In this film Spider-Man uses artificial devices to shoot webs, inspired from the original comics where he possessed similar devices for his webbing (only later would he gain the superhuman ability to shoot webs). Marc Webb explained the web-shooters were a creative decision to showcase Peter's intellect: "We wanted to emphasize that these are things that Peter Parker made and that he is special himself even if he feels like he's an outsider."
Before filming, Rhys Ifans researched his role by meeting several real handicapped people (who have missing limbs). He also spent one month performing his daily activities using only his left hand - including tying a tie. The script had a small snippet written where Connors ties a tie, but it was not filmed as it was too time consuming.
On selecting Andrew Garfield to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man, director Marc Webb said, "Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor's work understand his extraordinary talents. He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker."
After Denis Leary was cast, his friend Jeff Garlin, a Spider-Man fan, said "I knew you would get the part." To which Leary replied "Why? Because I'm such a great actor?" Garlin then said, "no, because you look just like Captain Stacy."
To prepare for his role as Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield studied the movements of spiders and tried to incorporate them as much as he could: "Parker is a boy/spider in terms of how he moves, and not just in the suit."
Originally conceived as "Spider-Man 4," a direct sequel to the original film trilogy, Sony Pictures had actually begun pre-production before opting to make this film as a reboot instead. Sony re-negotiated contracts with director Sam Raimi and stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst (each receiving a reported $30 million) for a three picture deal with the intention of starting a new trilogy in the series. Scripts were commissioned from writers James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, David Koepp and Gary Ross, with each writer earning upwards of $1 million or more for their services. The story would have introduced the Vulture as a new villain: Raimi initially approached Ben Kingsley for the role before casting John Malkovich. Malkovich was actually slated to play Norman Osborne in the original film series, but had to withdraw due to scheduling conflicts. In addition to the Vulture, the film would also introduce the villainess Felicia Hardy, with Anne Hathaway set to play the character. In the initial story, Hardy would become her comic book alter-ego Black Cat, though later script rewrites recreated Hardy as an original character called Vulturess (after her departure, Hathaway would take on a similar role in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)). Raimi also expressed interest in having Dylan Baker return as Dr. Curt Connors, who would transform into the villain The Lizard, though Executive Producer Avi Arad vetoed this idea. With development costs skyrocketing in excess of $100 million, Raimi, unhappy with repeated versions of the script, and tensions rising between Raimi, Maguire and the studio, Sony opted (in January 2010) to cancel the film and reboot the series instead. Raimi, for his part, has said it was for the best, as the director had been unhappy with Spider-Man 3 (2007) citing studio interference, and "hated" the storyline concocted for the proposed fourth film.
This retelling includes several comic book elements which were missing from the Sam Raimi films of Spider-Man. One is the method of web slinging: Parker builds devices for shooting webs as in the comic books, whereas in Raimi's version the webs were part of him. Spider-Man also does much more taunting and smack-talk with his opponents than in previous films. In the Marvel Universe while Deadpool is known as the "Merc with the Mouth", to Spider-Man's villains he held the same reputation. Most of Spider-Man's villains shared the same hatred of his talking so much junk.
It was a creative decision by the filmmakers to have most of the stunts performed practically on rigs by actors/stuntmen, rather than extensively use CGI animation. Marc Webb explained they wanted to make the film more physical and thus more realistic. While filming in New York the crew built a whole rig hundreds of feet long over Riverside Drive in Harlem, and Andy Armstrong built a car rig with a series of wires to help with VFX which required an incredible wealth of acrobatics
When Peter Googles the name of his father Richard Parker, one of the options offered is "richard parker life of pi", as the same name is given to a character in a novel which was adapted as the film Life of Pi (2012) about the same time as this film. Irrfan Khan appears in both films and speaks the name Richard Parker in both.
All four Spider-Man films have filmed on the Universal Studios Hollywood back lot. Ironically symbolic of the series itself, portions of the back lot burned down on June 1, 2008, meaning that first three used the old back lot while this reboot uses the new back lot.
Ben Parker's line "With great power comes great responsibility", prominent in the Sam Raimi movies, is not once uttered in this film. The voice-mail left by Ben alludes to this, but never directly quotes it. This is actually more in keeping with Amazing Fantasy #15, the first telling of the story, where it was merely a text box that said "With great power, there must also come great responsibility" in Amazing Fantasy #15. Subsequent retellings of the story in flashback and reboot gave the world the more famous line.
This is the first "Spider-Man" film to not feature Spider-Man's perennial love interest Mary-Jane Watson (in Sam Raimi's three films played by Kirsten Dunst). Instead, Peter Parker's original girlfriend Gwen Stacy appears (who had been played by Bryce Dallas Howard in Spider-Man 3 (2007)).
Marc Webb describes the theme of the movie as "the missing piece within all of us: Peter has no parents, and he fills that void with Spider-Man. Curt is not as strong as Spider-Man on the inside, but he wants to get back his arm and fill that void, and essentially he becomes a big bully."
Denis Leary's portrayal as Captain Stacy in the film is based on the version from the "Ultimate Spider-Man" comics where Captain Stacy was portrayed as a younger character, when compared to the version from the mainstream Spider-Man comics and Spider-Man 3 (2007) (as portrayed by James Cromwell) who was a much older character.
During the library battle, one of the books knocked off the shelf is Left Behind: Part Eight: The Mark by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, a story about a superpowered megalomaniac who seeks to remake the world in his own image, similar to the Lizard's plan.
According to costume designer Kym Barrett, the Spider-Man costume was specially designed to resemble an acrobat costume: "We wanted a design that would make the body longer and more lithe, someone incredibly agile; the legs of the spider-symbol on the chest were used to emphasize that."
The film noticeably borrows a few story elements from the first seven issues of the Ultimate Spider-Man series. A few examples are that not only was Spider-Man's mutation connected to OsCorp like in the comics, but also Spider-Man battled the villain in his school after the villain discovered his secret identity.
This film marks the first time Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) becomes The Lizard on film. Although Curt Connors appeared in Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007), played by Dylan Baker, the character never became the Lizard despite some strong hints, and was set to become the Lizard in some script treatments which were never green lighted.
The first film to use RED's Epic series digital cameras. Originally, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) was going to be the first feature to use it but a delay at the start of the production instead gave this film the distinction. However, when shooting began in December 2010, the camera model was still in its prototype stages so an engineer from RED had to be on standby throughout the shoot for immediate technical assistance and support.
During filming, the sleeve that Rhys Ifans wore so his right arm could be removed in post-production was called "Kermit" by the crew because it had the same green color as Kermit the Frog of The Muppets comedy troupe. The sleeve can be seen in the deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes features.
In Peter's bedroom a photo of actor/comedian Donald Glover, is visible. In 2010, when the movie was first announced and initial casting for the role of Spider-Man was underway, Glover used Twitter to somewhat jokingly campaign for an audition.
Originally there was suppose to be two other villains with The Lizard in the film: Proto-Goblin, and Big Wheel (both old comic book villains). However, they were both cut from the story (Big Wheel was just an idea before being cut) because the movie would have been too long, there would have been too many origins, and too many fight scenes. (Furthermore, there has been a glut of similar "Goblin" characters in these film franchises.) Irrfan Khan plays Dr. Rajit Ratha, the character who would have been the Proto-Goblin.
This is the first film where the actress playing Spider-man's love interest does not wear a wig or alter her hair color. Kirsten Dunst both altered her hair color and wore a wig in three films while Bryce Dallas Howard altered her hair color for Spider-Man 3 (2007).
The ISBN, 0-345-43057-3, on the back cover of Curt Connors' book, 'Splice of Life: Breakthroughs in Cross-Species Genetics', that Peter is reading while he is sitting on the porch roof, is, in real life, the ISBN for 'A Certain Justice: Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries' by PD James.
the Carjacker from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002) series appears as Dr. Ratha's driver Alfred. Papajohn is the only actor to appear in both live-action versions of Spider-Man's origin.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In this film Captain George Stacy is strongly opposed to Spider-Man's activities, (although he does admit that he was wrong at the end), and Gwen Stacy is both aware and supportive of Peter Parker's role as Spider-Man. This is in stark contrast to the mainstream comics, where George Stacy was a strong supporter of Spider-Man, and confessed on his death bed that he was aware of Peter's identity, while Gwen Stacy blamed Spider-Man for her father's death, and as such Peter never informed her of his identity. In the "Ultimate Spider-Man" reboot, Gwen did eventually learn and accept Peter's secret identity.
The Daily Bugle newspaper office (and all associated characters) do not appear in this film, a first for the Spider-Man feature film franchise. However, there is a shot of the newspaper's front page offering a reward for proof of the Lizard's existence following his rampage on the bridge. The Daily Bugle logo can also be seen later in the film in the bottom corner of a newscast featuring the Lizard.