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Film / Spider-Man

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"Remember, with great power comes great responsibility."
Ben Parker

Spider-Man is the first movie in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy, released in 2002. It is also the first of many theatrical Spider-Man movies that would follow in the decades to come.

An origin story, it tells the tale of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), a nerd who is bitten by a genetically-engineered spider and gets the powers of the arachnid — web-shooting, high jumping, wall-adherability, enhanced strength/endurance and sensing vibrations in the air.

At first, he attempts to use these powers for profit, but when his actions accidentally lead to the death of his Uncle Ben, Peter decides to use his abilities to fight injustice under the name Spider-Man. This comes in handy when the father of his best friend, Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), becomes the villainous Green Goblin after using a performance-enhancing chemical vapor that grants him super strength, but also makes him mentally unstable and dangerously psychotic.

It has a Licensed Game in the form of Spider-Man: The Movie.

Followed by Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3. Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe reprise their roles as Spider-Man and the Green Goblin in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Spider-Man contains examples of:

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  • Accidental Suicide: In a last-ditch attempt to kill Spider-Man, the Green Goblin summons his bladed glider to fly at the hero. Spider-Man dodges the attack, and the glider impales the Goblin instead. It is later discussed in Spider-Man 3 that "he died by his own hand".
  • Actor Allusion:
    • The novelization features a part with Mary Jane and Harry discussing the book Interview with the Vampire, where MJ remarks that she "saw the movie. The little kid in it creeped me out." Kirsten Dunst, of course, was that little kid.
    • Another vampire-related one; two years prior to the release of this film, Willem Dafoe starred in Shadow of the Vampire, where he played a vampiric version of Max Shreck. When confronted by the film's director, he comments that "You and I, we're not so different", in almost the same tone as when the Goblin says it to Spider-Man. The line is, of course, mostly remembered from this film.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Norman's wife and Harry's mother is named Emily Osborn née Lyman in the comics (Martha in the Ultimate imprint). Here, a Freeze-Frame Bonus lists her as Caroline Mulder.
    • The wrestler Peter fights is named Bonesaw McGraw; in the comics, it's Crusher Hogan.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: In the comics, Gwen Stacy died because Spider-Man tried to web her to safety without accounting for the whiplash, which led to her neck snapping. Here, whenever Mary Jane falls, Spider-Man makes sure to fall with her so as to prevent whiplash proactively and adjusts his web to reduce the speed slowly. This means that she only gets off with some trauma and adrenaline, as does a cable car full of children.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The film is much more sympathetic towards Norman Osborn than the comics were, portraying him as a flawed but basically decent man ruined by the evil split personality forced on him by the madness-inducing goblin formula, while by this stage in his characterization, his comics incarnation was basically pure evil whether he was insane or not. It is closer to his original portrayal in the Lee-Romita run, where he was still a somewhat sympathetic character turned insane by a laboratory accident, before he threw someone off a bridge...
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the comics, Emily Osborn was a kind woman who loved her husband and son. In this film, the only word we get of Caroline Mulder is Norman claiming she was a Gold Digger who abandoned him and Harry after she got what she wanted (although, given Norman's mental state at this stage, this should be taken with a grain of saltnote ).
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Norman Osborn's demise can be compared to that of Macbeth, with great focus put on him writhing in agony and giving Peter a dramatic final message before keeling over.
    "Peter... don't tell Harry."
  • All Part of the Show: The public initially cheers at the Green Goblin flying on his glider at the World Unity Festival, believing him to be part of the ceremonies. Until he starts throwing the Pumpkin Bombs.
  • All There in the Manual: According to the novelization:
    • The book opens with an Action Prologue of Spider-Man scaring away some drunks who are recklessly driving through a cemetery. Peter then finds Uncle Ben's grave and recounts the events of the film to him. Throughout the book, Peter also writes his thoughts on the happenings in his life to his deceased parents. The final entry takes place after the cemetery incident.
    • Peter was late for the field trip bus because Mary Jane accidentally gave him the wrong time.
    • The nerdy-looking girl that refuses to sit with Peter on the bus is Liz Allannote .
    • The teacher chaperoning the field trip is named Mr. Sullivan.
    • Peter originally lived in Wisconsin until his parents died in a plane crash when he was 4, after which he was taken in by Uncle Ben and Aunt May.
    • When Harry enrolled at Midtown High, he tried to pay Peter to do his biology report, but Peter refused and instead helped Harry do the report himself. Harry then came to respect and befriend Peter.
    • Norman meets J. Jonah Jameson at Club Ascot before going to his Long Island factory. As Jameson is aggravated over losing readership at The Daily Bugle, Norman suggests all he needs is one big story, like a new hero. The pair's parting remarks contain blatant Foreshadowing for the next chapter, fittingly titled "The Accident".
      "Mark my words, Osborn: The closest we come to heroes these days is some schmuck with bad timing who falls into it by accident!"
      "Jonah," Osborn called over his shoulder, "I think you may just have defined 'hero' for the ages."
    • The 15th genetically modified spider was the runt of the cluster and escaped its tank through a broken seal in an air vent by using its size and enhanced strength. The spider bit Peter out of hunger.
    • The member of Flash Thompson's gang played by Jason Padgett is nicknamed "Hoops"note .
    • Norman was inspired to create Oscorp's armoured suit and glider from a trip to the beach when he watched a then 13-year-old Harry surfing with other children.
    • One of the reasons Slocum is looking to pull out of Oscorp is because their R&D had already missed seven consecutive deadlines for the supersoldier program.
    • Peter experiences multiple bouts of his emerging powers the morning after the spider bite — he accidentally rips his sock when it sticks to his foot, gains a larger appetite, and after tearing off the school bus banner, dodges an oncoming truck his Spider-Sense warns him of by leaping 20 yards away In a Single Bound and sticking to a building 40 feet high. When falling back down, Peter crushes a drainpipe but lands unharmed.
    • Part of Peter secretly wants to fight Flash so the bully will leave him alone. In this version, Peter wins by punching Flash's face and knocking him against some lockers. He initially feels victorious but grows horrified when realizing he seriously hurt Flashnote .
    • After school, Mary Jane tells her parents about Peter and Flash's fight. It's revealed that she primarily dated Flash under pressure from her father; Phillip set up their date that night so Flash could show MJ his birthday present, upsetting her. They argue about this before she storms out and encounters Peter. He was home alone because Ben and May left to play bridge with friends.
    • Peter's outburst at Ben is out of frustration that his aunt and uncle don't seem to trust him, as well as guilt over keeping his powers a secret; he's worried they'll want to remove his powers if they found out, so he plans to tell Ben the truth after winning the prize money. When Ben returns home, he and May discuss Peter while he watches Bonesaw on TV. They witness "Spider-Man" fight and May believes he could put his talents to better use. As Ben leaves to pick up Peter, May gets a sense of foreboding but dismisses it.
    • When Peter first sees Ben's body, he initially feels disconnected and is in denial. Later upon cornering and recognizing Carradine, Peter is too consumed with regret and self-hatred to care that Carradine has a gun, and briefly wants the robber to kill him. After Carradine falls to his death, Peter wonders if he really couldn't catch him or didn't want to, which increases his guiltnote .
    • Quest Aerospace's exoskeleton project is named B.A.D.G.E.R. (Ballistic All Defense Guerrilla Explorer/Recon)note .
    • Peter's spider-sense gives off a vague warning around Norman post-Goblin transformation, though he doesn't know why. At Thanksgiving as Norman begins to piece together Peter's secret identity, his spider-sense goes into overdrive.
    • Harry comforts MJ when she breaks up with Flash at graduation. After Norman drives the Parkers home, Harry tells Peter about MJ and Flash's split, and Peter reveals her troubles with her father. Despite Harry's encouragement, Peter is reluctant to make a move on MJ as he doesn't want to be a rebound (and is still reeling from Uncle Ben's death).
    • A couple months after graduation, Mary Jane felt homesick and tried contacting Peter, getting his number and new address in Manhattan from May. She went to see him at his apartment, implying that she's developing feelings for him, but ran into Harry instead since Peter was out (as Spider-Man). Using what he learned from Peter, Harry bonded with MJ over her father and took her to lunch, where he asked her out and she accepted.
    • The day he got fired, Peter was late to Dr. Connors' lab due to getting hurt saving people from a fire the previous night, sleeping through his alarm, and stopping a would-be suicide jumper on the way to school.
    • Harry initially worries that Spider-Man kidnapped Mary Jane after the Unity festival for a ransom.
    • Norman realizes the Goblin sounds like him when he talks to/about Harry, and he cares more about being implicated in the Oscorp board members' murders than the deaths themselves. Part of the reason Norman agrees to hurt Peter after learning he's Spider-Man is to make up for putting his enemy before his own son.
    • Mary Jane's soap opera audition was rejected by casting director April Reese, secretly on behalf of her nephew, Flash, as revenge for dumping him. April claimed that MJ "needed acting lessons" even though she actually nailed the reading.
    • Following the disastrous Thanksgiving dinner, Harry storms off to his room while Peter follows Mary Jane outside and comforts her as she's crying on the stoop.
    • After May is hospitalized, a shellshocked Peter remains at her bedside to protect her in case the Green Goblin returns. He refuses to leave after visiting hours end and even secretly webs his chair to the floor so an orderly can't move him, prompting the staff to give up and allow him to stay the night in May's room.
    • Madeline was the one who found May and called an ambulance after hearing the commotion from Green Goblin's attack, which is why MJ is the first to visit her and Peter in the hospital.
    • Mary Jane finally stands up to her father when she returns home for Norman's funeral.
  • All There in the Script: Norman's assistant is named Ms. Simkins.
  • Alliterative Name:
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Two rather dark examples.
    • Mary Jane's father, Phillip, is very explicit when yelling at and disparaging her and her mother, especially when drunk, to the extent that their neighbors can hear. She is mortified at Peter overhearing her family's shouting matches (though he's tactful enough to downplay it in front of her).
    • When Harry tries to stop his dad, Norman, from abruptly storming out of Thanksgiving dinner with Peter, MJ, and Aunt May, Norman tells his son, rather loudly, that considering MJ's background, she's just interested in his money and to use her and dump her. And everyone else heard everything. Before Norman went nuts, he was still this to some degree — Harry is embarrassed that he would drive him to the school trip in a Rolls Royce.
  • Anaphora: Said by Peter at the end of the film:
    Peter Parker: No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, the ones I love will always be the ones who pay.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: In the final fight, the Goblin stops to indulge in this before finishing Peter, promising to slowly and painfully murder MJ just because Peter rejected his offer. He really shouldn't have rubbed it in by sneering "MJ and I... We're gonna have a HELLUVA time" while waving a phallic weapon in Peter's face, because this naturally triggered Peter's Heroic Second Wind, allowing him to beat the Goblin into the ground.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Don't tell Harry."
    • "Thank God for you, Peter."
    • "With great power comes great responsibility."
  • Are These Wires Important?: Spidey's first round with the Goblin ends with him yanking some wires out of the Goblin's glider.
  • Artistic License Economics: When the Oscorp board agrees to be taken over by Quest Aerospace. As the founder and the CEO, it would be very strange for Norman Osborn to have zero say about the merger, let alone for the board to be able to unilaterally fire him with so little notice. It's possible he just had such a small equity percentage that his voting rights don't matter.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • General Slocum. Dealing with a contracted corporation that is having a hard time complying with your expectations is one thing, but happily bragging about putting the corporation out of business after canceling your contract? Retaliation from that company's CEO is kinda expected.
    • The Oscorp Board of Directors. Being presented with a choice between Oscorp staying independent so Norman could stay on board or agreeing to merge with their rivals at Quest Aerospace and force Norman to resign within 30 days, they let their love of profit take advantage of them, and have to deal with the consequences.
  • The Atoner: Peter becomes a hero to atone for letting the robber go who wound up killing Uncle Ben.
  • Atrocious Alias:
    • Peter's original idea for his name is "The Human Spider".
      Ring Announcer: "The Human Spider"? That's it? That's the best you got?
      Peter Parker: Yeah.
      Ring Announcer: Oh, that sucks...
    • "The Green Meanie" is the name Hoffman tries to give the Goblin before Jameson overrides him.
  • Attempted Rape: The iconic upside-down rain kiss happens after Spidey saves Mary Jane from an attempted gang rape.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: General Slocum wants to sign a contract between the United States Army and Quest Aerospace for their obviously incredibly cumbersome exoskeleton flightsuit (which doesn't even look very practical nor have any obvious self-defense mechanisms, and very linear flight mechanics) over Oscorp Industries' more streamlined flightsuit and glider (equipped with missiles, bombs, agile flight, and can even be remote-controlled in case the rider is ejected from it) and their human performance enhancers. Norman, as the Goblin, destroys his rival's technology by blowing up the bunker during a testing session before it can be put to market. This appears to be largely based on a personal dislike of Norman Osborn. Although considering that said Performance Enhancers end up driving Norman completely mad, it's hard to describe them at least as being "practical".
  • Backstab Backfire: As in the source material, Norman is killed by his own attempt to (literally) stab Peter in the back.
  • Badass Bystander: Played straight near the climax. Spidey is hanging from the bridge with one hand, and holding onto the train car with the other. Green Goblin is lining up his glider for the kill shot, when all of a sudden, something hits him in the head and knocks him away from Spidey. Cut to a crowd having formed in the bridge and they are ALL throwing stuff at Goblin, which allows Spidey to hold on long enough for a barge to come along for him to lower the train car onto.
    Bystander 1: Leave Spider-Man alone, you gonna pick on a guy trying to save a bunch of kids?!
    Bystander 2: Oh yeah, I got something for yo' ass! You mess with Spidey, you mess with NEW YORK!
    Bystander 1: You mess with ONE of us, you mess with ALL OF US!!!
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Halfway through the movie, the Green Goblin has accomplished all his goals. Only a vague "just imagine what we could do if Spider-Man joined us" is given to sustain the film's main conflict.
  • Beta Outfit: Peter Parker starts off with essentially a modified hoodie and jeans (though still in his iconic colors) before making his Spider-Man suit.
  • Big Bad: Norman Osborn goes insane after exposing himself to an experimental gas, with his Green Goblin persona going on a rampage throughout the city.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Meta example, but among the Bus Full of Innocents, Tobey Maguire's brother is one of them.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: MJ and Peter share a famous one in the rain while Peter is hanging upside down.
  • Big "NO!": Spider-Man when the Green Goblin lets go of both Mary Jane and the tram full of kids.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: J. Jonah Jameson's opinion of Peter's photos is: "Crap... Crap... Megacrap."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Spider-Man manages to save Mary Jane and the kids at the bridge and defeat the Green Goblin, earning New York's acceptance in the process. But Norman is accidentally killed by his glider's blades, leaving Harry without a father and swearing revenge on Spider-Man, and Peter rejects Mary Jane's romantic advances to keep her out of danger.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Uncle Ben of all people, pulls this. Looking for an excuse to get some time to talk to Peter, he offers to drive him to the library, and when Peter demurs, Uncle Ben says, "I need the exercise."
    • Most of Jameson's ideas for stories about Spider-Man involving painting him in as negative a light as possible. Because, "He doesn't want to be famous? Then I'll make him INfamous!"
    • Also, Jameson scamming Peter when he gets his pics of Spider-Man. When Peter is the only person that can get pictures clearer than 50 feet away, Jameson dismisses them as garbage just so he can pay less to get them where any other publishing company would probably be paying Peter five figures to get their hands on these.
    • JJ also lies to the Green Goblin, saying he doesn't know who takes the pictures of Spider-Man (meanwhile, Peter is standing just a few feet away).
  • Blood from the Mouth: Originally, Spider-Man was going to be seen coughing blood from his mouth but was changed to spit in the final cut.
  • Board to Death: The Green Goblin disintegrates the entire OsCorp Board of Directors in revenge for trying to merge OsCorp with Quest Aerospace without him.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Green Goblin knocks out and captures Spider-Man, but neither kills him nor takes his mask off to see who he really is. Instead, he asks Spider-Man to join him, and amazingly, he just leaves him alone to "think it over" after Spider-Man turns down the offer. Goblin/Norman both do want a son figure at that point in the movie, so it's somewhat justified; once that possibility is out, the Goblin just tries to straight up kill Spider-Man instead.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with a voiceover from Peter where he asks, "Who am I?"
  • Boring, but Practical: Peter defeats Bonesaw by simply kicking him a few times straight in the face (without any fancy moves) and ultimately kicking him into the bars of the cage. He also beats the crap out of the carjacker by simply slamming his head into some windows.
  • Bridal Carry: The Green Goblin does this to Spider-Man while carrying him up to a roof after paralyzing him.
  • Bullet Time: Peter's Spider-Sense is portrayed this way.
  • Burger Fool: MJ works as a waitress at a seedy diner called Moondance with an overbearing manager while looking for acting gigs. She's clearly embarrassed about this to the point of covering up her uniform when off shift and keeping it a secret from Harry. Peter's quick to assure her that it's just a job to support herself (heck, wannabe actors making ends meet by working as a waiter/waitress is not only Truth in Television, it's practically a cliche at this point; Peter explicitly notes this to MJ in the novelization).
  • Butt-Monkey: Peter Parker. The opening sequence really rubs it in: he's such a dork that even the bus driver laughs at his misfortunes! About the only people who treat him with any respect are Mary Jane and Harry.
  • Cable-Car Action Sequence: Played with during the climax of the film, in which Spider-Man has to save Mary Jane AND one of the Roosevelt Island trams from falling into the river below when the Green Goblin breaks its wiring.
  • Calling Your Attacks: When Peter is trying to figure out how he shot web, he tries out various hand gestures and phrases, including "Up, up and away, web!", "Shazam!" and "Go web, go!"
  • The Cameo:
    • Lucy Lawless as the redheaded woman in the "man on the street" segment, as a favor to Sam Raimi (who was the Executive Producer of Xena: Warrior Princess).
    • Stan Lee makes an appearance as one of the terrified citizens at the World Unity Festival. The shot is shaky and quick during this cameo, but one with a quick eye may catch it.
      • In the novelization, Stan and Steve Ditko appear as police officers who initially try to hold Peter back from Ben's body. Tom Defalco also appears as another cop.
    • Macy Gray appears as herself, performing at the same Festival.
    • The couple at the World Unity Festival with their backs to the camera when Peter pulls them to safety by using his web? The man was reportedly Nicholas Hammond, Friedrich Von Trapp from The Sound of Music and Spider-Man from the '70s TV show.
    • Bruce Campbell appears as a wrestling referee.
    • Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone appears as an Oscorp board member.
  • Cameo Cluster: Bruce Campbell is the ring announcer (who introduces Peter as Spider-Man instead of "The Human Spider" as Peter originally wanted) just before his match with "Bone Saw", played by Randy Savage. A short while later, Lucy Lawless is interviewed about Spider-Man by the news as "Punk Rock Girl".
  • Captain Obvious:
    • The socially-inept Peter to Betty Brantnote  at the Bugle:
      Peter: (while wearing a 35mm camera around his neck) I'm a photographer.
      Betty: (Beat) Yes... I can see that.
    • Oscorp Executive Henry Balkan upon seeing the Green Goblin flying around their glider:
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Norman's Goblin personality is a totally unrepentant supervillain who feels that super-people like him and Spidey have the right to do whatever they want. Best demonstrated when he makes Aunt May finish the Lord's Prayer.
    Aunt May: Deliver us...
    Green Goblin: [dramatic entrance] Finish it! FINISH IT!
    Aunt May: From EEEVIL!
  • Ceiling Cling: Peter does this twice to hide from Norman at the Thanksgiving party.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Aunt May briefly tells Peter "You're not Superman, you know!", and Peter half-jokingly yells out "Up, up, and away!" and "Shazam!" when he's trying to figure out how to fire his web. This seems to imply that DC Comics exists in the movie's universe — but it makes you wonder what it would look like in a world without Marvel Comics. Would they have a running rivalry with a different company? Would they change their superhero characters to accommodate changing tastes in the '60s? Did Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ever get into the comics business? If not, did DC ever publish New Gods?
  • Cheap Costume: Peter's first costume that he wore to the wrestling match looks like something thrown together at short notice for a one-time wrestling engagement that he's trying to sneak in behind Uncle Ben's back. After Uncle Ben's death, and his vow to become a superhero, he makes a nice-looking costume intended for permanent use.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: All of the spider-powers described by the field trip guide (high jumping, spinning strong funnels of web, spider-sense) are the powers Spider-Man gets.
  • Chekhov's Skill: When Peter gets into a fight with Flash thanks to his developing powers, his Spider Sense alerts him of an ambush from behind by one of Flash's goons, allowing him to dodge by jumping above the incoming assailant. This comes in handy later when Goblin tries to stab him in the back with his glider while his guard is down.
  • Children Are Innocent: There are endangered children in a cable car near the end. Green Goblin makes Spidey choose between them and Mary Jane.
  • Cigar Chomper: J. Jonah Jameson is never seen without a cigar.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Inverted in the Thanksgiving scene; Norman wears red and blue (Spider-Man's colors) while Peter wears green and purple (the Green Goblin's colors).
  • Comically Missing the Point: J. Jonah Jameson's response to Peter's complaints about the Daily Bugle's portrayal of Spider-Man:
    Peter: Spider-Man wasn't trying to attack the city, he was trying to save it. That's slander!
    Jameson: It is not! I resent that. Slander is spoken. In print, it's libel.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames:
    • Averted with Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. Cleverly, it is J. Jonah Jameson who gives the Green Goblin his moniker, to sensationalize their battle and sell papers.
      Jameson: Hoffman, call the patent office, copyright the name "Green Goblin". I want a quarter every time somebody says it!
    • Peter gets his after the New York Wrestling League's ring announcer decides that "The Human Spider" is a terrible ring name. Peter wisely just goes with it (after he wins the match).
      Ring Announcer: If he can withstand 3 minutes in the cage with Bonesaw McGraw, the sum of $3,000 will be paid to... [to Peter] What's your name, kid?
      Peter: The Human Spider.
      Announcer: [Glasses Pull] "The Human Spider"? That's it? That's the best you've got?
      Peter: Yeah.
      Announcer: Aww, that sucks. [to crowd] The sum of $3,000 will be paid to... the terrifying, the deadly... THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN!
      Peter: My name's "The Human Spider!"
      Stagehand: I don't care, get out there.
      Peter: No, he got my name wrong!
      Stagehand: GET OUT THERE, YOU MORON! [shove]
  • Cool Car: Several examples, which are all symbolic to the story.
    • The Osborns' 1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom V [5LVA33]note . Harry lampshades how much it stands out when Norman drops him off at the field trip.
    • Arguably MJ's friends' Ford Mustang SN95 convertible.
    • Flash's new convertible, a luxury Plymouth/Chrysler Prowler, which has both Peter and MJ name-dropping the trope and motivates Peter to try getting a car of his own.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Dr. Stromm immediately begins administering CPR after Norman's heart stops. Of course, he's giving him sideways chest compressions from a standing position and it only takes TWO to restart Norman's heart again. Then again, that's not what actually got Norman's heart fired up again.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: The Green Goblin renders Spider-Man unconscious with toxic gas in order to befriend him.
  • Curse Cut Short: The "cut to another scene variation" happens during the first montage of Spider-Man in action.
    Woman: [about Spider-Man] He has those tights and that tight little—
    [hard cut to a man in a subway station playing the old TV series theme song on his guitar]
  • Cut Himself Shaving: It was a bike messenger cutting Peter off, I swear!
  • Damsel in Distress: Mary Jane. It's her primary role in the movie.
  • Dark Reprise: The whole sequence where Peter furiously chases Dennis Carradine is a darker rendition of the earlier idealistic sequence where Peter first climbed walls, roof-jumped and webslinged.
  • Darker and Edgier: The novelization goes into detail with Peter's vivid Nightmare Sequence after the spider bite, his Trauma Conga Line starting from Ben's death, MJ's abusive home life and relationship with Flash, Norman's neglect of Harry, and his instability before and after his Green Goblin transformation. Characters use more swears and crass language, and some action scenes are more graphic - Norman killing Dr. Stromm, Peter's fight with Flash, and especially Spider-Man and Green Goblin's final battle.
  • Death by Secret Identity: The robber dies in a convenient accident seconds after Peter unmasks in front of him. Norman Osborn, the only other person in the movie to learn the truth, is also dead by the end of it.
  • Death Glare: Peter gives an epic one to the Goblin right before getting his Heroic Second Wind.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The bus scene at the beginning shifts from Mary Jane to a guy eating a doughnut in front of her, but then the real protagonist Peter is shown trying to catch the school bus while running.
    Peter: [pointing to the man sitting in front of Mary Jane] Aw, heck, I'd even take him. [cut to Peter chasing the bus] That's me.
  • Deducing the Secret Identity: Norman Osborn realizes that Peter is Spider-Man because he has the exact same injury that Spider-Man got in their last fight.
  • Deer in the Headlights: The kid about to be crushed by the float is an extremely over-the-top example, to the point where Spidey himself chides him for not moving.
  • Defiant Stone Throw: The people pelting Green Goblin on the Queensboro Bridge.
  • Desperate Object Catch: An early demonstration of Peter's enhanced reflexes is when Mary Jane slips, her lunch tray goes flying, and he catches her, the tray and its contents.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The Goblin's final attempt to kill Peter proves to be this, as he launches his own glider to attack Peter from behind... without even stopping to realize he himself is also in its glide path when it misses Peter.
  • Digital Head Swap: In a commentary, Tobey Maguire revealed the "skinny Peter" was a body double, whose movements he had to copy and his face was digitally superimposed on.
  • Disney Villain Death: Dennis (the robber involved in Uncle Ben's murder) is confronted by Peter, who breaks his wrist. Dennis in fear staggers backwards and trips on a pipe, causing him to fall out the window to his death.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Osborn and Goblin in a nutshell. Slight him, insult him, or irritate him and the Goblin will kill you, maim you, and torture you. This applies to Mendell Stromm who told General Slocum that they need to go "back to formula", Quest Aerospace and General Slocum because the US Army chose to go with them instead of Oscorp, the Oscorp board of directors for deciding to force Norman out of his own company, and then Aunt May simply because she tapped his hand when he wanted to eat Thanksgiving dinner before saying grace (from the way he begins slicing the knives, you can tell he's considering gutting her then and there).
  • Dope Slap: Goblin gives Spidey a small one during their talk on the roof.
  • Dull Surprise: Used brilliantly with The Green Goblin immediately before his impalement: "Oh."
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • In a sense: Curt Connors is name-dropped as one of Peter's professors. The second film, of course, builds on this, by actually showing him.
    • Also, in a bizarre coincidence, Eddie Brock appears in the novelization, also written in 2002 and yet described much like Topher Grace would portray him five years later. Which is still rather funny. In an early scene, Robbie Robertson mentions how a photographer named "Eddie" has been "on it" — trying to get Spidey pics — all week. But in Spider-Man 3, Eddie is mentioned as the new guy.
  • Empathic Environment: It starts raining when Peter sees the two men start to follow Mary Jane at the start of the Attempted Rape scene. The rain is at its heaviest moments later when she realises two more men have appeared, and what their intentions are.
  • Entitled Bastard: The wrestling promoter who cheats Peter out of his prize money gets robbed, and yet he still expects Peter to intervene in the robbery.
  • Even Nerds Have Standards: In the opening scene, Peter's so lame that even the incredibly dorky-looking girl on the bus doesn't want him to sit next to her.
  • Everyone Can See It: Played rather darkly. Aunt May tells Peter that everyone else can see how much Peter cares about Mary Jane, which makes Peter realize, to his utter horror, that she's a likely target for the Green Goblin.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Green Goblin is delightfully hamtastic.
  • Evil Laugh: ... complete with an evil laugh.
  • Exact Words: The wrestling promoter uses this as a piss poor excuse to cheat Peter out of the prize money for surviving his match with Bonesaw.
    Peter: [The promoter hands him a $100 bill from his huge cash pile] A hundred bucks? The ad said $3000!
    Promoter: Well, check it again, web head. It is $3000. $3000 for 3 minutes. You pinned him in 2 and for that, I give you $100 and you're lucky you're getting that much.
  • Expanding Thrown Weapon: While fighting Spider-Man in a burning apartment, Green Goblin throws one of his pumpkin bombs... that instead pops open and expands into several wide spinning blades, forcing Spidey to dodge.
  • Expelled from Every Other School: The reason Harry Osborn attends the same public school as Peter despite coming from an incredibly wealthy family is because he was kicked out of every private school his father had him sent to. The novelization explains this was due to his inability and unwillingness to keep up scholastically.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: Or rather, Mask-Revealing Turn, in the case of the Goblin in the burning building.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Spider-Man calls out, "Mary Jane!" when rescuing her at the Unity Festival, reassuring her. Mary Jane during the whole time doesn't question how the new hero in town already knew her name. Later, Peter says that he is Spider-Man's personal photographer, and so Spider-Man knew about Mary Jane through him.
  • Failure Montage: Peter's How Do I Shot Web? moment.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: When Green Goblin throws one of his pumpkin bombs at the Oscorp board of directors, they get disintegrated into skeletons once it detonates.
  • Finale Title Drop: The closing narration ends with the film's title.
    Peter Parker: This is my gift. My curse. Who am I? I'm Spider-Man.
  • Flag Drop: The final scene sees Spider-Man accept his role as a hero and leap off of a flag-pole that's on top of a skyscraper. The last thing the audience sees before Spider-Man's face covers the camera is the American flag flowing in the wind. The ending has a lot to do with the film being produced shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
  • Flat "What": By Norman Osborn, upon being told by the board that Oscorp is going to be sold despite him just finishing his speech about how great things are going. It also underscores just how out of the loop he is despite being the CEO, since not only did they go behind his back, they're throwing him out as well.
  • Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: The film ends with a scene of Peter swinging around the city; the final image before it cuts to black is of Peter swinging directly at the camera.
  • Foil: Thanks to softening Osborn's comics personality, the film version comes across as an older, more successful version of Peter. A committed scientist who is so aloof and driven that he doesn't really have close friends (the board of directors who cut a deal without him), nor a good relationship (he apparently married a Trophy Wife) and is really aloof and distant with his son, who he considers a disappointment. Likewise, despite his success, Osborn still acts like a picked-upon kid who uses the Goblin suit to lash out, like how Peter lashes out with his spider powers and snubs those who cross him (the fight promoter, and also Flash briefly).
  • Food Porn: The Thanksgiving dinner scene in general, but especially the turkey.
  • Fooled by the Sound: When Spider-Man is rescuing some citizens from a burning building, he hears an old woman screaming for help and goes back in to save her. However, it turns out that the "old woman" was actually the Green Goblin making the sound and attempting to lure him back in.
  • For the Evulz: Crossing over with Motive Decay, the Green Goblin's plans to "rule with Spider-Man" seem very... vague. At first, he's doing things that Osborn wants done (killing the executives and a rival project), but then it devolves into villainy for villainy's sake, which is in line with his comic version who doesn't really have rational motives aside from being a sadistic Mad Bomber and torture-happy nutjob.
  • Foreshadowing: Harry, at the Thanksgiving party: "If I'm lucky, I'll become half of what [my father] is!"
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The newspaper that Norman reads after becoming the Green Goblin sheds greater insight on him and Oscorp. Most notably, it tells us that Norman was a teenage genius with a humble beginning, thus explaining his close relationship with Peter. In addition, it's also explained why the Oscorp board wants to get rid of Norman: his name is too attached to the (seemingly) failed superhuman project, and they need a fresh start without him.
  • Friend of Masked Self: Peter tells Mary Jane that he knows Spider-Man from his photography work, and recounts part of a conversation that he and Spider-Man supposedly had.
  • Gold Digger: Invoked by Norman when he quite loudly claims that not only are Harry's mother and Mary Jane this trope, but that by default any woman who ever takes a romantic interested in him or his son must be after their money.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Norman Osborn wanted to prove that the human performance enhancers would work by injecting himself with one of them. It worked too well.
    • Harry wanted Mary Jane to wear a black dress at the Unity parade to impress his father. When she wears it at Thanksgiving, it certainly earns Norman's... "approval".
  • Groin Attack:
    • Halfway through the movie, Mary Jane is attacked by a couple of thugs from within an alleyway and she's able to kick one of them in the family jewels before Spider-Man arrives to defeat them and save her.
    • Also for the gorier scene, at the end of the film during Norman Osborn's death, it looks like his glider's blade impaled him right in that spot.
  • Growing Muscles Sequence:
    • The spider bite gave Peter an instant buff-up, something that didn't happen in the comics.
    • Also, when Norman Osborn is exposed to the gas that turns him into the Goblin, the computer shows his muscle mass growing. Though, if this actually happens to Norman's physique, the effect is imperceptible.
  • Hammy Herald: The deliciously hammy wrestling announcer, played by Bruce Campbell (who also gets cameos in the next two films).
  • A Handful for an Eye: Spider-Man concludes his first encounter with the Green Goblin this way, blinding him with a web-shot to the face and distracting him long enough for Spidey to damage the glider badly enough that the Goblin has to retreat.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": MJ and her friends giggle in the background when the field trip guide says the genus "Kukulcania".
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment: Everyone cheers in the climax when Spider-Man safely gets the cable car and Mary Jane onto the barge that came to help him. At least, until the Green Goblin comes for Spider-Man as Mary Jane shouts a warning.
  • Heroic Bystander:
    • Stan Lee's cameo. In both this and the second movie, he pulls people away from pieces of falling buildings.
    • In the climax, a whole group of New Yorker civilians tosses rubbish at the Green Goblin as he tries to kill Spider-Man, Mary Jane, and a cable car filled with children and their camp counselor. They shout at him to come up and fight them, because "You mess with Spidey, you mess with New York!" Meanwhile, two men on a barge surge forward to catch the cable car after Spider-Man safety lowers it, with Mary Jane in tow.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Peter gets one in the final fight.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Norman ends up impaling himself with his own goblin glider.
  • Homage: On the commentary, Sam Raimi says that the Green Goblin's hand emerging from debris wasn't a nod to The Evil Dead, but rather to Universal horror.
  • Hope Spot:
    • From Norman's perspective, his meeting with the Oscorp's board of directors is one of triumph. Despite the tragic if mysterious death of Dr. Stromm, Oscorp has surpassed their rival Quest Aerospace as the principle supplier to the U.S. military and the future is looking bright without the fear of the military cutting their funding, which was his major fear earlier. And then he's told point-blank that not only did the board go behind his back to sell the company to Quest Aerospace for a merger, as part of the deal he is to resign as the CEO.
    • After learning the Goblin knows his secret and is targeting his loved ones, Peter tries to call Mary Jane and warn her to be careful. While Peter leaves a message, the other end suddenly answers.
      Peter: Mary Jane?
      Green Goblin: Can Spider-Man come out to play?
  • How Do I Shot Web?: The Trope Namer, as we see in Peter's first roof-hopping scene. Peter still struggles with swinging when he is chasing the carjacker.

  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Goblin gives off this vibe as he menacingly approaches a trapped Mary Jane at the festival before facing Spider-Man.
    Green Goblin: Hello, my dear...
  • I Never Told You My Name: Spider-Man calls out to Mary Jane when rescuing her at the Unity Festival, telling her to hang on. She's too relieved to be alive to question it, and is surprised when Spider-Man says that she knows him. Later, Peter handwaves it by saying he's Spider-Man's photographer. The sequel would confirm that a part of her always knew Peter was Spider-Man, she just needed confirmation.
  • Inexplicable Cornered Escape: Peter sneaks into his room before a dinner party, and guests come up to investigate the noise. A pan of the room shows it empty — then we see him hiding on the ceiling. Just as they leave, a drop of blood falls from his arm. Someone sees the blood on the floor and looks up... at an empty ceiling. He walks to the window and looks out, again seeing nothing — then a pan down shows Peter has teleported offscreen under a balcony.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: A group of police officers accosts the Goblin during his attack in Times Square. He says, "I surrender!" then knocks out the officers. Spidey sees it coming and manages to get in an "Oh, boy" before it happens.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: J.J. Jameson only objects to Peter stating his Spider-Man stories are slander because that's the wrong word. In print, it's libel. (He's right, by the way.)
  • Insane Troll Logic: The Goblin's attempt to persuade Peter that they shouldn't cause massive property destruction "over and over again in selfish battle" conveniently ignores that he causes that even without Spider-Man's intervention with his pumpkin bombs, his glider-directed missiles and guns. Then again, the Goblin really is insane.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • When Peter Parker finds out J. Jonah Jameson is putting out a front-page story claiming Spider-Man attacked the city:
      Peter: Spider Man wasn't trying to attack the city... he was trying to save it. That's slander.
      Jameson: It is not! I resent that! (beat) Slander is spoken. In print, it's libel.
    • Peter isn't too pleased when the ring announcer decides to call him "Spider-Man" instead of "The Human Spider."
  • Instant Sedation: The Goblin uses Knockout Gas on Spider-Man, who drops like a sack of bricks. It takes longer for the effects to wear off, however — when he wakes up, he can hold a conversation but is obviously groggy and unable to move.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Early on, the wrestling promoter cons Peter out of his promised $3000; when Peter insists that he needs the money, the promoter tells him, "I missed the part where that's my problem." Seconds later, Peter repeats the line to the promoter after he lets a robber escape with the money and the promoter says he could've stopped him.
    • "Don't tell Harry" is also a line repeated throughout the movie.
    • When General Slocum visits the Oscorp factories, Dr. Stromm informs him that they need to take the entire product line "back to formula" due to the unstable nature of the performance enhancers. When Norman reawakens after being injected with the serum, the first thing he says as he prepares to throttle Dr. Stromm is, "Back to formula?"
    • At the Oscorp board meeting when the directors tell Norman that he's going to be fired, they say "You're out, Norman," and he responds, "Am I?" At the World Unity Festival, as the Goblin prepares to throw pumpkin bombs at the board members, he yells, "Out, am I?!"
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The Itsy Bitsy Spider.
  • It Was with You All Along: During the climax, Peter discovered that what he really wanted was inside him all along, which is his real super strength.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: This is why Spider-Man chooses not to move forward in his relationship with Mary Jane.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: J. Jonah Jameson. Although he is shown to be incredibly rude to Peter and knowingly produces libel against Spider-Man, he refuses to give up the identity of Spidey's photographer to the Green Goblin, even though said photographer (Peter) is literally only a few feet away.
  • Jump Scare: The first time we see Norman after he becomes the Green Goblin but before learning of his alternate personality, he has a brief second-long flash of the Goblin, leaving the Goblin loudly laughing and staring at the viewers up close before it cuts back to regular Norman.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Peter, as usual, deals with a lot of ridicule from his peers for being a nerd, especially Flash and his gang. In the opening scene, nearly all of Peter's classmates laugh at him running after the school bus and are disappointed when MJ makes the driver stop and pick him up. They then continue mocking Peter while refusing to sit with him, and laugh at him again when Flash's crony trips him up. It's implied this is a recurring spectacle.
  • Kiss Diss: When Harry goes to kiss MJ at the World Unity Festival, she turns her head to the side, signalling that she doesn't really care for him that much (especially after he just criticized her dress). Peter on the ground sees this as well. In the novelisation, it's made clear he understand exactly what she just did and is ecstatic that she might still love him.
  • Knockout Gas: Played straight when the Green Goblin sprays Spider-Man with sleeping gas from his wrists. It's later implied he used it again to render Mary Jane unconscious.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: After Flash's crony witnesses Peter dodge his tackle by jumping and flipping high into the air, he simply tells Flash, "He's all yours, man." Flash really should've followed suit.
  • Large Ham:
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Layers of it at the beginning of the movie. Peter works a wrestling match against Bonesaw McGraw and expects a payout, but the promoter stiffs him out of the promised money. Shortly after the promoter is robbed, Peter refuses to help the former. Unfortunately, letting the robber escape causes him to jack a car and kill the driver, who happens to be Peter's Uncle Ben, thus turning the karma back on Peter himself.
    • Norman spends the film being kind of a dick even when he's not Green Goblin. His last speech to Peter, appealing to Peter's emotions and hoping to play on his need for a father figure, fails completely and he gets killed by his own glider.
  • Laugh of Love: Following the famous kiss-in-the-rain scene between Spider-Man and Mary Jane, she giggles as Spider-Man swings off.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Mary Jane's slippers fall off while the Green Goblin is dangling her over the bridge.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: At least one Norman Osborn / Green Goblin dialogue/monologue is done via this.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The attendees at the World Unity Festival, especially the OsCorp Board of Directors, when Green Goblin appears and attacks.
  • Meaningful Echo: Peter tells MJ, "Trust me" when encouraging her to open up about her crush on Spider-Man. In the climax, he repeats this when urging her to climb down the tram he's holding so she can be lowered to safety.
  • Menacing Mask: A gang of armored truck robbers wear transparent plastic masks in one scene. Then, of course, there's the Green Goblin's menacingly grinning visage his mask presents.
  • Mickey Mousing: When Peter climbs his first wall, horns sound in the score every time he puts his hand on the wall.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Subtly subverted. When Peter finds out that Norman is the Goblin in the climax, the first thing he takes him to task for is the fact that he "killed those people in the balcony" (those people being nameless, unknown to Peter, and portrayed unsympathetically). Only then does he also note that the Goblin tried to kill his aunt and girlfriend.
  • Moment Killer:
    • Played for drama twice with Peter and MJ, thanks to the latter's soon-to-be ex-boyfriends.
      • They share a deep conversation in their backyards about their respective futures and Hidden Depths, which is interrupted when Flash drives up and honks his car.
      • In May's hospital room, they're Holding Hands after Peter indirectly confesses how he feels about MJ, only for the tender moment to turn awkward when Harry walks in.
    • Played for laughs when Spider-Man drops MJ off at a rooftop garden, where a couple is kissing.
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Peter takes his shirt off in the beginning of the movie after getting bit by the spider. The next day, when he wakes up, he is ripped. He does a Double Take after checking out his reflection and flexes his muscles in disbelief. His Spider-Man suit is also skintight.
    • Norman Osborn is also in good shape and takes his shirt off in the beginning. Turns into Nightmare Fuel Fan Disservice when he transforms into the Green Goblin, though.
  • Ms. Fanservice: MJ gets multiple shots of her cleavage thanks to her plunging necklines, particularly at the field trip, and wet attire during the iconic kiss in the rain. Her legs are also on display when she's in danger at the festival.
  • Mook Horror Show: Peter pulls this trope on Dennis for being connected with the death of Uncle Ben.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Peter Parker designs his superhero costume in a montage, complete with his notes ("Needs more color"), newspaper ads for the car of his dreams and the wrestling match, an image of a smiling Mary Jane, and Danny Elfman's themes; this scene segues into Peter shooting his web in his room, with more Elfman music.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The film took a large amount of its elements from Spider-Man: The Animated Series:
      • Green Goblin being a split personality of Norman's developed from the Goblin formula and Norman talking to him.
      • The plot point of the Green Goblin going after people who wronged Norman Osborn.
      • Aunt May being sent to the hospital due to being attacked by the Green Goblin, with Mary Jane visiting her at the same time as Peter, also occurred in the animated series, but with the Hobgoblin instead of the Green Goblin
      • Also, Peter's nightmare of being trapped by a giant spider after the spider bite in the novelization is an allusion to the episode "Make A Wish", when Spider-Man recalled having two nightmares of transforming into a spider after being bitten.
    • One to The Night Gwen Stacy Died: Mary Jane serves as a replacement for Gwen as the person who the Green Goblin kidnaps (the same thing also happened in the aforementioned 90s animated series) and takes to the iconic bridge. The Green Goblin is also Impaled with Extreme Prejudice with his own Goblin Glider after the fight on the bridge, the same way he "died" in the iconic storyline, but this time it sticks.
      • Goblin did this to MJ specifically in Ultimate Spider-Man, which she also survived. Like the comic, the movie changes the location to Queensboro bridge.
    • Spider-Man's webshooters being physically part of him rather than a device of his own invention due to being bitten by a genetically-engineered instead of radioactive spider in this version seems to be a bit of an homage to Spider-Man 2099 in which Miguel O'Hara, the futuristic Spider-Man, has a similar ability due to the differing origins of his own powers.
    • Spider-Man and the Green Goblin have a fight inside a Hollywood Fire, like in the first arc of Ultimate Spider-Man.
    • The novelization of the film references many other characters from the greater Marvel Universe that don't appear in the film series.
      • Peter is depicted reading Captain America comics as a young boy. He mentions his belief that his parents died because they were secret agents and "a bad guy, like the Red Skull, killed them", which is exactly what happened to them in the main continuity.
      • Norman and Jameson being friends and sharing a gentleman's club is taken from the early comics.
      • Norman describes one of the OsCorp board members, Maximilian Fargas, as looking like "the professor character from that mutant movie."
      • Phillip Watson mentions his sister Anna, Mary Jane's aunt who helped May arrange her and Peter's blind date in the comics.
      • General Slocum describes Quest Aerospace's exoskeleton as a "war machine".
      • Dr. Curtis Connors fires Peter while holding a caged iguana, and Peter muses whether Connors would understand his perspective if the iguana mutated and bit him, turning him into a giant lizard.
      • One of Bonesaw's opponents before fighting Peter is Battling Jack Murdock. Later, Spidey's first outing as a superhero that Peter takes pictures of has him saving Jack, who then excitedly calls his son Matt to tell him about "the genuine daredevil who saved your old man!"
      • Two cops who find a pair of jewelry robbers Spider-Man caught are named DeFalco and Owlsley. Owlsley mentions hearing reports of "some kind of incredible hulk" attacking some soldiers last week in New Mexico.
      • Other characters name-dropped throughout the book include Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Hank Pym, and Stephen Strange.
    • When May and Ben see Spider-Man defeat Bonsesaw on TV in the novelization, Ben remarks that he "does whatever a spider can". In the film, a New Yorker briefly plays the tune during the witness interviews of Spider-Man's heroics.
    • Peter initially comes up with the rather lame nickname of "the Human Spider" for his wrestling persona, and protests when the showman calls him the "Amazing Spider-Man" instead. This was taken directly from Ultimate Spider-Man, only Peter called himself "the Spider" there. On top of that, "amazing" was one of many adjectives used to describe Spider-Man across many installments in the franchise.
    • At the Daily Bugle, Hoffman mentions Conway as one of their clients for page 6.
  • Neck Lift:
    • The Green Goblin barges into Jameson's office and grabs him by the neck while still on his glider, lifting him from the ground, while asking who is Spider-Man's photographer.
    • Toward the climax, Green Goblin holds Mary Jane up by the neck from the top of the Queensboro Bridge.
  • Nightmare Sequence: A brief one when Peter dreams about Goblin saying, "Wake up, little spider".
    • A longer one in the novelization after the spider bite, in which Peter envisions being trapped in a web and facing a giant spider with Flash and MJ's father reflected in its eyes, while an ignorant MJ and her friends laugh nearby. This is what initially gives him the idea of using this "great power" to improve his standing.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The final battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin goes both ways: the Goblin easily gains the upper hand after nailing Spidey with a bomb and almost kills him, but when he threatens Mary-Jane, Spidey manages to fight back and proceeds to beat him down just as hard.
  • No-Sell: Before his Heroic Second Wind, Peter tries all of his spider-powered fighting tricks in the final battle against Green Goblin, who brushes them all off with ease.
  • Nonchalant Dodge: When Flash Thompson tries to pick a fight with Peter, Pete's new Super-Reflexes are depicted by showing everything except him in slow motion. Which is so slow that he is able to dodge the punch, look at Flash in surprise and confusion, then back to the fist, all in what appears to be less than a half-second of real time.
  • Noodle Incident: "Let's not have a repeat of our trip to the planetarium."
  • Odd Friendship: Harry and Peter are best friends despite coming from complete polar-opposite backgrounds. Subtext would indicate that they bonded over having lost parents and being respective outcasts among their peers, Harry being the Lonely Rich Kid and Peter being a geek. It was confirmed in the novelization that Peter was initially Harry's tutor and in the second film, Harry credits him with "single-handedly getting me through High School Science."
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The look on Dr. Stromm's face when, after turning around, he finds a single hand clenched around his face and that that hand belongs to a very, very pissed off Norman Osborn, who until just recently was believed to have suffered a terminal heart attack. "Back to formula?"
    • Captain Curtis (the test pilot), and then everyone else in the Quest Aerospace facility when the Green Goblin attacks.
    • Mary Jane when she's cornered by would-be rapists in the alleyway.
    • Peter when he hears May screaming about yellow eyes while at the hospital.
      Peter: He knows who I am.
      • He has another one later when talking with Aunt May, who tells him to let Mary Jane know how he feels about her, because everyone else already sees it. While she was trying to be encouraging, it only makes him realize that the Green Goblin is going to target Mary Jane next.
        Aunt May: Would it be so dangerous to let Mary Jane know how much you care? Everybody else knows.
    • Norman can only deliver a simple "Oh..." when he inadvertently sends his own glider, intended for Peter, straight at himself instead.
  • Opening Monologue: "Who am I? You sure you want to know? The story of my life is not for the faint of heart..."
  • Opinion Flip-Flop: Harry pulls this while trying to flirt with Mary Jane at the spider laboratory.
  • The Paragon: Spider-Man's efforts get ordinary citizens to help in the climax.
  • Parting-Words Regret: Part of the tragedy of Ben's death is that his and Peter's parting was less than amicable.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Played with regarding Norman Osborn; he seems genuinely fond of Peter Parker and treats him with honest respect for much of the movie (when he's not Green Goblin and Parker's not Spidey, that is). Considering this respect often comes at the expense of his own son, however, it still manages to be something of a dick move.
    • J. Jonah Jameson is all Mean Boss around everybody until Green Goblin flies in through the window looking for Peter just after Peter's left the room. Jameson insists that Peter's never been to The Daily Bugle office even as the Goblin is strangling him. That last is pretty characteristic; news editors and journalists get pumped for their sources all the time. Still a fairly standout Pet the Dog moment, though.
    • New Yorkers are generally giant jerks to Spider-Man until the climax where Green Goblin tries to kill a bunch of children, then stop Spider-Man from saving them. The assorted crowd on the bridge throw pipes and assorted debris at Goblin to help their hero.
  • 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.
    • Likewise, many of Peter's classmates saw him drag a lunch tray using a sticky white substance and defeat Flash in a fight with near-inhuman reflexes, acrobatics, and strength, yet only MJ seems to make the connection between him and Spider-Man by the end of the film. She even lampshades in the novelization how many students are skeptical of what Peter did despite witnessing it first-hand.
  • Police Are Useless: Not for lack of trying, but the cops are simply outclassed when it comes to dealing with Goblin. One calls for a Code 4 when Goblin attacks the Unity Festival, and four try to take him down when Spider-Man sends Goblin crashing into a balloon. He promptly curb-stomps them, leaving Spider-Man to handle the villain.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: After the famous upside-down kiss between Mary Jane and Spider-Man (Peter Parker), both are surprised by the kiss to the point where they stay silent with their mouths open for a while before Spider-Man slings away while Mary Jane stands behind laughing happily. The same symptoms are displayed in the end when Mary Jane kisses Peter after Norman's funeral, thinking it was their first kiss due to her obliviousness to Peter's identity.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Green Goblin says "Out, am I?!" to the Oscorp board before using a pumpkin bomb to turn them into skeletons.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: The film depicts wrestling as real as a direct adaptation of his origin story. In that world, Spider-Man beats a wrestler named Bonesaw McGraw, played by the late "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Furthermore "The Disciplinarian" Kristen Davidson and "Jungle Grrl" Erica Porter plays Bonesaw's managers, throwing him weapons to hit Spider-Man with to try and keep him from lasting to the time limit. This is actually a(n unrealistic) depiction of "hooking", in which a wrestler would challenge local competitors to last a certain amount of time in the ring with him, beating them handily while making it look like they actually stood a chance of lasting to the time limit so more contestants would put up money to try. If the wrestler might actually be in danger of losing he would "cheat" (hence the managers). Hooking only worked because it happened in the age when people bought into kayfabe, which was long exposed by the time of this movie's release (and steel cages were not involved).
  • Psycho Serum: Oscorp's human performance enhancers are revealed to have the side effects of "violence, aggression and insanity" in one test on rodents. When Norman Osborn is forced to test the enhancer on himself, the same happens and he soon dawns the Green Goblin suit.
  • Punch Catch: How Goblin demonstrates he's at least as strong as Spider-Man.
    Green Goblin: Impressive! [kicks Spidey across the square and into a lamppost]
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: 9/11 happened in the midst of production, and the fallout from it was the reason for the scene in which pedestrians rally together to verbally pelt the Goblin with trash.
  • Recruit the Muggles: A group of people standing on the bridge start throwing rocks and bricks at the Green Goblin, in order to get him away from Spider-Man.
  • Reflective Eyes: When the Green Goblin lets go of both Mary Jane and the tramway car at the same time, we see them reflected on Spider-Man's eyepieces, one in each eye, to illustrate the Sadistic Choice.
  • Refuse to Rescue the Disliked: Peter Parker lets a robber get away rather than chasing him down, after the robber stole money from the wrestling promoter who cheated Peter out of his take from surviving three minutes in the ring with Bonesaw. Unfortunately, the same robber ends up being involved in the killing of Peter's Uncle Ben.
  • Rescue Romance: Mary Jane develops a crush on Spider-Man over the course of the movie when he saves her from Green Goblin and a gang of thugs.
  • Romantic Rain: Near the end of the movie, there is the famous upside-down kiss between Mary Jane and Peter Parker as Spider-Man in the rain.
  • Roof Hopping: The scene is so iconic, even Kick-Ass used the same set as a direct homage.
  • Rousseau Was Right: The moment when the citizens of New York prove the Green Goblin wrong once and for all by not turning against Spider-Man is the true dramatic climax of the film. After that point, the final fight with the Goblin is pretty much all a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Sadistic Choice: The Green Goblin. The Trope Namer. He offers Spider-Man the choice between saving the girl or the Bus Full of Innocents.
  • Same Language Dub: Bruce Campbell voiced the injured wrestler that Peter walked by before going in the ring to fight Bonesaw.
  • Save the Day, Turn Away: Ends on a really textbook example of one, with Peter not getting the girl.
  • Scare Chord:
    • A scene with Norman talking to the Goblin's spirit features a chord that's rather jarring in its loudness.
    • Also when Harry finds his dad slumped over in the living room and is trying to help him figure out what had happened the night before (it being, of course, Norman's first act of violence after testing the performance-enhancer, where he killed Dr. Stromm). The chord in question is used as part of a Jump Scare, accompanied by a split-second shot of Norman seizing during the experiment that gave him his powers.
      Norman: ...last night I was —
      [QUICK SHOT]
      Harry: ...what?
      Norman: ...I don't remember...
  • Secret Identity Apathy: Norman Osborn (a.k.a. the Green Goblin) honestly doesn't care that much about Spidey's secret identity. At first he just wants to work with him, he doesn't even unmask Peter when he has him unconscious and gassed-out (which Comics!Goblin did the minute he had the chance). Upon finding out Peter's identity, however, he goes after and terrorizes his Aunt May so as to better hurt Peter's resolve by going after his heart, and then after learning from Harry that he cares for MJ, he goes after her instead.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: The robber trips on a pipe and falls out a window to his death, while Osborn is skewered by his own underhanded attempt to kill Peter.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Peter going through various costume designs and smashing the thief's killer's head through a glass window are similar to scenes in Raimi's Darkman.
  • Seriously Scruffy: Discussed; Aunt May remarks that Peter is so busy that he often leaves his room untidy.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: The famous kiss scene in the rain, where Mary Jane's blouse is fairly sheer, and very wet.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Peter only has eyes for MJ, ever. He developed a crush on her "before [he] even liked girls" and never shows interest in anyone else.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Bruce Campbell as the wrestling ring announcer, who ends up being the one to come up with the "Spider-Man" name (as Peter originally intended to name his alter ego "The Human Spider", which the announcer dismissed as uncreative).
  • Smooch of Victory: Mary Jane gives Spider-Man a kiss after he saves her from a gang of would-be rapists.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
  • Split-Personality Makeover: Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin. The difference between the two is huge, but it's done entirely with facial expression, vocal mannerisms, and body language!
  • Staring Kid: The kid gawking at falling debris that Spidey had to save during his fight with the Green Goblin.
  • Stripped to the Bone: One type of Goblin's pumpkin bombs does this via disintegration.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Norman's reaction to being ousted from Oscorp starts soft, as his initial impulse is shock, and then turns into nervous laughter as he says he started the company...before he explodes with a furious "You know how much I sacrificed?!"
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Peter spends quite a bit of time coming up with a cool design for a costume... But, given that he's a kid from Queens with no budget for it, the first costume ends up looking rather unimpressive.
    • A positive sort; Spider-Man has spent several months stopping criminals and saving lives, starting the montage of people thanking him. Jameson attempts to paint Spider-Man as a menace to sell newspapers and seems to succeed with his clickbait titles and the police have a warrant for his arrest. Then the climax happens; New Yorkers can see Spider-Man working hard to save a bunch of kids in a cable car as well as an Innocent Bystander woman. The kids shout at Spider-Man to save them, showing they have faith in their hero. The New Yorkers, in the meantime, pick up debris and start pelting Green Goblin so Spider-Man can lower the cable car onto a barge that surges forward to help. Spider-Man is their hero, no matter what any newspaper may say.
    • Peter's powers enabled him to defeat Flash Thompson, little more than a muscular hothead, with virtually no effort. When he goes up against Bonesaw McGraw, a skilled professional wrestler three times his size, he discovers that a Badass Normal can put an Unskilled, but Strong super against the ropes. Peter has to make up for his lack of experience in hand-to-hand combat by utilizing his speed and agility to get in close enough to defeat him.
    • The final fight between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin shows exactly how devastating being beaten by a superhuman would be, made more effective by the lack of music and flashy special effects.
  • Sword Limbo: With Green Goblin's flying blades.
  • Tag Line: Go for the ultimate spin.
  • Take a Third Option: The bridge scene. The Goblin tells Spider-Man to make a choice — save Mary Jane, or passengers on the Roosevelt Island Tramway. He makes a move that saves both.
  • Talent Double: In the montage where Peter sketches costume ideas, the hands actually doing the drawing belong to comic artist Phil Jimenez.
  • Talking to Themself: Norman talks to his alternate personality in a mirror.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • Spider-Man has this reaction when he sees Green Goblin "surrender" to the police.
    • Green Goblin has this reaction when he realizes that he messed up his last-ditch attack and is about to impale himself.
      Green Goblin: Oh.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The kid at the Festival, who stands like a Deer in the Headlights as the large globe falls towards him. Even Peter shows irritation that he's not running.
    Peter: C'mon, move, kid!
  • Tough Room: Played with. When Peter is forced to fight Flash Thompson in high school, and kicks his ass with ease with his new spider powers, some students cheer but several, notably Flash's fellow crony, desert him as a "freak". While viewers have noted that any kid suddenly capable of whupping a Jerk Jock so soundly would in reality impress the whole school and become popular overnight, it could be justified in the sense of this being a Marvel universe whose muggle population usually hates and fears people with similarly amazing abilities. They may have concluded that Peter might be a mutant and shunned him as such.
  • Two-Timing with the Bestie: Mary Jane would have the famous upside-down kiss with Spider-Man. The problem is that she's dating Harry at the time and (unbeknownst to her) Spider-Man is Peter Parker, his best friend. On the other hand, Harry is shown to be increasingly insensitive and controlling, so it's easy to sympathize with her.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • A while after Spider-Man hits the big time, people start calling for his arrest. Green Goblin predicted this would happen. Thankfully averted in the climax.
      Green Goblin: In spite of everything you've done for them, eventually they will hate you.
    • J. Jonah Jameson as usual, as seen in the novelization and the tie-in comic. Even after Spider-Man saved Mary Jane and the kids on the tram from Green Goblin, he stands by his opinion that he's a criminal.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Green Goblin threatens to have a "hell of a time" with MJ. Spider-Man responds by dropping a brick wall on him, and after subsequently tackling him, he repeatedly punches the Goblin in the face and knocks him down only to be propped back up for another hit to the face.
  • Villain Ball: In the last fight, Spider-Man is battered and at risk of being killed, but the Green Goblin waits at a critical moment in order to gloat. Being a pure sadist, he says he's gonna hunt down Mary Jane and give her an excruciating death as revenge for all the trouble Spidey's give him. Cue Heroic Second Wind.
  • Villainous Face Hold: The Green Goblin does this to Spider-Man while threatening to squash him like a bug unless he joins him.
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: Once Peter finally figures out How Do I Shot Web?, he attempts a swing, and crashes into a building as if he was George of the Jungle.
  • We Can Rule Together: The Goblin gives Spider-Man a "Not So Different" Remark and asks the hero to join him. Spider-Man takes a pass.
  • We Will Meet Again: Yelled by Goblin after his first brawl with Spider-Man, when the latter scrambles the former's glider.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • After Peter gets bitten, he flicks the spider away and we see it crawl under some cabinets. While in the background, we heard Mary Jane inform them that it's missing, we never do find out what happened, or if there is a random genetically altered Spider that can give people super-powers still at large in New York City? Though in nearly every version of Spidey's origin, the spider dies after biting him. Even with the change from radioactive contamination to genetic engineering, it's reasonable to assume the spider never made it very far. The novelization implies it starved to death.
    • Quest Aerospace was never brought up again, following Green Goblin killing off Oscorp's board of directors before they could publicly announce selling the company to Quest. The later films' novelizations confirm Quest is still operational.
  • White Gangbangers: A group of them converge on Mary Jane in the Attempted Rape scene.
  • Why Are You Not My Son?: Norman never says it outright, but is clearly more impressed by Peter than Harry.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Hotness: Peter goes from a skinny nerd with Nerd Glasses to a muscular man due to the spider bite. His vision also gets corrected, allowing him to get rid of his glasses and causing MJ to notice his brilliant blue eyes.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: What did you expect?
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Goblin uses a literal carload of them in a Sadistic Choice for Spidey that he hopes results in their death. Even before that, him attacking the festival and setting a building on fire to lure out Spider-Man is clearly shown putting children in peril.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: J. Jonah Jameson resents being accused of slander. He's not an orator, he's a journalist, so it's libel.
  • You Leave Him Alone!: One Heroic Bystander shouts this at Goblin in the climax when tossing rubbish at him, asking why the guy is picking on Spider-Man when he's trying to save some kids.
    • In general, MJ and Harry did this when standing up for Peter in school.
  • You're Not My Father: When Norman Osborn, who has just revealed himself to be the Green Goblin to Peter/Spider-Man, pleads with Peter to spare him and be his son, Peter fires back his pleas by saying, "I have a father. His name was Ben Parker."

"Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words, 'With great power, comes great responsibility.' This is my gift. My curse. Who am I? I'm Spider-Man."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Spider Man The Movie


The Green Goblin's Last Stand

In a last attempt to defeat Spider-Man, the Goblin pretends that he's Norman in order to get Peter's guard down and impale him with his glider, only for Peter to dodge it and for the Goblin to be skewered in his place instead.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

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