''You can feel it on the set,'' says director Marc Webb. ''People aren't scared.''
In 2010, when Sony announced that it was rebooting the Spider-Man franchise, Spi-hards were understandably uneasy. But the revamp turned out to be surprisingly sly fun and made more than $750 million worldwide and there's nothing that calms Hollywood's nerves like money and positivity, preferably in that order.
Now it's day 87 on The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which will hit theaters on May 2, 2014. The production sprawls over several blocks of Manhattan's Chinatown. At the moment, Webb is in between scenes, as well as in between bites of some soup dumplings, and he's talking about the new confidence percolating among the cast and crew. ''With the first one I felt it was important to retell that origin story,'' says the director. ''But that was kind of brutal because people were so familiar with it. Now that the origin story is done? We're off to the races. It's incredibly liberating.''
Webb remembers that when he was this close to wrapping the first film, he was so exhausted that he was about ready to collapse. Not so this time. ''It's exhilarating,'' he says. ''It's been incredibly satisfying to dig into other elements that the audience hasn't seen before.''
At the expense of contradicting Webb, a lot of people on the set are scared but they're extras, and they're paid to be.
One June evening, nearly 200 background actors wait patiently for their cue to break into a panicked run down a narrow street. Judging from the sirens, helicopter lights, and ambient smoke, the city is in crisis. But in the middle of the action is a familiar masked face: your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. He's having what appears to be a lovers' spat with his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy: He's got to go save the city, and she wants to come with. Their dialogue is rat-a-tat fast, funny, and fizzy. Spidey effectively ends the argument by webbing Gwen to the hood of a car and Spidey-ing off. Webb calls ''Cut!'' and approaches Emma Stone, who plays Gwen. They exchange a few whispered sentences before she takes her place in front of Spider-Man, played by her real-life boyfriend, Andrew Garfield.
''Don't worry. We're just cutting you out of the loop,'' she teases Garfield before cameras roll again. After a moment's pause, she adds quietly, ''You look like a dork.''
''I'm wearing spandex,'' Garfield says.
Stone smiles at him. Webb calls ''Action!'' and they begin again.