, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” one of this summer season’s most-anticipated blockbusters. And while swinging through the streets of New York as a teenage crime fighter was an adrenaline rush, donning Spidey’s famous blue-and-red suit has been nerve-racking for the film’s 26-year-old star.
“I am terrified to take on this role because it means so much to me, so I know how much it means to other people,” Garfield told reporters on Saturday at a press conference promoting the film.
“The Amazing Spider-Man,” which begins to weave its sticky web in North American theaters on July 3, reboots the modern movie franchise that began with 2002’s “Spider-Man” starring Tobey Maguire as the comic book crime fighter.
Over three films, the franchise amassed around $2.5 billion in ticket sales, and for the fourth movie, its makers decided to take a fresh look at the series, bring in a new director and hire Garfield to replace Maguire, 36.
“Amazing Spider-Man” is big on action. But it also delves into the origins of teenager Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man, and tells of the superhero that 17-year-old Parker eventually becomes, director Mark Webb told reporters.
Known for the romantic comedy “500 Days of Summer,” Webb said he wanted to tell Parker’s origin story because the character is a regular kid with normal problems that everyone can relate to, but is able to stand up bullies who taunt him.
Webb also wanted to explore Parker’s background as a child who is abandoned by his parents and raised by his aunt and uncle to open up other Spider-Man stories for future movies
“Spider-Man is a perennial character,” Webb said. “It’s not like Harry Potter who has a closed canon. There is a 50-year canon of Spider-Man comics.”
The director said he cast “The Social Network” star Garfield in the lead role because of his “emotional gravitas,” “whimsy,” and “incredible physical stamina ... all embodied in somebody who would convincingly act like a teenager.”
“Amazing Spider-Man” is the first major action role for Garfield, who was born in Los Angeles and raised in England, but he has shown a wide range of acting skills already. He recently wrapped his Tony-nominated role as Biff Loman in a Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s classic play “Death of a Salesman.”
To portray Parker, the actor turned to a book of photography by Joseph Szabo, titled “Teenage,” that illustrated the angst, energy and need for expression he wanted to capture on film.
“It’s tongue on tongue. It’s just head out the window - that need to express, that need to kick the walls down irrationally - which when you combine that with being a superhero, that is kind of exciting,” Garfield said.
Emma Stone, 23, who has been linked romantically with Garfield off-screen, portrays Parker’s first love interest, Gwen Stacy, in the movie. She said she tried to “unlearn” everything she knows about love and relationships to prepare for her role.
“I wanted again to experience that feeling of first love, before you know what it’s like to get your heart completely shattered,” said Stone, whose previous movies include 2011 sensation “The Help” and comedy “Superbad.”
Veteran actor, director and comedian Dennis Leary, who plays Stacy’s police captain father, said Garfield and Stone are “the real deal” when it comes to their acting.
He recalled being pushed by Garfield in the first scene the two filmed together, in which Captain Stacy is trying to intimidate Peter Parker, to the point where director Webb approached Leary with some candid advice.
“He just kneeled down next to me and he said, ‘Hey, you really have to step it up,’” Leary said.
Reporting By John McCrank; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Cynthia Osterman