- Accidental Innuendo: This brief exchange between Peter and Venom/Eddie:
Peter: Eddie, the suit! You gotta take it off!
Eddie: Oh you'd like that, wouldn't you...
- Awesome Music: Christopher Young's rendition of Danny Elfman's theme for the film is excellent, being darker and more dramatic than the original, particularly after the 1:20 mark.
- Author's Saving Throw: The Editor's Cut version of the movie outright cuts out the much-panned scene where Harry's butler convinces Harry to help Peter save MJ by only just NOW revealing to him that he had proof of Norman dying by his own hand, and instead has Harry make his choice all by himself, making his role in the film's climax much more powerful.
- Better on DVD: Spider-Man 3 had an altered yet shorter and improved version called Spider-Man 3: Editor's Cut with restored music and better focus on character development. It reinforces the belief many hold that there is a good movie buried inside here, it just got bogged down with all the Executive Meddling.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The dance scene in the jazz club was perhaps the most infamous example of the decade.
- Broken Base: Want to start an argument? Ask if Peter's behavior under the symbiote's influence is bad or brilliant. Defenders claim that he's supposed to be super lame and just thinks he's being awesome, while detractors either take it at face value and/or cite the fact that the majority of characters respond positively to Peter's change like he's actually being cool. The editor's cut is also controversial in this regard as some hate that the "Emo Peter" montage was kept in at all, while others appreciate that it was given a darker context since it now immediately follows Peter throwing a bomb at Harry and hideously scarring him, emphasizing his sociopathic callousness as much as his geekiness.
- Contested Sequel: One of the most definitive examples of the trope. It became the highest-grossing Spider-Man movie, but still earned lots of dissers, particularly among the fanbase. Critics considered it a blatant case of sequelitis, but its overall reception was mixed-to-positive. In general, most can agree it's the weakest installment of the trilogy, but the divide lies in whether or not it's because the quality is actually "bad."
- Critical Dissonance: While it actually was divisive among critics, you'd be surprised that it has a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, which means that most reviews were mixed to positive, with even the top critics giving it a 47% which is close to an even split. However, based on the hate it gets from fans, you'd think its score would be much, much lower.
- Ensemble Darkhorse:
- Yeah, Venom is in this movie! For about ten minutes. But at least he looks cool, whenever his face isn't Topher Grace's.
- "Emo Peter" is more hated than he is loved, and yet he seems to pop up everywhere in relation to this movie online. Honestly, he may have crossed the line into Love to Hate by this point.
- For a genuine example, while this movie isn't fondly remembered, Thomas Haden Church's performance as the Sandman has still been widely praised and cited as the best part of the movie. That he looks exactly like the comic book character helps.
- A number of people were rooting for an Ursula/Peter romance. Arguably, other than Aunt May, she's the only woman in the third movie who loves Peter just for being Peter.
- Evil Is Sexy: Played with. While Peter under the symbiote's influence isn't evil, he Took a Level in Jerkass, and has ladies falling over him.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: One of the recurring criticisms of Raimi's trilogy was not capturing the humor of Peter as Spider-Man — favoring slapstick sight gags and pratfalls over witty one liners (strange considering the memorable quips of Raimi's Army of Darkness) — nor capturing the way he gained confidence from his experiences as Spider-Man in his daily life, which the comics highlighted for years (when not showing how much his life sucked). By the time Peter finally starts to come out of his shell and show some confidence, complete with quipping, in this film it is treated negatively (even before he gets the evil suit), which almost seems to say "Don't grow up, don't take pride in your accomplishments, always remain the shy, mumbling, all-American apple pie-eating boy next door." Of course the intended message, which has always been Spider-Man's message, is to not let your sense of superiority and empowerment go to your head, otherwise you'll take the good things in your life for granted.
- Fan-Preferred Couple: Peter/Ursula, for those who prefer a Third-Option Love Interest rather than MJ or Gwen.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: 62% of the film's profits were made overseas rather than in its home country, in contrast to the previous two where only 50% and 52% respectively came from other countres.
- Harsher in Hindsight: A major part of the film is Peter planning to proposing to Mary Jane. This was also released in the same year as One More Day, which ended the Peter/MJ marriage and also resurrected Harry Osborn, who dies in this movie.
- Idiot Plot: The film has a bad enough case of this to have its its own page.
- Memetic Mutation:
- "It's so good."
- Peter dancing in the middle of the street.
- Moral Event Horizon:
- Venom crosses it when he mortally wounds Harry Osborn in an attack meant for Peter, and clearly not giving a shit as he tosses him aside.
- It could be argued that he already crossed the line of being sympathetic as Brock, when he prayed to God to kill Peter after Peter exposed Brock as a fraud.
- Narm: Has its own page.
- One-Scene Wonder:
- Before the film's release, Stan Lee considered his cameo in the movie to be his personal favorite up to that point.
- This also applies to Venom, who appears in the movie for ten to fifteen minutes but does a lot in such a short time frame, not to mention that he has a memorable battle against Spider-Man.
- Ron the Death Eater: Although being intentionally written to make bad and selfish choices, Mary Jane tends to get far more grief from certain fans even though literally every other character in the movie also makes bad and selfish choices. The whole point of the movie was that everyone's a sinner and that they must resolve to do better and forgive themselves and others, or else be destroyed by their own negative emotions.
- The Scrappy:
- A very weird case with Venom/Eddie Brock. Venom in himself is far from being a scrappy (quite the opposite actually), but his Eddie Brock alter-ego is disliked due to being a whiny, unscrupulous and generally unlikable person (in contrast to his much more sympathetic and physically impressive comic book counterpart) who really damages Venom's cool/threatening factor, especially when he constantly and needlessly shows his human face.
- The annoying English newsreader who appears occasionally during the climax and could have easily been removed with no problems.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: This ended up happening to multiple characters due to the producers trying to cram in too many characters in a limited screen time.
- With very little screentime and a questionable casting choice, the general consensus is that Venom was completely wasted when a whole separate movie could have been made around him. In fact, this was originally the plan, for the movie to be released in two parts, with the second one being very Venom-focused, but the studio didn't allow it. This ends up being hilarious (or harsher) in hindsight due to the fact that two-part movies would become in vogue just a few years later after the Harry Potter series did it.
- Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy, who could have left more of an impression and had more of a relationship with Peter and MJ had it not been for all the other characters and their arcs fighting for screentime.
- Not to mention Sandman, who had many of his character arc scenes deleted and his original, much more conclusive send-off changed to one that doesn't answer any questions as to what he's going to do now.
- Tough Act to Follow: Spider-Man 3 had the unpleasant task of following up on the near-universally loved Spider-Man 2. It's an understatement to say that it wasn't able to meet that film's level.
- Vindicated by History: While still highly polarizing, this movie has been treated with more leniency after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released to even worse reviews and became a Franchise Killer for the already-contested reboot series. It received further vindication in 2017 with the Editor's Cut release, which is widely considered to be superior to the original version of the movie.
- Visual Effects of Awesome: Even several years on, the scene of the Sandman's 'birth' is still stellar to look at. A slow build, backed with an emotionally touching BGM, where the audience can see him gradually gain control of his powers and build his body back up.
- WTH, Casting Agency?: General consensus is that Topher Grace wasn't a very good cast for Venom. Word of God says that Topher was cast because Raimi enjoyed his acting and thought he'd make a perfect Anti-Peter Parker. Basically, the casting was more about this version of Eddie Brock than it was about Venom — which didn't work out for them in terms of fan reaction, as most fans either don't really care about the Eddie Brock part of Venom, or think that the usual version of Eddie Brock is much more interesting, at least after his Character Development and in the animated adaptations.
The video game
- Author's Saving Throw: In the PS3, 360 and PC versions of the game, Venom can be seen as this. He has more screentime than he does in the film, he's considerably bulkier like how he is in the comics, and both his voice and roars are much deeper (and in the case of his introductory scene, quite creepy, too).
"Now let's talk about how we're going to destroy...the Spider."
- Complete Monster: In the PS3, 360, and PC version of the game, Luke Carlyle is a former industrialist whose business crumbled after the Daily Bugle uncovered his corrupt practices. Seeking revenge against the city that ruined him, Carlyle adopted the identity of "Carlyle the Mad Bomber" and led a series of terrorist attacks across Manhattan. After destroying his old building, Carlyle had his men plant explosives throughout the city, focusing mostly on locations that would cause civilian casualties. When Spider-Man foils his plans, Carlyle launches an attack on the Daily Bugle and kidnaps J. Jonah Jameson. Carlyle places an explosive collar around Jameson's neck and tosses him out of his helicopter in an attempt to kill him and Spider-Man. Carlyle ultimately escapes after Spider-Man takes out his helicopter, but not before setting off the explosives he had rigged in each of his henchmen's suits.
- Contested Sequel: The games were no better than the film in this regard, considering that they were made to tie in with this film, just like the previous two. Unlike Spider-Man 2, the games had ridiculous amounts of Press X to Not Die to an infuriating degree, especially the unforgiving final boss fight.
- That One Level: The level in the PS3/360/PC version where Spider-Man has to protect a canister from the lizardmen is extremely difficult, particularly in the final round, as it's game over if the canister gets hit more than three times.