YMMV / Spider-Man Trilogy


Entries in this series with their own YMMV page:
  • Spider-Man 2
  • Spider-Man 3

  • Actor Shipping: Usually Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • A great deal of Aunt May's scenes (particularly the scene in Spider-Man 2 where she tells Peter why Spider-Man is important to the city and the scene in Spider-Man 3 where she acts shocked that Spider-Man killed Sandman) led fans to believe she's a Secret Secret-Keeper who knows Peter is Spider-Man. Nothing in the series or Word of God confirms it, but it fits really well.
    • Did Norman tell Peter not to tell Harry he was the Green Goblin because he didn't want Harry to know his secret... or because he wants Harry to take up his role as Spider-Man's enemy ignorant of who actually killed Norman? If so... was Harry seeing his ghost?
      • And if that's the case, who's really saying that? Norman or the Goblin?
    • Does the wrestling promoter refuse to give Peter his $3,000 because he's a selfish Jerkass who never intended to honor his deal, or because Peter misunderstood the rules of the contest and didn't realize that it wasn't supposed to be a real fight? If the wrestling league was just looking for a new amateur fighter who could put on a good show for the audience and act as a Heel to Bonesaw, it's understandable that the promoter might feel betrayed when Peter (who clearly isn't a wrestling fan) seriously injured his most popular fighter in a bout that was supposed to be a scripted performance. The novelization of the film seems to support the latter theory, as in it the promoter has an additional line where he angrily tells Peter, "You made my best fighter look like a little girl out there!"
    • Peter and MJ's relationship throughout the series. The film frames it as an earnest, emotional and heartwarming classic love story. However, there are quite a lot of people who think it's extremely dysfunctional, even after MJ discovers Peter's secret. Particularly because Peter is perceived of as putting MJ in such an idealized pedestal, some people argue he's borderline obsessed with her, rather than in love with her. As for MJ, she is perceived of as using Peter as an emotional crutch to overcome her insecurities.
  • Can't Un-Hear It:
    • Tobey Maguire as Spiderman/Peter Parker for many.
    • The casting of J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson was so perfect that not hearing a voice like his coming out of the character is practically an impossibility.
  • Counterpart Comparison: The movies on the whole resemble Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy on a number of details:
    • Much like Raimi's Spider-Man, Nolan's Batman's origins and superhero career is intermixed with a romantic goal. In Raimi's films, Peter took to wrestling as a way to make money to sweep Mary-Jane off her feet (which started the Disaster Dominoes that led to Uncle Ben's death), and Bruce likewise began his travel-around-the-world training phase after getting "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Rachel Dawes, and in the first two films at least, he sees his crime-fighting career as a means to prove himself worthy of her affections (hence his support for Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight). The Love Triangle between Peter-MJ-Harry parallels Bruce-Rachel-Harvey albeit loosely with some blurring of roles. Harry Osborn gets burnt badly in the third film scarring an entire side of his face albeit this started his redemptive arc whereas Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face after his scarring. Like MJ, Rachel Dawes hesitates between the handsome and rich suitor (Bruce and Harry Osborn), and the mild mannered down-to-earth man of principle (Peter and Harvey Dent), albeit MJ lapses by being emotionally unfaithful with Peter, while Rachel, despite being tempted by Bruce, firmly rejects him. Most amusingly, Spider-Man 3 has Harry Osborn getting an important revelation from his butler, while in Nolan, Alfred sits on Rachel Dawes' rejection for nearly a decade until The Dark Knight Rises, a moment that Nolan successfully pulled off a lot better than Raimi did.
    • Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man film is a villain who just "does things" rather than have a grand Evil Plan; gives nihilistic speeches about how Humans Are Bastards and will ultimately turn on the hero, briefly indulges in cross-dressing for terrifying effect, and then offers a trope-making Sadistic Choice in the climax, much like Joker in The Dark Knight. The second Spider-Man had a major sequence in a runaway train (similar to Batman Begins) and its climax had a nuclear fusion that threatened the entire city and had to be sunk into the river (similar to Rises). The villain of the first film shows up as an apparition in later films (Norman telling Harry to "avenge me", Ra's showing up briefly in Rises), and his legacy inspires his heir to avenge him by turning on the hero (Talia/Harry).
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Say what you want about the movies, there's no denying Danny Elfman's memorable addition to their soundtracks. Special mention goes to the main theme and "Costume Montage/Web Practice" among others.
    • In a more mainstream example, Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott's "Hero" was everywhere when the first movie came out in 2002. Even the most devout Nickelback haters have been known to admit how awesome it is, and of the songs provided for the three movies in the trilogy this is the most easily-remembered.
  • Damsel Scrappy:
    • Mary Jane Watson. Three movies. Three times kidnapped to be used as bait to lure Spidey out. Yawn. It's particularly egregious in the first movie; Spidey rescued her three times in it alone.
    • Lampshaded in the third movie novelization by Mary Jane who asks if she has bait stamped across her forehead when she's locked in Venom's falling car. Also in the third movie, MJ does become a Heroic Bystander and drops a block of cement on Venom's head as he fights with Spider-Man plus gets herself out of danger several times in the sequence before finally needing to be saved from falling, and to her credit, she tries to attack Doc Ock from behind in the second film — but Aunt May had already successfully done the same thing earlier on, and Doc Ock doesn't repeat his mistakes.
    • Interestingly enough, Gwen Stacy was originally going to be the one abducted for the final battle in the third film, not Mary Jane, and Mary Jane would have been the one who helped Harry come to his senses. A line from this was included in the trailer: "We've all done terrible things to each other, but we have to learn to forgive each other or else everything we ever were will have meant nothing."
    • If you listen to the DVD commentary, you can hear the irritation in Sam Raimi's voice while he recalls having to A) put MJ back in the damsel role because of time constraints and B) having to apologize profusely to Kirsten Dunst after he promised her before the filming of the movie that she wouldn't be doing that again. To make up for it, he gave her more action to do in the scene and used recycled audio of her past screaming rather than make her scream again.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • J. K. Simmons' portrayal of J. Jonah Jameson is considered one of the most perfect casting choices for a superhero movie. When The Amazing Spider-Man Series was in full-swing there was widespread fan demand he return to the role for those films as well (producers even said the main reason Jameson ended up never appearing in the series was that they couldn't find anyone to deliver so perfect of a performance as Simmons had). Marvel has also considered bringing him back to the role for the MCU reboot universe. Throughout all of it, Simmons himself has said he's open to returning.
    • BOOONESAAAW'S REEEEAAAAADDDYYYYY!
    • A number of people were rooting for an Ursula/Peter romance. Arguably, other than Aunt May, she's the only female in the second movie who loves Peter just for being Peter.
  • Evil Is Cool: Willem Dafoe as Osborn/Goblin is a straight example, he's Creepy Awesome and more entertaining than the other villains.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With The Amazing Spider-Man films. Fans of the trilogy tend to think poorly of them, criticizing the need for a Continuity Reboot and feeling they tread the same themes and basic story. Fans of the Amazing movies have blamed much of the films' poor reception on fans and critics having a Nostalgia Filter for the trilogy and brought the franchise a disproportionate amount of scorn that ultimately caused the ASM movies to be cancelled.
    • And of course now it has this with fans of Spider-Man: Homecoming. The latter generally admit that Raimi's films is better than the Marc Webb films but they feel that Marvel improved greatly in its first solo Spider-Man film, and having a very young actor play a teenage Spider-Man which they argue is Truer to the Text, while Raimi's fans argue that the latter is still Lost in Imitation and that the former is the better Adaptation Distillation (since the vast majority of Spider-Man stories are that of a grown up post-teenage Peter). Most sorely, in Homecoming the "older father figure" whose legacy affects Peter's life is Tony Stark, not Uncle Ben who isn't even mentioned by name.
    • There's also an inner-fandom rivalry between those who prefer the first or the second film more than others. It breaks down to who is a more entertaining and interesting villain (Goblin versus Doc Ock), and the action scenes (the final No-Holds-Barred Beatdown between Spider-Man and Goblin against the elevated train sequence). Almost everyone agree that the third film is the weakest, although to what degree is contested.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Peter/Ursula, for those who prefer a Third-Option Love Interest rather than MJ or Gwen.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: The Green Goblin's costume got this reaction from some fans, or at least those who know the character from the comics. It's less divisive to the audience who came to the character from the movies.
  • First Installment Wins: Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 are still the most highly-regarded Spider-Man films, with 2 one of the most highly-regarded comic book films period. Many fans also feel this way about this film series as a whole, compared to the Amazing Spider-Man series. Even Kevin Feige, the head of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has expressed his fondness for Raimi's films.
  • Foe Yay: Spidey and the Green Goblin in the first film, though only on Gobby's end of things, the creepy rooftop conversation between them where Goblin pitches his We Can Rule Together offer is filled with this.
  • Fountain of Memes: Every last line out of Dafoe's mouth post-formula, and every line from J. K. Simmons' JJJ.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The original teaser trailer for the first movie featured bank robbers escaping in a helicopter, which Spider-Man then catches in a large web between the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. The trailer was pulled after the events of 9/11. However, the reflection in Spider-Man's eyes with the Twin Towers was still left in.
  • Genre Turning Point:
    • The first film had a massive role in popularizing the superhero genre in the 21st Century. Notably it was the first wide commercial and critical success since the disaster of Batman & Robin. While X-Men, and Blade, had preceded it in Marvel properties, neither was the international success that Spider-Man was. The film's marketing also had a huge influence on Poster-Design, especially the amber-coloured background of the first two-posters, which was copied for Batman Begins. Before these films, the only widely successful superhero films were Batman or Superman films, and Spider-Man opened the floodgates for all kinds of comics properties and led to many Marvel movies, like Daredevil, Hulk, The Punisher (2004) as the rights holders suddenly found a market for their options.
    • Likewise, compared to Richard Donner's original Superman and Tim Burton's Batman, both of which were essentially set in a Constructed World and quasi-Alternate Universe, and the X-Men movies seemed to be science-fiction/fantasy, Raimi's Spider-Man films had a greater sense of realism. It visibly looked like 21st Century New York, addressed the September 11 attacks and had characters who looked like contemporary adults grappling problems related to rent, work and careers. This set the trend for greater realism and contemporary focus in the films that came after, even in the revived Batman films by Christopher Nolan. Notably the films that avoided the contemporary focus (Superman Returns, Green Lantern) were failures, so the trend set by Spider-Man still remains the house style.
    • Of course, the film's giant box-office success revived Marvel after heavy financial troubles in The '90s and brought renewed attention to its properties and licenses, leading many of the other studios Marvel had sold movie rights to in The '90s to greenlight productions to Follow the Leader. While there isn't a direct line from this film to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's unlikely that could ever have taken off without Sam Raimi's films.
  • Ham and Cheese: With a stupid-looking, limiting costume, (at least for some) the best thing Willem Dafoe could possibly do as the Green Goblin is go completely over the top. It worked. Likewise it helped that Dafoe plays Norman as a staid, calm, and jaded middle-aged man, which underscores how drastic and scary the Goblin persona is.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The cancelled James Cameron film adaptation from the 1990s would have featured Sandman and Electro as the villains. Sandman was in Spider-Man 3 before the series got cancelled and rebooted. Later, Electro was featured in The Amazing Spider-Man 2... which was also the last installment of that series before it got cancelled and rebooted again.
    • "I had a father. His name was Ben Parker." in the first film was a Call-Back played for drama. In the Amazing Spider-Man series, Uncle Ben's importance is decreased (though not completely displaced) because of the heightened focus on Peter's actual parents in the backstory, and the plot of the second film in particular. In Spider-Man Homecoming, Uncle Ben is barely alluded to, not even by name, and Peter latches on to Tony Stark as a more or less Parental Substitute, which also violates the aesop of MCU's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2note .
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the Hilarious Outtakes for the first movie, J. K. Simmons mispronounces "Spider-Man" as "Piderman".
    • The first film features Norman Osborn trying to get the military to invest in his Super Serum to create Super Soldiers. A competing company is instead proposing Powered Armor. Then a few years later at the end of The Incredible Hulk cue Tony Stark lecturing to General Ross about how he'd been telling them that Powered Armor was a better idea than using Super Serum to create a Super Soldier. The big difference being which method the military brass in each movie was in favor of.
    • At one point, the producers of the trilogy were dead set on casting Anne Hathaway as Felicia Hardy (AKA The Black Cat) in the planned fourth film that was ultimately scrapped. Around four years later, Anne Hathaway was cast as a certain other feline-themed femme fatale thief in a certain other big-budget superhero movie.
    • When Spider-Man was originally released back in 2002, it wound up setting new box office records and broke several records that the first Harry Potter film had previously set just six months prior. Ten years later in 2012, another hotly anticipated film based on a Marvel Comic was released and likewise also topped several records that a Harry Potter film from the previous year had just set.
    • Bruce Campbell as a wrestling announcer saying that the nickname "The Human Spider" sucks is funny considering it later becomes the nickname for UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.
    • If an actor played a character who hates Spider-Man in these movies, they might end up playing a character who likes the Justice League in the DC Extended Universe. J. K. Simmons, who played Jonah, is this now in Justice League (2017) as, in many ways, Jonah's opposite number, Commissioner Gordon. Likewise, Willem Dafoe, who played the Green Goblin, is cast as Vulko, an adviser to Aquaman. However, Flash is even more of a jackass in the DCEU as Joe Manganiello (Flash Thompson) has been cast as Deathstroke.
    • As an alternative to "Green Goblin," Hoffman suggests "Green Meanie." Some fifteen years later, there's a costumed slasher who goes by that alias in Scream Queens (2015).
    • The Green Goblin persona rants to Norman to attack Peter's heart in the first movie. Maybe this Green Goblin was reincarnated into Ryuk?
    • Fans have always compared a superhero Nicktoon series that premiered two years later to the Spider-Man franchise, but so many of the elements responsible for the resemblance were used in Raimi's first film that watching it after 2004 produces a downright eerie feeling of deja vu — you half-expect Peter to tell the rich supervillain who wants to be his father figure, "Dude, you are one seriously crazed up fruit loop!"
    • "That's a cute outfit. Did your husband give it to you?" from the first film becomes funnier after the MCU Peter Parker gets his proper Spider-Man suit from Tony Stark, with whom he has a hero-worship thing going on, all which is rather out of character from the comics.
    • In the years since the Raimi trilogy, Mary Jane has gained a reputation from fans and haters as being a textbook damsel in distress (some even say a Damsel Scrappy). At the end of the second film, when Mary Jane goes to tell Peter how much he means to her, one of the things she says is "Peter, I can't survive without you".
  • Jerkass Woobie: Harry Osborn all the time.
  • Memetic Bystander: All of Bruce Campbell's cameo characters.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Spidey and Mary Jane's upside-down kiss, the trilogy's most iconic scene.
    • J. Jonah Jameson constantly demanding "PICTURES! PICTURES OF SPIDER-MAN!".
    • J. Jonah Jameson laughing.
    • "BONESAW IS READY!... to move on with his life."
    • Peter's frequent strange or awkward facial expressions (often dubbed "Tobeyface") make for popular reaction image fodder.
    • "What about my uncle? Did you give him a chance?"
    • "GOOOOOO."
    • "IMPRESSIVE!"
    • This image of Peter in his first Spider-Man outfit has become involved in a meme where he is photoshopped in various recent events, typically tragic ones.
    • "It's you who's out, Gobby. Out of your mind!"
    • "I had to beat an old lady with a stick."
    • Peter putting on his glasses has become a fairly popular meme typically used to express one's opinion on a certain subject.
    • "DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I'VE SACRIFICED?!"
    • "Woah! He stole that guy's pizza!"
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Spider-Man movies have various villains cross this.
  • Narm:
    • "It's you who's out, Gobby! Out of your mind!" Kirsten Dunst even had a laugh at this one in the DVD Commentary.
    • The Green Goblin's outfit was disliked by some. A few note that he looks like a refugee from a Power Rangers episode. It's easy to see why they thought the comic book version wouldn't have worked in live action, and it would arguably have been too Joker. To quote Total Film magazine "This guy looks more like an action figure than his actual action figures!" The problem also lies in the fact that big fight scene between Spider-Man and Goblin, at the Macy's parade happens in broad daylight. Since this is the first time we see his costume in full, it looks bad to some, the later confrontations between him and Spidey happen at night-time, and the effect is not as pronounced there.
    • Arguably, the people being skeletonized by the pumpkin bombs is a little too cartoonish to be scary. It gets even worse when you realize that these same bombs keep having different effects on different people, which is similar to how Goblin uses them in comics.
    • From the same fight scene: IMPRESSIVE!
    • Green Goblin's death in the first film: impaled on his own weapon, the look of agony, the groaning... But look at where the glider hit him. Osborn talking to himself in the mirror as the Goblin in the first movie. Even Wizard Magazine, which otherwise gave the movie near-complete praise, called this scene "downright goofy." Even though his back is facing the audience, you can easily tell Osborn is saying the Goblin's lines.
    • WE'LL MEET AGAIN, SPIDER-MAAAAAAAN!!! Is it any wonder Creator/WillemDafoe's Goblin is remembered fondly?
  • Narm Charm: The Green Goblin costume really does work well in key scenes. For instance, the golden yellow eyes especially in the Aunt May prayer scene, where the costume really does make Goblin look like a demonic figure.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The plots of 1, 2 and 3 mirror Superman, Superman II and both Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Part 1: Origin story. Part 2: "Don't want to be the hero". Part 3: Good hero and evil hero.
    • Many people also complain about Peter being too depressive and cracking not enough jokes. This is actually very faithful to the early source material (the 60s/70s). Pete isn't the Page Image for Classical Anti-Hero for nothing. Him becoming a Deadpan Snarker was later, he did crack some jokes early on, but then, so does the movie's version.
    • A good many changes from the source material done in these movies were actually first done in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, such as Peter officially becoming Spider-Man after high school, Mary Jane being a Composite Character with Gwen Stacy and being kidnapped frequently, Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin being co-existing split personalities, Otto Octavius being an idol of Peter's, Eddie Brock being an unsympathetic journalistic rival of Peter's, and the alien symbiote gradually corrupting Peter's personality.
    • On another note, let's see — a villain without any grand plan, who just "does things", whose climactic plot involves a Sadistic Choice that forces the hero to choose between pairs of civilians, whose main dynamic with the hero is to convert him to subscribe to his nihilistic worldview, who in one crucial scene dresses up in woman's clothing to terrifying effect — a lot of the shtick practiced by Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight is already there in the first film in its second half. The fact the Green Goblin in the comics is often seen as Marvel's Alternate Company Equivalent to Joker only cements this further (likewise, Willem Dafoe was one of the contenders to play Joker in Tim Burton's Batman).
  • One-Scene Wonder:
  • Popularity Polynomial:
    • When the first ASM movie was coming out and especially once it did, the trilogy nearly approached Deader Than Disco levels, with many people considering it dated and awkward. After the polarizing reception of ASM 2, coupled with the news that the movie series was to be rebooted once again, people seem to have focused on the better parts of the trilogy and on the whole it's remembered with fondness.
    • Around the same time, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy (which it must be noted was inspired by Raimi's films and borrowed stuff from itnote ) was seen as the gold standard for superhero films, and the cheesiness in Raimi's films was deprecated and dismissed for not being dark enough. A few years later, the Marvel Cinematic Universe arrived patterned on the balance between dark and comedic elements as Raimi's films, the Marc Webb films were criticized for its Grim Dark approach, Nolan's films faced a backlash (albeit as a Franchise Original Sin for the Snark Bait DC Extended Universe) and Raimi's films have come to be regarded as holding up better than many expected.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The tie-in for the first film was regarded as a generally decent action game, brought down by an awful camera system and an overly short length.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: A common criticism of the movies is that they devote too much time to the love story, to the detriment of action. This was not so much of a problem in the first film, where the "upside-down kiss" became the film's Signature Scene but it did in the sequels where almost everything is about the Love Dodecahedron between Peter, Harry, MJ, and other MJ suitors.
    • One problem is that the original film complicated Spider-Man's origins by giving him a "love motive" in that Peter's inspired to wrestle and make money to impress Mary-Jane, when in the comics, Peter Parker took up wrestling for fame and to make money for his aunt and uncle. This reduces his character arc from Working-Class Hero to Give Geeks a Chance romantic dreamer.
    • The third film receives the most criticism on this count, since many fans felt that the second film was a fine conclusion to the romance. The fact that the film had three other major plotlines competing for screentime also caused problems. On the flip side, some thought the romance was better in the third film because it was more interesting to see Peter and MJ dealing with problems as a couple, rather than the first two's "Will They or Won't They??" drama that everyone knew the answer to.
  • Ron the Death Eater: In recent years, Mary Jane has been on the receiving end of people who like to claim that she is a horrible user of a person who treats Peter like crap, especially in the third film. These fans will usually ignore how Peter put his own needs before hers and never really considered what she was going through during the movie because his newfound respect from the city has gotten to his head. And they also ignore when she tries to be there for him, even admitting that she overreacted, but he shuts her out. Basically, they both are equally accountable for their relationship falling apart in the movie, but try telling that to those individuals.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: It's hard for some people to appreciate this film series after the massive success of Darker and Edgier comic book movies like The Dark Knight Saga (or this series' own Continuity Reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man) or Lighter and Softer ones with huge action sets like The Avengers. But it must be noted that the first film, alongside X-Men and Blade, helped bring back comic book/superhero movies after Batman & Robin effectively destroyed the genre. Film critics note that Spider-Man 2 continues to act as a benchmark when comparing superhero films. It was noted for its combination of impressive visual effects, emotional human story, complex villain and superiority as a sequel. All of these became essential markers judging quality superhero films, and Spider-Man 2 was the trailblazer.
  • Signature Scene: The Upside-Down Kiss. Alongside that, there's Peter's wrestling match sequence, Green Goblin's first fight with Spider-Man in the parade, J. Jonah Jameson's opening scene, and the final fight between him and Peter in the greenhouse.
  • Special Effect Failure: As awesome as the effects generally are in the first film, there were a handful of instances where the effects team used obvious short-cuts, most notably with the rather amorphous and undetailed CG model of Spidey used in some of the instances of him swinging through the city.
    • Time has been very unkind to most of the first film's visual effects work; not only with the cartoonish CGI models of Spidey and Goblin used for stunts, but also the incredibly fake CGI webbing and some pretty poor chroma key (green/blue screen) work with obvious halos around foreground objects. It's especially jarring when compared to the sequels and Andrew Garfield movies, which for all their shortcomings do have much better VFX.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: An interesting case, relating more to a character's appearance than their role. While Willem Dafoe's performance as the Green Goblin was widely acclaimed, his actual appearance in the goofy-looking armor was anything but. However, at some point in the production, his character was going to be depicted by a hybrid of prosthetic makeup and an animatronic mask. Even in the test footage alone, it is much scarier than the infamous 'Power Rangers Goblin.' Considering how good he did with that goofy mask, imagine what the mighty Willem Defoe could have done with this beauty.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Surprisingly, this was the initial reaction when Tobey Maguire was cast as Spider-Man himself, as fans thought he was too "doughy" for the role (which he was at first, but months of long, hard training can change a man). He is in fact a perfect fit for the original lanky and scrawny Steve Ditko design of Peter Parker.
  • The Woobie: Peter himself is an obvious example. MJ and Harry also have their moments of Woobie-ness.


Alternative Title(s): Spider Man 1

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/SpiderManTrilogy