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  • Acceptable Targets: Ben notes earlier in the film that he was laid off from his plant technician job because the corporation he worked for was streamlining to increase profits. With that in mind, one is left with a feeling of satisfaction later on when Norman Osborn puts on his Green Goblin suit and disintegrates the OsCorp board for pushing a merger through without him.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Does the wrestling promoter refuse to give Peter his $3,000 because he's a selfish Jerkass who never intended to honor his deal, or because Peter misunderstood the rules of the contest and didn't realize that it wasn't supposed to be a real fight? If the wrestling league was just looking for a new amateur fighter who could put on a good show for the audience and act as a Heel to Bonesaw, it's understandable that the promoter might feel betrayed when Peter (who clearly isn't a wrestling fan) seriously injured his most popular fighter in a bout that was supposed to be a scripted performance. The novelization of the film seems to support the latter theory, as in it the promoter has an additional line where he angrily tells Peter, "You made my best fighter look like a little girl out there!"
  • Awesome Music:
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    • Danny Elfman's memorable score. Special mention goes to the main theme and "Costume Montage/Web Practice" among others.
    • In a more mainstream example, Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott's "Hero" was everywhere when the movie came out in 2002. Even the most devout Nickelback haters have been known to admit how awesome it is, and of the songs provided for the three movies in the trilogy this is the most easily-remembered.
  • Evil Is Cool: Willem Dafoe as Osborn/Goblin is a straight example, he's Creepy Awesome and more entertaining than the other villains.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: The Green Goblin's costume got this reaction from some fans, or at least those who know the character from the comics. It's less divisive to the audience who came to the character from the movies. Ironically for most examples of this trope, the suit itself is actually fine, it's only the questionable mask that makes him look like a Power Rangers villain.
  • First Installment Wins:
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    • Some fans consider this film to be superior to both Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 because of its simplicity, for the iconic rendition of the origin in the first half, as well as for Willem Dafoe's iconic turn as the Green Goblin, his fight scenes with Spider-Man, and for the chemistry between Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Most of the iconic memes, lines, and scenes of the entire trilogy are there in the first film, most notably the much parodied-much homaged upside-down kiss.
    • Spider-Man 1 had a higher gross commercially than its sequel. And as of July 2019, it still holds the record for the highest US domestic Gross at $403 million dollars. Adjusted for inflation to 2019, that comes to around $629 million dollars, putting its gross ahead of any Spider-Man film in the domestic market, whether it's the Garfield movies or the MCU (which overall, on account of lack of international distribution fees and other agreements and so on, constitutes the lion's share of a movie's profitability).
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  • Foe Yay: Spidey and the Green Goblin, though only on Gobby's end of things, the creepy rooftop conversation between them where Goblin pitches his We Can Rule Together offer is filled with this.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The original teaser trailer featured bank robbers escaping in a helicopter, which Spider-Man then catches in a large web between the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. The trailer was pulled after the events of 9/11. However, the reflection in Spider-Man's eyes with the Twin Towers was still left in.
  • Ham and Cheese: With a stupid-looking, limiting costume, (at least for some) the best thing Willem Dafoe could possibly do as the Green Goblin is go completely over the top. It worked. Likewise it helped that Dafoe plays Norman as a staid, calm, and jaded middle-aged man, which underscores how drastic and scary the Goblin persona is.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the Hilarious Outtakes, J. K. Simmons mispronounces "Spider-Man" as "Piderman".
    • The film features Norman Osborn trying to get the military to invest in his Super Serum to create Super Soldiers. A competing company is instead proposing Powered Armor. Then a few years later at the end of The Incredible Hulk cue Tony Stark lecturing to General Ross about how he'd been telling them that Powered Armor was a better idea than using Super Serum to create a Supersoldier. The big difference being which method the military brass in each movie was in favor of.
      • For bonus points, both Bruce Banner and Norman Osborn develop split personalities with a green color motif as a result of the super serums they receive.
      • The rivalry between Oscorp (a company attempting to create super soldiers) and Quest Aerospace (an aeronautical research company) could be seen as foreshadowing of the ideological conflict between Captain America (a super soldier) and Iron Man (an engineer who built a flying suit of armor) in Civil War.
    • One of Peter's black-and-red costume concept later served as an inspiration to Miles Morales' Spider-Man.
    • When Spider-Man was originally released back in 2002, it wound up setting new box office records and broke several records that the first Harry Potter film had previously set just six months prior. Ten years later in 2012, another hotly anticipated film based on a Marvel Comic was released and likewise also topped several records that a Harry Potter film from the previous year had just set.
    • Bruce Campbell as a wrestling announcer saying that the nickname "The Human Spider" sucks is funny considering it later becomes the nickname for UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.
    • As an alternative to "Green Goblin," Hoffman suggests "Green Meanie." Some fifteen years later, there's a costumed slasher who goes by that alias in Scream Queens (2015).
    • Fans have always compared a superhero Nicktoon series that premiered two years later to the Spider-Man franchise, but so many of the elements responsible for the resemblance were used in Raimi's first film that watching it after 2004 produces a downright eerie feeling of deja vu — you half-expect Peter to tell the rich supervillain who wants to be his father figure, "Dude, you are one seriously crazed up fruit loop!"
    • "That's a cute outfit, did your husband give it to you?" has been invoked in the Fandom Rivalry between Raimi and MCU fans, since the MCU Spider-Man got his first high-tech suits from Tony Stark/Iron Man.
    • During the scene in which Peter says Jameson doesn't trust anyone, Jameson replies that he "trusts his barber". Come Spider-Man: Far From Home, MCU Jameson, again played by J. K. Simmons, is almost completely bald. Seems his barber wasn't all that trustworthy.
  • Informed Wrongness: Peter Parker was supposed to be in the wrong for letting the robber go instead of trying to stop him, which led to the death of Uncle Ben. However, this falls apart in the context of the situation. Not only Peter was just leaving after being supposedly scammed, he was effectively asked by a security guard to stop an armed robber. Any sensible normal teenager, even one with fighting experience, would have stepped aside out of common sense like he did, especially since it's not a smart idea to tackle someone with a loaded gun that could end getting you or the people near you shot and killed.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • This image of Peter in his first Spider-Man outfit has become involved in a meme where he is photoshopped in various recent events, typically tragic ones.
    • Peter putting on his glasses has become a fairly popular meme typically used to express one's opinion on a certain subject.
    • "You're on the wrong side of history, Spider-Man."
    • "You know, I'm something of a scientist myself!" Explanation 
    • "The ad said 3000." Explanation 
    • "I missed the part where that's my problem" Explanation 
    • "BONESAWWWWWW ISSSSS READYYYYY!"
  • Moral Event Horizon:
  • Narm Charm:
    • The Green Goblin costume really does work well in key scenes. For instance, the golden yellow eyes especially in the Aunt May prayer scene, where the costume really does make Goblin look like a demonic figure.
    • A lot of Green Goblin's dialogue is overwrought, clunky, and excessively theatrical. Willem Dafoe makes it hilarious and terrifying.
  • Newer Than They Think: When people read the comic Ultimate Spider-Man, they may feel that it was based on the film franchise. Actually, the comic is from 2000, before the film, and established its style from the get go.
  • Older Than They Think: Let's see — a villain without any grand plan, who just "does things", whose climactic plot involves a Sadistic Choice that forces the hero to choose between pairs of civilians, whose main dynamic with the hero is to convert him to subscribe to his nihilistic worldview, who in one crucial scene dresses up in woman's clothing to terrifying effect — a lot of the shtick practiced by Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight is already there in the first film in its second half. The fact the Green Goblin in the comics is often seen as Marvel's Alternate Company Equivalent to Joker only cements this further (likewise, Willem Dafoe was one of the contenders to play Joker in Tim Burton's Batman).
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Bonesaw McGraw is well remembered by a lot of people. Being played by "Macho Man" Randy Savage himself certainly helped in that regard.
    • In the climax, two men stand out among the crowd that pelt the Goblin with debris so as to save Spider-Man, MJ, and a group of kids with their counselor in a cable car. One of them shouts, "Leave Spider-Man alone! You're going to pick on a guy saving a bunch of kids?!" and another hits Goblin with a pipe shouting, "You mess with Spidey, you mess with New York!" Even more awesome is that the Goblin is too far to retaliate and stunned at how basic human decency won out over Jameson's Smear Campaign. They both later appear in the sequel, playing different roles where the first guy notes that Spider-Man is no older than his son.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Downplayed, but the tie-in game was regarded as a generally decent action game, brought down by an awful camera system and an overly short length.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Future Oscar winner Octavia Spencer as the receptionist at the wrestling event who initially laughs off Peter's desire to wrestle Bonesaw.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: The film complicated Spider-Man's origins by giving him a "love motive" in that Peter's inspired to wrestle and make money to impress Mary-Jane, when in the comics, Peter Parker took up wrestling for fame and to make money for his aunt and uncle. This combines his character arc of Working-Class Hero with the Give Geeks a Chance romantic dreamer that he established with characters like Liz and Betty in the Ditko run.
  • Signature Scene: The Upside-Down Kiss. Alongside that, there's Peter's wrestling match sequence, Green Goblin's first fight with Spider-Man in the parade, J. Jonah Jameson's opening scene, the bridge scene, and the final fight between Norman and Peter in the greenhouse. The montage of Peter drawing up costume ideas on a piece of paper is also well-known and often-referenced in parodies, and later Spider-Man works (for instance Spider-Man (PS4) pans over a book of sketches in the opening cutscene).
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • As awesome as the effects generally are, there were a handful of instances where the effects team used obvious short-cuts, most notably with the rather amorphous and undetailed CG model of Spidey used in some of the instances of him swinging through the city.
    • Time has been very unkind to most of the film's visual effects work; not only with the cartoonish CGI models of Spidey and Goblin used for stunts, but also the incredibly fake CGI webbing and some pretty poor chroma key (green/blue screen) work with obvious halos around foreground objects. It's especially jarring when compared to the sequels and Andrew Garfield movies, which have much better VFX.
  • Values Dissonance: During his fight with Bonesaw, Peter rather tastelessly says "That's a cute outfit, did your husband give it to you?"; a homophobic line that no superhero film would ever let their main character say nowadays.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: While Willem Dafoe's performance as the Green Goblin was widely acclaimed, his actual appearance in the goofy-looking armor was anything but. However, at some point in the production, his character was going to be depicted by a hybrid of prosthetic makeup and an animatronic mask. Some feel it would have been much scarier than the infamous "Power Rangers Goblin", whereas others feel it would have glossed straight into the Uncanny Valley (which, in itself, may have been the point). Check it out for yourself here.
    • Notably, the best thing Tobey Maguire had to say about the suit in a behind the scenes interview was that "there was room for a lot more to go wrong with the Green Goblin's costume."
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Surprisingly, this was the initial reaction when Tobey Maguire was cast as Spider-Man himself, as fans thought he was too "doughy" for the role (which he was at first, but months of long, hard training can change a man). He is in fact a perfect fit for the original lanky and scrawny Steve Ditko design of Peter Parker.
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