Film: Spider-Man

aka: Spider-Man

Spider-Man is the first movie in the Spider-Man Trilogy, released in 2002. An origin story, it tells the tale of Peter Parker, a nerd who is bitten by a genetically-engineered spider and gets the powers of the arachnid — web shooting, high jumping, wall-adherability, enhanced strength/endurance and sensing vibrations in the air.

At first he attempts to use these powers for profit, but when his actions accidentally lead to the death of his Uncle Ben, Peter decides to use his abilities to fight injustice, under the name Spider-Man. This comes in handy when the father of his best friend, Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), becomes the villainous Green Goblin after using a performance-enhancing chemical vapor that grants him super strength, but also makes him mentally unstable and dangerously psychotic.

Followed by Spider-Man 2.


  • Adorkable: Peter Parker. Considering he's raised by two elderly people, his whole "gee shucks" thing kind of makes sense.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Norman Osborn. "Peter... don't tell Harry."
  • Alliterative Name: Peter Parker.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: A rather dark example. Harry's dad, Norman storms out of Thanksgiving dinner with Peter, MJ, and Aunt May. Harry tries to stop him, and Norman tells Harry, rather loudly, that considering MJ's background, shes just interested in his money and to use her and dump her. And everyone else heard everything.
  • Arc Words: "Don't tell Harry." Also "Thank God for you, Peter."
  • The Atoner: Peter becomes a hero to atone for letting the robber go who wound up killing Uncle Ben.
  • Atrocious Alias:
    • Peter's original idea for his name.
      Ring Announcer: "The Human Spider", that's it, that's the best you got?
      Peter Parker: Yeah.
      Ring Announcer: Oh, that sucks...
    • "The Green Meanie"
  • Attempted Rape: Spidey saves Mary Jane from an attempted gang rape.
  • Awesome but Impractical: General Slocum clearly wants to sign a contract between the United States Army and Quest Aerospace for their obviously incredibly cumbersome flightsuit (which doesn't even look very practical or look like something that's going to catch on) over Oscorp Industries' much more practical Human Performance Enhancers, streamlined aero flightsuits, and gliders. Norman, as the Goblin, destroys his rival's technology by blowing up the bunker during a testing session before it can be put to market.
  • Badass Bystander: Averted; the man who earlier cheated Peter out of his prize money points out that Peter could have "taken that guy apart" but he instead let the robber pass. Peter replies, "I missed the part where that's my problem."
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Half way through the movie the Green Goblin has accomplished all his goals, only a vague "just imagine what we could do if Spider-Man joined us" is given to sustain the film's main conflict.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: Harry. Though not that extreme, but he was pretty controlling to Mary Jane. When he called to know if he's okay, he wants to give her flowers, she said he didn't have to, but he said he wants to in a kind of tone. During Thanksgiving, he tries to make her presentable for his dad. Later, after he leaves and quietly insults her to Harry, she heard what he said and calls him a "creep". Harry was angry at her for calling his dad that, and as she leaves, he tells her to watch what she says.
  • Berserk Button: Green Goblin threatens to have a "hell of a time" with MJ. Spider-Man responds by dropping a brick wall on him, and after subsequently tackling him, he repeatedly punches the Goblin in the face and knocks him down only to be propped back up for another hit to the face.
  • Big Bad: Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin of course!
  • Big Brother Instinct: Meta example, but among the Bus Full of Innocents, his brother is one of them.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: The famous upside down in the rain scene. They repeat it. It is reprised in the third movie, only with Gwen Stacy on the receiving end.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: J. Jonah Jameson's opinion of Peter's photos is: "Crap... Crap... Megacrap."
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Most of Jameson's ideas for stories about Spider-Man. Because, "If he doesn't want to famous? Then I'll make him INfamous!"
    • Also when scamming Peter when he gets his pics of Spider-Man. When he is the only person that can get pics clearer than 50ft away, he dismisses them as garbage just so he can pay less to get them where any other publishing company would have paid 100 times as much.
    • Uncle Ben of all people, pulls this. Looking for an excuse to get some time to talk to Peter, he offers to drive him to the library, and when Peter demurs, Uncle Ben says "I need the exercise."
  • Board to Death: The Green Goblin pumpkin bombs the OsCorp board of executives.
  • Book Ends: "Who am I?"
  • Boring but Practical: Peter defeats Bonesaw by simply kicking him a few times straight in the face (without any fancy moves) and ultimately kicking him in the bars of the cage. He also beats the crap out of the carjacker by simply slamming his head into some windows.
  • Bullet Time: Peter's Spider-Sense is portrayed this way.
  • Butt Monkey: Peter. The opening sequence really rubs it in: he's such a dork that even the bus driver laughs at his misfortunes! About the only people who treat him with any respect are Mary Jane and Harry.
  • Calling Your Attacks: When Peter is trying to figure out how he shot web, he tries out various hand gestures and phrases, including "Up, up and away, web!" and "Shazam!"
  • The Cameo:
    • Lucy Lawless as the redheaded woman in the "man on the street" segment, as a favor to Sam Raimi (who was the Executive Producer of Xena: Warrior Princess).
    • The couple at the World Unity Festival with their backs to the camera when Peter pulled them to safety by using his web? The man was reportedly Nicholas Hammond, Friedrich Von Trapp from The Sound of Music and Spider-Man from the '70s TV show.
  • Captain Obvious: The socially-inept Peter to Betty Brantnote  at the Bugle:
    Peter: (while wearing a 35mm camera around his neck) I'm a photographer.
    Betty: (beat) Yeah... I can see that.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: A somewhat... jarring variant where the Green Goblin makes Aunt May finish the Lord's Prayer.
    Aunt May: Deliver us...
    Green Goblin: (dramatic entrance) FINISH IT!!
    Aunt May: From EEEVIL!
  • Ceiling Cling: Peter does this twice to hide from attention at the Thanksgiving party.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Aunt May briefly tells Peter "You're not Superman, you know!", and Peter half-jokingly yells out "Up, up, and away!" and "Shazam" when he's trying to figure out how to fire his web. This seems to imply that DC Comics exists in the movie's universe — but it makes you wonder what it would look like in a world without Marvel Comics. Would they have a running rivalry with a different company? Would they change their superhero characters to accommodate changing tastes in the '60s? Did Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ever get into the comics business? If not, did DC ever publish New Gods?
  • Cheap Costume: Peter's first costume that he wore to the wrestling match well... it looks like something a high-school student would make in his spare time. After it gets mocked he inexplicably makes his very, very nice-looking costume for the rest of the film.
  • Cigar Chomper: J. Jonah Jameson is never seen without a cigar.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Inverted at the Thanksgiving scene; Norman wears red and blue (Spider-Man's colors) and Peter is wearing green (the Green Goblin's colors).
  • Comically Missing the Point: J. Jonah Jameson's response to Peter's complaints about the Daily Bugle's portrayal of Spider-Man:
    Peter: Spider-Man wasn't trying to attack the city, he was trying to save it. That's slander!
    Jameson: It is not! I resent that. Slander is spoken. In print it's libel.
  • Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames:
    • Averted with Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. Cleverly, it is J. Jonah Jameson who gives the Green Goblin his moniker, to sensationalize their battle and sell papers.
      Jameson: Hoffman, call the patent office, copyright the name "Green Goblin". I want a quarter every time somebody says it!
    • Spidey got his after the NYWL ring announcer decided that "The Human Spider" was a terrible ring name. Peter wisely just went with it (after he won the match).
      Ring Announcer: If he can withstand 3 minutes in the cage with "Bonesaw McGraw," the sum of $3,000 will be paid to... (to Peter) What's your name, kid?
      Peter: The Human Spider.
      Announcer: The Human Spider? That's it? That's the best you've got?
      Peter: Yeah.
      Announcer: Aww, that sucks. (to crowd) The sum of $3,000 will be paid to... the terrifying, the deadly... THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN!!!
      Peter: My name's "The Human Spider!"
      Stagehand: I don't care, get out there.
      Peter: No, he got my name wrong!
      Stagehand: GET OUT THERE, YOU MORON! (shove)
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Dr. Stromm immediately begins administering CPR after Norman's heart stops. Of course, he's giving him sideways chest compressions from a standing position and it only takes TWO to restart Norman's heart again. Then again, that's not what actually got Norman's heart fired up again.
  • Curse Cut Short: The "cut to another scene variation" happens during the first montage of Spider-Man in action.
    Woman: (about Spider-Man) He has those tights and that tight little—
    (hard cut to a man in a subway station playing the old TV series theme song on his guitar)note 
  • Cut Himself Shaving: It was a bike messenger cutting Peter off, I swear!
  • Dark Reprise: The whole sequence where Peter furiously chases Dennis Carradine is a darker rendition of the earlier idealistic sequence where Peter first climbed walls, roof jumped and webslinged.
  • Deer in the Headlights: The kid about to be crushed by the float is an extremely over the top example, to the point where Spidey himself chides him for not moving.
  • Defiant Stone Throw: The people pelting Green Goblin on the Queensboro Bridge.
  • Desperate Object Catch: An early demonstration of Peter's enhanced reflexes is when he catches a thrown lunch tray and its contents.
  • Dope Slap: Goblin gives Spidey a small one during their talk on the roof.
  • Dull Surprise: Used brilliantly with The Green Goblin immediately before his impalement: "Oh."
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • In a sense: Curt Connors is name-dropped as one of Peter's professors. The second film, of course, builds on this, by actually showing him.
    • Also, in a bizarre coincidence, Eddie Brock appears in the novelization, also written in 2002 and yet described much like Topher Grace would portray him as five years later. Which is still rather funny. In an early scene, Robbie Robertson mentions how a photographer named "Eddie" has been "on it" — trying to get Spidey pics — all week. But in Spider-Man 3, Eddie is mentioned as the new guy.
  • Everyone Can See It: Played rather darkly. Aunt May tells Peter that everyone else can see how much Peter cares about Mary Jane, which makes Peter realize, to his utter horror, that she's a likely target for the Green Goblin.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Green Goblin is delightfully hamtastic.
  • Evil Laugh: ... complete with an evil laugh.
  • Failure Montage: Peter's How Do I Shot Web? moment.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: When Green Goblin throws one of his pumpkin bombs at the bystanders, they get disintegrated into skeletons.
  • Famous Last Words: "Don't tell Harry."
  • Flat "What.": By Norman Osborn, upon being told by the board that Oscorp is going to be sold.
  • Foreshadowing: Harry, at the Thanksgiving party: "If I'm lucky, I'll become half of what [my father] is!"
  • For the Evulz: Crossing over with Motive Decay, the Green Goblin's plans to "rule with Spider-Man" seem very... vague. At first, he's doing things that Osborn wants done (killing the executives and a rival project), but then it devolves into villainy for villainy's sake.
  • Genre Savvy: Arguably, the Green Goblin. His dialogue suggests that he's treating Spider-Man like someone who wants to play comic book superhero and is trying to prove to him that heroic actions are foolish and self-defeating.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Halfway through the movie, Mary Jane is attacked by a couple of thugs from within an alleyway and she's able to kick one of them in the family jewels before Spider-Man arrives to defeat them and save her.
    • Also for the gorier scene, at the end of first film during Norman Osborn's death, it looks like his glider's blade impaled him right in that spot.
  • Growing Muscles Sequence: The spider bite gave Peter an instant buff-up, something that didn't happen in the comics.
  • Hammy Herald: The deliciously hammy wrestling announcer, played by Bruce Campbell. Who gets cameos in the next two films.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Spider-Man concludes his first encounter with the Green Goblin this way, blinding him with a web-shot to the face and distracting him long enough for Spidey to damage the glider badly enough that the Goblin has to retreat.
  • Heroic Bystander: Stan Lee's cameo. In both this and the second movie, he pulls people away from pieces of falling buildings.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Peter gets one in the final fight.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Norman ends up impaling himself with his own goblin glider.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Arguably the Trope Namer, as we see in Peter's first roofhopping scene. Peter still struggled with swinging when he was chasing the carjacker.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The Goblin's attempt to persuade Peter that they shouldn't cause massive property destruction "over and over again in selfish battle" conveniently ignores that he causes that even without Spider-Man's intervention.
  • Insistent Terminology: When Peter Parker finds out J. Jonah Jameson is putting out a front-page story claiming Spider-Man attacked the city:
    Peter: Spider Man wasn't trying to attack the city...he was trying to save it. That's slander.
    Jameson: It is not! I resent that! (beat) Slander is spoken. In print, it's libel.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Peter has been conned by the wrestling event's promoter, who informs him, "I missed the part where that's my problem." After the robber steals the guy's money and Peter lets the guy get away, he says this back to the manager.
    • "Don't tell Harry." is also a line repeated throughout the movie.
    • When General Slocum visits the Oscorp factories, Dr. Stromm informs him that they need to take the entire product line "back to formula" due to the unstable nature of the performance enhancers. When Norman reawakens after being injected with the serum, the first thing he says as he prepares to throttle Dr. Stromm is, "Back to formula?"
    • "You're out, Norman." "Am I?" at the Oscorp board meeting when the directors tell Norman that he's going to be fired. At the World Unity Festival, as the Goblin prepares to throw pumpkin bombs at the board members, he says "Out, am I?!"
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: The Itsy Bitsy Spider.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: When a police officer accosts the Goblin during his attack in Times Square, he says, "I surrender!" then knocks out the officer. Spidey is Genre Savvy enough to see it coming and manages to get in an "Oh no" before it happens.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: J. Jonah Jameson. Although he is shown to be incredibly rude to Peter and knowingly produces libel against Spider-Man, he lies to the Green Goblin about the identity of Spidey's photographer in order to protect Peter.
  • Jump Scare: The first time we see Norman after he becomes the Green Goblin but before learning of his alternate personality, he has a brief second-long flash of the Goblin, leaving the Goblin loudly laughing and staring at the viewers up close before it cuts back to regular Norman.
  • Large Ham:
    • Both Willem Dafoe and J.K. Simmons.
    • Randy Savage, arguably the greatest ham-slicer in wrestling history, wants you to know that BONESAWWWW IS RRRRREADYYYYYY!
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Norman spends the entire movie being kind of a dick even when he's not Green Goblin. His last speech to Peter, appealing to Peter's emotions and hoping to play on his need for a father figure, fails completely and he gets killed by his own glider.
  • Like a Weasel: Harry pulls this while trying to flirt with Mary Jane at the spider laboratory.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: At least one Norman Osborn / Green Goblin dialogue/monologue is done via this.
  • Mook Horror Show: Peter pulls this trope on the man who killed Uncle Ben.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Peter Parker designs his superhero costume in a montage, complete with his notes ("Needs more color"), newspaper ads for the car of his dreams and the wrestling match, an image of a smiling Mary Jane, and Danny Elfman's themes; this scene segues into Peter's shooting his web in his room, with more Elfman music.
  • Nonchalant Dodge: When Flash Thompson tries to pick a fight with Peter, Pete's new Super Reflexes are depicted by showing everything except him in slow motion. Which is so slow that he is able to dodge the punch, look at Flash in surprise and confusion, then back to the fist, all in what appears to be less than a half-second of real time.
  • Odd Friendship: Harry and Peter who are best friends despite coming from complete polar-opposite backgrounds. Subtext would indicate that they bonded over having lost parents and being respective outcasts among their peers, Harry being the Lonely Rich Kid and Peter being a Hollywood Nerd. Harry also implies in the second film that Peter initially may have been his tutor, as he credits him with "single-handedly getting me through High School Science."
  • Oh, Crap:
    • Or in Osborn's case: "Oh."
    • Also the look on Dr. Stromm's face when, after turning around, he finds a single hand clenched around his face and that that hand belongs to a very, very pissed off Norman Osborn, who until just recently was believed to have suffered a terminal heart attack. "Back to formula?"
    • Peter when he hears May screaming about yellow eyes while at the hospital.
      "He knows who I am."
  • Opening Monologue: "Who am I? You sure you want to know? The story of my life is not for the faint of heart..."
  • The Paragon: Spider-Man's efforts got ordinary citizens to help in the climax.
  • Parting Words Regret: Part of the tragedy of Ben's death is that his and Peter's parting was less than amicable.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • New Yorkers are generally giant jerks to Spider-Man until the scene where Green Goblin tries to kill a bunch of children, then stop Spider-Man from saving them. The assorted crowd on the bridge throw pipes and assorted debris at him.
    • Similarly, J. Jonah Jameson is all Mean Boss around everybody until Green Goblin flies in through the window looking for Peter just after Peter's left the room. Jameson insists that Peter's never even gone to the Bugle office even as the Goblin is strangling him. That last is pretty characteristic; news editors and journalists get pumped for their sources all the time. Still a fairly standout Pet the Dog moment, though.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: The first film depicted wrestling as real as a direct adaptation of his origin story. In that world, Spider-Man beat a wrestler named Bonesaw McGraw, played by the late "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Furthermore "The Disciplinarian" Kristen Davidson and "Jungle Grrl" Erica Porter played Bonesaw's managers, throwing him weapons to hit Spider-man with to try and keep him from lasting to the time limit. This is actually a(n unrealistic) depiction of "hooking", in which a wrestler would challenge local competitors to last a certain amount of time in the ring with him, beating them handily while making it look like they actually stood a chance of lasting to the time limit so more contestants would put up money to try. If the wrestler might actually be in danger of losing he would "cheat" (hence the managers). Hooking only worked because it happened in the age when people bought into kayfabe, which was long exposed by the time of this movies release (and steel cages were not involved).
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks was responsibile for adding the scene in which New York citizens rally together to verbally attack the Goblin.
  • Romantic Rain: Near the end of the movie, there is the famous upside-down kiss between Mary Jane and Peter Parker as Spiderman in the rain.
  • Roof Hopping: The scene is so iconic, even Kick-Ass used the same set as a direct homage.
  • Rousseau Was Right: The moment when the citizens of New York prove the Green Goblin wrong once and for all by not turning against Spider-Man was the true dramatic climax of the film. After that point, the final fight with the Goblin was pretty much all a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Sadistic Choice: Goblin. The Trope Namer. He offers Spider-Man the choice between saving the girl or the Bus Full of Innocents.
  • Same Language Dub: Bruce Campbell voiced the injured wrestler that Peter walked by before going in the ring to fight Bonesaw.
  • Save the Day, Turn Away: Ends on a really textbook example of one, with Peter not getting the girl.
  • Scare Chord:
    • A scene with Norman talking to the Goblin's spirit features a chord that's rather jarring in its loudness.
    • Also when Harry finds his dad slumped over in the living room and is trying to help him figure out what had happened the night before (it being, of course, Norman as the Goblin killing General Slocum and others trying to drive him out of business). The chord in question is used as part of a Jump Scare, accompanied by a split-second shot of Norman seizing during the experiment that gave him his powers.
      Norman: ...last night I was —
      (QUICK SHOT)
      Harry: ...what?
      Norman: ...I don't remember...
  • Secret Identity Apathy: Norman Osborn (a.k.a. the Green Goblin) honestly doesn't care that much about Spidey's secret identity. At first he just wants to work with him. He isn't even trying to find him when he accidentally learns his identity and then only goes after him because his son's feelings were hurt.
  • Seriously Scruffy: Discussed; Aunt May remarks that Peter is so busy that he often leaves his room untidy.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: The famous kiss scene in the rain, where Kirsten Dunst's shirt is fairly sheer, and very wet.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Peter only has eyes for MJ ever. He develops a crush on her before he's "even supposed to like girls" and never shows interest in anyone else. Even the one time he takes the sweet gorgeous super model from his physics class on a date is to make MJ jealous (and he was under the corrupting alien influence of Venom when he did that). Before that incident, he's so oblivious to that possibility that it never occurs to him that privately tutoring Gwen could make MJ upset or jealous.
  • Smooch of Victory: Mary Jane gives Spider-Man a kiss after he saves her from a gang of would-be rapists.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Sort of. Mary Jane never died in the comics, but the girlfriend that got thrown off the bridge by the Green Goblin, which MJ takes on the role of, did.
  • Split-Personality Makeover: Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin. The difference between the two is huge, but it's done entirely with facial expression, vocal mannerisms, and body language!
  • Staring Kid: The kid gawking at falling debris that Spidey had to save during his fight with the Green Goblin.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Goblin's pumpkin bombs... sometimes. The effects of the bombs are inconsistent.
  • Sword Limbo: With Green Goblin's flying blades.
  • Take a Third Option: The bridge scene. The Goblin tells Spider-Man to make a choice — save Mary Jane, or passengers on the Roosevelt Island Tramway. He makes a move that saves both.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Peter gets bitten, he flicks the spider away and we see it crawl under some cabinets. While in the background, we hear Mary-Jane inform them that it's missing, we never do find out what happened, or if there is a random genetically altered Spider that can give people super-powers still at large in New York City? Though in nearly every version of Spidey's origin, the spider dies after biting him. Even with the change from radioactive contamination to genetic engineering, it's reasonable to assume the spider never made it very far.
  • White Gang-Bangers: The Attempted Rape scene.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Goblin uses a literal carload of them in a Sadistic Choice for Spidey that he hopes results in their death.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: J. Jonah Jameson resents being accused of slander. In print, it's libel.