A lot of people will tell you that summer is the time to head outside and enjoy Mother Nature. We say, nonsense! Why would you want to mess with the heat and all those ants when you could be sitting in an air-conditioned IMAX theater on July 3, when The Amazing Spider-Man opens? Speaking of Spidey, Marvel’s web-slinging superhero swings his way to the top of our annual Summer Must List issue — your essential guide to all of the best movies, TV, music, and books of the season.

If you notice something different about the masked man on our cover, you’re not alone. Since we last saw him in 2007’s Spider-Man 3, Peter Parker & Co. have undergone some major changes. Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Sam Raimi are gone (thanks for the memories, guys!); Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Marc Webb are in (the pressure’s on, guys!). In our early look at one of this summer’s most feverishly anticipated tentpoles, we get all of the inside scoop from Garfield, Stone, Webb, and Rhys Ifans — who plays Spidey’s latest onscreen nemesis, Dr. Curt Connors, a.k.a. The Lizard.

You’ll also learn the fateful origin story of how Garfield’s landed the role of a lifetime. The 28-year-old Social Network star grew up idolizing Peter Parker and even had the photo to prove it — a family snapshot of him at age 3 in a Spider-Man costume, which he sent to director Marc Webb after he auditioned for the part. When he sent the picture, Garfield was sure he wasn’t going to get the role, but it was his way of saying thank you for the experience. Says Webb, “That photo killed me. And with it, Andrew wrote a very moving email about why Spider-Man had such an impact on him. He’d felt bullied as a kid, and Spider-Man allowed him to work out those issues in his imagination. You almost get the sense that playing this part was his destiny.”

Over the past few months, as fans have finally gotten a peek at the trailers and teasers of The Amazing Spider-Man with its eye-candy 3-D f/x, it’s quickly become one of this summer’s must-see movies. But back when the re-launch was first announced in January of 2010, diehards’ Spidey senses were tingling. And not in a good way. To them, the film was a big-budget referendum on how soon is too soon to reboot a superhero franchise. Especially since Garfield and Webb were relative unknowns. As a fan, Garfield understood the concerns. The one thing that put his mind at ease was an early endorsement from his predecessor. “Tobey sent an email to one of the producers saying that he thought I was a good choice,” says Garfield. “that was moving for me and generous of him. It allowed me to worry about one less thing.” Adds Webb, whose only previous film was the indie rom-com (500) Days of Summer, “Look, there are always cynical people, but that’s part of the game. Spider-Man in a perennial character, and ultimately what our film is about is a kid who grows up looking for his father and finds himself. That’s a Spider-Man story we haven’t seen before. We’re coming at it from a different angle. It’s not a remake of Sam’s movie.”

Webb’s right about that. The Amazing Spider-Man is more focused on Peter Parker as an existential teen loner, grappling with the mystery of what happened to his dead father. Another difference is a new love interest for our wall-crawler. Mary Jane Watson is out, Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is in. For those unfamiliar with the Spidey comics, Gwen is Peter’s first true love. Garfield and Stone had never met before she auditioned for the part. But the actress says she and her costar had immediate chemistry — which quickly sparked into an offscreen romance. “A lot of our scenes are scripted,” says Stone. “But there are moments that aren’t, where we were able to find whatever it was we were looking for playing two kids who were falling in love for the first time.”

As for the rest of Your Summer Must List, EW’s got your entertainment guide all plotted out. We take a look at the Mark Wahlberg comedy Ted, Chris Nolan’s latest Batman installment The Dark Knight Rises, Aaron Sorkin’s hugely anticipated TV series Newsroom, the return of Breaking Bad, the all-star country music teaming of Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney, the best beach reads, the most awesome Apps, and our essential list of “99 Ways to Spend 99 Days” — a day-by-day breakdown of how to get the most out of the next three-plus months.

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

To find out what else made our Summer Must List, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday, May 25.

Entertainment Weekly is now available on most tablets, including the iPad, Nook Color, Kindle Fire, and Samsung Galaxy. Think of it like the EW you already love, but on steroids: With our digital magazine, you can buy the recommended movies, albums, books, and DVDs while you’re reading about them. Plus, you can watch music videos and film trailers, and find movie showtimes in your neighborhood. Current subscribers can access the digital version of EW for free by downloading the EW app (also free) and logging in using your name and address or the information on your subscription label. Single copies of the magazine are also for sale through the app if you prefer to read EW that way. If you’re not a subscriber, but would like to become one, you can do so by going to

The Amazing Spider-Man
  • Movie