"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Spider-Man

Spider-man, Spider-man. Sam Raimi, Spider-Man. Bruce Campbell cameos. Spider-man. Spider-man. That is a song I Wrote.

Anyway. This is a picture by Mr. Sam Raimi only it is based on the popular children’s comic strip, “SPIDER-MAN”. If I remember right what that was about was a nerdy kid who gets bit by a magic spider so he puts on a red and blue bodysuit and swings around on webs saving people. This works on account of he now has magic spider powers to climb up buildings, make wisecracks, etc. My internet research indicates that the webs actually did not shoot out of his wrists, as any logical person might assume, in fact they were shot by mechanical laser watches or some stupid shit that Peter Parker invented and this apparently is the building block on which all Marvel Comics are built and should never be altered if Sam Raimi doesn’t want to face a fate similar to that of Salman Rushdie (i.e. years of fear and hiding, followed by a cameo in Bridget Jones’s Diary).

Spider-ManThere is a dash between Spider and Man apparently, you gotta be careful with that one on the internet. Again, Salman Rushdie.

Other than changing the web lasers this one appears to be very faithful to the juvenile picture books it is based on and that is where the charm is. It seems to me that most of these funny books are based around outlandish costumes, and at the same time the outlandish costumes cause the biggest dilemmas when adapting to the legitimate artistic medium of Film. I mean do you really want to have a guy wearing that kind of shit or not, that is the big question. In the case of Super-Man they said yes, he’ll wear the exact same thing that he wears in the drawings. And America loved it.

But that was the 1970s or 80s, a simpler time. Then there was Viet-Nam. Well, Viet-Nam had already happened but then there was a series of movies about Viet-Nam. So America was changed forever. I don’t know.

So by the time of the year 1989 and BAT-MAN (1989), nobody wanted to see that kind of dress in public. It made people uncomfortable. People were not as accepting of that kind of alternative lifestyle and did not want anyone dressed like that around their children. We fear what we don’t understand and in the ’89s we did not understand a guy swingin on a rope wearing tights and a cape. One of the biggest concerns by all involved (those making the movie, those watching the advertising) was that it would be like the old tv show from the ’60s, and nobody would take it seriously. Their solution – no bat-man costume, put im in rubber armor. And it worked. Audiences were immediately won over by the gloomy, serious approach, and although the movie is considered pretty boring by today’s lower standards of summer entertainment I would argue that it turned out to be one of the most influential movies of that decade. Even the topic of discussion this evening, SAM RAIMI’S SPIDER MOTHERFUCKIN MAN, by Sam Raimi, fits a bit into the Bat-Man template (spider-man confronting the killer of his guardian, danny elfman score, big showdown at community event featuring large inflatable characters).

THE X-MEN starring 2000 Outlaw Award Winner Hugh Jack-Man as Young Clint Eastwood also took the embarassed approach to costuming. They not only abandoned the colorful costumes from the children’s booklet series but had the characters joke about how asinine it would be to wear costumes like that. The best comic book movie franchise ever, BLADE, features fashion that might be considered eccentric but that at least passes as an outfit rather than a costume, and which is not based on the colorful costumes he apparently wore in the ’70s strips.

But Sam Raimi is an old fashioned gentlemen. He wears a suit and tie on set as an homage to Alfred Hitch-Cock. He creates imaginative horror masterpieces and then claims the inspiration is all 3 Stooges. He swears he really wants to be making boring movies about baseball. He starred in a movie as a manson like killer vietnam vet but he is in a pre-Vietnam film mentality. He is not the kind of guy that is gonna put Spiderman in black leather with some kind of infra-red goggles or some shit like that.

I mean maybe Spider-man is different. It’s hard to imagine what else you could do with him other than put a Spider-man costume on him. So that’s what he did. If you remember what Spider-man looks like, yeah, that’s what you see in the movie. Just, some guy wearing a Spider-man costume.

And I gotta be honest, the costume works, and so does the casting, and the effects. Together, they create exactly the comic book world that Mr. Raimi must remember reading from when he was child, and was able to still read comic books. Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco are all perfect for their characters. It is easy to get wrapped up in the story as Peter Parker discovers his powers, uses them to deal with his nerdy teenage problems, than finds a greater purpose for them.

What really makes the movie work though is all the swingin around. I mean it was pretty cool in Sam Raimi’s THE AMAZING DARK-MAN when Dark-Man was hanging off a helicopter, but now computers can do all this swinging shit. Spider-Man just flops around all over the place, swings and swooshes and floopty floops. He jumps from buildings, kicks people across rooms. He does MATRIXY spider-dodges, and BLADE 2-esque computer jumps. And it’s all spectacular to watch, a real good time at the movies. To be honest it makes Super-Man, flying around in straight lines, look like a fuckin baby. Is that all you can do is fly, you fuckin cape wearin pussy? Spider-Man can flip, and stick to walls, and hang upside down. He has little pointy bug leg things that come out of his fingers, for christ’s sake. Can you compete with that? I don’t think so. Go home Super-Man. You can’t save the day, why don’t you go do a visa commercial with the guy from Seinfeld, asswipe.

You know what in all seriousness though, Christopher Reeve is the real Super-Man. Because he’s in a wheelchair.

Another thing Spider-Man does that most of the other comic book movies don’t bother with, he saves a bunch of people. Gals, babies, you name it. Not just a few cursory establishing heroics, they seem to make up the bulk of his daily activities. But there is a main villain, and that’s where the problem comes.

Willem Dafoe is pretty great as Norman Osborne, a scientist trying to get money from the military, who makes that classic Dr. Jekyll mistake of testing on himself and getting all Hyded up. Next thing you know he’s in a room by himself talking to a mask sitting on a chair that he thinks is telling him to kill people. Which, I mean, it’s time for some therapy there dude. He starts flying around on a magic jetboard wearing green armor and a mask, and throwing bombs at people and laughing. They call him the Green Goblin, I guess because he’s green.

I don’t know what it is but I completely accepted Toby Maguire flingin himself all over the city in a fancy molded Spider-Man costume. I wondered where in fuck’s name he GOT this costume but I had no problem watching him wear it. But then the second you have him standing on a rooftop talking to a guy in green armor, the whole thing seems pretty silly. They make a good joke about it, having Green Goblin lean up all casual and talk buddy buddy with Spider-Man. But until their final showdown (which for some reason reminded me of a scene in the Raimi executive produced HARD TARGET) you have a hard time taking things seriously any time the two costumes are in the shot together. I mean, jesus. Put some real clothes on, people. You can still be evil wearing, say, a hat.

So yeah, the villain is pretty stupid, but when he’s just Norman Osborne he works. His son Harry is Peter’s best friend and roommate. He treats his son coldly but gets excited around Peter because of his knack for science. And of course this makes things uncomfortable between the boys. I mean there are actual characters and relationships in this movie, melodramatic but interesting, and they set up many possibilities for sequels. It’s a good story, good characters, only one stupid costume, and good action scenes.

One word of warning to the hardcore comic strip enthusiasts. The pig version of Spider-man, Peter Porker the Amazing Spider-Ham, does not appear in this picture. He is apparently being saved for the sequel. I enjoyed this picture though thanks.

APPENDIX. RAIMI TOUCHES OF NOTE: Cameos by Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Lucy Lawless. We learn of Peter’s future powers via guided student tour of laboratories (as in Dark-Man). Green Goblin talks to evil version of himself in mirror (as in EVIL DEAD 2: HIS BEST SO FAR). Ends with corny shot of Spider-Man in front of American flag, which I’d guess is how FOR LOVE OF THE GAME probaly ends, but I haven’t seen it.

This entry was posted on Friday, May 3rd, 2002 at 7:02 am and is filed under Action, Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

37 Responses to “Spider-Man”

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  3. Gee, I didn’t know who was going to show up at the end of GOTG but I wasn’t expecting a certain friendly neighbourhood webslinger! *wink*

  4. First of all, how did I not know Joe Manganiello was OG Flash Thompson? And even after knowing it’s him and rewinding, this guy literally looks nothing like Joe Manganiello. As in, SAG rules must have been loosened and there’s two actors running around named Joe Manganiello or something.

    Anyways, I’m rewatching the Raimi trilogy to work up to Spider-Verse and eventually Far From Home, and I hate to be that guy but Spider-Man 1 is kind of a mess. I don’t hate it – it’s watchable and entertaining but sorta just feels like a mish-mash of Superman ’78 and Batman, but not as good as either (speaking of Batman, can anyone tell me how the Spider-Man theme by Danny Elfman goes? Because I just saw the movie and I can’t)

    I appreciate that they try to keep things moving and they cover a TON of information during the 2 hour runtime (it’s actually kinda shocking how quickly he gets bit by the spider), but I think everything suffers a bit – we get a bunch of cliches instead of actual character development and everything sorta feels like a checklist of “shit that needs to happen” rather than an actual movie. It’s good-natured, but weirdly distancing and uninvolving (other than the Uncle Ben death scene, I don’t think I was ever emotionally engaged once this go-round.) The Raimi touches like the Darkman-esque costume-making montage seem to be inserted from another more interesting movie. And scenes like the apartment fire seem to be dropped in so abruptly you wonder if your bluray skipped a chapter or something. Anyways, I’m glad the movie exists but hopefully a rewatch of 2 and 3 will make me like this one more because I just really felt it was missing something this time.

  5. Nah, I think it’s commonly accepted that Raimi’s first Spidey is good, even really good if you consider that it came out only 4 years after BATMAN & ROBIN, but now, that Hollywood has mostly perfected the way to make superhero movies and even play with the formula and subvert it to the point where it’s impossible to actually subvert anything anymore, it also pales in comparison to today’s really good superhero movies.

    Still, as one of the first post-B&R superhero movies that helped to bring this kind of movie to the place where it is now, it’s still really watchable.

  6. Both of you are wrong. Rewatched it back in January. Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN still owns.

  7. I lost most of my interest in SPIDER-MAN the second I saw SPIDER-MAN 2. The sequel improves on everything the first film did well and fixed many of the problems (narrative and technological) that held the original back. The first one suffers from old-fashioned originstoryitis, spending so much time on the hero becoming a hero that it leaves little room for him to actually do any heroing. SPIDER-MAN 2 hits the ground running and is a much more assured and full-bodied Spider-Man story in every way, from the action to the comedy to the drama. And as a bonus, it even feels more like a legitimate Sam Raimi movie. I put it up there with X2, BATMAN RETURNS, and SUPERMAN 2 in the ranks of best pre-MCU comic book movies.

  8. But which version of Superman 2!? WHICH VERSION!?

    I really like part 2 but there is just something about the sincere cheesiness that really gets me with the first one. Everyone thinks I’m just being contrarian but I do like SPIDEY 3 (editor’s cut) the best. It’s not the best of the series but it is my favorite. It’s the only one where I truly care about the Peter/MJ relationship and even the Peter/Harry relationship.

  9. Dammit, I wasn’t saying that the movie is bad. It’s too much of a well made trailblazer of big budget superhero cinema to fully dismiss it today, but it’s also too much a product of its time and autheur-mostly-keeping-a-low-profile-because-the-studio-probably-didn’t-let-him to ignore that it isn’t fully up there with the best anymore.

  10. I don’t think it’s a bad movie, either. It’s funny, it’s got a great cast, it did what it set out to do and still has many memorable, even iconic sequences nearly 20 years later. But if I’m in the mood for a Raimi-flavored Spider-Movie, the original is never going to be the one I reach for. It set the table but the second one (and to a lesser extent the underrated third one) delivers the actual meal.

  11. I won’t say the first film isn’t messy (it particularly strikes me how Dafoe’s introduction is just “oh here’s this guy, he’s an inventor or something”) but I like the first two Rami films a lot more now than I did in the 00s. I honestly didn’t get the appeal of the second one at all at the time. I guess I got bitten by a spider who gave me the powers of iconoclasism or something, because I only came on board when HOMECOMING entered the picture, leaving me cold but driving many others to question their affection for the Rami films. At least those six months where we were all team SPIDER-VERSE were fun.

  12. The premise of Spider-Man 2, that his powers come and go, never worked for me. If you got super powers from a spider bite they don’t just go away when you don’t want them anymore, and come back again when you do. If great power comes with great responsibility, what does it mean if you can just give up your powers?

    I think the “learning the ropes” scenes are my favorite parts of Spidey 1 tho. And I still love 3.

  13. You make it sound like they said that Spidey can switch his powers on and off whenever he wants, when he was actually suffering from a psychosomatic disorder, which is a plot that really worked for a “He is really just an ordinary guy” superhero like him.

  14. I used to think people who thought Spider-Man 2 was the best superhero movie ever made were smoking something, but I kinda see it now with this last re-watch. Since the first one got all the origin story heavy-lifting out of the way, and there’s only one new character to add, Part 2 can actually focus on the character development and internal conflict the last one just didn’t have room for. And it manages to squeeze in better action, better effects, and a much, much better lead performance from Maguire this time. I don’t agree that Doc Ock is one of the best villains ever, but he’s certainly one of the coolest looking and he’s masterfully used “just enough” so he doesn’t feel under-developed and he also doesn’t over-shadow the hero. Raimi’s playfulness is much more uncaged here – the operating room scene is a Raimi classic and the “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” montage (complete with freeze frame ending!) has to be one of the most enjoyably WTF moments in a superhero movie. And yes, that scene on the subway plaform is not only an incredible piece of action but also finally made me tear up a bit like other people have said.

    Oh, remember when the internet started shitting on the Nolan Batman movies talking about how they’re all “Batman movies about how much it sucks to be Batman”? I wonder what the overlap is with people who love Spider-Man 2, because this is easily the most “life as a superhero sucks” movie ever made. The first 45 minutes is almost non-stop “Peter’s life is shit and people are assholes…wah wah wah” jokes, coupled with the “disappearing powers” subplot that I originally disliked like Fred (especially because unlike other de-powering Part 2’s like Superman II, Ghost Rider II, Deadpool 2, or The Wolverine, there’s no clear, concrete explanation for it). But this time, the drama all kinda worked for me – maybe it took approaching middle-age/mid-life crisis, or maybe the theme of the hero doing something for himself in later comic book movies like Endgame made me understand it more, but the internal conflict story hit me much harder this time.

    I love that in any another movie, screenwriting 101 would dictate that Peter would learn that giving up Spider-Man doesn’t make him any happier, or it would make him feel empty inside, but not here – his life is absolutely 100% improved by not being Spider-Man. He finally looks well-rested and has time to pursue his dreams and education. He doesn’t have to deal with asshole bosses and shitty pizza delivery customers. He finally mends his broken relationships with MJ and Aunt May. When he returns to being Spider-Man at the end and MJ accepts that, the movie looks like it’s going to end saying “You really CAN have it all!” with a callback to the first one, with Spider-Man triumphantly webbing his way across the city to fight an unspecified crime. Then Raimi cuts to Mary Jane still in her bridal dress with a look on her face that’s a perfect combination of love, concern, and “Oh shit, what now? What the fuck did I just do?” as the music turns melancholy and the movie fades to black. It’s incredible – the iconic ending of The Graduate re-purposed for our blockbuster generation, grafted onto a big, loud, summer event-movie. There’s no answer or conclusion to Peter’s dilemma. There’s no Deus Ex Machina Amnesia Kiss like Superman II. There’s no “happily ever after” ending like Dark Knight Rises. Spider-Man 2 seems to be saying “Actually, you probably CAN’T have it all. There probably WON’T ever be a way to find balance between your wants and your responsibilities. The only thing you can do is let other people into your world and share your burdens with them, and see what happens”. It’s beautiful and messy and even though I’ve seen this movie a bunch of times without really caring about it, it’s now one of my favorite endings of all time. I always had the hot take that Part 3 was my favorite, but the re-watch is going to have to be really really good to top this one.

  15. I mean, I guess I can see how exhausting himself could make him weaker, but he’d stop sticking to things? And the implication when he got his Spidey sense back was that he’d chosen to call upon it again.

    Odd how people can love Raindrops but hate the Emo dance. I love both.

  16. Dude, stress related symptoms are weird. Terry Gilliam’s legs famously stopped working during the shoot of BRAZIL, for example and a while ago I read about a woman, who woke up one day and lost the ability to read or write for a while, because she was too stressed out.

    I mean, in real life it’s not that everything is better as soon as you accept your fate and stop worrying, but for a movie, it works. Especially for a non-scientific thing like “He can climb walls just by touching them, even if he wears gloves, but never sticks to anything else”.

  17. I re-watched 1, 2, and 3 this weekend. It might be the first time I re-watched 3 since it came out. I don’t think my opinion of them has changed at all. I still like 1 and 2, not sure which I like better – I like them both for different reasons. I don’t hate 3, but I also don’t think it’s very good. The action and CGI improved in each installation, but the logic also got more and more ridiculous.

    I’m not sure what I cringed at more in the 1 – the bad CGI of Spiderman fast climbing and leaping up the building in his wrestler outfit or when he asked the other wrestler if his husband made his outfit as a dig. But both were products of their time and I’m willing to forgive them. I still really hate the end where he gives up MJ for her own safety. The condescension aside of taking away her agency, it makes no sense to push someone away for their own good because your life is too dangerous, unless you push every single person in your life aside and live in isolation. That has its own issues about the hero’s psyche, but that’s another issue.

    Part 2 was probably more fun, but the logic started to go. It doubled down on the illogic of pushing MJ away by still trying to be her friend. Like bad guys aren’t going to go after Spiderman’s friend? Nah, she’s just a friend; he won’t care about her – it’s not like she’s his *girlfriend*. But it was more stuff like Octavius needed those mechanical arms for…reasons. All they did in his experiment was touch the big, flaming ball of energy. And give me a break about the one and only reporter’s question about being how they don’t take over his mind. Um, how about, “These mechanical arms seem like a gigantic scientific breakthrough themselves. Have you considered their application for people who need prosthetic limbs?” I could only laugh at the bank having bag after bag of gold coins.

    Part 3 had the best CGI and action, but the worst story, characters and acting. It’s still stupid that his darkside is shown by guyliner and bangs. I get that Peter is a big nerd, so his darkside is also going to be nerdy, but, really, that’s where I’m supposed to accept that it’s the “logical” character development? But I’m supposed to ignore the illogic of MJ getting violently threatened by Harry to break Peter’s heart and she does so, without giving Peter any warning that Harry appears to be a crazy bad guy? And that when Peter starts to clue into the fact that Harry might be back to his crazy bad guy ways, instead of checking on MJ, who the crazy bad guy just said he’s romantically involved with, he puts on the black suit that he knows is a bad idea and goes to confront Harry? And that the professor, who himself said wasn’t not a biologist, can accurately analyze an alien parasite and tell you that its host will have its own worst characteristics amplified? And that Harry’s butler is suddenly an expert pathologist and can tell you his father’s fatal wounds were delivered by his own glider and assert that means he did it to himself? Come on.

    That’s not even taking that embarrassing dance number into the equation. I cannot watch it, because I have a problem with cringe comedy and it’s physically impossible to make myself watch that scene completely. I tried. I really tried, but had to keep looking away or muting it. But that scene aside, it’s still not a very good movie.

  18. The joke at the beginning of Spiderverse was worth it.

  19. That is a great joke. And I can watch him do his dance strut down the sidewalk. It’s the dance number in the jazz club that physically repels me.

  20. And I can watch him do his dance strut down the sidewalk. It’s the dance number in the jazz club that physically repels me.

    I don’t think I’m ever going to understand the hatred of this part. As stated. it’s so universally hated that the producers of the movie have taken to making fun of it for an easy laugh. But to me, it’s the most “Sam Rami” part of the entire movie, if not the entire series of movies.

    Seriously, if it was Bruce Campbell in the club/dancing down the street instead of whatshisname people would be talking about how hilarious it still is, instead of how it still makes them cringe. I guess it shows to go what an actor can give you…

  21. On my last watching I found it particularly odd that scene is so infamous when there’s an infinitely more cringeworthy dance scene with Dunst and Franco doing some weird shuffling while stuffing a turkey (or something). At least the strut uses a cool James Brown deep cut.

  22. It’s not that I hate the scene, or think it’s stupid, or not funny or anything like that. I accept my inability to watch it as my own hangup. I can’t do “cringe comedy”. I can’t watch stuff like MEET THE PARENTS and I couldn’t get past the first episode of SCHITT’S CREEK. I don’t fault other people for liking these things or anything. I just can’t. I think it’s genetic. My dad would literally be driven from his chair, watching some things. He would have to go stand in the doorway, as if having a quick escape made some things tolerable. For me, I can handle some stuff with just quick looks away and back or closing my eyes periodically. Other things I can either watch while the sound is muted or listen while looking away, but both watching and listening is too much stimulation for me; I’d need a hugging machine to get through it. The jazz club dance number is one of those that hits my sweet spot of not being able to handle it. But like I said, I still don’t think part 3 is very good, even without taking that into account.

  23. There is this wonderful German word: “Fremdschämen”, which you could translate with “external shame” and it means being ashamed by something emberassing that someone else did.

  24. Y’all have the best words; I’ve been on “weltschmerz” recently.

    I cosign Maggie’s inability to handle the excruciatingly awkward scenes and shows. That British series PEEP SHOW traumatized the fuck out of me.

  25. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’d rather watch a character get his eyeballs gouged out with a melon baller in excruciating slow-mo for a half-hour than sit through five seconds of that same character being embarrassed in front of his co-workers.

    I don’t get that vibe off the dancing in SPIDEY 3, though. I think it’s because Peter isn’t embarrassed—he thinks he’s being supercool and doesn’t give a shit what anybody else thinks—so it doesn’t activate my cringe reflex.

    They call this The Danny McBride Principle. It’s the opposite of The Ben Stiller Complex.

  26. I still remember how sad I was after watching BRIDESMAIDS. And I’m not even against cringe comedy, but this one was really just two hours of Kristen Wiig getting blamed over and over for stuff that wasn’t her fault.

  27. Two new words that speak directly to my soul.

  28. The more awkward the better.

  29. Finally re-watched Spider-Man 3 and even though i was expecting to hate it this time, I’ll go ahead and say it’s easily my favorite of the series and kind of an incredible movie, period. I admit, my opinion did actually change from “I don’t get why people hate this movie, it’s really not that different from the other two”, to “Yeah, ok, I totally get why people hate this movie now”. Binge-watching all three in a row makes Part 3 stick out like a sore thumb – it honestly doesn’t feel like it’s made by the same people. Even though it has the same DP as Part 2, it has the dark grainy DCEU Snyder film look rather than the other two’s Marvel-style bright look. The score is different (but better), the action sequences feel more outrageous and void-spacey (they really have no regard for physics and mostly revolve around people taking several minutes to fall 10 stories). The acting and story is definitely more over-the-top and can best be described as “soap opera-y”. I get that it’s not for everybody- hell, according to the internet it’s not for most people (even though it outgrossed Homecoming by over $100 million but whatever). But man, this movie was right up my alley. It might be in my Top 3 superhero films if I’m being honest with you guys.

    Let’s get the undeniably good stuff out of the way first – even if you hate this movie I think you have to concede that 1) This has the best Bruce Campbell cameo of the trilogy, and I like that from Maguire’s perplexed/amused expression on his face, they totally hint that it’s the same character. 2) The special effects are incredible, especially that all-timer Sandman origin scene. Yes, some FX are kinda goofy but I personally think they’re goofy and fake-looking in a charming way. 3) Best usage of J.K. Simmons and Elizabeth Banks – they’re both hilarious here. 4) Best series performance by Franco by far. It’s surprising how bland and uninteresting he is in the first two – here he’s actually given something to do and finally acts like the “James Franco” we all know and love (or hate). 5) I know this doesn’t matter but this is easily the most gorgeous Bryce Dallas Howard has ever looked onscreen, right? It’s like she has the Alexandra Daddario eyes for this one movie and then never again. I also really like that her character (while kinda superfluous) actually has a brain and doesn’t get sucked into typical love-triangle bullshit like you figure she would.

    I think the weirdest and most divisive thing though is the tone – it’s hard to describe but it really reminded me of something like Stoker or The Paperboy, where crazy shit happens and you’re kind of wondering if you’re supposed to think a) is this dark and serious? or b) is this over-the-top high camp that’s supposed to be funny? Or c) why not both? It almost plays at the heightened level of Face/Off or one of John Woo’s other “operatic melodramas” that everyone loves except they kinda hate it here. Take that scene on the bridge Maggie was talking about – does it make a lick of sense that Harry would blackmail/threaten MJ to dump Peter while he watches from afar? Of course not. Does it even seem like something Harry’s character (or any character in this universe) would do? Not really. But is it fun as hell and does it give Franco a chance to mug for the cheap seats? Absolutely. (Not to mention the scene contains the delicious irony that MJ is forced to break up with Peter at gunpoint yet she already wanted to break up with him anyway and uses all the real reasons she’s gone sour about their relationship as the “fake” reasons to break up. It’s simple stuff and maybe you don’t like it mixed in your superhero movie but I love shit like that.)

    The entire middle section of this movie hits those notes again and again, with the characters intentionally and unintentionally inflicting emotional cruelty on each other. Yes, way before people were patting Marvel on the back for making The Winter Soldier “a 70s paranoia thriller” or Thor Ragnarok a “buddy road movie” (was it really??), Raimi gave us Spider-Man by way of Neil Labute – a curious mix of outrageous action sequences and dark, bitter relationship drama that will turn off alot of people but in actuality follows up on the bittersweet ending to Spider-Man 2 in the most logical way possible. MJ and Peter’s happily-ever-after(?) turns dark and depressing- life and all the disappointment that comes with it beat them down so much that the black goo from space and the villain made of sand are basically afterthoughts. This movie puts such an emphasis on emotional content (without sacrificing whiz-bang spectacle) that the ending boldly revolves around Peter learning to forgive Sandman instead of finding a new way to blow Sandman up. It’s the type of movie where Peter apologizes to Harry on his deathbed for saying cruel things to him about his dad, rather than apologizing for blowing up half his face. This movie argues that emotional scars hurt more than physical ones, and I love that the final scene of the Raimi-verse ends not in Spider-Man triumphantly swinging around, ready to battle crime like the other two movies, but in a different kind of quasi-cliffhanger – Peter, completely out of costume, goes to MJ seeking forgiveness – will they give it another shot? Will they go back to being just friends? Or is their relationship broken past the point of fixing? I like that we never find out the definitive answer and I’ve never been more glad that Spider-Man 4 doesn’t exist. Spider-Man 3 may not be the movie people wanted but it’s the perfect ending to this series.

  30. Oh crap, in all my rambling I forgot to mention the one detail I didn’t notice the first time that was pure genius this time- Peter totally turns into a “bad guy” way before the Symbiote gets a hold of him. I like that in this iteration, it’s hinted that it doesn’t actually turn you bad, it just amplifies your personality, and Peter was in straight asshole-mode when he gets overtaken. It’s like the writers heard the oft-parroted complaint about The Shining (“Jack Nicholson was crazy BEFORE he got to the hotel!”) and instead of repeating it ad nauseum, they figured “well, why would they make that choice and what are they trying to say with it?”

    It would be so easy to make the black suit into the off-brand Kryptonite in Superman III or the Blood of Khali in Temple of Doom – the foreign thing that makes the perfect hero turn evil. But instead by turning the hero into the villain first (via a perfect storm of bitterness, arrogance, and anger) and making the Symbiote not the catalyst for his change but the nudge that makes him realize that he HAS changed, Raimi & Co. end up crafting something infinitely more interesting and satisfying – an Alexander Payne-esque examination of life’s disappointments, a bizarro-version of the “poor suffering Peter” from Part 2, and a scathing examination of “Toxic Masculinity” before it became a buzzword. This movie has alot on its mind (maybe too much) but I’ll take it over another generic superhero beat-em-up any day.

  31. Man I really appreciate what you’re saying here, and there are definitely parts of SPIDER-MAN 3 I like, but to me it’s movie that’s way less than the sum of its parts. I think it’s overstuffed and underbaked. The Sandman part of the story doesn’t mesh with the Venom/Symbiote part to the point where they team up just because Sandman is walking down an alley and Venom is like “yo dude you seem cool wanna kill Spider-Man together?” (And for all that it’s cool that Spider-Man forgives Sandman and lets him blow away like dust…in the wind, he does still totally blow up Venom)

    It’s basically the same problem I have with X3, as well- if they’d just have focused on either the “mutant cure” story OR the dark Phoenix (or the Sandman story OR the Venom story, as it were), then they would have been pretty good, but I just think there’s too much going on as is.

  32. Neal2zod, franchise Fred approves your analysis.i think you just articulated Spider-Man 3 better than I ever have.

  33. Neal: I nod approvingly

  34. I do think it’s the best James Franco performance in 3, for sure. And I like all the stuff with Peter going bad and like making finger guns at girls and doing jazz tap and all that. And Thomas Hayden Church does a good version of one of Spider-Man’s dumb villains (I mean dumb in the sense of, like, they’re guys that aren’t very smart and are just kinda crooks but not necessarily like EVIL, like H.I. in RAISING ARIZONA, versus the super-genius inventor type of villains like Doc Ock or whatever). I like that they team up at the end and repair their friendship, that’s cool. I guess it does really feel more like a couple issues of the actual comic than the first two do.

    Shit, am I talking myself into liking SPIDER-MAN 3?

  35. Thanks Fred and Geoffrey! Sometimes I do have a hard time explaining how I feel about a movie but with this watch it was really easy – there was so much interesting stuff going on here that I’ve never really seen discussed because I think everyone’s always hung up on Emo Peter and the dance number, etc… (which I totally get.)

    Kurgan – Oh I definitely agree that the movie is overstuffed. My wife (who’s never seen the trilogy until now) was actually kinda fascinated by Raimi’s kitchen-sink approach. Some people might find the lack of a solid plot and episodic structure shaggy and aimless, but she actually said an hour in “I have NO IDEA where this movie is going, but in a good way” which made me happy because when was the last time anyone said that about a comic book movie? Spider-Man 3 is so crammed with new characters and developments that we get FOUR villains (Venom, Sandman, Harry, and Peter) and FOUR potential love interests (MJ, Gwen, Betty Brant and Chocolate Cake Girl). We get TWO love triangles thrown in for good measure (Peter + Harry + MJ AND Peter + Gwen + Eddie). Do I wish Raimi strung together his ideas in a more elegant way, like moving pieces on a chess board? Sure. But there’s something also intriguing about just throwing all your ideas in the air and seeing where they land as long as you keep things moving and entertaining. (That Venom/Sandman team-up scene in the alley you mentioned is a howler though – I love that Sandman just goes “You’re not Spider-Man!” and casually walks away, as if a monstrous Spider-Man looking alien with giant teeth is totally not a big deal). I think I read somewhere that Venom was shoehorned in at the last minute, but it doesn’t really feel like it – the “Dark Peter” storyline really complements the main storyline (which I guess is Harry’s birth as a supervillain and eventual redemption). I agree with you that Sandman is the odd man out – he actually might have benefitted from less screentime, like Shockmaster(?) in Homecoming or even Baltroc in The Winter Soldier. Just some rando guy to get defeated and establish the power of the black suit. But then again, I like that one of the movie’s 900 themes is about empathy and walking a mile in someone’s shoes – meeting his daughter and ex-wife muddies the waters and makes the movie less streamlined, and the Uncle Ben retcon is a groaner, but I still like how it ties into the overall motif of forgiveness. Also, yes, Peter does totally blow up Venom, but I guess we can assume he forgives Eddie for being a giant asshole since he tries yanking him out of the suit (which I totally wouldn’t have bothered doing, fuck that guy). Btw, I also like that Eddie turns into one of those “The Day After” Skeletons when he gets blown up, kind of a callback to OG Green Goblin’s victims in the first movie.

    I think besides X3, this movie also reminds me of Dark Knight Rises – another trilogy capper that tries to cram too many iconic storylines into one movie (along with tidying up loose ends from previous movies AND throwing in another love triangle). Both of these movies could have benefited from some judicious editing or even being split into two parts, but I’ll always prefer an over-ambitious movie that swings for the fences rather than a wheel-spinning moneymaker or a commercial for the next sequel.

  36. I don’t mind that Peter kills Venom here, since he is more portrayed as a soulless desease that infects people with evilness, unlike in his own spin-off movie, where he is the best character. And I love that Spidey tries to save Eddie, even if it’s unsuccessful, but they really managed to make us feel bad for that shitrooster’s death within less than five seconds!

    Seriously, I take “The villain dies by his own fault although the hero tries to safe him” over “The hero decides to spare the villain, but then he pulls a gun out of his booth and the hero kills him anyway, but now in self defense” any day. (My favourite example of this was in an episode of the Kevin Sorbo HERCULES show, where some rich asshole villain falls into a firepit while trying to kill Herc and he looks at it in shock and says: “That was unnecessary”. It’s still a hypocritical eye for an eye audience pleaser, but not as hypocritical as the sudden self defense.)

  37. Alright well to be honest, DARK KNIGHT RISES is my favorite Nolan Batman flick (and it’s not even close), for all the reasons you mention- it’s just a wild, crazy, swing-to-the-fences movie, so I guess I can’t disagree!

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