- Somehow, Danny Elfman always manages to compose an awesome title theme for a comic book superhero film. Evidence: this film's main theme, re-scored for its two sequels.
- Admit it, you thought the Green Goblin interrupting Aunt May's prayer by crashing into her house was awesome.Aunt May: Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us for our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us-
[Goblin proceeds to plow through the windows behind May as she screams]
Aunt May: Deliver us...!
Goblin: Finish it! FINISH IT!
Aunt May: ... from EVIL!
[Goblin laughs maniacally]
- Who is ready? BONESAWWWW IS READYYYYYY!!
- The scene where Peter catches Mary Jane's lunch is a Moment of Awesome... for Tobey Maguire. It may have needed a few retakes, but the scene was done without special effects or CGI; the only "doctoring" is that the lunch tray was attached to Tobey's hand, meaning that what we see are his reflexes and balance, not Spider-Man's.
- The teaser trailer that was pulled after the September 11th attacks showed a bank robbery foiled by Spider-Man with a giant spider web between the Twin Towers.
- The climax of the first movie is simultaneously a Moment of Awesome and a Heartwarming Moment. The Goblin had previously stated that the people of New York would turn on Spider-Man eventually, and by this point of the movie, it appears to be true. However, as Spider-Man is dangling in the air, desperately trying to keep a cable car full of children from falling to their deaths while the Goblin attacks him, who should come to his rescue but the ordinary people of the city. Incidentally, this scene was added after 9/11 — and it shows. The fact alone that they are proving that Rousseau Was Right and the Goblin was wrong is awesome, but what they shout at the Goblin as they pelt him with garbage and debris is what really sells it:Bystander 1: Leave Spider-Man alone! You gonna pick on a guy just trying to save a bunch of kids?!
Bystander 2: Oh yeah, I've got something for your ass! You mess with Spidey, you mess with New York!
Bystander 1: You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us!
- Shout-out to the counselor on the cable car with his charges. He's visibly terrified because they're in danger, but what is he doing? Telling everyone to stay still, and holding as many kids as he can to shield them from the impact. It's amazing that he has a clear head despite the circumstances.
- There's also the everyday heroism displayed by the men on the barge in this same scene: seeing that Spider-Man is between a rock and a hard place with many innocent lives on the line, they start chugging over and announce on a bullhorn that they're coming to help so that Spidey can let the cable car go onto the barge and then deal with the Goblin. The kindness of strangers!
- A more understated example in the novelization, where the weight of the tram car is a strain on Peter, who's only holding it with one hand while struggling to steer clear of Goblin. Yet even as his muscles are on the verge of tearing, he powers through the pain and holds on through sheer force of will to protect Mary Jane and the kids until he can safely relinquish them. And it pays off.
- J. Jonah Jameson lying to the Goblin to protect Peter. Just as Peter leaves Jameson's office after selling a batch of Spider-Man photos, the Goblin bursts through the wall and Neck Lifts Jameson with superhuman strength, demanding to know where they came from. Jameson doesn't even hesitate before screaming, "I don't know who he is, his stuff comes in the mail!" The Goblin continues to strangle him, and he yet AGAIN says "Honestly, I don't know who he is!" It's a definite Pet the Dog / Jerk with a Heart of Gold moment for Jameson as well. On top of that, Peter is staring at the scene through the window in the office door, yet Jameson focuses entirely on the Goblin and consciously refuses to even hint that it's Peter. Jameson is a journalist, and in journalism, you do not give up your sources. Hidden Heart of Gold indeed.
- The Goblin gets one during his first public appearance. After causing mayhem, he single-handedly takes out several policemen attempting to arrest him. Spider-Man swings in and swings at him... only for the Goblin to catch the punch, nonchalantly remark that it was impressive, and kick Spidey across the square. Of all of Spider-Man's on-screen villains, this is the only one who matches his reflexes and acrobatics.
- She may be a Damsel in Distress when the Goblin has her, but MJ puts up a good fight against her would-be rapists.
- Spider-Man dispatches MJ's would-be rapists in seconds with brutal efficiency, taking each one of them out in a sequence akin to Batman. At one point when two gangbangers try to attack him from behind, he responds with an Offhand Backhand so hard, they go flying into the windows across the street. The only thing that stops him from taking it further is that MJ is nearby watching.
- Without Spider-Man's mask, you can see the pure rage on Peter's face. This isn't Spider-Man doing his duty, this is personal.
- Take note, this is the only time Peter actively fights without his webs, just Good Old Fisticuffs—a reminder of just how powerful and terrifying Spider-Man can be when he decides to get dangerous, which is a nice bit of Foreshadowing for the Final Battle.
- Spidey and MJ's upside-down kiss in the rain. It takes a special kiss like that to instantaneously become something of cinematic legend.
- Spidey's debut. There's no big dramatic speech or hammy entrance, just a montage of Spidey swinging in and handing criminals their asses on a silver platter, complete with the classic "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" note.
- The entire final fight, for the protagonist AND the antagonist. Even after some thirty plus or more superhero fight scenes, even after the grittier The Dark Knight Trilogy or Man of Steel, it's still among the most brutal and vicious brawls rendered on-screen. Its sheer, relentless brutality only serves to further set up the Heroic Second Wind.
- Really, the whole scene deserves mention:Goblin: [stepping on Parker's wrist] You've spun your last web, Spider-Man. Had you not been so selfish, your little girlfriend's death would have been quick and painless. But now that you've really pissed me off... I'm gonna finish her... nice and slow...
[We cut to Peter, who had previously been woozily getting up with a look of utter defeat, now glaring at Goblin with teeth-clenched RAGE]
Goblin: [activating a massive trident-spike to stab Peter with] MJ and I... we're gonna have a helluva time!
[He thrusts the spike at Peter, who catches it mere centimeters from his face. To the sheer horror and disbelief of Goblin, Peter overpowers Osborn, and shoves him across the entire building. Peter proceeds to trip up Goblin with webs, and then uses more webs to bring a brick wall down on Goblin... and then cue the REAL ass-kicking.]
- Really, the whole scene deserves mention:
- Norman figuring out Peter's identity, if only for the fact that he was actually able to put two and two together on his own instead of having it spelled out for him, as per the norm for these kinds of films.
- The casting of J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson is a Moment of Awesome for the casting department. No actor before, since, or at any point in the future, could be a more perfect interpretation of a comic book character brought to life. J. K. Simmons quite literally is Jameson.
- What makes it more impressive is that Simmons looks and sounds nothing like Jameson, being bald-headed and rather soft-spoken. It's amazing to see and hear him normally, and then see him in action as Jameson; it's as if he actually transformed into a different person altogether. It's one of the best examples of acting so good that the actor disappears into the role.
- His performance has been so universally revered that he was brought back as JJJ in the MCU.
- The ending, as Peter walks away from Mary Jane:
- The film's visual effects. They still look believable to this day and while not as heart-stopping as they might have been back in '02, they're still an exhilarating experience. After decades of failing to bring Spider-Man to the big screen, to make his first appearance with these types of dizzying effects was a Star Wars: A New Hope type of experience.
- The Marvel logo that debuted with this film deserves some praise. It's a montage of rapidly flipping comic book pages of Marvel comics. It not only sets the feel of a comic book film, but symbolizes that a comic book is coming to the big screen.
- In fact, the comic book art concept has become influential enough to get copied by other comic/manga media. To list just a few:
- Willem Dafoe's performance should earn credit, especially his split personality scenes. In fact, it's so iconic that the only reason the MCU adapted the Goblin in the first place 2 decades later was because they found a way to bring him back.
This is my gift.
Who am I?
Who am I?