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Film / Spider-Man Trilogy

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"Who am I? You sure you want to know? The story of my life is not for the faint of heart. If somebody said it was a happy little tale... if somebody told you I was just your average ordinary guy, not a care in the world... somebody lied."
Peter Parker / Spider-Man

A trilogy of Super Hero films based on the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man, all directed by Sam Raimi and running from 2002 to 2007. The films starred Tobey Maguire as the titular web-slinger, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, James Franco as Harry Osborn, Rosemary Harris as May Parker, J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, and Bruce Campbell in various cameos. The official designation for the reality these films are set in is Earth-96283.

Three well-received video games (with Maguire, Simmons, and others reprising their roles), several mobile games, three novelizations, various bits of merchandise, and a few comic books are spun off from the films and set in their universe, plus a pinball machine and an infamous teaser trailer that was pulled from circulation due to The War on Terror.

Highly successful in both the critical and commercial departments, these movies helped cement the superhero movie boom by proving that Blade and X-Men before it hadn't been one-time charms. The success of this series led to other similarly-praised efforts, such as The Dark Knight Trilogy and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

After a possible fourth film entered Development Hell, the franchise received a Continuity Reboot with an all-new creative team with The Amazing Spider-Man Series, with Spider-Man played by Andrew Garfield. Eventually, that setting was rebooted when it was announced that the character would be integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following an unprecedented deal between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, with Tom Holland as the wall-crawler in the Spider-Man: Homecoming Trilogy.

Thanks to some shenanigans involving The Multiverse, the the Spider-Man Trilogy continuity would reappear, alongside the continuity of The Amazing Spider-Man Series in Spider-Man: No Way Home, with both of these worlds' Peter Parkers teaming up with the MCU’s Peter Parker to take on the Trilogy’s iterations of Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Sandman alongside Electro and the Lizard from The Amazing Spider-Man.

Additionally, "Peter Parker" and "Peter B. Parker" in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse take some visual influence from this iteration of the character, having gone through Broad Strokes versions of this Peter Parker's adventures, although they are their own iterations.

Tropes used throughout the series include:

  • Abusive Parents: Mary Jane's father, Phillip Watson, is seen (but more often heard) verbally berating her in the first film multiple times, at one point calling MJ and her mother "trash". He's even worse in the official novelization. In a later film, she says of a newspaper review critical of her musical debut:
    Mary Jane: I look at these words, and it's like my father wrote them.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • A mild example. With the exception of Green Goblin and Venom, most of the villains are more sympathetic compared to their comic book counterparts.note 
    • In the comics, Jameson's hatred of Spider-Man has often escalated to truly reprehensibly heights, including funding the creation of a supervillain to take down the Wall-Crawler on more than one occasion. The Jameson in these films never does anything so heinous.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Thanks to a slight and crucial change, Peter's origin qualifies. In Amazing Fantasy #15, Peter lets the burglar go out of petty selfishness and indifference. In the movie, Peter's wrestling manager (who did not get robbed in the comic) stiffs him so Peter deliberately lets the burglar escape out of spite and revenge. One can argue that Movie!Spidey is even more petty and jerkish, but painting the wrestling manager as an Asshole Victim arguably explains this action better, since Peter was already quite nice and altruistic in the movies before his transformation unlike Comic Book!Peter who, understandably, had a chip on his shoulder.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Ironically, Venom was the more sympathetic and ethical villain in the comics while his film counterpart is a self-centered Jerkass who lies, cheats and loses his job for more legitimate reasons.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Classic moments, images and arcs from 40+ years of Spider-Man stories are squashed down to a simpler thread:
    • Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man/Peter Parker is visually his comic book counterpart during the Lee-Ditko era: small, scrawny, and awkward. His friendship with Harry Osborn draws from the Romita years and the concept of Harry being in high school along with Peter, MJ, and Flash and a somewhat exploitative friend comes from Ultimate Spider-Man (first published in 2000, two years before the movie came out).
    • Mary Jane Watson is more or less a Composite Character of several of Peter's girlfriends (herself, Liz Allan, and Gwen Stacy). She is initially Flash Thompson's and Harry Osborn's girlfriend (much like Liz Allan was) and is an outwardly charming and charismatic girl with aspirations to become an actress while balancing a troubled family background at home (which is MJ's background in the comics). Her overall serious and melancholy nature is very much based on Gwen Stacy rather than the immensely upbeat and snarky MJ of the early comics (who more or less lightened up Peter's mood and that of the overall dark tone of the comics), who was even something of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She still retains the fundamental elements of MJ in that she loves both Peter and Spider-Man and is comfortable with both his identities unlike Gwen (who loathed and hated Spider-Man in the comics), which, for most of her history, is what set her apart and made her and Peter so compatible.
    • Likewise, Gwen Stacy, when she appears in the third film, is based on her comic book counterpart’s original appearance during Steve Ditko's run where she was a beauty queen who was a little superficial (or as Peter remarks to MJ about Gwen being in his class in the third film, science is not her best subject) while her role as Eddie Brock's blonde Love Interest has her stand in for Ann Weying.
    • Norman Osborn is largely based on how his comic book counterpart was portrayed during the Lee-Romita era (which reinterpreted him as a frustrated businessman and Workaholic, and a distant but still supportive father of Harry) alongside the idea of the Goblin as a separate personality (rather than Ditko's original interpretation for the character and Bendis' Ultimate version, who were both presented as being two-faced, scheming, and corrupt businessmen without anything good about them to start) being based on the version in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
    • Harry Osborn draws elements from the Ultimate version of the character via being a somewhat handsome, cool, and rich friend who Peter looks up to. In the original comics, Harry was a drug-addicted loser who resented Peter as his Always Someone Better, especially for the fact that the girls he dated (Gwen and MJ) dumped him for Peter.
    • In terms of overall story, the entire film series focusing on a Love Dodecahedron for its dramatic tension draws squarely from the soap opera of the Lee-Romita years, rather than the bildungsroman/science-fiction of the Lee-Ditko years, or the more weirder and complicated runs in later Spider-Man arcs. Most notably, Peter's personal involvement with his villains, either knowing them before transformation (Dr. Octopus, Eddie Brock, Flint Marko) or being connected to them personally (Norman Osborn) came from this era, whereas in the earlier stories, Peter did not have any connection to any of these villains.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: For both of the two romantic leads, mostly to make it a more understandable and classical love story:
    • Peter Parker in this film series is more of an Extreme Doormat at first who hides his real emotions and feelings whereas his comic book counterpart and other versions (while still a Nice Guy) are sarcastic, opinionated, temperamental, and otherwise quite willing to give people a piece of his mind or express displeasure when it bothers him. As Spider-Man, he doesn't quip as much as his comic book counterparts in the Mainstream and the Ultimate Marvel Universes and most versions. Peter having Single-Target Sexuality for Mary Jane is also not true for his comic book counterpart, either with her or anyone else.
    • MJ is shown to be far more vulnerable, neurotic, and melancholy than her comic book counterpart, who was a tough-as-nails survivor and generally the most sorted in her life than Peter and his friends. The third film suggests that she had real feelings for Harry at one point while in the comics, she always found him needy and possessive and never once looked back after she started a relationship with Peternote . Likewise, during their initial relationship, she was the one who chased after Peter rather than the other way around.
  • Adapted Out: Thanks to Sony Pictures not having the film rights to the other Marvel Comics properties, none of the known Marvel characters aside from Spider-Man and his related characters exist in this universe. This was lampshaded in Spider-Man 2 when Hoffman suggests "Doctor Strange" as a nickname for Otto Octavius but then Jameson remarks that it's already taken, and once again in Spider-Man: No Way Home when both Peter and his Webb-verse counterpart were bewildered when their MCU counterpart bragged about being part of The Avengers.
  • Affably Evil: Doctor Octopus, Harry Osborn, and Sandman all qualify.
  • Alliterative Name: Peter Parker, Betty Brant, Robbie Robertson, Otto Octavius, and J. Jonah Jameson. Green Goblin is an intentional example.
  • Alternate Universe: No Way Home officially establishes these films to be this trope in comparison to the MCU. It's also an Alternate History in comparison since it's a more grounded world that lacks any other superheroes except for Spider-Man, who debuted around fourteen years earlier, while companies that don't exist in the MCU like Oscorp exist in this universe. It also apparently still has manned space missions to the moon, at least by 2004, while in real life and presumably in the MCU the last mission to the moon was with Apollo 17 in 1972.
  • Anti-Villain: Almost everyone. Norman, for having a Split Personality/Superpowered Evil Side, Doc Ock and Harry for being misguided and pulling a Heel–Face Turn/Heroic Sacrifice in the end and Sandman for trying to help his daughter. The only exception is Eddie/Venom, who willingly embraces the symbiote and enjoys the suffering he causes.
  • Author Usurpation: The success of this trilogy has overshadowed all of Raimi's other films, and films from this trilogy are the only ones that were made by him that fans can name.
  • Big Applesauce: There's no Spider-Man without New York. One thing noted by a few observers, such as CinemaSins, is the film's depiction of the city actually plucks elements from different eras, with a lot of elements from The '50s and The '60s (the decades where Spider-Man was first published).
    • The elevated train battle, a famous scene in Spider-Man 2, raised eyebrows because there hasn't been any elevated trains in New York and certainly not Manhattan since The '50s.
    • Likewise, the film visually and in terms of its costumes is set towards the end of The '90s and the start of The Oughties, by which time New York had been gentrified, and yet the film still has scenes such as the moment in 2 where a temporarily depowered Peter sees a mugging in broad-daylight. As noted, this was something that could have worked in The Big Rotten Apple era, but it would not have flown in contemporary New York.
    • Culturally, the characters seem to be tied in a fifties' time-warp, with very few characters using the Internet, Emo!Peter's idea of cool being based on Grease, MJ singing at a Jazz-bar and being a struggling actress trying to work on Broadway rather than avant-garde work or musicals, or off-Broadway work, or experimental films. MJ is a struggling actress in New York rather than on the West Coast, and being one in the former means a lot of niche-work to make ends meet.
  • Big Bad:
    • Spider-Man: Norman Osborn goes insane after testing a performance-enhancing drug on himself, developing the Green Goblin split-personality and using Oscorp technology to go on a destructive rampage.
    • Spider-Man 2: Dr. Otto Octavius is influenced by the artificial intelligence in his mechanical arms to finish his fusion power experiment, dismissive of the possibility of it destroying New York. Harry Osborn hires Octavius as his Dragon-in-Chief, sending him to retrieve Spider-Man in exchange for a special element needed for the experiment so he can avenge Norman's "murder."
    • Spider-Man 3: The Venom symbiote is a corrupting alien parasite that initially bonds to Spider-Man before latching onto ex-photographer Eddie Brock. Seeking revenge after Peter exposes his forged photos, Venom forms a Big Bad Duumvirate with Sandman, the criminal truly responsible for the Accidental Murder of Uncle Ben. Harry is a secondary threat, taking on the mantle of the Goblin to kill Spider-Man, but decides to help Peter after discovering the true circumstances behind his father's death.
  • Big "NO!": Octavius discovering his new condition and Brock before dying.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Played with. It's the all-good Spider-Man versus people who for the most part aren't in control of what they're doing (Green Goblin, Doc Ock) or forced into villainy through unfortunate circumstances (The Sandman). The only true out-and-out villain Spider-Man faces off against is Venom.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Peter is this before getting his powers, and when they start failing.
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: In all three movies, Peter is targeted in some manner by a villain who wants to track down Spider-Man.
  • Building Swing: Naturally, Spider-Man's means of travelling.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: A tram car in the first, a train in the second.
  • The Cameo: Stan Lee and Bruce Campbell, in all movies.
    • Stan Lee protects a little girl in the havoc created by the Green Goblin in the first film. In the second, he pulls a woman out of the way of falling debris while Spider-Man fights Doc Ock; "Look out!" is his only line. In the third, he has a much more substantial cameo as a man who talks to Peter on the street. "Y'know, I guess it's true what they say: one person really can make a difference. 'Nuff said."
    • Bruce Campbell appears once in every film as someone who actually helps develop Peter's plot in some small way. In the first movie, he plays the ring announcer who introduces Peter as Spider-Man instead of "The Human Spider" as Peter originally wanted. In 2, he plays an usher at the theater who refuses to let Peter in because the doors have already been closed. Finally in 3, he is a French Maître d' at a restaurant who gladly helps Peter with his plans to propose to Mary Jane (though it doesn't exactly work out). It's also deliberately ambiguous as to whether he's supposed to be playing three different characters, or one character who delights in holding down different jobs with different personas.
    • In the licensed games based on the films, Bruce also serves as the Lemony Narrator who walks you through tutorials. Though he doesn't seem very interested in it; at one point, he leaves to grab a sandwich.
  • Camp: Well, it's three movies made by Sam Raimi we're talking about, but it's relatively subdued as it has a fair amount of serious scenes with any real campiness coming through in terms of humor and aesthetic.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Interview with the Vampire is mentioned in the first film's novelization. The film was Kirsten Dunst's Star-Making Role as a child actress.
  • Central Theme: The movies have the theme of whether one can remain a hero even as their life crumbles around them. Spider-Man 3 also has a theme about choosing between revenge or forgiveness, as the former is the one driving the conflicts between Peter and the three villains.
  • Chest Insignia: Spider-Man's spider-logo.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Peter and MJ. She's a literal Girl Next Door.
  • Civvie Spandex: Used in the second and third films. Dr. Octopus wears a trench coat and a suit. The Sandman, meanwhile, sticks to a pair of khakis and a green striped shirt while in Flint Marko form.
  • Clothes Make the Maniac: The alien symbiote in the third movie, and depending on your definition of "clothes," Doc Ock's tentacles in the second movie.
  • The Coconut Effect: The movies start off highlighting Spidey's use of Spider-Sense in slow-motion, but as the films progress, the Spider-Sense is more often implied that explicitly depicted, usually in the form of whiplash-quick reflexes and/or Off Hand Backhands. Notably, the third movie never highlighted it at all, with Spider-Man's reflexes and Spider-Sense all rendered in real-time.
  • Composite Character:
    • Mary Jane has some traces of Gwen Stacy, which is flat-out stated by Word of God to be the case. Her lively but pained character is based on her comic book counterpart, but her Girl Next Door exterior is based on Gwen. This Mary Jane also has a strong basis in Liz Allan, being a classmate and longtime crush of Peter's who is much higher on the social ladder and dates Flash Thompson (although comics!MJ briefly dated Flash as well, it was after her initial relationship with Peter and didn't last long). The actual similarities that Mary Jane has with her comic book counterpart are her appearance, background as Peter's neighbor and coming from an abusive household, her brief relationship with Harry Osborn, her vivaciousness masking her insecurity and pain, and her aspirations to be an actress.
    • On the flip side, Gwen in Spider-Man 3 has the bubbly sweetness of comics Gwen but the flirty, good time-loving exterior of the MJ from the comics. She also takes Mary Jane's original role as the "other potential love interest".
  • Confused Bystander Interview: There are a few examples of this throughout the film trilogy.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The series runs on this, but it gets particularly noticeable in the third movie. The symbiote just happens to crash land near Peter, Uncle Ben happens to have been killed by someone we're only introduced to in this movie and who just happens to have acquired superpowers and become Sandman when Peter wants to confront him, Brock (who wanted to kill Spider-Man) just happens to be right there when the symbiote wants a new host to kill Spider-Man, etc. If one is paying attention, a lethal drinking game can be played by spotting the use of this trope throughout the series.
  • Cranky Landlord: Mr. Dikovitch. He is always asking Peter to pay the rent, although he did show a soft side in the third film.
  • Da Editor: J. Jonah Jameson.
  • Damsel in Distress: Mary Jane gets kidnapped by the villain in the climax of all three movies. She's also in distress twice before the climax of the first. In the third film though, she veers more into Damsel out of Distress territory.
  • Deadly Dodging: It’s done by Spider-Man in a lot of fights, most notably the Green Goblin's death.
  • Death by Secret Identity: Green Goblin is impaled soon after he discovers Peter's secret. In the second film, a big part of the movie marketing was that Harry would learn Peter's secret, but Harry's death wouldn't come until he made the full transition to baddie in the third movie. Peter also reveals his identity to Doc Ock. In the final movie, this works against Eddie Brock/Venom, but actually leads to the redemption of the Sandman. If this trope is truly in full swing, then all those people on the subway in Spider-Man 2 better look both ways before crossing the street...
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: The old TV series theme plays in the credits, and is played by street musicians in the first two films.
  • Dingy Trainside Apartment: Peter Parker's apartment is near train tracks. The apartment is clearly shown shaking when a train goes by.
  • Eagleland: Type 1. See Patriotic Fervor below for more description.
  • Evil Is Hammy:
    • Once his Sanity Slippage starts, the Green Goblin chews the scenery in every scene he's in.
    • Eddie Brock after bonding with the Venom symbiote.
      Brock: Ooh, my Spider Sense is tingling, if you get what I'm talking about.
      Brock: You made me lose my girl. Now I'm gonna make you lose yours. How's that sound...Tiger?
    • Harry Osborn (who is after all played by James Franco) starts hamming it up in the third movie.
  • Female Gaze: Well, of course. We're talking about a muscular young dude who wears a skintight outfit and is unbelievably agile. In Spider-Man 3, as Spider-Man jumps into the subway tunnel, Spidey ends up giving a good shot of his ass.
  • Foreshadowing: In the first film, Harry Osborn says of his father "If I'm lucky, I'll be half the man he was". Come the third movie, we find out what exactly is meant by this. There are other foreshadowing moments involving Harry, such as the green bow tie he wears during the wedding scene in 2, and "They're my best friends... I'd give my life for them."
  • Freak Lab Accident: Origin of all the villains save Venom and New Goblin.
  • Girl Next Door: Mary Jane. She even supplies the page image.
  • The Glasses Come Off: See Blind Without 'Em.
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: Green Goblin in the first movie, the tentacle AI with Otto Octavius in the second, and Peter bonded with the symbiote in the third.
  • Happily Married: The Parkers and the Octaviuses.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Peter wants Mary Jane.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Doc Ock and Harry in the second and third movies respectively. Both are also a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Jameson still hates Spider-Man as much as any other continuity, even as the public warms up to him.
  • I Have Your Wife: Mary Jane, of course.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Ursula Dikovitch is clearly infatuated with Peter, but whenever he's in trouble, she advises him to call Mary Jane and does what she can to help him.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Happens a few times, like to the Green Goblin and Sandman, though obviously the latter doesn't stick.
  • In Spite of a Nail: May Parker, Flash Thompson, and J. Jonah Jameson are present in all three cinematic Spider-Men's lives.
  • Ivy League: Although Peter Parker attends the fictional Empire State University (modeled after New York University) in the comics, the Raimi films make him a student at Columbia.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold/Everyone Has Standards: J. Jonah Jameson, the man who has no problem defaming Spider-Man for the sake of eye-catching headlines, lies to the face of the Green Goblin so as to protect Peter. The novelization looks deeper into his motives: Jameson always protects his sources, and has gone to jail twice for doing so in the past. In the third movie, he's furious that Eddie Brock gave him fake photographs of Spider-Man, commenting that "[We] haven't printed a retraction in twenty years!" Not only did he fire Brock, but additionally had him shamed on the front page alongside the retraction.
  • Large Ham: All the villains but Sandman. Also, J. Jonah Jameson and Bruce Campbell's cameo appearances. Special mention has to go to Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin. When he is fighting Peter, he is having the time of his life, complete with evil cackles and poor one-liners.
    • Evil Is Hammy: In addition to the villains, Maguire was having FAR too much fun being Emo-Jerkass-Peter in the middle of the third film.
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Stern Pinball's 2006 Spider-Man game, which encapsulates all three movies and includes all-new dialog from J.K. Simmons.
    J. Jonah Jameson: Eight arms? He should be playing this game!
  • Lost in Imitation:
    • Many elements from the movies were taken from the 1994 series and not the comic books — Peter officially becoming Spider-Man after high school, 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, Mary Jane having a softer and less charismatic personality as well as being a composite with/replacement of Gwen Stacy, Otto Octavius being someone Peter personally knew, the symbiote augmenting Peter's powers and creating a dark side, and Eddie Brock working at the Daily Bugle as a rival photographer instead of a journalist. This stems from the fact that many of the producers of the cartoon carried over into the film, including Avi Arad.
    • The scene where Peter wears the black suit for the first time. The alien symbiote climbs on his bed while he sleeps and then he wakes up hanging upside down from a web wearing it, while he sees his reflection on the side of a building. The only thing missing is the Nightmare Sequence (and even that is hinted at) from the Fox TV Show.
    • Raimi's movies spun their own tangled webs for later imitators. The idea of Peter Parker having a friend in high school, in the form of Harry Osborn in the trilogy, started softening Peter's high school years from the original comics, where he came from a Friendless Background and didn't meet Harry and others until he went to college. This led to changes like Ultimate Spider-Man having MJ as first his best friend before their Relationship Upgrade, and then in Spiderman Homecoming with Ned Leeds as his Fat Best Friend. Harry Osborn knowing Peter since childhood or from high school went into comics, some animated adaptations, and games, even if the idea of a rich kid like Harry attending a public school doesn't make much sense. In the comics, they met in college which Peter got in on scholarship while Harry got in via Daddy's money.
    • The fact that every Spider-Man villain has some personal connection to Peter or his family and is known to both. The first Spider-Man used Green Goblin, a villain who was the first to decipher Spider-Man's identity. But this wasn't true at the time for Dr. Octopus, Sandman (retconned into the "real" shooter of Uncle Ben), or even Eddie Brock/Venom. Both The Amazing Spider-Man Series and Spider-Man: Homecoming reused this with the Lizard, Electro, and the Vulture, all of whom are revealed to have some personal connection or obsession with Spider-Man and/or Peter. This is a sharp departure from the comics, where most of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery were independent crooks and criminals who had no connection to Spider-Man, with the Green Goblin being the first villain of this kind.
    • The film trilogy is perhaps the Trope Maker and Trope Codifier for Marquee Alter Ego, i.e. making characters known for face-covering masks (Spider-Man and Venom most notably) go without masks in many key-scenes for reasons of "face-time". This was especially prominent in Spider-Man 2 (lampshaded by Peter in the novelization), most notably in the train sequence where Peter removes his mask before a crowd of civilians who rally to protect his secret. Later writers of comics, inspired by the effect of this scene and driven by a desire to write in a more cinematic style actually brought this in comics, with the result that in Ultimate Spider-Man (where write Brian Michael Bendis openly acknowledged its influence), Peter's secret identity becomes constantly exposed and widely known despite the fact that in the original comics, it was remarkably well-preserved. This carried over in The Amazing Spider-Man Series and to a slightly lesser extent Spider-Man: Homecoming.
  • Made of Iron: Spidey is a given; his powers allow him to shrug off huge amounts of punishment. With the amount of blows to the head Spidey takes, and then completely shrugs off, throughout the series, you'd almost think he had a spider's exoskeleton too! But especially notable is Ock in the second film. He's an out-of-shape scientist who shouldn't be standing after one of the super-strong Spider-Man's punches. Even if Spidey pulls his punches, Ock takes a web-slung bag of coins to the face at one point without a mark to show for it, and also keeps fighting after being slammed through the floor when Spidey catapults himself from the roof.
  • Marquee Alter Ego: Spider-Man's mask being destroyed, Venom removing his.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Harry is convinced throughout all three films that Spider-Man "killed" his father and even takes up his New Goblin persona to avenge his father's death, when in reality, his father accidentally got himself impaled by his own glider. His vendetta against was entirely pointless.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black:
    • Spider-Man does wear a red-and-blue costume in this trilogy, but the colors are a little darker and more muted. In addition, the costume emphasizes thick black webline patterns across the red part of his suit (his face and gloves), whereas in the comics, the lines were thinner. The thickness of these web-lines mirrors the thick font of the Spider-Man logo (which later became the Sony PlayStation font). Later versions, such as The Amazing Spider-Man Series and Spider-Man: Homecoming, went with thinner web-lines on the red area, and those costumes came off as brighter in comparison to the first one.
    • Averted with the Green Goblin; his costume and suit is a full-body bright emerald green with a mask with golden yellow lenses, far brighter than his appearance in the comics, which has him dress in moss-green and dark purple with normal eyes. Notably the muted nature of Spider-Man's costume gets offset in the fights with the Goblin since the bright primary colors (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow) pops out during the action.
    • Dr. Octopus' classic look is of a scientist in a white labcoat, laboratory goggles, and silver armatures sticking out of his body (which is how he looks in the first Tritium experiment scene). As Doc Ock, he wears chic sunglasses, a dark Badass Longcoat and his arms are ugly dirt covered metal appendages with red sensor lights sticking out of them.
    • In Spider-Man 3, Harry Osborn is "the New Goblin" is primarily black, with only a few very dark green highlights. Peter's Black Suit is a very dark grey version of his regular costume, instead of the pitch black suit with big bright white spider on the chest and back from the comics. The same suit transfers to Venom. Averted with Flint Marko/Sandman, who wears the classic green pinstriped T-Shirt.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Peter gets a Shirtless Scene once a movie. Harry gets one in the third.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Mary Jane Watson. The "kiss in the rain" scene is very iconic due to Dunst's attire and... reaction with the water.
  • Mythology Gag: The old animated series theme pops up being played by street performers in multiple movies.
  • Never My Fault: Harry and Eddie Brock. It's always Spider-Man's fault that everything bad happened to them, even (or rather especially) when it should be their own fault.
  • Nice Guy / Nice Girl: Ben and May Parker are this, respectively.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Mary Jane, oddly enough. In an early scene in the first movie, she expresses that she loves creepy, disgusting spiders.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Green Goblin is on the receiving end of this from Spidey at the climax of the first movie.
  • No Sympathy: Mary Jane rather infamously gives this to Peter throughout the second movie. She gives him some What the Hell, Hero? treatment for repeatedly missing her play — sure, she doesn't know that he's Spider-Man (yet, though at the end she does say she thinks she knew, which actually makes her previous behavior even worse); however, not only does she indeed know that he's borderline impoverished and busy fighting an uphill battle trying to juggle work and college (even one of which, realistically, would make it pretty difficult for anyone to be able to go to such a high-class event), but he actually does manage to make it anyway at one point (only to be denied entry due to being too late to be seated) in front of an usher who could easily verify his whereabouts for MJ.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The trailer songs.
  • Once per Episode: Let's see...
  • Parental Substitute: Uncle Ben and Aunt May are this to Peter Parker.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Seeing how the first film came out less than a year after 9/11, note  the films have scenes of Spidey standing in front of giant American Flags and New Yorkers saying things like "You can't mess with us, this is America!". By 3, many critics and audiences felt that the patriotism had become a little excessive.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: J. Jonah Jameson and his assistant Hoffman. Also Peter's landlord and his daughter.
  • Poor Communication Kills: For some strange reason, Peter was never able to tell Harry that his father was impaled by his own glider. At the end of the trilogy, Harry finally learns it from his butler, who is revealed to have known about it since Norman's death and never said a word. Although he might have just been a hallucination representing Harry's "good side"...
  • Posthumous Character: Uncle Ben and Norman Osborn manage to appear in all three films, despite both being killed off in the first.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Various elements of the Spider-Man mythology are altered to make a more straightforward narrative. The power-giving spider was genetically altered rather than randomly irradiated, and Peter's web slinging was made into part of his mutation rather than being an advanced mechanical device created by a teenager. Spidey's habit of quipping during battle was simplified, usually one or two before and one or two after it's over, since it's difficult to use Talking Is a Free Action. For sheer longevity, Mary Jane was the most well-known love interest among casual fans but incorporated the Girl Next Door qualities of Gwen Stacy to simplify her and Peter's history (in the comics, MJ showed Hidden Depths by grieving with Peter after Gwen's death, which is what brings them together).
  • Previously on…: The opening credits of the succeeding films feature a Disney Acid Sequence prologue that recaps the previous one(s) before the movie starts.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Elizabeth Banks (Betty Brant) and Ted Raimi (Ted Hoffman), both of whom are recurring characters since the first film, are finally added to the OBB in the third.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The second and third movies have Octavius and Harry realize their mistakes and ultimately sacrifice themselves to repair them. Octavius drowns the proto-star and Harry dies protecting Peter from a fatal strike from Venom.
  • Reflective Eyes: The posters themselves use this as a reflection of who the villain of the movie was going to be.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Mary Jane Watson has many rich suitors (Flash Thompson, Harry Osborn, John Jameson III), but she chooses to be with the poor suitor Peter Parker because he's a good man who's the only one she's truly in love with.
  • Rousseau Was Right: All the villains in this film trilogy save Venom have backstories that make them varying degrees of Tragic Villains rather than straight up evil.
  • Running Gag: Jameson keeps yelling for "HOFFMAN!" who keeps appearing faster and faster as the movies progress, much to Jonah's confusion, eventually culminating in Jameson screaming his name while turning around, only to be face-to-face with Hoffman before he finished saying his name.
  • Save the Villain/Thou Shalt Not Kill: Peter Parker will always try to reason with his enemies instead of killing them.
  • Say My Name: The entire trilogy could be summarized through one name: "MARY JAAAAAAAAANE!"
  • Schizo Tech: We have Times Square circa Giuliani era and old computers but on the other hand, the Daily Bugle remains a major influential voice for the Print Media, and we hardly see anyone use the Internet (for instance, Peter in Spider-Man 1 looks up classifieds and old news advertisements to look up prices of cool cars and notices for wrestling). Peter likewise takes "pictures of Spider-Man" with a film camera despite digital and automatic cameras already becoming available at the time. Much of this is Grandfather Clause and Anachronism Stew due to being classic Spider-Man elements that Sam Raimi wanted to retain even if it no longer made sense. Notably, the later Spider-Man film versions, which put more focus on Setting Update, did away with it.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Recurring Characters Dr. Curt Connors, Mr. Ditkovich and his daughter Ursula have all made their debut in the second film.
  • Secret Identity: Peter's secret identity as Spider-Man.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: All three movies remove the villain while technically keeping the main character's rule against killing: The Green Goblin is Hoist by His Own Petard (impaled by his own glider as per the comics); Doctor Octopus and Harry Osborn die in a Redemption Equals Death; and Eddie Brock kills himself by trying to re-bond with the symbiote as Peter throws one of Harry's pumpkin bombs to destroy it. The death of the burglar in the first film may also count as this.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Peter opening his shirt like Superman.
    • Doc Ock climbing NY buildings like King Kong.
    • "Symbiote Night Fever".
    • Shouting "Shazam!!" and "Up, up and away, web!" in the first movie, which was an ad-lib by Maguire. Also, Aunt May tells Peter that he's "not Superman."
    • The novelizations of all three films have Peter reference Wile E. Coyote regarding his web-swinging.
    • When Jonah and Hoffman are discussing what to call Octavius for the paper headline:
      Jonah: What are we gonna call this guy?
      Hoffman: "Doctor Octopus?"
      Jonah: That's crap.
      Hoffman "Science Squid"?
      Jonah: Crap.
      Hoffman: "Doctor Strange"?
      Jonah: That's pretty good... But it's taken!
    • Peter's landlord and his daughter, the Ditkovich's.
    • Before the Sadistic Choice:
    • One of the surgeons trying to operate on Octopus raises an arm holding a chainsaw a là Ash in Army of Darkness. In the same scene, we get a POV shot from one of the tentacles as it slithers through the air just like the unseen force in the Evil Dead movies.
  • Soft Glass: Shards of glass rarely give more than a few minor scratches. Averted with the death of Rosie Octavius in the second movie.
  • Something Person: Spider-Man and Sandman.
  • Snark Knight: While not making as many jokes as other versions of the character, Spider-Man does throw out a few in each movie at his opponents' expense. One of the common criticisms of the trilogy is the lack of combat banter.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Played with. The threat between each of the villains tends to vary in terms of physical fighting capability and actual potential threat.
    • The Green Goblin is about on par with Spider-Man in terms of physical capabilities. Most of their fights end inconclusively with the Goblin giving him the biggest No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of all the villains (making the hero into a bloody mess). However, Peter gets the upper hand on him, most notably in the climax where he is shown pummeling him with ease after he regains his resolve. Goblin doesn't really have an Evil Plan and mostly content with causing general mayhem and chaos, or somehow getting Peter to "join him" (to do what is not made clear). What makes him dangerous is his unpredictability and his knowledge of Peter's Secret Identity to attack his loved ones.
    • Despite landing many blows on him, Spider-Man is unable to defeat Doctor Octopus in a straight up fight and they are about even. However, he is arguably a bigger threat than the Goblin due to the destructive capability of his fusion reactor.
    • In comparison to his father, Harry is not nearly the same level of threat; despite catching him off guard a few times, Peter defeats him in both of their fights. In contrast, Venom and Sandman are both individually more powerful than Peter and more of a threat due to their team-up.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Unlike in the comics, both Gwen Stacy and her father survive in this film series.
  • Spider-Sense: After the first movie it's just implied, but Spider-Man reacts far too quickly to not be in play.
  • Spontaneous Crowd Formation: In the first film, they help Spidey by throwing insults and debris at the Green Goblin. The second film plays on this, by having the crowd stand up to Doctor Octopus, only for him to easily brush them aside, snatch the defeated Spidey and carry him off.
  • Starving Student: Peter Parker, particularly in the second movie which has him struggling through college without money and his superhero identity compounding his hardships.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye:
    • Spider-Man does it a few times in the first movie. Most notably was when he somehow leapt from the ceiling, out the window and ended up on the underside of the balcony in mere seconds, all without alerting the attention of Norman Osborn, who was in the room at the time and suspected Spider-Man of being there.
    • He also does it when bringing the body of Osborn back home. Harry looks away for about a second to grab a gun from a drawer, and Spidey is gone when he looks up.
    • In Spider-Man 2, Doctor Octopus appears to do this after completing a deal with Harry Osborn, taking a sphere full of tritium with him. Though initially surprised, Harry does manage to catch a glimpse of Doc Ock on his way out, moving at a normal (and noisy) pace. Somehow, he managed to move about twenty feet in the span of two seconds without managing to make a sound, before deciding to slow down a bit.
    • In the third film, MJ walks into her tiny apartment, and walks toward the answering machine, which is near an open window through which light is coming. Then Harry ambushes her, grabs her by the throat, and pushes her up against the wall. Given that James Franco is a shade under six feet, and the character is riding a large hoverboard with glowy bits, one wonders how MJ failed to notice him.
    • Played with later before Harry and Peter's fight. The camera follows Harry as he fixes himself a drink, pans down to show him add olives, and pans back up to show Peter standing on the balcony. If you listen closely, you can hear the distinctive sound of Peter shooting a web line, and Harry, with his Goblin serum-enhanced senses, likely heard it too.
      Harry: [not even bothering to turn around] Would you like a drink?
  • Street Musician: In the first, a blond guitar player in the New York subway. In the second, a violinist. Each plays their own version of the Spider-Man 60s TV show theme.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Both 1 and 2 have Innocent Bystanders coming to Spidey's aid. More emphasized in 2, when the people on the train see him without his mask and comment on how young he is, then try to protect him from Doc Ock.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Spidey's action scenes are usually accompanied by his distinctive leitmotif. The villains also get their own theme music. In climax of the third one, Spider-Man's theme gets very noticeably cut off whenever the villains get the upper hand.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Norman, after taking the Goblin serum, goes from mild-Jerkass to full-Jerkass. Harry Osborn and Mary Jane in the second movie. Peter in the third movie. The latter three eventually get over it though.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: When you watch the trailer after watching the movie, it's impressive how much plot is given. The most egregious example has to be showing Harry pulling off Peter's mask in the second film.
  • Tragic Villain: Most of the major villains:
    • Doc Ock, a patient teacher and loving husband who inadvertently caused the gruesome death of his wife when his experiment went horribly wrong. After crossing to the dark side for much of the movie, he chooses to sacrifice himself to save the city in the end.
    • And Eddie Brock: despite being The Sociopath and a slimeball, his downward spiral into madness that ends up consuming him when he bonds with the Symbiote is just sad, and he did have scenes that were cut that painted him in a more pitiful light. Also Sandman and Harry, who are on the Anti-Villain side of things. Really, the only villains without any tragedy to them are Dennis Carradine, the " Green Goblin" Split Personality, the Artificial Intelligence of Ock's "tentacles", and the alien symbiote.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The films revolve heavily around Peter, Mary Jane, and Harry's dynamic.

"Who am I? I'm Spider-Man."


Video Example(s):


Spider-Man vs Sandman

Under the influence of the Symbiote and tempted by his murder of Ben Parker, Peter Parker confronts Flint Marko in the subway tunnels, hellbent on avenging his uncle.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouKilledMyFather

Media sources: