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 Jerk Ass 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.
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.
Sandman's theme from the third movie is widely regarded as a beautiful piece of music.
Venom's theme. It's a brilliant dark parallel to Spider-Man's Leitmotifnote which is also the trilogy's main theme - while Spidey's theme is heroic, often having a sense of tranquility and tragedy reflecting his Dark and Troubled Past, Venom's theme is dark and villainous, with a sense of anger and detest slowly rising, before culminating in a fit of rage - reflecting Venom's hatred towards Spider-Man after he humiliated Eddie and rejected the symbiote.
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.
Her status as this goes Up to Eleven among fans of the original character from the comic books, who despise her film counterpart, not only because they think her characterization was disrespectful to the character, but also because it ruined her reputation among mainstream audiences. To give you an idea, from her first appearance in the comic books, it took almost an entire decade for her to need to be rescued as many times as she was in the first film. And the frequency has barely increased since then.
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.
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.
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: 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 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.
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 Or maybe it was about the rape parallels, since victims occasionally shower afterwards, much to the frustration of forensics, and this was another sort of bodily violation.
And Spidey sure must not have noticed that big, flaming US flag as a backdrop when he chose to make his comeback...
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.
"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.
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 and 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.
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, the best thing Willem Dafoe could possibly do as the Green Goblin is go completely over the top. It worked.
And now with Dying Wish, specifically its conclusion in The Amazing Spider-Man #700, Peter Parker dies remembered as that monster (as everyone believed him to be Doctor Octopus due to a "Freaky Friday" Flip), while Otto Octavius gets to take on the identity of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man..
Throughout the third film, Peter tries to propose to Mary Jane but things never work out and he ultimately never goes through with it. The infamous One More Day storyline came out only a few months after that.
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.
The second movie features Mary Jane getting engaged to J.J. Jameson's son, only to go back to Peter in the end. A few years later, we got Superman Returns, in which Lois Lane gets engaged to Perry White's nephew, much to the consternation of many fans.
"I'll always be Spider-Man" became this around 2011 when the reboot was announced and Andrew Garfield took over.
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).
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 Campbell's cameo characters.
The robber from the first movie crosses it when he tries to shoot Peter Parker, the same guy who, earlier on, deliberately got out of the way to let him get to the elevator to run from the cops, and who also had just now refrained from brutally attacking him.
The third film is pretty infamous for its weird tone, even having its own page.
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 Larry, Harry, Flo, and Moe.
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 "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 high-pitched 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.
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.
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.
Narm Charm: While the Green Goblin's performance is seen as daunting by a few fans, others like the costume a great deal, mostly because it stands out on a flying and moving glider in the sky. They also feel that the original Purple and Green costume would have been equally silly or too Joker.
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.
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.
How did Eddie Brock know to kidnap Mary Jane to lure Peter? In the comics the symbiote tells him Peter is Spider-Man but there's no indication the symbiote is more than a simple parasite. He's not even shocked Peter is Spider-Man when he rips his mask off. Maybe Sandman put two and two together and figured out Ben Parker was related to Peter?
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 more fondly.
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.
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.
Scrappy Mechanic: The need to put in a quick-time event to remove the symbiote in Spider-Man 3.
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.
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.
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 muchscarier 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.
The third movie ends up suffering this regarding its villains as both Sandman and Venom are left incredibly underdeveloped. Most will say that the movie was better off focusing on one of said villains rather than shoving them both into one movie.
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.
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.
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.
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 gliderbefore 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.
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). He is in fact a perfect fit for the original lanky and scrawny Steve Ditko design of Peter Parker.
The Woobie: Sandman. The guy just wants to get his daughter cured, and he doesn'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 person... 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.
Otto Octavius, aka Doc Ock, full stop. The man tries to revolutionize recyclable energy for a better world, but his initial experiment ends in the tragic loss of both his wife and his credibility. Despite this, he tries his hardest to try to recreate and improve his device, but it's ultimately put into an uncontrollable situation where Failure Is the Only Option. Oh, and his criminal activites? The mechanical arms attached to his back gaining sentience thanks to their advanced AI and the initial accident destroying their inhibitor. Probably the best example of Octavius at his Woobie-est would be his soliloquy at the docks: