After the success Bryan Singer’s X-Men, the theme of superheroes reemerged to the film industry, and Sam Raimi introduced his adaption of his favourite comic book hero with 2002’s Spider-man, starring Tobey Maguire in the lead role, and Kirsten Dunst and James Franco played Mary Jane Watson and Harry Osborn. Due to a major commercial and financial success, the film led to two sequals, and has become one of the most well known superhero franchises in history.
Peter Parker (Maguire) is a brilliant but socially-awkward student who, durring a class field trip to a genetics laboratory, is bitten by a genetically-advanced ‘super spider’ that has escaped its captivity. He begins to notice his growth in muscle size, progression in vision, quick-relfexes, inconsisty of adhesiveness on his palms, and that web-like substances emit from his wrists.
To impress his neighbor next door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), Peter figures he could win some money to buy a new car in an amateur-wrestling competition. He wins, under a costume design resembling the super spider and the name ‘Spider-man,’ but is not given his full reward. Shortly after, the man in charge is robbed, and out of revenge, Peter allows him to escape. Heading home, Peter finds his uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson), whom he lives with, wounded on the street after being shot and had his car stolen. With Peter in tears at his side, Ben dies, sending Peter on a desperate look for the killer. He hunts down the theif who turn out to be the same man who robbed the wrestling stadium.
Meanwhile, Norman Osbourn (Williem Dafoe), CEO of technology-corporation Oscorp soon to lose miliraty-funding for experiments, tests the ‘performance enhancing’ chemical on himself in hopes to resorect his company. While it does result effectively, the predicted side-effects of anger, agression and insanity lead to a personality dissorder and alter ego. Peter finds his calling as savior in New York City, and becomes the amazing Spider-man who fights crime and saves lives (including M.J’s after she’s almost raped, who rewards him with a kiss), and gets a job as a photographer who shoots Spider-man for the Daily Bugle newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons). Norman, under the influence of his toxic chemical, plots revenge on his co-workers who turned against him, bringing terror to the city durring his attack. The ‘Green Goblin’ (Jameson’s name for Norma’s alter ego) finds Spider-man and offers him a chance work with him, as they are both ‘exceptional people.’ *Continue reading to see the end of the plot.*
Peter refuses, so in order to eliminate Spider-man from thwarting his plans for the future, the Green Goblin discovers Spider-man’s true identity and goes after Aunt May and M.J. May is put in the hospital and M.J. is kidnapped, and finds herself on top of the Queensboro Bridge. The Green Goblin lures Spider-man there, and gives him a choice; to save M.J., or a group of innocent lives on a Roosevelt Island Tramway car. He ends up saving both, but the Green Goblin isn’t done yet. He takes him to an abandoned construction area to finish him off, but Spider-man prevails and defeats him. Norman unmasks himself and tries to pursuade Peter by telling him he is being controlled by his other personality, and they he needs Peter to be a son to him. However, he is actually trying to set Peter up and prepares his glider to strike at his back. Peter senses this, and dodges the attack, sending the glider straight at Norman. As Peter lays the body inside the Osborn house, Harry (Franco), Peter’s best friend and son of Norman, watches from the other room, but Spider-man leaves before he can do anything.
At Norman’s funeral, Harry tells Peter that one day Spider-man will pay for what he did. Visiting Ben’s grave, Peter talks with M.J., and she confesses his feelings for him. He wants to tell her the same, but fears of her safety after what has happened already. They kiss and Peter explains that he will be there for Mary Jane… as a friend. He leaves, as Mary Jane in the back ground, recognizes the way Peter kissed her like the way she had kissed Spider-man, and possibily realizes the truth.
This movie will go down as a classic and nearly flawless superhero film. The story, the characters, the format; everything was very appealing and enjoyable. The acting is definately one of the strong points to Spider-man. There has been much debate about Maguire’s casting as Peter Parker, but personally, I thought he was terrific in the role. I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the role, and Maguire executed it perfetly; he was my almost exact interpretation of Parker from the comic books. And the supporting positions that Dunst and Franco performed were just as good. Very believable and satisfying. And Dafoe as the menacing Green Goblin; spectacular. Murderous, dramatic, psychological, and just pure evil. The story was quite faithful to the comic books as well. Yes, there were changes made, one of the biggest being Parker’s ability to shoot webs rather than constructing a machine to do so for him. But I think this addition made the movie even better, and I know many who agree with me. My only complaints are of melodrama and overuse of convenient coincidences. However, these aspects don’t ruin the movie. For many, they make it better; something you don’t have to believe, but simply imagine and enjoy. The computer imagery that was used to simulate Spidey was well done… for the film’s time. I won’t be too critical on that part. The effects are still amusting and make this film great.
In Spider-man 2, we find that Peter Parker is trying to balance his life with school, work, relationships, and Spider-man. Mary Jane has become a broadway star, and Harry Osbourn is continuing his father’s work as the head of the research devision, collaborating Oscourp with nuclear scientist doctor Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), who Peter is writing a paper on. Harry takes Peter to see Otto’s presentation experimenting with fusion power with the aid of four mechanical AI arms welded into his body. The ‘sun’ becomes unstable and leads to Otto’s wife’s death, the destruction of the lab, and Oscourp is humiliated.
Uncouncious in the hospital, the appendages are attempted to be removed from Otto, but the tenticals disagree and take the lives of the surgeons and Otto escapes. He is confused and afraid, and realizes his neural inhibitor chip was destroyed durring the experiment disaster, and he can no longer control his tentacles, but instead, they control him. He decides to rebuild his experiment, and to fund it, robs a bank where Peter and May are trying to refinance her house. To elude the police without being harmed, he takes May hostige, but Spider-man rescues her. Peter later finds out that M.J. is seeing someone else, because he hasn’t been there for her due to the time-requiring role of Spider-man. Her boyfriend, John Jameson (Daniel Gillies), who is also the son of J. Jonah Jameson, proposes to her at a dinner party, where drunken Harry becomes furious with Peter and his association with Spider-man, who he still believes murdered his father.
Because of the difficulties of being Spider-man, including losing his powers, Peter leaves his Spider-man outfit in the trash and becomes Spider-man no more. M.J. realizes Peter is different and is a better person and friend, so after an initial arguement with him, invites him to a drink at a coffee shop, meanwhile Harry is confronted by Otto who needs more Tritum for his experiment, and promises to provide it if he captivates Spider-man for Harry. *Continue reading to see the end of the plot.*
Doctor Octopus (Jameson’s name for Otto) kidnapps M.J., and tells Peter, who just saved her from a car Doc Ock sent flying into the coffee shop, he wants Spider-man. Realizing that the world needs a Hero, Peter retrieves his costume from the Daily Bugle and chases down Doc Ock, who defeats him and brings him to Harry. Harry unmasks him, but Peter easily escaps his captivity and leaves to rescue M.J.. He finds Doc Ock and M.J. at Otto’s waterfront laboratory. He defeats Doc Ock, who realizes whathe has become, and overcomes his AI’s influence, and drowns the sun in the river before it gets out of hand and destroys half of the city, and dies with it. Bringing her to saftey unmasked, Peter explains to M.J. why they can’t be together.
Meanwhile, Harry, alone in his father’s mansion with the disturbing thoughts of Peter being behind the mask of Spider-man, hears the maniacal laughing that belonged to his father. He sees his father in the mirror, who tell shim to avenge his death. Confused and fearful for Peter, he shatters the glass, where he finds his father’s hidden Goblin lair and lab; the helmet and suit, the pumkin bombs, the seyrum, and the infamous glider. Not showing up to her own wedding, M.J. goes to Peter’s appartment and confesses her love for him. He is hesitent, but tells her he loves her too, and after a passionate kiss, is off to fight crime as Spider-man as Mary Jane watches from the window.
Spider-man 2 delivered the rare exception of matching and even topping it’s predecessor. I more or less agree with the acclaim critics have awarded it. I think it is a very worthy sequel to Spider-man, but is not any better. With the return of the entire cast and some additions, Spider-man 2 contiues the exciting but challenging life of Peter Parker, and his alter ego, Spider-man. The plot both follows the events of the first film and still manages to be original with it’s own story. That isn’t to say that several of similar elements weren’t used. In fact, many of the scenes in this movie mirror scenes from the first. Molina was likely the most enjoyable part of the film, though; probably the only part that truely was better that the first film. Doctor Octopus, as theatrical as he sounds, is a frightening, menacing character, and managed not to overstep the bounderies of ‘too cheesy,’ as the Green Goblin might have. The rest of the actors weren’t any disappointment, but I thought I’d be sure to note Molina’s performance first. Very well done. The effects also deserve some applause, one scene in particular, where a car is thrown into the coffee shop where Peter and Mary Jane are. Not only the best scene in the movie, but perhaps even the best of the trilogy. Spectacular!
Spider-man 3 opens not long after where Spider-man 2 left off. Peter, still narrating for the audience (which we are just realizing is sort of annoying), is feeling ready to propose to Mary Jane, due to their strong and on-going romantic relationship. Harry, on the other hand, is enragged with Peter and his secret, and takes the seyrum on his own body. On his way to propose to Mary Jane, Peter is attacked by The New Goblin (Harry under the maddening influence of his father’s performence enhancer) on a glider-like board. After a struggle in the allyways of the city, Peter manages to unintentionally knock Harry out without a pulse. Under hosptial care, Harry retrieves counciousness, suffers from amneisia.
Meanwhile, escaped convict Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), trying to find money to cure his sick daughter, falls into a particle accelerator pit that alters his DNA durring the course of the experiment. His body fuses with the sand surrounding him, ultimately allowing him to shape shift from a human to a sand-like beast. Sandman, realizing his potential, attempts to rob an armoured car, but Spider-man, after saving the life of fellow classmate Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) from a construction accident, defeats him. Peter is later informed by the NYPD that his uncle’s killer was the original carjacker’s accomplice, Flint Marko. Vengful Peter, asleep with his costume on, is bonded with an extraterrestiral symboite that changes his suit’s colour to black, and strengthening his power, anger, and ego. The arrogent Peter finds Marko as black-suit Spider-man and dissolves his sandbody by flooding the underground subway tunnel.
M.J.’s broadway career is becoming very unsucessful after a series of negative reviews, and is unhappy with Peter’s shift in personality and believes he is cheating on her when he sees Gwen on their date. She finds solace with carefree Harry. However, after kissing M.J., she uncomfortably leaves, and Harry recovers from his amneisia, remembering his father’s ‘murder,’ and that Peter is behind the mask of Spider-man. He finds M.J. and forces her to end her and Peter’s relationship (guided the philosphy of The Green Goblin; to first strike his heart).
Harry later meets with Peter at a coffee shop, telling him he was the one M.J. had fallen in love with. Furious, Peter confronts Harry at his mansion and they engage in a brutal combat. Victourious in his black suit, Peter leaves after Harry is struck by his own pumkin bomb. With a different look and full of arrogence, Peter’s rivalry with photographer (and Gwen’s boyfriend) Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) comes to an end when Peter exposes Eddie’s doctored pictures of supposedly criminal Spider-man dressed in his infamous black suit. But Peter isn’t done there. He takes Gwen to a nightclub where M.J. now works as a waitress/singer. Trying to make M.J. jealous, he eventually gets into a fight with the bouncers and even knocks M.J. onto the ground.
Peter then realizes what he is becoming, and flees the area to a cathedrial bell tower, ashamed. Despite the symobiotic suit’s strong bond to his body, Peter is able to remove it due to its weakening from the loud sounds. Peter breaks free from its captivity and the symbiot falls onto Eddie, who happened to be repenting and pleading the Lord for Peter’s demise. It attaches to Eddie, who reincaranates as ‘Venom.’ Influenced by similar emotions as Peter was decieved by, Venom finds the Sandman, who has survived his last encounter with Spider-man. They agree to work together to defeat him. *Continue reading to see the end of the plot.*
To lure him there, they kidnap Mary Jane and lock her in a taxi cab hanging from webs above a construction side flooded with sand. To save her, Peter approaches Harry for help. His face disfigured from their previous battle, Harry declines the offer. However, after Peter leaves, Harry’s butler Bernard (John Paxton, who appeared as the butler in all three films, despite short screen time) reveals that when cleaning the wounds of Norman Osbourne after his death, it was obvious that he was killed by his own glider – at his own hand. At the construction site, Spider-man, returning in his original costume, struggles to defeat his new enemies and save M.J. About to choke Spider-man to death, Venom is unexpectedly hit by Harry’s glider. Realizing he made a mistake, Harry helps Peter up and reveals he understands what needs to be done. Working together, the two destroy Sandman’s incarnation of a massive sand-beast and save Mary Jane, but Venom attacks Spider-man and nearly impales him. To his suprise, Spider-man is saved by Harry, who leaped in front of the blade and took the fatal injury himself. Spider-man remembers what happened to the symbiot when it was near loud and echoing sounds, and uses it to his advantage as he traps Venom in a circle of pipes, ringing with constant and booming noises. The symbiot begins to slip off of Eddie, and Peter pulls him out of the circle, throwing a pubkin bomb in instead. Out of instinct to bond with it, Eddie leaps into the explosion, to both of their demise.
Rushing to Harry’s dying side, Peter and M.J. cry with their best friend as his life comes to an end, feeling satisfied he did something good and had a chance to spend his last moment with his best friends, forgiving each other. Marko confronts Peter after the battle, who explains he had no intention of murdering or even harming his uncle Ben, that it was a reaction to pull the trigger after his partner arrived in a hurry with the money. Marko’s desperation to cure his daughter was his drive to find funds and steal. Peter forgives him, and Marko dissapates into sand in the wind. Later, Peter meets with Mary Jane, and they start to salvage their relationship again.
Spider-man 3 gave the strongest performance in the trilogy… emotionally. As one of the most costly films in history (with a budget of two-hundred and fifty-eight million dollars), the third and final installment of the Spider-man franchise was the most successful of the three financially, but the least successful of the three critically. It’s approval also weakened with the fanbase. I’ve been trying to figure out why this is. Was it because their was too much complexion? Too many origin stories and sub-plots? Maybe, but I think the real reason was that viewers and fans who had grown to love and support their friendly neighborhood Spider-man over the years were disappointed with what he turned out to be. Nobody likes to see a hero fall, and Peter Parker/Spider-man, once a rightouteous and inspiring hero, fell into unsatisfaction with all of his fans. “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Spider-man didn’t die, but returned in sequel after sequel. He lived long enough to see himself become the villain. He lived long enough to overstep the bounderies of a superhero. And to make it worse, there will be no Spider-man 4 to salvage and continue his legacy (A reboot with a new cast and set of directors and writers will release The Amazing Spider-man in 2012 starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker struggeling in high school). People’s reaction to a dark ending to what was once a fun and spectacular, even feel-good, franchise doesn’t come with delight. It comes with disappointment. Spider-man 3 struck the hearts of the audiences. But less we forget that Peter Parker redeemed himself. That was what this film was all about; sacrifice, and ressorection. Spider-man 3 sacrificed its characters to ressorect a fallen hero, and to finish the story we have all learned to know and love. So ultimately, the film was not an unsuccess. It contains several elements which I must applaude. Actor Bruce Cambell, appearing as the wrestling ring announcer in the first film, the play usher in the second, returns in the third as the French maitre d’, which will surely make you smile. Another positive cameo appearence is of Stan Lee, creater of Marvel comics, who also can be briefly seen in all three movies, and with favourable dialogue in this one. The mirroring-scenes aspect returns as we see similarities from scenes in the film and its predecessors, like the Osbourn deaths due to being impaled, confrontations at coffee shops, etc. These factors connected this film with the others, giving the feel this series was more like one big story, rather than independent pictures.
In the end, the Spider-man trilogy takes you on a spectacular journey that you will never forget. Superb acting performences from the entire cast, motivating and never-too-slow storylines, magnificent action sequences and CGI effects, and an emotional drama that may even bring some tears to your eyes by the end. I hope that the overestimated Spider-man 3 will not leave your memories of this franchise negatively; that you will not condem a truely brilliant series just because of the third film, but that you will watch them over again (as I have, back to back in fact) and remember the good times you had with your friendly neighborhood Spider-man.