Spider-Man (2002)

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Spider-Man (2002)
Spider-Man 2002.jpg
Genre: Superhero
Photography: Color
Running Time: 121 minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: May 3, 2002
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Written by: David Koepp
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Starring: Tobey Maguire

Kirsten Dunst
Willem Dafoe
Rosemary Harris
Cliff Robertson
James Franco

Next film: Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man is a 2002 superhero film directed by Sam Raimi and based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name..


Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is a high school senior and school outcast in New York City. His parents are dead and he lives with his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris). He has a crush on his next door neighbor, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), who is also one of the few classmates who is nice to him. Her boyfriend, Flash Thompson (Joe Manganiello), and his buddies pick on him. Peter's only friend is Harry Osborn (James Franco), who, though rich and good-looking, is similarly an outcast as well. Harry, however, is somewhat jealous of the affection his father, Norman (Willem Dafoe) shows towards Peter. Norman, the head of defense contractor Oscorp, appreciates Peter's scientific aptitude and can barely conceal his desire that Peter was his own son.

Peter's science class takes a field trip to a genetics laboratory at Columbia University. The lab works on spiders and has even managed to create new species of spiders through genetic modification. While Peter is taking photographs of Mary Jane for the school newspaper, one of these new spiders lands on his hand and bites him. Peter comes home feeling ill and immediately goes to bed. At the genetic level, the venom injected by the spider bite begins to work strange magic on Peter. Meanwhile, General Slocum (Stanley Anderson) visits Oscorp to see the results of their new super soldier formula. When one of Norman's top scientists, Dr. Mendel Stromm (Ron Perkins) warns him the formula is unstable, General Slocum threatens to pull all of the military's funding from Oscorp. Later that night, Norman exposes himself to the formula. He gains superhuman strength and agility but is driven insane. He kills Stromm and steals two other Oscorp inventions, an exoskeleton and jet glider.

Peter wakes up the next morning feeling better than ever. He also learns his formerly-scrawny physique is now rippling with muscles and his eyesight is perfect. At school that day, he learns he can shoot webs out of his wrists. He demonstrates his newfound agility by catching Mary Jane and her food tray when she slips at lunch and then beating an enraged Flash in a fistfight. That night, he and Mary Jane casually flirt across the fence separating their backyards, although Flash breaks this up when he arrives with his new car. Peter believes he needs a car to impress Mary Jane but knows neither he nor the cash-strapped and retired Ben and May would be able to afford one.

One night, Peter spies an advertisement in the paper. A local professional wrestling league will pay $3000 to anyone who can survive three minutes in the ring with their champion, Bonesaw McGraw ("Macho Man" Randy Savage). Peter designs a suit and heads out to the arena, telling Ben and May he is going to the library. Ben and May are worried about the changes in Peter's personality and Ben insists on driving him to the library. He tries to explain his and May's concerns. He encourages Peter not to get into any more fights; he might have the power to beat the Flash Thompsons of the world, but with that power comes the responsibility to know when and how best to use that power. Peter reacts badly, and tells Ben he is not Peter's father and should not act like he is. At the arena, Peter not only survives the wrestling match, but he manages to defeat Bonesaw in two minutes. However, the promoter pays Peter only $100. Angry at being scammed, Peter stands aside as an armed robber (Michael Papajohn) steals the promoter's money. However, when he gets out onto the street, he discovers the robber shot Uncle Ben dead and stole his car. A grief-stricken Peter chases down the robber and viciously attacks him, causing the terrified robber to fall out of a window to his death. That same night, a menacing figure wearing the stolen Oscorp exoskeleton and riding the jet glider attacks a weapons test at Quest Aerospace, Oscorp's chief competitor. Their prototype is destroyed and General Slocum is killed.

Peter is inspired by Ben's admonition to use his spider powers for the greater good. He designs a new costume and swings around New York, foiling petty robberies and muggings as the Amazing Spider-Man, a name he borrowed from the announcer (Bruce Campbell) at the wrestling match. This does not endear him to J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), the editor and publisher of the Daily Bugle, New York's leading muckracking tabloid. However, when he learns Spider-Man sells newspapers, he puts out a call to photographers for better photos for his front page. Peter, Harry and Mary Jane graduate from high school and move to Manhattan. Peter and Harry get a loft together and attend classes at Empire State. Mary Jane works as a waitress and struggles to get acting auditions. She and Harry also begin seeing one another. Harry apologizes to Peter but points out Peter was always too shy to make a move himself. Peter struggles to hold down a job. Norman offers to help him find one but respects Peter's desire to make his own way in the world. Peter sees Jameson's advertisement for good photos of Spider-Man and, webbing his camera in convenient places, gets excellent photos of his own heroic actions. Although Jameson doesn't pay well, he agrees to buy more of Peter's photos.

Norman is also happy; Quest has had to reorganize following the debacle that killed Slocum, Oscorp has more government contracts and the company's stock is soaring. However, he is infuriated to learn the Board of Directors has chosen this moment to accept a buyout offer from Quest. His insanity manifests itself in a split personality: the driven, yet confused Norman, and the murderous, scheming villain who will soon become known as the Green Goblin. As the Goblin, he attacks Oscorp's annual Unity Day street fair and kills the Board of Directors. His attack also endangers Mary Jane. Spider-Man fights off the Goblin and rescues Mary Jane. Mary Jane finds herself falling in love with Spider-Man, a feeling only reinforced when he saves her from some rapists a few days later during a rainy night. This time, she thanks him with a deep kiss. She doesn't know that Spider-Man is really Peter.

The Goblin decides that he and Spider-Man should be partners. He attacks the Bugle office to lure Spider-Man into a trap, using knock-out gas to subdue him, and then gives Spider-Man a few days to think over his offer of partnership. He warns Spider-Man the city will eventually turn against him, and that they should rule it together. A few days later, on Thanksgiving, the Goblin starts a fire in an apartment building to get an answer from Spider-Man. Spider-Man refuses to join forces with the Goblin, and the two fight, with Spider-Man receiving a bad cut on his arm. When Peter arrives to Thanksgiving dinner with fresh blood from the cut on his sleeve, Norman realizes Peter is Spider-Man and hastily leaves. On the way out, he insults Mary Jane and she leaves, hurt that Harry didn't defend her. That night, the Goblin attacks Aunt May at home, landing her in the hospital. While visiting her, Mary Jane reveals her crush on Spider-Man to Peter but they wind up having an intimate moment themselves. Harry sees this and knows his relationship with Mary Jane is over.

The Goblin decides to strike at Spider-Man through Mary Jane. He kidnaps her, then sabotages a tram car full of innocent people on the Roosevelt Island Bridge. When Spider-Man arrives, the Goblin gives him the sadistic choice of saving either Mary Jane or the people in the tram car, then drops them both from the bridge. Spider-Man manages to save both, with an assist from a passing garbage barge and a group of pedestrians on the bridge who pelt Goblin with debris and foil his attempts to kill Spider-Man. Goblin instead grabs Spider-Man and throws him into an abandoned building.

The two fight, and the Goblin overpowers Spider-Man, even throwing a pumpkin bomb directly at Spider-Man's face, heavily damaging Spider-Man's mask and wounding him. As the Goblin holds back Spider-Man and is about to kill him with dual blades, he makes the mistake of threatening Mary Jane. Enraged at this, Spider-Man beats the Goblin senseless, overpowering him, but stops when the Goblin unmasks to reveal himself as Norman. Peter is shocked that Norman is the Goblin. Norman then tries to reason to Peter that all of the actions that had occurred were from the influence of the Goblin's persona upon him. As Norman talks to Peter, asking for forgiveness, the Goblin's jet glider appears behind Spider-Man, and the Goblin persona takes over Norman. Goblin tries to use his jet glider to kill Spider-Man, but he leaps out of the way just in time; Norman is fatally impaled. As he dies, Norman asks Peter not to tell Harry about the Green Goblin. Spider-Man takes Norman's body back to his penthouse apartment. Harry sees them and blames Spider-Man for Norman's death. At the funeral, he vows revenge and thanks Peter for being such a great friend.

Peter goes to visit Uncle Ben's grave. Mary Jane finds him there and confesses her love for him. She kisses him tenderly, passionately. Peter wants to tell her the truth but can't. Instead, he tells her he can never be more than her friend. Mary Jane has an inkling that she might have kissed him before but Peter walks away, knowing both his blessing and his curse in life: "Who am I? I'm Spider-Man."

Why it Rocks

  1. Tobey Maguire does a decent job as Peter Parker.
  2. The action scenes are well shot and well choreographed.
  3. Great acting.
  4. Awesome soundtrack.
  5. Solid mix of humor, action, suspense and drama. It also manages to feel both as a realistic and a classic superhero movie.
  6. Willem Dafoe was an excellent choice to play Norman Osborn/Green Goblin. He plays both sides of his torn-up psyche perfectly.
  7. Danny Elfman's opening score really fits the film's opening scene.
  8. J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson was a picture-perfect casting choice.
  9. Deals really well with the theme of responsibility and has a great allegory for puberty.
  10. The iconic moment when Mary Jane and Spidey kiss.
  11. Green Goblin's and Spider-Man's last stand was both awesome and emotional.
  12. It spawned the "Crying Maguire" meme.

Bad Qualities

  1. It has some really campy moments. Particularly the moments involving the Green Goblin.
  2. Tobey Maguire's portrayal as Peter Parker and Spider-Man isn't all that accurate to the comics.
    • A part of his backstory of what lead to Uncle Ben being murdered was changed from him letting a crook go out of selfishness and indifference that was caused by letting fame go to his head, to getting petty revenge on a greedy wrestling manager who stiffed him of 3,000 dollars. Which makes his way of learning to take responsibility come off as less impacting, and it denies a moral about what happens when a person lets their selfishness get the best of them.
    • His personality portrayal, and in the next two movies, makes him come off as a wimpy dork who lets people push him around even after his years of crime fighting, while in the comics he became more self-confident and less awkward after all those years of crime fighting and doesn't let anyone push him around.
    • He doesn't have his genius level intellect. Which is one of the character's most interesting character qualities, and it was featured in the comics of how he created his web shooters, while in this movie it is just organic web shooters that come out of his wrist.
  3. Kirsten Dunst's portrayal of Mary Jane was a pretty bland and uninteresting character.
  4. While Tobey Maguire putted in a great performance, his acting can get way too quiet and awkward in some scenes, and a few of his tearjerking moments are hard to take with his goofy facial expressions.
  5. Some of the dialogue can get a rather corny. Like the scene where Aunt May brings up Peter calling Mary Jane an angel, and Peter mentioning he cried like a baby when he saw Mary Jane as Cinderella in a play.
  6. All of the CGI moments look rather fake by today's standards.
  7. The Green Goblin's costume looks very comical and non threatening, which makes him difficult to take seriously.
  8. Some of the action scenes look very bad. For example, the festival action scene looks like it was taken directly from Jingle All the Way.
  9. While most of the writing is good, some of it hasn't aged well.
  10. Peter and Mary Jane have very weak chemistry.


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