This is going to include some spoilers for the Amazing Spider-Man film. It’s a list of the comic books that seem to have influenced Director Marc Webb, as well as writers James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves. As should be obvious, a list of comics that feature elements that were incorporated in the new film is going to reveal details about a few of the twists in the movie.
The comics that the people involved in the film seem to have read include…
Amazing Spider-Man #6: The first appearance of the Lizard by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko included Peter Parker trying to get Curt Connors’s help against Florida’s half-man half-reptile, before he came to an interesting discovery about his new enemy.
Amazing Spider-Man #37-38: Steve Ditko’s two final issues of Amazing Spider-Man featured Norman Osborn before he was revealed as the Green Goblin. At this point, as far as the readers knew, he was just a shady businessman. He’s a mostly off-screen presence in The Amazing Spider-Man film, but these were the issues that featured his association with his underlings, as well as the impression he left on others. Anyone reading these comics now will be aware that it lays the seeds for the resolution of the Green Goblin’s storylines. Due to their familiarity with the original Raimi/ Maguire trilogy, moviegoers will have a similar impression.
Amazing Spider-Man #44-45: Spider-Man’s rematch with the Lizard, who took an unusually long time to make his second appearance, seemed to influence much of the film. This story marked the first time Spider-Man has to deal with serious injuries while tackling one of his enemies. The Lizard gets the attention of New York’s media, develops a love of the City’s sewer system, and tries to use Connors’s formula for his own means. Spider-Man’s method of defeating the Lizard is also quite similar to his strategy in the film, as it involves freezing the reptilian.
Amazing Spider-Man #90: There were a lot of similarities in the death of Captain Stacy in the comics and in the film. In both cases, he dies in Spider-Man’s arms, with a final message about his daughter Gwen. Although the message and the immediate ramifications are a bit different in the film. Captain Stacy’s interactions with Spider-Man were also much more positive in the comics.
Spectacular Spider-Man #178-183: JM Dematteis’s follow-up to Kraven’s Last Hunt was the first time anyone really addressed how traumatic the death of Peter Parker’s parents had to be when he was a young kid. This story also featured some flashbacks and dream sequences with Peter when he was much younger.
Spectacular Spider-Man #241: This was the first time Spider-Man took Mary Jane on a swing to New York City, so it had a bit of an impact on the scene in the movie in which Peter Parker took Gwen Stacy swinging across Manhattan. The context is rather different in the comics, and not just because it’s with a different woman. In the film, Peter and Gwen are both in his high school, and he had just told her about his secret identity. In the comics, Peter and MJ had been married for some time, and had just experienced a few tragedies including a stillborn child and the death of Peter Parker’s best friend/ clone.
Spectacular Spider-Man Volume 2 #11-13: As a fan of both Paul Jenkins and the Lizard, I thought Jenkins’s take on my favorite villain was a letdown. But it seems to feature some things that influenced the film, especially the revelation that Connors had a lot of control over the Lizard, which seems to be the basis for the take on the villain in the movie.
Ultimate Spider-Man #1-5: The film borrowed a lot from Ultimate Spider-Man‘s retelling of Spider-Man’s origin, including a fight between Peter Parker and Uncle Ben in which Peter’s deceased father is mentioned, and an incident in which Uncle Ben is called over after a fight between Peter and Flash Thompson. Gwen Stacy in the film is also similar to the Ultimate Mary Jane, who is much brainier than her regular Marvel Universe counterpart. Peter’s Einstein poster in the film is a nod to a poster he had in the comics, and there are a few similarities in terms of how he discovers his super-powers.
Ultimate Spider-Man #6-7: The Lizard’s attack on Midtown High in the movie is quite similar to Norman Osborn’s attack on Peter’s high school in the Ultimate comics.
Ultimate Spider-Man #8-12: The guy in Amazing Spider-Man seems to mess up just like the guy in Ultimate Spider-Man. This arc had a scene in which Spider-Man accidentally screwed up an undercover investigation.
Ultimate Spider-Man #13: The epilogue to the second arc of Ultimate Spider-Man featured Peter’s revelation that he has super powers to a girl who just thinks that he’s putting the moves on her. It doesn’t go exactly the same way in the comics, but they translated the awkwardness of that conversation rather effectively.
Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #10: The Ultimate version of Curt Connors’s origin may just be the most effective supervillain origin story ever, so it makes sense for the film to incorporate a few elements, including Connors’ awkward association with his bosses. Bendis and artist John Totlebon also chose not to bother with the lab coat and purple pants when it came to the Lizard’s new look.
Ultimate Spider-Man #29-32: This might have had a bigger influence on the film than any other single Spider-Man storyline. The A-plot, in which an impostor in a Spider-Man costume goes on a crime spree wasn’t included, but a lot of other stuff appeared in the film. The police go after Spider-Man, and manage to seriously injure him. Peter is forced to seek the aide of his girlfriend. And Captain Stacy dies at the end.
Ultimate Spider-Man #33-39: I made the case before that this story could easily be the basis for the sequel, but some of the elements were quite important for the first Amazing Spider-Man. In this arc, as in the film, Peter met with someone who had connections to his parents, and learned of a possible conspiracy involving their untimely deaths.
This six-part mini-series by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale featured Peter Parker’s blooming relationship with Gwen Stacy, as well as a retelling of the battle with the Lizard from Amazing Spider-Man #44-45, and some shady business with Oscorp.
Spider-Man the Manga #1: The Japanese version of Spider-Man’s origin had Yu Komori, the lead of the title, getting into a fight shortly after he realized that he had super-powers.
What If? #89: An obscure favorite of mine, the What If? story reimagined Peter as the tragic lead of a monster horror story. There were some horror movie elements to his discovery of his powers, including his desire for unusual food, and the hungry way he looked at a fly.
In addition to all these comic books, there were also two stories from other media that featured some elements that were used in the film.
The first episode of the 1994 Fox Animated Series “Night of the Lizard” featured the Lizard as the villain, and a plan of his to make everyone else similar to him. As far as I know, it’s the first time the villain had that master plan, which has since become a mainstay of the character.
Peter David’s novella “Spider-Man” from the 1996 short-story collection The Ultimate Spider-Man was the first time Spider-Man’s origin was retold for an American audience in a format that was longer than the typical 22 page comic book story. It featured a memorable take on Peter’s animosity with Flash. It was also the first time Spider-Man’s origin was linked to that of one of his greatest enemies, and it ended with Spidey saving all of New York City in a dramatic set piece. It was an adaptation of an earlier movie treatment credited to Stan Lee.