YMMV: Spider-Man Trilogy

  • 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?
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The dance scene in Spider-Man 3.
  • Contested Sequel: Both movie and game versions of Spider-Man 3 suffer from this.
  • 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:
    • Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin = Win.
    • J.K. Simmons' portrayal of J. Jonah Jameson is considered one of the most perfect casting choices for a superhero movie. As the present there are serious talks for him reprising the role for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is unheard of.
    • 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.
    • Doc Ock from the second movie is considered by many to be the trilogy's best villain.
    • Thomas Haden Church plays the Sandman to utter perfection in the third film. Of the entire series' rogues gallery, Church's Sandman looks the closest (read: EXACTLY) like his comic book counterpart, and he's one of the third film's few redeeming features.
  • Evil Is Cool: Played with to the point of parody or deconstruction in the third movie. Once Peter's bonded with the Venom symbiote, his moral restraint plummets, his feelings of aggression and confidence shoot through the roof and he adopts a dark, callous attitude and black leather wardrobe to match. However, since Peter is still, at heart, a lovable geek with no real idea what "cool" is, his new attitude's actually a goofily overdone caricature that draws eye-rolling disbelief from the people around him.
    • 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 yet another Continuity Reboot and feeling it 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.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Peter/Ursula, for those who prefer a Third-Option Love Interest rather than MJ or Gwen.
  • Faux Symbolism: In the second film, MJ is cast in The Importance of Being Earnest, which is about people leading double lives. She plays the character who is unaware of the deception until the third act.
    • Also in the third, when Peter pulls off his dark suit in the church. At one point, his arms are up and out from his sides, crucifix style. Complete with the church bells ringing. And Eddie praying to kill Spider-Man below. Yeah...
    • Not to mention the shower afterwards. Recognition of sin, repentance, and baptism, perhaps? note 
    • And Spidey sure must not have noticed that big, flaming US flag as a backdrop when he chose to make his comeback...
  • Foe Yay: Spidey and the Green Goblin in the first film, though only on Gobby's end of things.
  • Fountain of Memes: Every last line out of Dafoe's mouth post-formula.
  • Ham and Cheese: With a stupid-looking, limiting costume, the best thing Willem Dafoe could possibly do as the Green Goblin is go completely over the top. It worked.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Jerkass Woobie: Octavius in the second movie. And Harry Osborn all the time.
  • Memetic Bystander: The Pizza Guy in the second movie and all of Bruce Cambell's cameo characters.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Spider-Man movies have various villains cross this.
  • Narm: The third film is pretty infamous for its weird tone, but special mention goes to Peter Parker's infamous dancing. Sure, it's intenionally played as comedic, but his reasons for doing this are meant to be seen as a serious dick move on his part, but it's sort of hard to focus on that when the dancing is so silly.
    • Hearing Topher Grace's voice in his Venom form. And even when he peels back his Venom face to reveal his human face, said human face now has sharp teeth for some inexplicable reason.
    • The second film had Doc Ock's artificially intelligent arms "talking" to him. This may have been based on Molina anthropomorphizing them on-set. Good thing they didn't use the names he gave them.note 
    • From the original film: "It's you who's out, Gobby! Out of your mind!" Kirsten Dunst even had a laugh at this one in the DVD commentary.
    • And let's not forget the Green Goblin is one of the most ridiculous looking villains in movie history. 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, but they replaced it with something even more stupid. To Quote Total Film magazine (I think) "This guy looks more like an action figure than his actual action figures!"
    • 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, with no consistency whatsoever.
    • Toward the end of 2, when Peter sees a big-ass wall about to collapse on MJ from behind, he lets out a wail that is not only really over the top, but comes with a close-up of his face as he makes it, and to make it even more Narmful his voice cracks more than once in the (rather long) Big "NO!".
      • It's not even a no, that's the best part. It's some awful, ungodly roaring noise that escaped from the fires of hell and out of Tobey Maguire's mouth. take a look.
    • 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.
    • AVENGE MEEEEEEEEEEEEE! "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"
    • WE'LL MEET AGAIN, SPIDERMAAAAAAAN!!! Is it any wonder Willem Dafoe's Goblin is remembered fondly?
    • From 2, Rosalie Octavius's death. The metal in the window she's facing is attracted to Dr Octavius's man-made sun, causing the glass to shatter in her direction. She just stands there and screams. If shown in real time, this wouldn't have qualified as Narm, but it was in slow motion, with a very drawn-out scream - she also looks like she's smiling. The extremely melodramatic music certainly doesn't help, either.
  • Never Live It Down: The first thing that anyone who hates Spider-Man 3 will mention is the dance scene, which only lasted for a couple of minutes out of the movie.
  • Older Than They Think: The plots of 1, 2 and 3 mirror Superman, Superman II and both Superman III & IV. 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.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Bryce-Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy does a pretty good job despite having a character so underused she was almost entirely redundant. One gets the impression she could have been a great love interest had there not been a dozen other competing plotlines and characters.
  • Plot Hole: The wresting ring manager sees Peter Parker's face and knows he was the Spider-man that beat up Bonesaw but never bothers to put two and two together or even shows up later in the movie.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Zigzagged throughout the series:
    • 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.
    • Thoroughly averted by the console version of Spider-Man 2, which is widely regarded as one of the best tie-in games of all time. Played straight by the PC version, which is a completely different game with much worse web-slinging mechanics and the recreation of Manhattan busted down to just five smallish zones (and sadly, it says everything about licensed games that it isn't regarded as being anywhere near one of the worst ones ever).
    • The Spider-Man 3 game is a borderline case. Few thought it was bad by any means, but it was widely considered to be a major disappointment, especially considering it was released on a new console generation.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Mary Jane in Spider-Man 3 for a number of people, for being a more sympathetic character, and actually doing something to help Peter even while being held in distress by Venom.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Emily Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks, Daniel Dae Kim Octavia Spencer and Joe Manganiello all found stardom some time after their initial appearances in the series.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: A common criticism of the movies that they devote too much time to the love story, to the detriment of action.
    • 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.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The need to put in a quick-time event to remove the symbiote in Spider-Man 3.
  • 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
  • Sequelitis:
  • 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.
  • True Art Is Angsty/Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Spider-Man 2 is the most angsty of the films, with focus more on Peter's struggle to maintain a working personal life with his superhero activities. It's also the most critically acclaimed of all the Spider-Man films, including the latter films. It's also the least successful, box office wise, of the original films, and only beat (defeated?) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 out of all the films combined. A common reason most cite for loving it is the angst, while a common reason most cite for disliking it is the same. Depending on your view, it's either well written angst, or it's badly handled angst. Either way, the angst is the topic that splits most on the film.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: When Peter confronts the thief who killed Uncle Ben, the thief ends up tripping on a pipe and falling out a window to his death. And there are police with spotlights watching the whole thing. Peter, in his Spider-Man costume, in his first public appearance as the crime-fighting hero, looks out the broken window and is seen by the police with the spotlight. And yet this is never mentioned again. No one—not even Jameson—tries to treat him as a murderous vigilante, and he never has to try and Clear My Name.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: All the films have excellent effects but the aforementioned birth of Sandman deserves a special mention. The effects (which took six months to do and the effort shows) are so good, you can actually see the emotion in Marko's eyes while he is in sandform. From despair to heartbreaking sadness and absolute determination. Say what you will about the rest of the film, but damn that was a brilliant scene.
  • What an Idiot: Many examples in the third movie:
    • Why exactly did Peter think it would be a smart idea to plant a big wet one on Gwen Stacy right in front of Mary Jane in Spider-Man 3, in the exact same way as he first kissed Mary Jane in the first film no less?
    • What on Earth possessed Harry's butler to not tell him he knew Norman had been killed by his own glider before Harry decided to dedicate his life to vengeance against Spider-Man?
      • Word of God states that the butler, while a real person, was a hallucination in that scene, representing Harry's conscience...Yeah.
    • There's also Mary Jane going along with Harry's blackmail instead of just telling Peter (her very powerful superhero boyfriend) about Harry's amnesia recovery, especially considering that Harry was watching from a distance at the same place at the time!
    • Sandman could have gone to the military and offered his help in exchange for free health care for his family, same as any serving member. You know, in the Iraqi war. The one that was being fought in the desert. However, he's not exactly too bright, and may not have wanted to kill anyone again, even if they deserved it.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Topher Grace as Venom elicited this reaction from many.
    • Which is not too surprising since Eddie Brock is known for having a home gym, while Topher Grace is known for playing Eric Forman on That '70s Show. To be fair, though, Grace built up a lot for the role, as you can see in his scenes as Venom. Not only that, but he was cast as Brock before Venom was even going to be included.
    • 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).
  • Wangst: Both Peter himself and Mary Jane starts to fall into this territory by the time of the third movie. Also, Harry often makes rants about how much he wants to get revenge on Spider-Man for "killing" his father, though he's generally more proactive in doing something about it.
  • The Woobie: Sandman. The guy just want to get his daughter cured, and he don't want to hurt anybody else in the way, but things just never worked out for him. He sums it up well with "I'm not a bad guy...I've just had really bad luck." And by the way, just to get a picture of how rough things are for this guy? He says this line BEFORE he becomes the Sandman.
    • Peter himself is an obvious example. MJ and Harry also have their moments of Woobie-ness, particularly in Spider-Man 3.

Alternative Title(s):

Spider Man 1