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YMMV / Spider-Man Trilogy

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Entries in this series with their own YMMV page:
  • Actor Shipping: More than a few fans shipped Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Helped by the fact that they're good friends and even did briefly date each other.
  • Adaptation Displacement: For many who had never picked up a comic book in their life, it's a surprise that Spider-Man creates webbing organically instead of having web-shooters like in the comic books.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • A great deal of Aunt May's scenes (particularly the scene in Spider-Man 2 where she tells Peter why Spider-Man is important to the city and the scene in Spider-Man 3 where she acts shocked that Spider-Man killed Sandman) led fans to believe she's a Secret Secret-Keeper who knows Peter is Spider-Man. Nothing in the film series or Word of God confirms it, but it fits really well.
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    • Did Norman tell Peter not to tell Harry he was the Green Goblin because he didn't want Harry to know his secret... or because he wants Harry to take up his role as Spider-Man's enemy ignorant of who actually killed Norman? If so... was Harry seeing his ghost? And if that's the case, who's really saying that - Norman or the Goblin?
    • Peter and MJ's relationship throughout the film series. The films frame it as an earnest, emotional and heartwarming classic love story. However, there are a number of people who think it's extremely dysfunctional, even after MJ discovers Peter's secret. Particularly because Peter is perceived as putting MJ on such an idealized pedestal, some people argue he's borderline obsessed with her, rather than in love with her. As for MJ, she is perceived as using Peter as an emotional crutch to overcome her insecurities. Others see them as two flawed and damaged people who have an imperfect and messy relationship like many real-life couples and who need to work through their flaws togethernote .
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  • Broken Base: The trilogy's earnest cheesiness remains a massive point of contention to this day. Does it make the films outdated, or does it elevate them above the mostly self-aware humor of later superhero films?
  • Cant Un Hear It:
  • Damsel Scrappy:
    • Mary Jane Watson. Three movies. Three times kidnapped to be used as bait to lure Spidey out. Yawn. It's particularly egregious in the first movie; Spidey rescued her three times in it alone. It's even lampshaded in the third movie novelization by Mary Jane herself, who asks if she has "bait" stamped across her forehead when she's locked in Venom's falling car. Also, in the third movie, MJ does become a Heroic Bystander and drops a block of cement on Venom's head as he fights with Spider-Man plus gets herself out of danger several times in the sequence before finally needing to be saved from falling, and to her credit, she tries to attack Doc Ock from behind in the second film — but Aunt May had already successfully done the same thing earlier on, and Doc Ock doesn't repeat his mistakes.
      • If you listen to the DVD commentary, you can hear the irritation in Sam Raimi's voice while he recalls having to put MJ back in the damsel role because of time constraints and then having to apologize profusely to Kirsten Dunst after he promised her before the filming of the movie that she wouldn't be doing that again. To make up for it, he gave her more action to do in the scene and used recycled audio of her past screaming rather than make her scream again.
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    • Interestingly enough, Gwen Stacy was originally going to be the one abducted for the final battle in the third film, not Mary Jane, and Mary Jane would have been the one who helped Harry come to his senses. A line from this was included in the trailer: "We've all done terrible things to each other, but we have to learn to forgive each other or else everything we ever were will have meant nothing."
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Ursula, for being the only female in the second movie (other than Aunt May) who loves Peter just for being Peter.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Peter/Ursula, for those who prefer a Third-Option Love Interest rather than MJ or Gwen.
  • First Installment Wins: Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 are still the most highly-regarded Spider-Man films. The first Spider-Man has most of the iconic scenes that audiences remember and which is retained in parodies and homages, with Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin being the trilogy's most iconic and influential villain and the upside-down kiss being the most iconic image of the franchise. Kevin Feige, the head of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has expressed his fondness for Raimi's films. Commercially speaking, the Raimi films remain the most successful and none of the reboots have come close to matching it in terms of acclaim or commercial success. Even Spider-Man 3 made more money than Homecoming.
  • Fountain of Memes: Every last line out of Dafoe's mouth post-formula, and every line from J.K. Simmons' JJJ.
  • Genre Turning Point:
    • The first film had a massive role in popularizing the superhero genre in the 21st Century. Namely, it was the first widely commercially and critically successful comic book movie since Batman & Robin all but turned the genre into a laughingstock. While X-Men, and Blade, had preceded it in Marvel properties, neither was quite the international success that Spider-Man was. The film's marketing also had a huge influence on movie poster design, especially the amber-colored background of the first two-posters, which was copied for Batman Begins. Before these films, the only widely successful superhero films were Batman or Superman films, and Spider-Man opened the floodgates for all kinds of comics properties and led to many Marvel movies, like Daredevil, Hulk, The Punisher (2004) as the rights holders suddenly found a market for their options.
    • Likewise, compared to Richard Donner's original Superman: The Movie and Tim Burton's Batman (1989), both of which were essentially set in a Constructed World and quasi-Alternate Universe, and the X-Men movies seemed to be science-fiction/fantasy, Raimi's Spider-Man films had a greater sense of realism. It visibly looked like early 21st Century New York, addressed the September 11 attacks and had characters who looked like contemporary adults grappling problems related to rent, work and careers. This set the trend for greater realism and contemporary focus in the films that came after, even in the revived Batman films by Christopher Nolan. Notably, the films that avoided the contemporary focus (Superman Returns, Green Lantern) were failures, so the trend set by Spider-Man still remains the house style.
    • And, of course, the film's giant box-office success pulled Marvel out of the heavy financial troubles that plagued the company in The '90s and brought renewed attention to its properties and licenses, leading many of the other studios Marvel had sold movie rights to in The '90s to greenlight productions to Follow the Leader. While there isn't a direct line from this film to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's unlikely that the MCU could ever have been a glint in the eyes without Sam Raimi's films.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The trilogy made far more money than usual for superhero films in Japan, to the point that even to this day, Spider-Man 2 remains the highest-grossing live-action superhero movie of all time in the country, even without adjusting for inflation.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The canceled James Cameron film adaptation from the 1990s would have featured Sandman and Electro as the villains. Sandman was in Spider-Man 3 before the series got cancelled and rebooted. Later, Electro was featured in The Amazing Spider-Man 2... which was also the last installment of that series before it too got canceled and the film franchise got rebooted again.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • At one point, the producers of the trilogy were dead set on casting Anne Hathaway as Felicia Hardy (AKA Black Cat) in the planned fourth film that was ultimately scrapped. Around four years later, Anne Hathaway was cast as a certain other feline-themed femme fatale thief in a certain other big-budget superhero movie.
    • If an actor played a character who hates Spider-Man in these movies, they might end up playing a character who likes the Justice League in the DC Extended Universe. J. K. Simmons, who played J. Jonah Jameson in this trilogy, is this now in Justice League (2017) as, in many ways, Jonah's opposite number, Commissioner Gordon. Likewise, Willem Dafoe, who played the Green Goblin, is cast as Vulko, a mentor to Aquaman. Meanwhile, Flash Thompson is even more of a jackass in the DCEU as his actor, Joe Manganiello, has been cast as Deathstroke.
    • The Green Goblin persona rants to Norman to attack Peter's heart in the first movie and a hallucination of Norman gave Harry the same advice in the third movie. Maybe this Green Goblin was reincarnated into Ryuk?
    • In the years since the Raimi trilogy, Mary Jane has gained a reputation from fans and haters as being a textbook damsel in distress (some even say a Damsel Scrappy). At the end of the second film, when Mary Jane goes to tell Peter how much he means to her, one of the things she says is "Peter, I can't survive without you".
  • Jerkass Woobie: Harry Osborn all the time. He has the capacity to be a good guy but he has a horrible father whose approval he misguidedly seeks even when it's obvious his dad truly never cared for him. He's still an entitled rich kid who mistreats his friends and abuses them emotionally, and physically (slapping Peter while drunk in 2), but it's hard to not feel bad for him at the end of 3 when he dies a hero's death and represents the end of Peter and MJ's blighted youth.
  • Memetic Bystander: All of Bruce Campbell's cameo characters.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • J. Jonah Jameson constantly demanding "PICTURES! PICTURES OF SPIDER-MAN!".
    • J. Jonah Jameson laughing.
    • Peter's frequent strange or awkward facial expressions (often dubbed "Tobeyface") make for popular reaction image fodder.
    • "GOOOOOO."
    • "Woah! He stole that guy's pizza!"
    • Seriously, Raimi? I mean, it was a different time. Explanation 
  • Memetic Psychopath: Raimi himself, due to the latter meme.
  • Narm: Here.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The plots of 1, 2 and 3 mirror Superman, Superman II and both Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Part 1: Origin story. Part 2: "Don't want to be the hero". Part 3: Good hero and evil hero. Since Spider-Man has far more in common with Superman than Batman it made sense to use the Donner films as a model, as well as the fact that the Superman trilogy was an Origins Episodenote . Peter's monkish decision to keep away from MJ at the end of 1 even after she returned his affections is based on Superman's actions in the first two films (since Peter in the comics was most certainly not a Celibate Hero).
    • Many people also complain about Peter being too depressive and cracking not enough jokes either out of costume or as Spider-Man. This is somewhat faithful to the early source material (the 60s/70s). Pete isn't the Page Image for Classical Anti-Hero for nothing. In the early issues, when he was still a loner poor guy caring for his Aunt, he hardly had foils to trade barbs with, and while he was a wisecracker as Spider-Man even then, he didn't become a Deadpan Snarker until later. And in any case Peter is known to shut up when things get serious, and since the Raimi films always treat super battles as life-and-death matters of seriousness unlike the comicsnote  this is justified.
    • Similarly, while her personality was very different, the comics' version Mary Jane was used as a helpless, screaming Damsel in Distress on a semi-regular basis in the 70s. Since two decades of Character Development ensued since then, the problem is less that Sam Raimi was being unfaithful to the comics and more that was well behind the curb in regards to them.
    • A significant amount of the changes from the source material done in this film series were actually first done in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, such as Peter officially becoming Spider-Man after high school, Mary Jane being a Composite Character with Gwen Stacy and being kidnapped frequently, Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin being co-existing split personalities, Otto Octavius being an idol of Peter's, Eddie Brock being an unsympathetic journalistic rival of Peter's, the alien symbiote gradually corrupting Peter's personality, etc.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Bruce Campbell was one in all three movies.
  • Popularity Polynomial:
    • When the first Amazing Spider-Man was coming out and especially once it did, the formerly-beloved Raimi trilogy was reevaluated, with many people considering it dated and awkward. After the polarizing reception of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, coupled with the news that the movie series was to be rebooted once again under Marvel Studios' umbrella, people seem to have focused on the better parts of the trilogy and on the whole, it's remembered with fondness, especially for its impact on later comic book movies in general.
    • Around the same time, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy (which, it must be noted, was inspired by Raimi's films and borrowed stuff from itnote ) was seen as the gold standard for superhero films, and the cheesiness in Raimi's films was deprecated and dismissed for not being dark enough. A few years later, the Marvel Cinematic Universe arrived patterned on the balance between dark and comedic elements as Raimi's films, the Marc Webb films were criticized for their shortcomings, Nolan's films faced a backlash (albeit as a Franchise Original Sin for later DC movies unsuccessfully trying to replicate his darker approach), and Raimi's films have come to be regarded as holding up better than many expected.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Romantic Plot Tumor:
    • A common criticism of the movies is that they devote too much time to the love story, or rather the build-up to the love-story, to the detriment of action. This was not so much of a problem in the first film, where the "upside-down kiss" became the film's Signature Scene but it did in the sequels where almost everything is about the Love Dodecahedron between Peter, Harry, MJ, and other MJ suitors.
    • The third film receives the most criticism on this count. Since the first two movies had focused so much on the courtship and romance phase, the third film simply had to show Peter and MJ in a relationship at least for a good part of the film. The film was already burdened with three other major plotlines competing for screentime. Some thought the romance in the third film could have been better and some still prefer it 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. Instead, the movie devotes very few scenes showing Peter and MJ together, brings in Gwen Stacy and amnesiac Harry as Romantic False Lead, repeats beats from the earlier films, and resolves the plot by once again making MJ a Damsel Scrappy. This is one area where The Amazing Spider-Man Series improved since it actually showed the couple in a relationship for most of the time in the two films.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Mary Jane has been on the receiving end of this treatment by some people who like to claim that she is a horrible person who treats Peter like crap, especially in the third film. These fans will usually ignore how Peter put his own needs before hers and never really considered what she was going through during the movie because his newfound respect from the city has gotten to his head. And they also ignore when she tries to be there for him, even admitting that she overreacted, but he shuts her out. Basically, they both are equally accountable for their relationship falling apart in the movie, but try telling that to those individuals.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • It's hard for some people to appreciate this film series after the massive success of Darker and Edgier comic book movies like The Dark Knight Trilogy (or this series' own Continuity Reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man) or Lighter and Softer ones with huge action set pieces like The Avengers. But it must be noted that the first film, alongside X-Men and Blade, helped bring back comic book/superhero movies after Batman & Robin effectively destroyed the genre. Film critics also note that Spider-Man 2 continues to act as a benchmark when comparing superhero films with its combination of impressive visual effects, emotional human story, complex villain and superiority as a sequel. All of these became essential markers judging quality superhero films, and Spider-Man 2 was the trailblazer.
    • At the time of its release, the fidelity of the first movie's costume design to the source material was praised compared to Marvel's earlier efforts. Now, aside from the X-Men Film Series continuing to use the Movie Superheroes Wear Black trope to the fullest for most of their movies, it's pretty much expected that any Marvel movie replicate the costumes as best as possible, and those that don't are derided accordingly.
  • Values Resonance: Surprisingly, for all the criticisms of MJ as a Damsel Scrappy, some articles have actually claimed that the film's treatment of women, and MJ especially, is quite up-to-date in its skewering of misogyny, Slut-Shaming, and male entitlement. Spider-Man 3 is especially cited for deconstructing Peter and MJ's romance by showing things from her view.
  • The Woobie: Peter himself is an obvious example. MJ at times is even more of a woobie than him.


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