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The film

  • Accidental Innuendo: Peter telling Eddie to get rid of the symbiote comes off as rather Ho Yay-ish when heard out of context:
    Peter: Eddie, the suit! You gotta take it off!
    Eddie: Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you?
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • How much was "Emo Peter's" behavior the symbiote and how much was it actually him? While the symbiote was indeed negatively influencing Peter's behavior, a lot of that was behavior normal Peter had been Innocently Insensitively displaying earlier in the movie, implying that the symbiote wasn't turning him evil so much as amplifying negative behaviors he already had, bringing out his dark side and turning that Innocent Insensitivity into outright callousness and pettiness.
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    • "Emo Peter's" behavior as a whole: Bad? Or a mixed bag that wasn't worth what it was doing to his personality? As explained in Misaimed Fandom below, some of Peter's behavior under the symbiote's influence does score him some genuine wins, but they were all things Peter could have accomplished without the angry outbursts, callousness, arrogance, and physical violence that came with them.
    • Was Mary Jane's decision to break up with Peter entirely forced on her by Harry? Or did some part of her genuinely want to end it? While it's implied that Harry forced her to break up with Peter, she and Peter had been having serious problems as a couple throughout the film, and the reasons she gave Peter for wanting to end it did have elements of truth to them. However, even if some part of her did want to end it with Peter, the pissed off look she gives Harry after the breakup indicates that she at least did not like being coerced into it by a jealous third-party to hurt Peter.
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    • The symbiote alien itself. The fact that it lacks a voice, but clearly has intelligence, leaves its thought process and motivations vastly open to interpretation. Its lack of voice could suggest a very young (or, at the very least, primitive) symbiote. It may not even be truly evil or malicious; merely doing what it knows: bonding to a host (something that could also be vital to the symbiote's survival). Yes, when it bonds to Peter, he becomes a much more blatant jerkwad towards others; but, as noted above, many of those behaviors were already exhibited by Peter. Dr. Connors even states that the symbiote amplifies certain characteristics of its host, not that it creates them. Later, it bonds to Eddie Brock (someone who is clearly much worse than Peter) and amplifies all of his negative traits; again, potentially through no malintent of its own. When it's separated from Eddie and transforms into a towering Blob Monster, it may just be throwing a huge temper tantrum.
  • Awesome Music:
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    • Christopher Young's rendition of Danny Elfman's theme for the film is excellent, being darker and more dramatic than the original, particularly after the 1:20 mark.
    • Sandman's theme is widely regarded as a beautiful piece of music.
    • Venom's theme. It's a brilliant dark parallel to Spider-Man's Leitmotifnote  - while Spidey's theme is heroic, often having a sense of tranquility and tragedy reflecting his Dark and Troubled Past, Venom's theme is dark and villainous, with a sense of anger and detest slowly rising, before culminating in a fit of rage - reflecting Venom's hatred towards Spider-Man after he humiliated Eddie and rejected the symbiote.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The dance scene. Or anything that Emo Peter does between Dr. Connors trying to tell him the effects that bonding with the Symbiote might have on him and him striking MJ at the Jazz Club.
  • Broken Base:
    • Want to start an argument? Ask if Peter's behavior under the symbiote's influence is bad or brilliant. Defenders claim that he's supposed to be super lame and just thinks he's being awesome, while detractors cite the fact that the majority of characters respond positively to Peter's change like he's actually being cool, and also point out that the way Peter acts under the symbiote's influence is not true to the comics portrayal of Peter under the symbiote's influence and thus shouldn't be acting this way at all. The editor's cut is also controversial in this regard as some hate that the "Emo Peter" montage was kept in at all, while others appreciate that it was given a darker context since it now immediately follows Peter throwing a bomb at Harry and hideously scarring him, emphasizing his sociopathic callousness as much as his geekiness.
    • Also, the issue of whether the film has "too many villains". While pointed out by most to be the single biggest flaw in the movie, some critics have argued that, with the film serving as the conclusion of Harry's character arc, requiring him to commit a Heel–Face Turn to join with Peter, neither Sandman nor Venom alone would be a sufficient threat to oppose both Spider-Man and Neo Goblin, with the final 2-on-2 battle providing the best balance; in a sense, the film doesn't actually have three villains, but two villains and one secondary hero who fights against the lead for some of it. Additionally, several well-received Marvel superhero films that came after this one also featured three or more supervillains,note  so it's not like there was anything wrong with the concept itself. On the other hand, people still argue the film is still overcrowded, with neither Harry, Brock or Flint Marko given the full time they needed i.e good idea, bad execution.
    • Changing who killed Uncle Ben (and how it happened) can be seen at striking at the heart of Spidey's origin and character. While some miss that and others say it gives a new angle on his characterization.
    • Was Mary Jane justified to be angry at Peter for kissing Gwen since she stresses that it was "their kiss", or is she being a hypocrite considering she also kissed John the same way in the previous film? People who dislike Mary Jane believe in the latter and think that Peter was just trying to put on a good show to the public which isn't different from when Mary Jane might kiss a co-star, while others feel that it's justified since the context between Mary Jane kissing John and Peter kissing Gwen was completely different as Peter did publicly cheat on Mary Jane. Her kissing Harry later in the film also fuels this debate.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: Even people who didn't like the film agree that Thomas Haden Church did a great job as Sandman.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • While watching the symbiote take over his mind and making him turn into a jerk is heartbreaking, watching Peter stand up to those who gave him a hard time in the previous films is pretty satisfying to watch, especially the scene where Peter beats up Harry and tells him the truth about how his father never loved him.
    • Eddie Brock getting fired and blacklisted by a very-much-in-the-right J. Jonah Jameson is one of the highlights of the movie.
  • Character Perception Evolution: A variation of this trope as when this film first released, people hated "Emo Peter" due to how awkwardly cringe-y Peter was while under the symbiote suit, and many people labeled him as a Memetic Loser. Years later, thanks to the Bully Maguire meme, people started to like "Emo Peter" a lot more as he basically went from being a Memetic Loser to a Memetic Badass.
  • Character Rerailment: While under the symbiote's influence, Raimi's portrayal of Peter Parker is somewhat more in-line with The Amazing Spider-Man comics portrayal, as his portrayal as an Extreme Doormat is removed completely, making him show more backbone against people who gang up on him like giving Harry Osborn a piece of his mind and making Jameson give him a higher salary. He also tends to have moments of raising his voice against people, which was common for the character in those comics, especially whenever he raised his voice against J. Jonah Jameson.
  • Contested Sequel: One of the most definitive examples of this trope. It became the highest-grossing Spider-Man movie (mostly on the backs of the good-will of the first two films, whereas the bad-will of this film cast a pall on the Spider-Man reboots that came afterwards) until 2019, when it was dethroned by Spider-Man: Far From Home. Its overall reception from critics was mixed-to-positive, but it still earned lots of dissers, particularly among the fanbase. In general, most can agree it's the weakest installment of the trilogy, but the divide lies in whether or not it's because the quality is actually "bad." Many people felt that Harry Osborn and Sandman were impressive in their brief showings while others felt the stories and plots for both were wasted.
  • Critical Backlash: There's been a recent backlash against the film's negative reputation among comic book fans with an increasing number of people saying it's got some very good, even great, elements and is overall a fairly solid film that was simply overstuffed and suffered from interference that the others didn't. In particular, the film's Central Theme about choosing between either revenge or forgiveness has been praised as emotionally poignant whilst also providing an appropriate send-off for the trilogy and Peter's maturation as a hero.
  • Critical Dissonance: While it actually was divisive among critics, you'd be surprised that it has a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, which means that most reviews were mixed to positive, with even the top critics giving it a 47% which is close to an even split. However, based on the hate it gets from fans, you'd think its score would be much, much lower.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Editor's Cut places Peter's infamous walk right after Peter blows Harry up with a goblin bomb. The sociopathic disregard for brutally scarring his best friend is equals horrifying and hilarious.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Ursula, to the point a number of people were rooting for an Ursula/Peter romance, as she's the only woman in the third movie who loves Peter just for being Peter.
  • Escapist Character: In a weird way, Symbiote-influenced Peter, as noted in Misaimed Fandom. In-universe, it's supposed to have a negative effect on his attitude, and people on the street see him as lame and cringe-worthy, but he accomplished a lot of things for himself during that period, namely standing up to his landlord, wooing his daughter, getting the better of a vengeful Harry, exposing Eddie Brock as a fraud, and getting a cushy job with double pay from Jameson. Many nerds like him would love to have that level of confidence in real life. This is a large part of the reason why Bully Maguire became a meme years later.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Sandman. He's masterfully-CGI'd, has a great soundtrack, and is much more complex outside of "mook robbing banks who got accidentally mutated". Many think this movie would've been way better if it was just about him and they saved Venom for the sequel.
    • Although Venom is more divisive than anything, the Symbiote itself can actually count. Its animation is amazing and it's a source of Creepy Awesome, and the film's Black Suit is a very popular take on the costume.
  • Fan Nickname: Symbiote-influenced Peter Parker is actually not officially called "Emo Peter" in the movie itself; it was a name coined by the movie's detractors, as a way of mocking him. He later got another nickname, "Bully Maguire" after he underwent Memetic Badassery.
  • Fountain of Memes: Everything Peter says while under the influence of the symbiote has become quite quotable in the years since this movie has passed.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: 62% of the film's profits were made overseas rather than in its home country, in contrast to the previous two where only 50% and 52% respectively came from other countries.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: This film subverted the I Let Gwen Stacy Die trope, with this version of the character being one of the few versions of the character to live prior to the debut of Spider-Gwen. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 however tragically plays this trope straight, and it is made worse as unlike in this film Peter and Gwen are deeply in love. And then Spider-Man: No Way Home has both versions of Peter meet, with the TASM2 Peter having been left broken by his failure.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • Sandman's apology to Peter Parker in the end becomes this in light of the film's Vindicated by History status and fans becoming sympathetic to Raimi considering its Troubled Production and that he regularly apologizes for the film's shortcomings. Many memes have been made replacing Sandman with Raimi and the fans forgiving him just as Peter Parker did. Some go further and say there's nothing to apologize for.
    • The scene where Peter picks up his original costume after ditching the black suit to become Spider-Man becomes sweeter to watch following Tobey Maguire's return in Spider-Man: No Way Home. There's also Peter's "They love me" remark earlier in the film as Maguire's aforementioned return (along with his successor's) was the most rumored and anticipated heading into that film.
    • After attempting to extract vengeance on Flint Marko for his role in Uncle Ben's death, Aunt May gives Peter a speech about how the latter wouldn't have wanted him to live a second with revenge in his heart, as it has the potential to be a poison that can turn into something ugly, and that it isn't up to [Peter] to decide whether someone lives or dies. In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter ends up stopping his MCU counterpart from murdering the Green Goblin in cold blood out of pure rage and grief from losing his version of May, clearly desperate to stop his younger variant from going down that path. Thus, he ends up coming around to his own aunt's philosophy about killing others.
  • He's Just Hiding: Some people theorized this about Eddie for a few reasons. The first reason being that there was no body left after he got blown up by the Pumpkin Bomb, which was evidenced by the first movie where their victims were at least reduced to skeletons. The second reason was Sony's plans for a Venom spin-off dating back to 2007, with some believing that Topher Grace was going to reprise his role. However, considering that No Way Home brought Tom Hardy's Venom over to the MCU instead of Grace's iteration, it seems less likely.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In this movie, Spider-Man ends up gunning for Flint Marko due to mistakenly believing that he intentionally murdered Uncle Ben, when the truth was that he only killed him by accident due to impulsively squeezing the trigger of his gun after being startled by his partner. Fast-forward to Spider-Man: No Way Home, and the roles are reversed, in that Flint briefly believes MCU Spider-Man suddenly kills Electro due to some quick action and Poor Communication Kills from the MCU's Peter.
  • Improved by the Re-Cut: The film had an altered yet shorter and improved version called Spider-Man 3: Editor's Cut with restored music and better focus on character development. It reinforces the belief many hold that there is a good movie buried inside here, it just got bogged down with all the Executive Meddling.
  • Informed Wrongness: Peter calling Eddie out on using faked photos of Spider-Man was meant to be viewed as something wrong Peter did under the symbiote suit's influence. However, given how Eddie was using faked photos, many fans felt Peter was very much justified in calling Eddie out.
  • Jerkass Woobie: To an extent, Eddie Brock. While he was a pretty sleazy guy and an entitled Stalker with a Crush towards Gwen, the way he begged Peter not to expose him as a fraud did seem genuine. He seemed just as genuinely crushed when he saw Gwen on Peter's arm later, and he's genuinely choking up when he prays to God to kill Peter after all this. And while Eddie had clearly been trying to muscle Peter out of a job, he only faked his photo of black suit Spider-Man because Peter (while in the black suit) sabotaged him by destroying his camera, with which he had gotten a legit picture. Eddie Brock wasn't a good person by any means, but the way Peter ruthlessly dealt with him under the symbiote's influence turned Eddie into a bigger problem than he otherwise would have been. After Eddie becomes Venom and asks if Peter remembered what he did to him, the way Eddie says it, again, comes off like he's genuinely holding back tears. Doesn't excuse him trying to kill both Peter and Mary Jane though.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: For all the film's problems, Thomas Haden Church was widely praised as a perfectly cast Flint Marko, looking exactly like Sandman and bringing the necessary pathos and danger to the part. Even putting aside Haden Church's performance, the character is often regarded as one of the best written parts of the movie, particularly for his origin scene. The biggest complaint against Sandman is that he should've been the Big Bad instead of Venom.
  • Memetic Badass: Emo Peter was for a long time seen as a Memetic Loser. Almost a decade later, however, Aldo Jones reintroduced Emo Peter as Bully Maguire, a merciless bully and One-Man Army who can stop anyone and everyone with his pelvic thrusts and other dance moves. People also started to focus on Peter roasting Harry after soundly beating the shit out of him, and ruining Eddie's life to the point that he prayed for Peter's death.
  • Memetic Bystander: In the jazz club, there was a bystander sitting behind Peter and Gwen who suspiciously looks a lot like Willem Dafoe. Although it's confirmed that it wasn't Dafoe, the man has spawned several Epileptic Trees that the Green Goblin is alive all along.
  • Memetic Loser: This film has two major contenders for the spot. One is "emo" Peter Parker (aka Peter Parker under the symbiote's influence), mainly because of his cringeworthy... everything really, from his ridiculous new hairstyle to his laughable dance moves. The other contender is Eddie Brock, due to being a whiny loser Manchild in this adaptation, which is not helped by being nothing like his comic book counterpart physically either because he was played by Topher Grace. Surprisingly, the symbiote is the common denominator between these two doofuses, almost as if it has an affinity for memetic losers despite being Evil Is Cool on its own.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • The symbiote influenced Peter is supposed to be Peter Slowly Slipping Into Evil and the narm and lameness of "Emo Peter" is definitely an Intended Audience Reaction. But given that many audiences had grown fatigued over Raimi's portrayal of Peter as a serious Extreme Doormat Hurting Hero in the previous films (even if Maguire himself was praised for his performance and screen presence), the fact that the one time we see Peter acting somewhat closer to his more rounded comics' portrayal such as him talking back to his landlord and giving Harry Osborn a piece of his mind, it's shown as a case of a Symbiote turning him evil, made many audiences outright root for Peter in that scene for finally showing some backbone, while also making others cite the mixed nature of these scenes as indicative of Raimi's misreading of the character as a suffering superhero monk.
    • Many fans especially feel this way about Peter negotiating a higher salary from Jameson. In the comics this happened at the end of the Master Planner arc (considered among the all-time greatest stories in Spider-Man mythos), and it was portrayed as a Hell Yes moment. The movie makes it seem like this is his Start of Darkness even if what Peter is doing, calling out Eddie Brock for his unethical work and fighting against Jameson's exploitation, is entirely legitimate. Even Emo Peter's humiliation of Mary Jane which is called out in the film is something that some fans like owing to her Damsel Scrappy reputation and as a vent towards their non-functional relationship as a couple.
  • Misblamed: Venom's inclusion in this film, as well as his unpopular portrayal is often blamed on Sony Pictures for shoehorning him into it and making the villain characters feel cluttered as a result. But in actuality, while Sam Raimi didn't want Venom to be in this film, he did want three villains to star in it as the Vulture was originally going to appear in it until he was cut from it. The producer of the film, Avi Arad convinced Raimi to include Venom in the film despite Raimi disliking the character for his "lack of humanity" because Arad felt that Raimi was relying too much on his personal favorite Spider-Man villains and not enough on ones that modern fans were more interested in, which convinced Raimi to include Venom for the film. Due to Raimi's dislike and lack of info on the character, Venom's unpopular portrayal was all on Raimi's head and even openly admitted that his lack of passion for Venom was the result of his portrayal in the film.
    • Many fans also feel that Topher Grace receives an unfair amount of criticism for the film, with many arguing that he did the best with the material he was given, despite his character being too different from the comics (lacking the more complex motivations and notable redeeming features of the original) as well as fundamentally unlikable (being a sleazy Jerkass and a pathetic whiner who blames everyone else for his own wrongdoing). He was also clearly cast to be a parallel to Tobey Maguire physically, although more of a jerk, which Grace's performance, influencing his cadence and Deadpan Snarker tendencies from playing Eric Foreman helps a lot.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Venom crosses it when he mortally wounds Harry Osborn in an attack meant for Peter, and clearly not giving a shit as he tosses him aside.
  • Narm: Here.
  • Narm Charm: "Emo Peter" does have quite a few fans who genuinely enjoy Tobey's dorky, cocksure performance and find that the moments where he is serious are enough to make up for the comedic elements of him.
  • Older Than They Think: The portrayal of the symbiote as Peter's Superpowered Evil Side actually dates back to its appearance in the popular Spider-Man: The Animated Series, 12 years before this movie came out. The symbiote there did make its wearer increasingly arrogant, aggressive and violent.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Before the film's release, Stan Lee considered his cameo in the movie to be his personal favorite up to that point. In light of his passing, some fans have agreed that it's easily one of his most poignant.
    • This also applies to Venom, who appears in the movie for ten to fifteen minutes but does a lot in such a short time frame, not to mention that he has a memorable battle against Spider-Man.
    • Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy does a pretty good job despite having a character so underused she was almost entirely redundant. One gets the impression she could have been a great love interest had there not been a dozen other competing plotlines and characters.
    • A far more minor character, but the little boy who expresses a Girls Have Cooties reaction when Spider-Man kisses Gwen.
  • Presumed Flop: With people calling this film the one that killed the original series, one would think it didn't do well in the box office. The film was in fact the highest grossing in the trilogy. It only didn't get follow-ups because Sam Raimi tried to make up for the backlash in a possible fourth movie, but didn't manage to make it happen before the studio just decided to restart Spider-Man afresh.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: The film receives the most criticism on this count, since many fans felt that the second film was a fine conclusion to the romance. The fact that the film had three other major plotlines competing for screentime also caused problems. On the flip side, some thought the romance was better in the third film because it was more interesting to see Peter and MJ dealing with problems as a couple, rather than the first two's "Will They or Won't They?" drama that everyone knew the answer to.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Although being intentionally written to be a flawed and human character (much like Peter is) Mary Jane tends to get far more grief from certain fans even though literally every other character in the movie also makes bad and selfish choices. The whole point of the movie was that people need to forgive and understand each other, and the fact that Peter isn't very sensitive to her at the start.
  • The Scrappy: Harry's butler Bernard can be considered one, since it was revealed that not only did he know that Harry's father's death was an accident, but he didn't even bother telling Harry the truth until this film's climax for some reason. Unwitting Instigator of Doom right here, people! Of the ENTIRE. FRANCHISE. Though Word of God says he wasn't really there in that scene, and Harry was just hallucinating him.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Over the years, some fans have come to think of the movie as this, thanks to being a Fountain of Memes and its several unintentionally hilarious moments. However, as seen right below, there are some fans who think differently.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Although the movie has its fair share of problems, some fans have started to see it as this, contrasting So Bad, It's Good. Despite the obvious Narm, there are still some good scenes (the birth of Sandman and Spider-Man rejecting the Symbiote) that can match the bad ones, making it resemble this trope.
  • Special Effect Failure: In the final battle, it's clear that Mary Jane's terrified screams are recycled audio from the first film, as are Peter's cries of "Hang on, Mary Jane!" and "MARY JANE!"
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The section of James Brown's "Drive That Funky Soul" used for Peter's "cool" street strutting scene sounds like a variation on the classic 60's Spider-Man theme, which is probably the reason why they used it.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • A big sticking point for some fans, even if the character on the whole was praised, was the Retcon that made Sandman into Uncle Ben's killer. It's not the first time a superhero film did this (Tim Burton's Batman did the same to Joker, and it was criticized even then by many reviewersnote ) but many audiences felt it drastically undercut and ruined Peter's origin from Spider-Man (since if the burglar Peter specifically didn't let escape didn't kill Uncle Ben, and it was his getaway partner who did it in panic, then that means that Peter isn't actually responsible for his uncle's death and his entire guilt was misplaced, which ruins the crucial theme from his story). Many also saw it as an inability for Raimi to create a nemesis who wasn't a free agent unconnected to Peter's story and life simply so that they could rehash simple beats. A tendency at Sony Pictures which continued in The Amazing Spider-Man Series and which the hacked Sony emails had one of Marvel's own executives call them out on.
    • As a number of comics fans note, the Symbiote was never Spider-Man's Superpowered Evil Side nor did it turn him into evil, and definitely not emo. The original Symbiote was a sentient suit that liked Spider-Man and became a case of a Stalker with a Crush. It ended up taking Peter out as Spider-Man while in his sleep, and Peter worried about gaps and lack of control parted ways with it, which made the Symbiote a crazy jealous ex, who saw new host Eddie Brock as "sloppy seconds". The change in dynamics to a more simplistic Jekyll and Hyde story annoyed many for cheapening a great concept, as well as creating frustrating drama since Peter acts like a jerk to his loved ones but since it's not really his fault, all his actions can be blamed on Gollum Made Me Do It (which as many note was a beat that applied to the villain of Spider-Man and something which Peter didn't entirely accept there).
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: This ended up happening to multiple characters due to the producers trying to cram in too many characters in a limited screen time.
    • With very little screentime and a questionable casting choice, the general consensus is that Venom was completely wasted when a whole separate movie could have been made around him. In fact, this was originally the plan, for the movie to be released in two parts, with the second one being very Venom-focused, but Raimi disliked the character serving in any capacity, either as villain or as anti-hero. The resulting compromise (Raimi didn't want to use the villain Avi Arad wanted, and Arad still wanted Raimi to continue as did the cast) led to Venom being hastily introduced and underused due to Raimi's lack of passion for the character, the planned second film never getting anywhere for at least 10 more years, and the most iconic screen version of Spider-Man's mythos failing to get a proper conclusion. This ends up being hilarious (or harsher) in hindsight since two-part movies would become in vogue just a few years later after the Harry Potter film series did it, and of course Venom (2018) turned out to be, unexpectedly, Sony's biggest commercial success with the Spider-Man property since 3.
    • Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy, who could have left more of an impression and had more of a relationship with Peter and MJ had it not been for all the other characters and their arcs fighting for screentime. Most notably she could have allowed for a Gwen to escape the shadow of her fridging and her status as the girl that had to die for Peter and Mary Jane to hook up (the real reasons why she was fridged in the comics), and actually return her character to her original roots (namely as a flawed beauty queen and would-be socialite). Instead, she's made into Ann Weying, Brock's ex, and introduced as a foil for Peter and Mary Jane's romance (which many note is absurd given how Peter is shown with Single-Target Sexuality in the first film). The fact that her one character moment (walking away from Peter appalled at using her to humiliate Mary Jane and expressing solidarity and compassion for her) was done really well by the actress which many felt could have been developed more.
    • Not to mention Sandman, who had many of his character arc scenes deleted and his original, much more conclusive send-off changed to one that doesn't answer any questions as to what he's going to do now. Those who liked the character effects also felt that Sandman was a chance to take the story to a new direction in that a villain who was unconnected to Peter's rogues and allowed Spider-Man to be the hero rather than merely an extension of his personal melodrama about daddy figures. The idea that to shoehorn him for the sake of building him up as another Arch-Enemy made many people lament its waste.
    • Likewise in the case of Peter Parker. As many fans note, Peter lashing out at Harry for being what is by any standards a terrible friend in the film series (considering his exploitative, resentful, and abusive behavior) and standing up to Jonah and his landlord, as well as express some of his own issues with Mary Jane, should have been done by the Prime!Peter and not the Symbiote influenced one. It removed any real scope of Character Development while making the little that happened as something that could be blamed on the evil side while also making the fallout of his actions (ending his friendship with Harry, straining his relationship with Mary Jane) something to be chalked up to Cartesian Karma.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Many fans were especially upset that the romance between Peter and MJ which was the focus at the first two films took a back seat and very little time was spent to showing them in a relationship which in the comics was the primarily appeal of them as a couple. Some felt it was an Author's Saving Throw that hung a lampshade on the unhealthy nature of Peter's attraction to her in the first two and their lack of compatibility, while others felt it was absurd to arbitrarily puncture something that was built up with straight intent across the first two films, especially given the chemistry of the actors and the fact the romance and relationship in the comics (which was healthy, compatible, and positive for both) gets turned on its head by melodramatic contrivances rather than something within the characters.
    • Harry's butler telling him that Norman's death was his own doing is widely hated due to the character waiting so long to give Harry this crucial piece of information. Word of God has since stated that Harry is only imagining his butler telling him this and he came to the conclusion himself. Unfortunately, the film itself doesn't make that clear at all, causing the whole thing to feel quite idiotic. Part of the issue is that the butler is a minor character whose reality we have no reason to doubt. Given we already saw Harry have a vision of his father before, having a hallucinated Norman give this talk to his son would've made it clear that reveal is actually Harry coming to the conclusion on his own, and having a man who he's far more tied to (especially since the entire matter revolves around Norman) would've made it more emotionally fulfilling than a background role giving him this talk.
    • Peter losing his moral code as Spider-Man while under the influence of the symbiote, which was played up heavily in advertising. It initially pays off early when Peter's first order of business, after the symbiote attaches himself in the midst over his furor that Flint Marko killed Ben Parker, seeks out Sandman and throws Thou Shalt Not Kill out the window, followed by Peter's confusion that Marko's presumed death doesn't bring Aunt May any relief. However, this strand isn't brought up again as "Emo Parker" takes over as the focus of Peter's bond with the symbiote, which detractors felt was often undercut by silliness and Narm.
  • Unintentional Uncanny Valley: The original costume design for Venom lacked the final version and the comic's inhumanly wide grin, instead opting for a normal human mouth with sharp teeth. It's pretty unnerving.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Upon getting possessed by the symbiote, Peter starts turning into a Jerkass of the highest order. Granted, he went too far when he accidentally hits Mary Jane, but a lot of his other actions were very justifiable—he chews out his landlord for demanding rent when he refuses to fix his door (which he has every legal right to do), he exposes Eddie Brock (who's even more unpleasant) as a fraud for a serious breach of photojournalism ethics by doctoring stolen photos, and he stands up to his Mean Boss J Jonah Jameson and gets both a huge pay raise and a proper job so he can pay his bills properly. And Harry, his supposed "best friend" who's been blaming him for his father's death for years while being a whiny prick about it? Peter slaps the guy with some well deserved karma and a big old pumpkin bomb explosion right to his face, all while mocking how pathetic his obsession with killing Spider-Man is. Really, Peter's finally standing up for himself and not being an Extreme Doormat to everyone.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • It's a little harder to believe in Flint Marko insisting that he's not a bad person but just an unlucky guy considering he was on board with Venom's plan about kidnapping and endangering an innocent woman (Mary Jane) to lure Peter and how he was almost going to kill him in front of a crowd of people if only Harry didn't pull a Big Damn Heroes and stopped him at the very last moment. The video game is a little better in that Venom threatened his daughter, which makes his reasoning to help him there a lot more justifiable, but no such threat is made in the film.
    • Harry's behavior throughout the last two films really comes under fire with the Word of God confirmation that the entire scene with his butler was all in his head and seemingly knew that his father died of his own wounds this whole time. The fact that he knew this (with Spider-Man: No Way Home even confirming that Norman's time as Gobby was public knowledge after his death) means his entire crusade against Peter was nothing but petty, making the scene where "Bully Maguire" mocks Harry and blows up his arsenal of pumpkin bombs with him near it a well-earned dose of karma.
  • Vindicated by History: Though still considered the weakest of the original trilogy, the backlash against this movie has noticeably lessened over time (largely after the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which received an even more polarizing reception than this movie, as well as the 2017 release of a special Editor's Cut Blu-ray that many feel is superior to the original cut). Even some of the issues that made people write it off have been reexamined by various critics and perceived in a new light. Longtime Spider-Man fan MadGoblin argued that the "too many villains" was actually necessary to balance out the climax where Harry sides with Peter against Sandman and Venom in a 2v2 battle, that none of the three would have been strong enough to carry the film solo, and that Harry's character arc had to conclude in this film but couldn't afford to just be a rehash of the first one. Bob Chipman has defended "emo Peter" as being the correct portrayal of Peter under the influence of the suit, since Peter, a natural nerd, fails spectacularly at being "cool", and you're not supposed to enjoy him wearing the suit as it corrupts him.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • Even several years on, the scene of the Sandman's 'birth' is still stellar to look at. A slow build, backed with an emotionally touching BGM, where the audience can see him gradually gain control of his powers and build his body back up.
    • The effects used to portray Venom still look pretty good, even next to the newer iteration played by Tom Hardy. His true birth when he bonds to Eddie is just as amazing as it is terrifying.
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency?: General consensus is that Topher Grace wasn't a very good cast for Venom. Word of God says that Topher was cast because Raimi enjoyed his acting and thought he'd make a perfect Anti-Peter Parker. Basically, the casting was more about this version of Eddie Brock than it was about Venom — which didn't work out for them in terms of fan reaction, as most fans either don't really care about the Eddie Brock part of Venom, or think that the usual version of Eddie Brock is much more interesting, at least after his Character Development and in the animated adaptations. Even Grace himself went on to state that he was surprised he was cast in the role.
  • What The Hell, Costuming Department?:
    • While Venom's look was very much well-received, there were two aspects that weren't: him appearing much scrawnier than his comic book counterpart and lacking his trademark dragon-like tongue.
    • Harry Osborn's "New Goblin" outfit... which looks nothing like a goblin or anything his father wore. Its just black skating gear with spikes on the right arm and a snowboarding mask.
  • The Woobie:
    • Sandman. The guy just wants to get his daughter cured, and he doesn't want to hurt anybody else in the way, but things just never worked out for him. He sums it up well with "I'm not a bad person... I've just had really bad luck." And by the way, just to get a picture of how rough things are for this guy? He says this line before he becomes the Sandman.
    • Mary Jane gets the worst of luck in this film; first she gets bashed by critics on Broadway, and gets replaced. Then Harry blackmails her into breaking up with Peter, and is physically hurt and humiliated by Peter (when he's under the influence of the symbiote) in the Jazz Club, when he tries to make her jealous with Gwen, and even ends up hitting her on the jaw when she tries to break up a fight he's in.

The video game

  • Angst? What Angst?: In the PS2 and Wii versions, nobody seems to bat an eye when Harry gets killed. Somehow, it’s even weirder in the PS3, 360, and PC editions where he’s not only never seen again after getting clotheslined by Venom despite no clear signs he was just killed, it’s just before Spider-Man arrives back onto the fight against Venom, not even getting to see what happened to Harry.
  • Complete Monster: In the PS3, 360, and PC version of the game, Luke Carlyle is a former industrialist whose business crumbled after the Daily Bugle uncovered his corrupt practices. Seeking revenge against the city that ruined him, Carlyle adopted the identity of "Carlyle the Mad Bomber" and led a series of terrorist attacks across Manhattan. After destroying his old building, Carlyle had his men plant explosives throughout the city, focusing mostly on locations that would cause civilian casualties. When Spider-Man foils his plans, Carlyle launches an attack on the Daily Bugle and kidnaps J. Jonah Jameson. Carlyle places an explosive collar around Jameson's neck and tosses him out of his helicopter in an attempt to kill him and Spider-Man. Carlyle ultimately escapes after Spider-Man takes out his helicopter, but not before setting off the explosives he had rigged in each of his henchmen's suits.
  • Contested Sequel: The games were no better than the film in this regard, considering that they were made to tie in with this film, just like the previous two. Unlike Spider-Man 2, the games had ridiculous amounts of Press X to Not Die to an infuriating degree, especially the unforgiving final boss fight.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Spidey saying "Either this guy's a real vampire or the best method actor I've ever seen" after Morbius is defeated is definitely funnier due to Jared Leto, a known method actor playing Morbius (2022).
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "I'm going to die.", right from the PC version of the game. (Those were the last words of the woman listed under Narm.)
    • "I am the bomb squad," the line Spidey says in response to the headline, "Bomb Squad says, 'leave it to us, Spidey'," is quite popular as well, thanks to Godzilla Mendoza making it a running gag in his videos on Spider-Man.
  • Narm: Missing the quick-time event to leap to a woman with unnaturally big eyes stuck in a burning building in the PC version results in a weirdly silly scene where Spider-Man hits the floor with a comical splat, the woman immediately (and flatly) saying: "I'm going to die.", and the top of the building exploding, all in the span of about three seconds.
    • At one point in the fights against Venom and Sandman at the end of the PS 2/Wii version, Venom tells Sandman that Spidey “took his daughter and he killed her” in the most fake shocked tone ever in an attempt to make Sandman go all out. Spidey following up with “What?” is understandable but Sandman actually believing Spider-Man, of all people, would kill a little girl makes it even more silly. And then, after transforming into his giant sand form, he demands Spider-Man to give back his daughter as if he just forgot Venom said he killed her.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Few thought it was bad by any means, but it was widely considered to be a major disappointment, especially considering it was released on a new console generation. Not to mention, similar to the film it's based off of: there was simply no way it could improve much on Spider-Man 2.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The need to put in a quick-time event to remove the symbiote.
  • Signature Scene: Once again, the "I'm going to die" failed mission scene.
  • That One Level: The level in the PS3/360/PC version where Spider-Man has to protect a canister from the lizardmen is extremely difficult, particularly in the final round, as it's game over if the canister gets hit more than three times.

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