In 2002, director Sam Raimi brought Spider-Man to the big screen. The feature-length comic book movie, based on Marvel’s flagship character of the same name, starred Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Willem Dafoe.
Released to rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, Spider-Man was a huge success at the box office and instantly cemented Spidey as an icon of cinema. The film’s popularity with audiences also convinced Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures to push forward with a sequel, appropriately titled, Spider-Man 2 (2004).
Once again, this film was a critical and commercial success and a third film followed, under the title of Spider-Man 3 (2007). This third entry was not so warmly received by critics, but it did big numbers at the box office and rounded out a trilogy of Spidey pictures.
All three Spider-Man movies were directed by Sam Raimi, all were set within the same continuity, and all maintained the core cast. The pictures were celebrated at the time of their release and to this day, they remain incredibly popular with fans, young and old.
I count myself as a firm fan of Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, and believe them to be excellent pictures. I regard the first two in particular as being tremendous films, and a clear example of how to bring comic book characters to the big screen without dumbing down or diluting their already successful formula.
And as I am such a fan of this trilogy, today I thought it would be fun to re-watch the movies and discuss them at length. I plan to view each movie in turn, and pass comment in real time, highlighting the highs and lows of the series.
I’ll discuss plot details, favourite moments, fun bits of trivia, and everything in between. Of course, this means this post will be filled with spoilers (you’ve been warned), but if you’re more than familiar with the films, I hope you’ll stick with me.
Let’s get started…
1secs – From the very second the movie begins, the Columbia logo appears and the Spider-Man movie theme kicks in. I am already very excited.
10secs – The score for this movie is the work of Danny Elfman. Elfman is no stranger to comic book themes, having composed scores for Batman (1989), Dick Tracy (1990), Men in Black (1997), Hulk (2003), and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), amongst others.
30secs – The Spider-Man movie theme is fairly uplifting, but it has a twinge of darkness and melancholy to it, which is perfectly in keeping with the character. I really like this theme.
3mins 5secs – Out of the opening credits now and into the main event, which begins with a voiceover.
“Who am I? You sure you wanna know?”
Peter Parker utters the first lines of the movie, and I believe the first lines of the next two as well.
3mins 30secs – Although Peter gets to speak the opening lines, the first major character to appear on screen is Mary Jane Watson – a fellow high school student of Peter Parker’s. Mary Jane is played by Kirsten Dunst.
3mins 35secs – Background character, Flash Thompson appears next. Flash is played by Joe Manganiello.
3mins 40secs – I refer to Flash as a background character, rather than a supporting character, as Flash gets barely anything to do in this trilogy of films. He appears in a few scenes in this movie and he reappears for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Spider-Man 3.
In the original comics, Flash played a more significant role in Spidey’s world, initially as a bully and then as a friend to Peter. He even spent some time as a super hero called Agent Venom.
3mins 55secs – Peter makes his first appearance now. Tobey Maguire is in the role.
4mins – Peter is supposed to be in his late teens here; I believe around the age of 17. In reality, Tobey Maguire was around the age of 26/27 when this movie was released.
5mins 15secs – Now for the introduction of two more key characters in this trilogy – Father and son duo, Norman and Harry Osborn. Norman is played by Willem Dafoe, while Harry is played by James Franco.
6mins 30secs – Intros out of the way, and Peter and his fellow students are on a school field trip to the Columbia University Lab.
8mins 50secs – Listening to a scientist talk about spiders, the students learn that her colleagues have bred 15 genetically altered ‘super spiders’. The spiders contain various attributes from other spiders… but they seem to have lost one.
10mins 25secs – The spider has appeared, and has bitten Peter Parker.
12mins – While Peter and Co are busy with the field trip, over at Oscorp, Norman Osborn is working on special applications for the military. This includes the creation of a weaponised glider, as well as performance enhancing technology and a battle suit.
12mins 35secs – Another introduction now, and this time it is for two very, very important characters: Uncle Ben and Aunt May, played by Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris, respectively. These characters are Peter’s parental figures and will continue to appear in the trilogy.
12mins 45secs – It’s interesting to note that in this trilogy of movies, Uncle Ben and Aunt May are portrayed as being an elderly couple, which is very much in keeping with how the characters appeared in the original Spider-Man comics. In the next movie series, i.e The Amazing Spider-Man films, the characters get a little younger.
13mins – And if you’re wondering why Peter is looked after by his aunt and uncle and not his parents, I would advise you to check out the unconnected Amazing Spider-Man movies as they provide an answer.
14mins – Having been bitten earlier in the day, Peter is now feeling very ill and thus begins his transformation into Spider-Man on a genetic level.
15mins 30secs – Meanwhile, over at Oscorp, and Norman Osborn has used the performance enhancers on himself and is beginning his transformation into the Green Goblin.
16mins – The two transformations aren’t connected, but it is good to see them taking place at the same time. A hero and villain are born.
22mins – Peter is starting to discover his ‘powers’. He notices his quick reflexes and then his…
22mins 55secs – …webs!
23mins – In most versions of the Spider-Man mythology, Peter produces synthetic webs through mechanical web-shooters, which he invents. The web-shooters attach to his wrists and are activated using certain pressure points.
This movie abandons the mechanical web-shooters and instead gives Peter organic web-shooters, with webbing coming directly out of his wrists. This not only streamlines one aspect of his origin, but also kind of makes sense. If he’s getting a bunch of powers, he might as well get webs too.
25mins 50secs – More powers have followed, including a precognitive ‘spider sense’, enhanced agility, super strength, and the ability to stick to walls.
27mins – Peter is trying to figure out how to activate his webbing; thrusting out his arm while shouting various encouraging phrases. One of the phrases is “Up, up and away, web”, while another is “shazam”.
Both of these phrases are nods to DC Comics characters. The first references Superman, while the second references Shazam.
34mins – You know, watching this movie back now, I am glad the film abandoned the idea of Peter creating his own webbing, as there is still plenty of origin to get through and it would have slowed things down. Oh, and speaking of more origin stuff, here comes an important piece – Peter’s heart-to-heart with Uncle Ben.
35mins 45secs – After acting out of character, Uncle Ben has a talk with Peter to explain to him that regardless of what happens in life, he must always do the right thing. He says: “Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.”
36mins – Uncle Ben’s line is so incredibly important to this movie and is the mantra that Peter will forever live by. It’s such a simple line, which everyone can understand.
37mins – I said there was more origin story to get through, and now begins a sequence in which Peter becomes a wrestler, in order to impress Mary Jane. This might seem like needless padding in the movie, but elements of this are taken from the original comics.
Yep, Peter did try his hand at showbiz before becoming a super hero. And this involved a spot of wrestling.
37mins 30secs – This whole sequence includes the first of three cameos for Bruce Campbell, who appears in different roles throughout the Sam Raimi trilogy. Here, Campbell is playing the ring announcer.
37mins 45secs – The wrestling scene also includes “Macho Man” Randy Savage as wrestler, Bone Saw McGraw, as well as a brief appearance from Octavia Spencer as one of the wrestling staff. I bet you forgot Octavia Spencer was in this movie.
39mins – As Peter prepares to enter the wrestling ring (in a home-made costume), Bruce Campbell introduces him as The Amazing Spider-Man.
41mins 45secs – Peter wins the wrestling match. Hurrah!
42mins – This whole wrestling sequence might seem superfluous, but it is included for two reasons:
One: It establishes that Peter initially uses his powers for personal gain, which is not the way of a hero.
Two: Straight after the match he witnesses a robbery, and lets the criminal go, because he doesn’t feel like it is his responsibility to intervene. Once again, this is not the way of a hero.
Peter is about to learn a very important lesson relating back to Uncle Ben’s message about power and responsibility.
43mins 30secs – By not intervening in the robbery, the robber – played by Michael Papajohn – escapes and crosses paths with Uncle Ben, who is then killed in a scuffle. If Peter had acted responsibly, Uncle Ben would not have died and instantly, the message of power and responsibility comes into play.
Since Spider-Man’s debut in 1962, this message has remained at the heart of the mythology, be it in movies, TV shows, or comics. It is important to keep reiterating it in new stories, because it demonstrates that being a hero is about doing the right thing and protecting those who can’t protect themselves.
50mins – Time has moved on quite considerably since the death of Uncle Ben, and now Peter, Harry, and Mary Jane have all graduated from high school. Peter’s school years are all done and dusted, and yet only 50 minutes of the movie have passed.
In the comics, Peter spent a good chunk of his early years at high school. In fact, he met many of his greatest foes, Doctor Octopus, Electro, The Lizard, Mysterio etc, as a high school student.
54 mins 40secs – Anyway, with school out of the way, and Uncle Ben’s message of power and responsibility still ringing in his ear, Peter finally gets his Spider-Man costume! There is no real explanation as to where it came from, or how Peter made it, but almost an hour into the movie and I don’t care, I’m just happy to see Spider-Man in action!
55mins 35secs – A quick cameo for Lucy Lawless.
56mins – And now time for another important character to make his debut: Daily Bugle Publisher, J. Jonah Jameson, as played by J. K. Simmons. He is joined by Bill Nunn as Joe ‘Robbie’ Robertson, and Ted Raimi (brother of director, Sam Raimi) as Hoffman.
All three of these characters appear in every entry in this trilogy.
56mins 55secs – A mention for ‘Eddie’ in the Daily Bugle offices. At the time, this was a nod to Eddie Brock (aka Venom), who was set to cameo in the film. However, this will later be ignored when the character is introduced in Spider-Man 3.
59mins – Away from the Daily Bugle now, and since leaving high school, Mary Jane has found herself working a job she doesn’t want to do. She wants to be an actress, but things haven’t quite worked out for her.
Peter bumps into Mary Jane and discovers what she is doing. Embarrassed about her situation, and not wanting her friends to know, she says to Peter “Don’t tell Harry”.
Now this is an interesting line, which is repeated a few times in the movie, including by Norman Osborn towards the end of the picture. It’s an interesting line, because throughout this film, Peter, Mary Jane, and Norman all keep secrets from Harry, thinking they are protecting him from something. In truth, Peter’s, Mary Jane’s and Norman’s inability to trust Harry with information about their lives, is what sends him on a dark path, as explored in greater detail in Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3.
1hr – A reference to Dr. Curt Connors now. This character doesn’t appear in this movie, but he does feature in the next two films.
In the comics, Dr. Connors is the alter-ego of The Lizard – one of Spidey’s villains. In this trilogy of movies, Connors doesn’t become The Lizard, but it is great to see the seeds of this character being planted so early on.
1hr 1min – And now for the final bit of box ticking for the established Spidey mythology, Peter’s job as a freelance photographer with the Daily Bugle. This is a role he will maintain throughout the trilogy, and is a job that he did for many, many years in the comics.
1hr 2mins – Quick mention for Elizabeth Banks, who is playing J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary, Betty Brant. Everyone always forgets that Elizabeth Banks is in this movie, as well as the sequels.
1hr 4mins 30secs – Another quick mention, this time for Macy Gray, who receives a rather random cameo. She’s playing herself, for a short sequence set at the World Unity Festival. Why is Gray in this movie? Because at the time of production, she was signed with the record company, Epic Records, who were owned by Sony.
1hr 7mins – A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo for Stan Lee. Jeez, this film loves throwing famous faces at the screen in quick succession, doesn’t it?
1hr 8mins – The Green Goblin has shown up at the World Unity Festival and is currently engaged in combat with Spider-Man. This is an action-packed sequence, with some fun fight scenes between Spidey and the Green Goblin.
The fight is good, but Gobby looks a bit daft. I know this is a common criticism, with lots of fans pointing this out, but I feel it is worth stating again, this costume is a misfire.
1hr 12mins – Although I don’t think the Goblin costume is great, I do think Willem Dafoe is awesome as Norman Osborn. His transformation into Green Goblin, followed by his descent into madness, is so well played, and Dafoe balances the dual role very well.
1hr 15mins – Praise also has to go to J. K. Simmons who is perfect as J. Jonah Jameson. For the majority of the movie he is a real slime ball, but every so often he shows a little integrity. Case in point: The Green Goblin has just smashed his way into Jameson’s office, demanding to know the name of Spider-Man’s photographer (aka Peter), but instead of giving up that information, Jameson plays dumb.
It is a small moment, but one that adds a lot more depth to Jameson’s character. Although, it does also show he has no issue of running Peter’s pictures in the paper without giving him a proper credit.
1hr 17mins – Spidey comes to Jameson’s rescue, leading to another Spider-Man/Green Goblin fight. And realising the power that Spider-Man possess, Gobby has offered Spidey the opportunity to join forces with him.
Although Spidey will decline the offer, this doesn’t stop the Daily Bugle from creating a smear campaign against Spider-Man, to suggest he is a menace.
1hr 21mins 30secs – One of the most famous scenes in the movie now, the upside-down kiss. This scene became so iconic that it was referenced in TV shows and movies shortly after Spider-Man was released.
1hr 22mins 30secs – Despite Jameson’s attempts to turn the city against Spider-Man, Spidey continues to be a hero, and saves a baby from an apartment fire. He goes back into a burning building to rescue someone else, but it is a trap set by the Green Goblin.
1hr 25mins – Green Goblin has tried to coerce Spider-Man into turning to the dark side, but he’s not going for it.
1hr 31mins – Well, it seems that coercion is no longer needed, as Norman has worked out that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are one and the same. Norman’s new plan is to attack those closest to Peter, starting with Aunt May.
1hr 37mins 45secs – Following an attack on her life, Aunt May is recuperating in hospital. Sat in her hospital bed, she tells Peter not to fuss around her, saying: “You do too much – college, a job, all this time with me. You’re not Superman, you know.”
It’s not surprising that there is another reference to Superman, as this film and its sequels take a lot of inspiration from the Christopher Reeve Superman movies of the 1970s and 1980s. In terms of their tone and story beats, there are a lot of similarities between the two series.
1hr 39mins – With Peter aware that Green Goblin knows his secret, he realises that Mary Jane is likely to be Gobby’s next target. This leads to the big showdown in the movie, with MJ taken hostage.
What follows is great, and I am certainly not going to knock the big climax of this movie, however, this begins a big trend of all the Spider-Man films ending with Spidey having to save Mary Jane from the villain of the story. This first time is fine, but it wears a little thin as the trilogy progresses.
1hr 41mins – But anyway… it’s Spider-Man v the Green Goblin.
1hr 41mins 45secs – The Goblin has Mary Jane held captive at the top of a bridge, and is threatening to drop her. He has also placed a cable car full of children in jeopardy, with the cable car set to be dropped too.
Spider-Man is given a choice: Save the children or save Mary Jane.
1hr 42mins 45secs – Spidey attempts to save both, enraging the Green Goblin in the process.
1hr 44mins – This is a pretty tense situation, as Spider-Man tries to hold onto the cable car, and keep Mary Jane safe.
1hr 44mins 30secs – A nice little moment now, as the citizens of New York try to help Spider-Man, by drawing the Goblin’s attention. This leads to two comments from citizens: “You mess with Spidey, you mess with New York” and “You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.”
These lines are important because in terms of the story, it shows that the Daily Bugle’s smear campaign hasn’t worked, and that New Yorkers see the good that Spider-Man is trying to do. On a greater level, these lines are a reflection of what was going on in the real world back in 2002, when this movie was released.
Spider-Man was released in summer 2002, less than a year after the events of the 911 terror attacks. Many New Yorkers were still trying to process what had happened, and this was often reflected in movies and television shows of the time, especially movies and shows that could be deemed to be patriotic.
Spider-Man is an American (and New York) icon. His colours are red, white, and blue – the same colours of the American flag. The comments made in the film about sticking up for a fellow New Yorker, are as much about standing by Spidey as they are about explaining that the people of New York fight together against terror and injustice.
1hr 45mins – With a little assistance from the good people of New York, Mary Jane and the children are safe. Time for one final fight between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin.
1hr 46mins – And in a nice bit of symbolism, Spider-Man’s mask has been ripped so that half of Peter’s face is exposed. This is a way of showing both Peter and Spidey are involved in this fight.
1hr 48mins – Peter/Spidey has bested the Green Goblin in combat, leading to Norman’s exposure as the Goblin. Could this be the end?
1hr 49mins 25secs – It is the end now. Norman has impaled himself on his own Goblin Glider, and has uttered the words: “Don’t tell Harry”.
1hr 50mins – Norman’s funeral has taken place, and Harry is convinced Spider-Man killed Norman. Remember that dark path I mentioned earlier? Well, Harry is now on it.
1hr 54mins – As the film begins to wrap up, Mary Jane confesses her feelings to Peter, whom she has started to fall in love with. However, he worries about putting her life in danger, so effectively tells her he’s not interested. Silly boy.
1hr 55mins – During this scene there is a suggestion that Mary Jane has worked out Peter’s secret.
1hr 55mins 30secs – And as the movie closes, Spidey swings across New York, and all is right with the world. For now.
Spider-Man is a great movie. A really great movie.
Before it hit cinemas in 2002, this film was in development hell for years. At one point James Cameron was going to make it, another time Roger Corman was involved, and another time it was set to be produced by infamous movie studio, The Cannon Group. For various reasons none of those projects got off the ground and this paved the way for Sam Raimi to take charge. And what a marvellous thing that turned out to be.
Raimi is a big fan of Spider-Man, specifically the early years of the comics, and knows the character inside-out. This is clear to see in this first movie, which is effectively a love letter to the ‘60s era of the comics.
Raimi not only understands Spidey, and how he interacts with all of his supporting characters, but also understands the best way to bring Spider-Man to the big screen – by taking a fantastical character and making him seem real. And while the film is humorous, at no point does Raimi poke fun at the mythology or try to lampoon the character.
Sure, there is a lot of backstory to cram into one picture, and this first Spider-Man movie does spend a great deal of time getting from A to B to C, but I see this picture as the foundations for a series. It is setting out the core characters, establishing the world, and getting the audience on board, so they can appreciate Spider-Man in the same way that Raimi does.
Even if audiences had turned away from this movie, Raimi would have made a film that he felt proud of. This is Spider-Man through-and-through and anyone who grew up reading Spider-Man comics in the ‘60s can see this.
Back in 2002, I loved this movie when I first saw it in cinemas, and felt that finally I was able to make people understand why I love Spider-Man as much as I do. It is a great example of the character, but also just a great movie which has the power to entertain everyone.
My only real question in 2002 was, can it be bettered? Well, let’s take a look at Spider-Man 2, shall we? Because as much as I love Spider-Man, I love Spider-Man 2 even more.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
1sec – The Danny Elfman theme kicks in.
50secs – The big difference with the opening credits in Spider-Man 2, compared to the credits of Spider-Man, is that these credits feature illustrations, depicting key events from the previous movie. The illustrations are the work of celebrated comic book artists, Alex Ross.
1min – Once filming was complete, all of the paintings used for these credits were sold at a charity auction, with the proceeds going to United Cancer Front.
1mins 30secs – Incidentally, the idea of using the opening credits as a ‘greatest hits’ package of the previous movie, was previously used in Superman II (1980). It’s a great way to remind audiences of what came before, and what they need to remember ahead of this new adventure.
2mins – I should point out that I am watching the theatrical release of Spider-Man 2, which played in cinemas in 2004. A slightly longer version of the movie was released on DVD in 2007, under the title Spider-Man 2.1, which included eight minutes of additional footage not shown in cinemas.
3mins – The opening credits are over and Spider-Man 2 begins with a voiceover, once again from Peter.
4mins – Spider-Man 2 was released two years after Spider-Man, and as the movie is set in real time, life has continued for Peter in this period. However, while Spider-Man continues to be a hero of New York, Peter’s life is just as complicated as before – and he’s currently working as a pizza delivery guy.
5mins 40secs – Peter has to deliver pizzas to an office, and if he doesn’t deliver the pizzas on time, he’ll lose his job.
6mins – The receptionist at this office is played by Emily Deschanel.
8mins – Peter didn’t manage to get the pizzas to their destination on time and has lost his job. He is also struggling to make ends meet with his freelance work at the Daily Bugle.
8mins 50secs – Meanwhile, on campus, Peter has bumped into Dr. Curt Connors, who is one of his lecturers. Connors is played by Dylan Baker.
14mins – All these early scenes in Spider-Man 2, demonstrate that while time has moved on, things have gotten worse or more complicated for Peter. He finds it difficult to maintain his work life, he’s falling behind in his college studies, he’s become somewhat distant from Mary Jane and Harry, and he’s not noticed that Aunt May is struggling both emotionally and financially since the loss of Uncle Ben. Being Spider-Man has completely taken over his life.
18mins 15secs – An introduction for the movie’s villain now, in the shape of Doctor Otto Octavius, played by Alfred Molina. Octavius – who is soon to become Doctor Octopus – is one of the most iconic Spidey villains from the comics.
20mins – During his introduction, Octavius is portrayed as a likeable character. This will make his downfall all that more tragic.
22mins – Although Octavius is the main villain in this film, Peter’s greatest battle in Spider-Man 2 will be with himself. The more time he spends as Spider-Man, the more it is taking away something from his personal life.
25mins 15secs – Bruce Campbell gets his second cameo in this trilogy. Here he is playing a snooty theatre usher.
27mins 45secs – And now for the first indication that something is wrong with Peter. During a spot of web-slinging, Peter finds himself unable to shoot a web.
33mins – Big moment now, Doctor Octavius is conducting a dangerous experiment in fusion reaction. To aid him with the experiment, he is utilising a set of four mechanical ‘smart arms’. Clearly this isn’t going to go well.
36mins 20secs – Yep, things are going wrong.
38mins 20secs – The experiment did not go to plan, Octavius’ wife is dead, and the smart arms have become fused to his spine.
39mins – After being rushed to hospital, a team of surgeons are attempting to remove the four arms from Octavius’ body. This has led to a pretty scary scene in which the arms attack and kill all of the surgeons. This whole sequence feels like it has been plucked straight from a Sam Raimi horror movie, and is easily the most gruesome sequence in the entire trilogy. It’s brilliant.
40mins 40secs – Octavius is no more. Doctor Octopus has arrived!
42mins – With a now unhinged Octavius loose in the city, J. Jonah Jameson takes the opportunity to give him a nickname for use in newspaper headlines. This results in a newsroom conversation about possible names.
One of the suggestions is Doctor Strange, leading Jameson to say: “Pretty good, but it’s taken.” This is a nod to the Marvel Comics character, who at this point in time was not very well known to non-comic book fans.
44mins – What’s interesting about Spider-Man 2’s take on Doctor Octopus, is that he is being largely controlled by the arms. The smart tech has got in his head, and it is the arms that are influencing him.
44mins 30secs – Doctor Octopus is a villain born from science and technology, and this is a theme which runs throughout these movies. Spider-Man, the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Sandman (Spider-Man 3), are all products of science experiments gone wrong.
45mins – While Doctor Octopus is setting plans in motion to restart his experiment, the action switches to a bank, where Aunt May and Peter are trying to get a loan. One of the manager’s is played by Joel McHale.
46mins – Doc Ock is also at the bank, trying to steal money. This looks like a job for Spidey!
47mins – Mid-battle, and Peter is having difficulties shooting webs again.
48mins – Doctor Octopus is such a B-movie type of character, and Sam Raimi is clearly having fun playing this up on screen, as Doc Ock climbs up the side of buildings like some kind of radioactive mutant creature.
48mins 35secs – The briefest Stan Lee cameo! This is Lee’s second cameo in the trilogy and if you don’t pay attention, you miss it.
51mins 45secs – The action has switched to a party, where Harry Osborn is drunk and angry about what happened to Doctor Octopus. He funded Octavius’ work, and now he has inadvertently created a villain.
52mins – It’s worth noting that Harry isn’t concerned that Doc Ock has gone crazy, and is endangering himself and others, he is merely annoyed that his company funded the project. It is clear that Harry is walking down a dark path.
55mins – Because Peter has been lax in his commitments to his friends, both Harry and Mary Jane are distancing themselves from him. And to make matters worse, Mary Jane has agreed to marry John Jameson – the son of J. Jonah Jameson.
58mins 45secs – With his powers increasingly fading, Peter visits a doctor for a check-up. Without directly addressing the fact that he *is* Spider-Man, Peter gets into a discussion about problems he has been experiencing. This leads the doctor to remind Peter that he always has a choice in how to live his life.
59mins – As Peter contemplates what is best for him, he has a vision of Uncle Ben, once again played by Cliff Robertson. This is a great little scene, which allows for Spider-Man 2 to revisit the power and responsibility message from the first film, without having to resurrect Uncle Ben.
1hr – One hour into the movie, and Peter has decided the best way to fix the many, many problems in his life is to give up being Spider-Man. Being a hero is too much of a distraction, and he is losing his personal life as a result.
1hr 1min – A little earlier I mentioned the title sequence to Spider-Man 2 is reminiscent of the title sequence to Superman II, but it is not the only link to that movie. In Superman II, the title character gives up his super powers in order to live a normal life.
1hr 6mins 30secs – With Peter no longer Spider-Man (and his life showing signs of improvement), the Daily Bugle runs the headline: ‘Spider-Man No More’. This is a reference to issue #50 of The Amazing Spider-Man and the storyline ‘Spider-man: No More’, in which Peter quits being Spidey.
1hr 8mins 30secs – Although Peter’s life is getting better, he still has one issue to deal with: Telling Aunt May the truth about what happened the night Uncle Ben died.
1hr 9mins – Peter admits to Aunt May that he could (and should) have stopped Uncle Ben’s killer.
This is a great scene and really unexpected. Peter could have kept this secret to himself, and the film could have easily continued without Aunt May ever hearing this revelation, but by including this scene, the film becomes much stronger.
1hr 11mins 30secs – And now for the introduction of a seemingly unimportant character, who will prove very important in Spider-Man 3. The character – played by John Paxton – is Bernard, Harry Osborn’s butler.
I’ll explain why he’s important when I get onto the next movie, but here he is simply a throw-away character working for Harry. He gets nothing much to do, but oh boy, will he have something very significant to do next time around.
1hr 16mins – As the story continues, Harry has made a deal with Doctor Octopus to provide a key component for his experiment. In exchange, Doc Ock will deliver Spider-Man.
1hr 17mins – Another important moment in Peter’s journey now, as Peter is finding it increasingly difficult not to rush in and rescue those in need. In this scene, he runs into a burning building to save a child, even though he has completely lost his powers.
1hr 18mins – Peter saved the kid, but someone else died in the fire, demonstrating the impact of his decision to give up being Spider-Man. The city needs its hero.
1hr 19mins – Peter is now visiting Aunt May, who is packing up the contents of her home.
1hr 21mins 30secs – During a discussion between Aunt May and Peter, May explains the importance of heroism. It is implied that May knows Peter’s secret, but the conversation is kept vague enough to suggest that might not be the case.
Either way, this scene is helping Peter to understand how the world sees Spider-Man, and why they miss him. He learns that sometimes you have to make personal sacrifices for the greater good.
1hr 24mins – A neat little reference is made to the upside-down kiss.
1hr 25mins – Peter has decided to return to his double-life as Spider-Man, but he is still unable to access his powers. He thinks it is because he is still holding onto thoughts of Mary Jane, and the life he could have, so he decides to make it clear to Mary Jane that he doesn’t love her. Of course, he’s lying, but he thinks that lying to her will help.
1hr 28mins – Doc Ock interrupts Peter and Mary Jane’s conversation, and kidnaps MJ.
1hr 29mins – With Mary Jane in trouble, Peter is able to access his powers! All this time, he has been subconsciously holding back, and the personal conflict he has been dealing with is the sole reason his powers had disappeared.
Now that Peter has accepted he can be both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, he is able to move forward as one.
1hr 31mins 30secs – Having donned his costume, Spider-Man has caught up with Doc Ock, and the battle that follows has placed them both on top of a train.
This is one of my all-time favourite sequences in any Spider-Man movie, ever. I adore everything that is about to happen.
1hr 33mins 15secs – Here we go. Doctor Octopus has disabled the breaks on the train, and it is hurtling towards a dead end. Peter’s mask has caught fire, so he has had to remove it.
1hr 35mins – The train is set to crash and the only way to slow the train is by using multiple weblines, as well as brute strength, to reduce its speed.
1hr 35mins 25secs – Things are getting pretty tense.
1hr 35mins 45secs – He did it! Spider-Man stopped the train.
1hr 36mins – An exhausted and mask-less Spider-Man is carried inside the train, where passengers comment about his identity. They note that he is just a kid, yet he risked everything to save them all.
1hr 37mins – Two kids, who have found Spider-Man’s mask, hand it back to Peter and tell him they won’t breathe a word about his secret identity.
1hr 38mins – Doctor Octopus suddenly reappears, to capture Spider-Man, but the passengers refuse to give him up. Although Ock ultimately takes Spider-Man anyway, this whole scene with the passengers standing up for Spidey always brings a lump to my throat.
The idea of someone risking their life to save others is enough to draw out emotion in me, but seeing strangers repay a favour is the thing that gets me. They appreciate that he stepped in to help them, so they are doing the same back.
I also love the scene where the kids hand back the mask, and everyone collectively agrees not to reveal Peter’s identity. It fills me with hope that people like this exist.
I’ve heard a number of people poo-poo this scene, claiming if this situation happened in real life, there is no way anyone would keep Spidey’s secret. I happily disagree, because I like to believe in the good in people, and the faith that they understand the greater good.
Spider-Man is needed by the whole city, and revealing his identity would be a bad thing for everyone. As much as they might want to tell a friend about what they witnessed, they know the right thing to do is remain silent.
This is one of the many reasons why I love the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, because they are filled with hope and optimism – that even in the darker moments, there is a sense that things will get better in the end. I appreciate that not everyone takes this stance in life, but I do.
1hr 39mins – Back to the story, and with Spider-Man unconscious, Doctor Octopus has delivered the wall-crawling hero to Harry.
1hr 39mins 40secs – Harry unmasks Spider-Man and is shocked to discover that his enemy is really his best friend! And this shock feels the most real across all the movies, as Harry hasn’t had much to do with Spider-Man, so he really had no clue that Peter and Spider-Man are one and the same.
1hr 40mins – Speaking of Harry, while Harry hasn’t had a great deal to do in this movie, his character has continued to come on leaps and bounds. He is getting more and more distant from his friends, and is becoming more obsessed with killing Spidey.
1hr 42mins – Into the big action finale now, as Spidey faces Doctor Octopus, with the life of Mary Jane on the line. Again.
1hr 44mins – Having temporarily disabled Doctor Octopus, Peter reveals his identity to gain Ock’s trust. Ock’s experiment is dangerously out of control, and it will take both of them to save the city from imminent doom.
1hr 44mins 40secs – If I have one criticism about this movie, and this really is the only criticism I have, it is that this finale is not as strong as the train sequence from earlier in the movie. It feels as if the best action scene has already taken place, and this is just a little bit of last-minute tidying up.
1hr 45mins 30secs – Doctor Octopus has gained control over his tentacles, and is going to help Peter by sacrificing himself to destroy his experiment.
1hr 46mins 25secs – One more reveal, as Mary Jane sees Peter’s face and discovers what she knew all along – that Peter and Spider-Man are one and the same.
1hr 47mins 30secs – Peter confesses his love to MJ…
1hr 47mins 50secs – …while Doctor Octopus dies, saving the city.
1hr 48mins 40secs – With everyone safe, Mary Jane and Peter have a heart-to-heart, with Mary Jane revealing that she ‘thinks’ she always knew about his secret.
Hang on a minute, she thinks she always knew?!
Come on – she knew! It was hinted at during the final moments of the previous movie.
1hr 51mins 25secs – And now for the final reveal: The ghost of Norman Osborn! Willem Dafoe is back for a very brief appearance as a sort-of ghostly vision of Norman, which only Harry can see (because it’s all in his head).
Norman is here to point Harry towards the path of the Green Goblin. Harry is mentally ill, and about to take a worrying step away from the realms of sanity.
1hr 52mins 30secs – Harry has discovered the Goblin Glider, the Pumpkin Bombs, and more importantly, the strength enhancing formula that will turn him into the Green Goblin. This is worrying for Harry’s future, but SUCH A GOOD TEASE for the next film.
1hr 57mins 30secs – And as Spider-Man 2 concludes, Mary Jane has ditched John Jameson at the altar, and has gone to see Peter to confess her love and acceptance of his role as Spidey. But with Peter continually putting himself in danger, how long will she be able to cope sharing him with the world?
An upbeat, yet slightly sombre note to end on as worry is etched across Mary Jane’s face. Big trouble is most certainly on the horizon.
I previously said that Spider-Man is great, and it is. But Spider-Man 2 is even better.
Spider-Man 2 brings back all of the elements that worked so well in the first movie (the characters, the action, the humour, the tone etc), and cranks things up a notch with a much better story. A story that allows the lead character to question his role as a hero, while losing his powers in the process.
It doesn’t repeat the same story beats from the first film, instead it uses what has come before to push the narrative further. There is more characterisation, more complications, and generally more meat on the bone.
The only real weak point of the first Spider-Man movie was that the film had to deal with a hefty amount of set-up, with so much screen time devoted to Spidey’s origin. Spider-Man 2 doesn’t suffer from this problem, so can jump right into things from the very beginning.
Earlier I said that Spider-Man felt like it was building the foundations for this world. Spider-Man 2 feels like it is adding substance to the structure.
For my money, this is one of the best Spider-Man movies of them all, and is certainly the strongest entry in the trilogy, which I never tire of watching. I adored it back in 2004, and to this day it remains one of my favourite comic book movies of all time.
OK, so that is two movies down and now onto the final entry in the trilogy. Let’s see how things go with this one.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
1mins – Straight in with the credits and once again there is a recap of the key beats from Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. No illustrations this time around; just footage from the movies.
2mins – While the credits still feel very familiar, and the Spider-Man movie theme continues to play out, the score to this film is from Christopher Young, who replaced Danny Elfman on this project. However, Elman’s main theme is incorporated into Young’s score.
3mins 15secs – As with the previous entries, the movie begins with a voiceover from Peter.
4mins – Unlike the beginning of Spider-Man 2, things are much different for Peter. Since accepting that he can be both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, his school work is doing much better…
4mins 30secs – …and it looks as if he is getting ready to propose to Mary Jane.
4mins 45secs – Expect for all the happiness to come crashing down very shortly.
5mins – I should point out that within the first five minutes of Spider-Man 3, Dr. Curt Connors has been re-introduced, and Gwen Stacy makes her debut. Dylan Baker is back as Connors, while Bryce Dallas Howard is playing Stacy.
5mins 30secs – I’d like to say that Stacy’s inclusion in Spider-Man 3 is a good thing, but sadly she turns out to be more of a plot device than anything else. Thankfully the next time she appears on film, which is via 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, the character is better served.
8mins 25secs – No time to worry about Gwen, as Harry is back and he appears to be plotting something menacing involving Peter and Mary Jane. Harry has fully embraced the dark side, and is ready to follow his Goblin heritage.
9mins – While Harry is working up some angst towards Peter, Peter and Mary Jane are enjoying time together in the park. This is a nice little scene to make it clear where these two are in their relationship.
9mins 45secs – Unbeknownst to Peter and Mary Jane, a small meteorite has crashed in the park, and a black, ooze-like substance has crawled out. This extra-terrestrial lifeform has attached itself to Peter’s bike.
11mins – OK, so I’m 11 minutes in and so far, Harry has turned evil, an alien lifeform has arrived on Earth, and what’s this? A new villain is being introduced in the form of Flint Marko! There is already a lot happening in this movie.
12mins 30secs – Marko is an escaped convict, played by Thomas Haden Church.
Key thing to know about Marko: His daughter is sick and her well-being is what he cares about. This is his main motivation in this story.
14mins – Back with Peter, and with marriage on his mind he visits Aunt May to ask her for some advice. It is great that three movies in and Aunt May is still the character who Peter turns to for wisdom.
English born actress, Rosemary Harris, is brilliant in the role of Aunt May. She brings real heart to this trilogy and it would be poorer without her.
17mins – And now for some action, courtesy of a fight between Peter and the new Goblin. Harry is decked out in an outfit and has ambushed Peter on his way home from Aunt May’s.
18mins – Peter tells Harry that he didn’t kill Norman Osborn. Harry doesn’t want to hear it.
19mins – This is a great fight sequence.
22mins – Things haven’t ended well for Harry, and he has been taken to hospital as a result of the fight.
23mins – Back with Flint Marko, and the convict is on the run, leading him into an experimental particle accelerator… which has the worst security imaginable. He literally runs into the device, and no one stops him.
24mins – The accelerator is active and appears to be dissolving Marko.
25mins – Back to the hospital, and Harry has *sigh* amnesia. Yep, you read that correctly, Harry has amnesia.
Of all the poor decisions this film makes, and it makes a few, this is the first one out of the gate – and it bugs the heck out of me.
Amnesia is a weak plot point, usually reserved for long-running television shows, such as soap operas, who use it as a storytelling device to draw out tension and drama over the course of weeks or months. Usually, amnesia is introduced as a way to side step a huge revelation, so that certain characters don’t have to deal with complex feelings and emotions, until a later point in time.
Amnesia is rarely included in movies, as movies only span a couple of hours. The shorter timeframe means writers need to be more economical with their stories, and all revelations, feelings, emotions etc need to be dealt with as they arise.
In the case of Spider-Man 3, the problem here is that in Spider-Man 2 Harry discovered Peter’s secret. So, it would stand to reason that he would spend the majority of this movie attacking Peter until he killed him.
Of course, this doesn’t leave room for the introduction of other villains. So, by giving Harry amnesia, the movie is able to focus on other characters until Harry gets his memory back. But this is silly and it already makes the narrative less interesting than what has previously been brought to the screen.
In short: Amnesia should never have been introduced. Instead, Harry should be the only villain in this movie and the film should concentrate on his story, which has been built-up over the previous two movies.
*Takes a deep breath*
27mins – Back at the particle accelerator, Flint Marko is beginning to reshape his body, which has now become living sand.
28mins – The birth of the Sandman is one of the best scenes in the entire trilogy. Visually everything is stunning, and mixed with Christopher Young’s score there is so much emotion in this scene. Bravo!
28mins 30secs – Doctor Octopus is my favourite villain in this trilogy of films, but Sandman is a very, very close second.
33mins – Another action scene now, involving Gwen Stacy and an out-of-control crane. This is a fun scene, but it could (and probably should) have been trimmed for length. Spider-Man 3 is the longest of the three films, and here is something which could have been cut to help reduce the running time.
34mins – This scene does serve one important point though, and that is to introduce Edward ‘Eddie’ Brock Jr., as played by Topher Grace. Eddie will become the movie’s third villain, after Harry and the Sandman.
35mins – I forgot to mention that James Cromwell is playing the role of Gwen’s father, Captain George Stacy. Cromwell is great, but the role is pretty empty.
37mins 55secs – Brock arrives at the Daily Bugle with pictures of Spider-Man, and it is here that J. Jonah Jameson asks the question: “Who are you?”, to which ‘Robbie’ Robertson says: “You hired him last week.”
This is the moment the movie retcons the mention of Eddie from the first movie. The Eddie who was referenced in Spider-Man, was not Eddie Brock.
39mins 30secs – Both Peter and Eddie are vying for the same job at the Daily Bugle, leading to Jameson proposing the idea that if one of them can get a photo of Spider-Man doing something criminal, then that person will be given the role of staff photographer.
39mins 55secs – Oooh… Third Stan Lee cameo – and the longest of the three. He actually gets to say a couple of lines.
43mins – Although things are going well for Peter, they are not going well for Mary Jane. She has lost her acting job.
47mins – Going back to Harry’s amnesia, the only good thing about it, is that it makes him a lot more fun, after being dark and brooding. This is the only positive thing you’ll hear about the amnesia.
48mins 50secs – The upside-down kiss is referenced once again, this time it comes as Spidey kisses Gwen Stacy. It’s part of a ‘bit’ that Spider-Man is doing during a ceremony to celebrate Spider-Man, but Mary Jane is not impressed.
52mins – Peter is unaware of Mary Jane’s frustration over the kiss, or the fact that she has lost her job and this does not bode well for the big proposal he has planned at a fancy French restaurant. My question is, why do none of these guys talk? If Peter is looking to marry MJ, then he really needs to work on his communication, and vice versa.
52mins 30secs – Bruce Campbell gets his third and final cameo in this trilogy, as a maître d at the restaurant. This cameo is the best of the bunch, and it is great to see him once again, getting in the way of Peter’s life.
58mins 30secs – The proposal did not go well. This is not Bruce Campbell’s fault, but rather the fault of Peter and MJ and their lack of communication.
1hr – Time for a flashback now, and it is a flashback to the night that Uncle Ben died. Cliff Robertson returns for a third time to portray Ben in a slightly different take on the scene from Spider-Man. It would appear that Flint Marko killed Uncle Ben.
1hr 4mins – While Peter dwells on the news regarding Marko, the black alien ooze (which hitched a ride to his apartment), has begun to take over his body. He awakes from his sleep to discover he is now…
1hr 5mins – …a black suited Spider-Man!
1hr 6mins – Peter is confused about what has just happened, so has approached Dr. Connors with a piece of the alien lifeform, in the hope that he can shed some light on the situation.
1hr 6mins 30secs – Connors is unsure what it is, but he believes it has the characteristics of a symbiote. He warns Peter not to get any of the symbiote on him.
1hr 7mins – Peter ignores Connors’ advice, and instead wears the black suit while following a lead on the Marko/Sandman.
1hr 10mins – Having caught up with the Sandman, Spider-Man engages him in combat. This is another great fight scene, with Spider-Man demonstrating a darker, harder edge.
1hr 10mins 45secs – And it would appear that Spider-Man has killed the Sandman. This effectively writes Sandman out of the movie for the next 20 minutes, which means (along with Harry) two villains have now been benched.
Is this so the movie can concentrate on the introduction of the third villain, Venom? Nope, it’s so it can focus on Spider-Man 3’s surprise fourth villain, Peter Parker!
1hr 11mins – When discussing the previous Spider-Man movies, I noted how they borrow elements from the Christopher Reeve Superman series. Spider-Man 3 is no different, and borrows the idea of an ‘evil’ super hero becoming one of the villains of the movie.
1hr 12mins – I’m about half-way through Spider-Man 3, and with the exception of the amnesia plot line, and the desire to temporarily write the Sandman out, I am still enjoying this film – especially the direction that Peter is heading in. We have seen Peter become a hero in Spider-Man; we have seen him give up being a hero in Spider-Man 2; and now he is going to be the villain, which adds an interesting new wrinkle to the story.
For the most part this all feels like business as usual and like another solid entry in the trilogy. I am pointing all this out now because from here on out, things begin a steady decline.
I can see this decline is on the horizon because this film is adding more and more elements, without looking towards the end point. It should be bringing things together now, to work toward a satisfactory conclusion, but that clearly isn’t happening and this means the next half of this movie is going to be very bumpy. Speaking of which…
1hr 15mins – Remember when I watched Spider-Man 2 and mentioned that Harry Osborn’s butler, Bernard would become important? Well, so far, he’s popped up twice in this movie and this is to help build up his part for what’s to come. When he makes his next appearance, expect things to get really, really bumpy.
1hr 18mins – Back to the story, and things have become strained between Peter and Mary Jane, and as they spend time away from each other, Mary Jane and Harry have a ‘best friends’ night together. Which results in the two sharing a kiss… which once again takes this movie down the soap opera route.
1hr 20mins – And now because of the kiss, all of Harry’s memories have come flooding back.
1hr 20mins 25secs – Another quick cameo for Willem Dafoe as Norman, who is once again haunting Harry’s mind. Norman tells Harry that Peter and Mary Jane have betrayed him, sending Harry spiralling down that dark path he was on earlier.
1hr 22mins 30secs – Harry has returned to his life as the Goblin, has threatened Mary Jane, and has told her to dump Peter for good, or Harry will hurt him. MJ obliges… rather than just telling Peter, the super hero(!!), the truth.
1hr 25mins 30secs – To make matters worse, Harry has told Peter that he has been seeing Mary Jane behind his back. This is all a lie, but Peter is devastated. Meanwhile, I am disappointed.
This whole plotline has become a full-on soap. And that’s not me trying to belittle soap operas – I have no issue with them at all – but this is a big budget Spider-Man movie. This is a tentpole picture for Columbia/Sony, with millions of dollars invested into it, so what the heck is this plotline all about?! It’s terrible and is derailing the movie.
1hr 28mins – Peter and Harry engage in another fight, with Peter now clearly under the influence of the symbiote. This won’t end well for Harry.
1hr 32mins – And things don’t stop there, Peter has just exposed Eddie as being a fraud, having faked a photo to discredit Spider-Man. He was right to expose Eddie, but this is clearly a darker Peter.
1hr 32mins 45secs – Brock is fired.
1hr 35mins – The symbiote continues to influence Peter’s attitude, making him more confident, but a lot meaner. Meanwhile…
1hr 35mins 45secs – … the Sandman lives!
1hr 38mins – And now for the infamous dance sequence. With Peter’s new found confidence and arrogance he takes Gwen on a date, to make Mary Jane jealous. It is now that he performs a dance routine, which many fans cringe at.
I’m indifferent about this scene. The movie has problems, but I don’t think Peter bustin’ some moves is one of them.
1hr 40mins – Peter continues to act out of character, lashing out at people, including Mary Jane. He realises that something is seriously wrong.
1hr 42mins – Seeking solace, and a safe place to remove the black costume, Spider-Man has gone to the nearest church tower. It’s the same church that Eddie has gone to, upset and angry that he has lost his job.
1hr 44mins – Peter has managed to remove the suit. However, he doesn’t seem too bothered about where the symbiote has gone.
1hr 44mins 30secs – It has attached itself to Eddie.
1hr 48mins – Eddie is now Venom. And after the world’s shortest hunt, he has tracked down Sandman so they can team up to fight Spider-Man. Why? Because it says so in the script and something needs to happen to quickly wrap this film up!
1hr 49mins – There is only 30 minutes left in this movie, and before it reaches its conclusion…
- The Sandman’s story needs resolving
- Harry needs to see that his actions are misguided
- Mary Jane and Peter need a reconciliation
- Venom needs enough screen time to warrant being in this movie
- The audience must see a trilogy-ending big finale
And if all that wasn’t enough, all of the themes, ideas, characters, and everything in between from Spider-Man through to Spider-Man 3 needs to be left in a good place, just in case the story isn’t continued in a fourth movie.
So, with all that in mind, and the clock ticking away, what will Spider-Man 3 do? Will it pull an ace out of its sleeve with a brilliant way to tie everything together?
Nope. It will make another big mistake…
1hr 49mins 10secs – Rather than build up to a big, story-driven finale, the movie jumps straight into the dramatic finish, with Mary Jane kidnapped and at the mercy of Sandman and Venom. And none of this makes any sense.
To convey this bizarre situation to the audience, a newsreader and a news reporter have just been introduced to provide all the exposition about what is happening. Why show it, when you can just have two random characters explain it?
This frankly quite odd plot development is embarrassingly bad. It is as if someone suddenly realised the movie needed to end and so a makeshift finale has been tacked on, with characters added to paper over the cracks.
I would say this is the moment where the movie reaches the lowest point, but that’s just about to come.
1hr 51mins 20secs – Peter seeks out Harry to ask for his help, despite the two of them being mortal enemies. This who scene makes no sense, because if Harry were to turn on Peter now, he would have no way to save MJ.
1hr 52mins – Bernard the butler has popped up to inform Harry that Norman was not killed by Spider-Man, but was instead killed by his own hand.
“That night your father died, I cleaned his wound. The blade that pierced his body came from his glider. I know you’re trying to defend your father’s honour, but there’s no question that he died by his own hands.”
Hang on a minute… WHAT?!
Each Spider-Man movie is set a couple of years apart, so for four to five years Harry has been convinced that Spidey killed his father. This belief has eaten away at his soul, has made him mentally ill, has broken up his relationships with friends, and has effectively ruined his life. And yet, all of a sudden, with just over 25 minutes to go, Bernard arrives to inform him that he has been wrong this entire time.
Erm… did Bernard not think about mentioning this a few years ago, when Harry was becoming very obsessed with killing Spider-Man? Did he not think about dropping this truth nugget while serving up dinner, or while he was dusting the living room? Heck, perhaps he should have spoken these words before Norman was even buried!
Also, how does Bernard know that Spider-Man didn’t use the glider to kill Norman? Unless Bernard was at the scene of Norman’s death (which he wasn’t), there is no way he could have known that Norman “died by his own hands.”
This whole scene is ridiculous, and coupled with the scene with the news reporters, it shows that the wheels have totally come off this movie. This is such a shame.
1hr 53mins 35secs – Spider-Man has arrived to save the day.
1hr 55mins 30secs – Spidey fights Venom.
1hr 57mins – Enter: The Sandman. Or rather, a weird CGI monster Sandman.
1hr 57mins 25secs – This team-up between Venom and Sandman continues to makes no sense whatsoever. They literally team-up because they are both evil, and Sandman isn’t really all that evil. He’s the guy who really cares about his daughter, remember?
1hr 58mins – To make it clear to the audience that things are looking bad for Spidey, both the newsreader and the news reporter are back, and they have just explained to the audience… that things are looking bad for Spidey.
Yep, they have had to spell it out. Why? Because things don’t look all that bad for Spidey, they just look like a bit rubbish. The audience has to be told things are bad, so this whole scene feels more ‘dangerous’ than it really is.
*Shakes head from side to side*
1hr 58mins 30secs – I also need to point out that since the Sandman has become this weird CGI monster-like creation, Thomas Haden Church has disappeared. Any investment or interest I had in this character has suddenly been jettisoned.
Imagine if the previous two movies had done this to the Green Goblin or Doc Ock. Imagine if Willem Dafoe had suddenly been replaced by a CGI goblin, it would have been stupid. And yet, here we are.
1hr 59mins – With Spidey in dire straights (according to the news folk, anyway), Harry has just arrived to help. He no longer hates Peter, because Bernard showed him the truth.
2hrs 3mins 30secs – The Sandman has been disabled, leaving Spidey and Harry to take on Venom.
2hrs 4mins – Harry is mortally wounded.
2hrs 5mins 45secs – Having worked out that Venom has a weakness to sonics, Spider-Man gets the upper hand and removes the symbiote from Eddie. He then uses a discarded pumpkin to blow up the symbiote, but Eddie rushes towards the alien and they both die.
2hrs 6mins 30secs – The CGI Sandman is nowhere to be seen, and Thomas Haden Church is back. Hurrah!
2hrs 7mins – Time for another flashback, to explain what really happened on the night of Uncle Ben’s death. Turns out, Flint Marko didn’t kill Ben, it was an accident.
2hrs 9mins 30secs – Peter forgives Marko for his involvement in the situation, then watches as he turns to dust and floats away on the breeze. I have no idea if this means Marko is on the run, is going to seek out his daughter, has given up the will to live, or all of the above. There is simply no explanation for what has happened.
2hrs 11mins – Following the events of the fight, Harry has passed away. At his funeral are a number of familiar faces, including Aunt May, Bernard the butler (of course), Flash Thompson who hasn’t been seen since the first movie, and bizarrely Gwen and George Stacy. Did they know Harry? When did that happen?! Maybe they are friends with Bernard, and he’s just never mentioned it.
2hrs 13mins – And as the movie comes to an end, and after all they have been through, Peter and Mary Jane reconcile. No words are spoken, the screen simply fades to black.
The film just stopped.
*Takes a deep breath*
Spider-Man 3 is a mixed bag. A real mixed bag.
Many people do not like Spider-Man 3, and call it a bad movie. Personally, I don’t agree with that way of thinking, as I don’t believe Spider-Man 3 is an entirely bad movie – but I agree that half of it is not good.
As previously noted, up until the half-way point the film is good and on par with the first two entries. It is only once the picture moves beyond the mid-point that everything falls apart, and this is largely because it tries to do too much, with too many characters and too many plotlines.
What starts out as a straight forward storyline about Harry wanting revenge on Peter/Spider-Man, soon becomes quite convoluted, with more and more elements thrown into the mix. The introduction of the Sandman, the introduction of the symbiote, the change to Uncle Ben’s death, the breakdown of the Peter/MJ relationship, the introduction of Eddie Brock/Venom, and the inclusion of Gwen Stacy is simply far too much for one picture to handle, and this becomes very clear as the running time ticks away.
I get that movie studios like to go bigger with each new entry, but there’s bigger and then there’s just being ridiculous. Some of this material should have been cut out, while other elements should have been tweaked.
After years of build-up, the Harry storyline needed to come to a head, so this is something which had to be included in the film. But the amnesia plot is awful and should not have happened.
The inclusion of the symbiote is something that some fans think is a mistake, but I have no real problem with it. The symbiote becomes the reason for Peter’s change in mood and I believe this works well for creating a new dynamic for the character and creating tension.
Changing Peter’s character also works well for the Peter/Harry relationship. By making Peter darker it means the film can take him on a dangerous path, and one which allows him to fight back against Harry.
The Sandman storyline is good and Thomas Haden Church is perfectly cast as Flint Marko. I like the inclusion of a misunderstood villain, and it plays well against the Harry/Peter situation, but he should not have been side-lined or turned into a CGI abomination for the finale.
And then there is Venom, who feels like a last-minute addition to this film – which he kind of is. He is brought in for the final act, then killed off just as quickly.
Venom should not be in Spider-Man 3. The symbiote, yes, Venom, no. He is only in the movie because Columbia/Sony had been trying to get Venom into a film for a number of years, and this was how it was going to happen, whether he fitted the story or not.
But there is no place for Venom here. Spider-Man 3 should have introduced the symbiote, had Peter become evil, then had Peter remove the symbiote/black costume. Anything beyond this should have been kept for another movie.
Keeping Venom on hold until a fourth Spidey movie would have made the next film feel more epic. The audience would have followed the symbiote’s journey from one movie to the next, and Eddie Brock would have been given more time to develop. But instead, everything was rushed.
Nowadays, thanks to the kind of storytelling we see with the MCU, the notion of a studio playing the long game with its characters is something which has become more common. But back in the mid-‘00s, when Spider-Man 3 was being made, this was not how studios operated, and many tried to cram a lot into one movie, because the fear was, they may not have the opportunity to do so again.
Franchises lived and died from movie-to-movie, so in the case of Spider-Man 3 it was entirely possible that if Venom wasn’t included this time around, then he might never be included at all. In truth, this is the risk that Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures should have taken, and had faith that this trilogy would have spawned another sequel – which it almost did.
By including Venom into this movie, the film became bloated and this is very apparent as it enters the second half. It is very clear there is no way the film can wrap everything up in the allotted time frame, and that’s why plot devices such as Bernard or the news readers are introduced, so they can provide the exposition to move things along.
Does all this sudden exposition make sense? No. But without it, the film would simply grind to a halt. Which it kind of does at the very end anyway, but at least it manages to get to the end – which at one point almost looked impossible.
Speaking of the end, I think the most disappointing aspect of Spider-Man 3 is that it just comes to a halt. Peter and Mary Jane have the briefest moment of reconciliation, but it is nowhere near the triumphant ‘hurrah’ that it should be.
These characters have been on a journey for three movies, and at the very end of the story nothing happens. It is such a crushing blow.
Regardless of whether or not Sam Raimi or Sony were eyeing up Spider-Man 4, the ending to Spider-Man 3 is not satisfactory in any way. And after three films, with this being the capper to a trilogy, there should have been a better scene to end on and one that made the audience feel excited about what’s to come.
Now all that said, I believe all of the main performers – Maguire, Dunst, Franco, Harris, Robertson, Dafoe, Simmons etc – are excellent, and the look and tone of this movie remains in keeping with the previous pictures. Spider-Man 3 also has some fun moments, plenty of humour, and some great action scenes, so it’s not all bad.
The first hour is strong and had tweaks been made to the script (and had Venom been removed from the picture), I think it would have been a good entry in the series. It’s hard to say if it would have been better than either of the first two, but I don’t believe it would have been viewed as the disappointment that many now see it as.
I also believe we would have been more likely to have seen Spider-Man 4, had Spider-Man 3 been more of a critical success. Spider-Man 3 made a huge amount of money at the box office, and Spider-Man 4 almost went into production, but I believe the critical response to this third film helped signal the end for the franchise.
Either way, we got three films, I watched three films, and for the most part I do love these three films. Well, I love Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, and I appreciate all the good stuff in Spider-Man 3.
Across the three movies, Sam Raimi managed to bring an iconic comic book character to the big screen, and not only make him appealing to audiences once, but three times! And he did all this while also highlighting his love for the character too.
The series incorporated many aspects of the Spider-Man mythology, from friends and foes to the all-important message about power and responsibility, and did it with respect and appreciation. All three films included the classic 1967 Spider-Man theme tune (aka the one from the cartoon), gave bit parts to many great actors, shoe-horned Stan Lee into every picture, and brought a sense of fun to the screen.
I always find Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy a joy to watch, and that hasn’t changed on this latest viewing. Spider-Man 3 is a bumpy ride and some of it is a mess, but Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 are (in my view) near perfect super hero movies.
I would have loved this series to continue for a fourth, fifth and maybe even sixth picture, but I am happy that at least three films were made. That’s more than six hours of Spider-Man entertainment to watch and re-watch whenever the need arises, and that works well enough for me.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post about the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie trilogy on Don’t Tell Harry – I hope you have enjoyed this journey back through the movies. For more Spider-Man movie-related content, be sure to take a look around this blog and check out the recommended reads below.