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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.
  • Adorkable:
    • Peter is just as, if not more so than, adorably awkward as his comic book counterpart.
    • Ursula, especially whenever she's talking to Peter.
  • 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.
    • 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?
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    • 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 .
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • The trilogy's portrayal of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Some see him as the definitive Spider-Man because his traditional heroic personality and relatable life problems make him come off as a very likable portrayal who captures the relatable teenager feel from the 60s comics, and for most of the things he does is a Fountain of Memes. Others see him as the worst portrayal of Spider-Man because his portrayal resembles Clark Kent from the Superman film series rather than Peter Parker from the comics, and his list of character changes that removed a lot of his most interesting perks from the comics. Such changes include never growing out of his social awkwardness and not becoming more self-confident from his years of fighting crime, the removal of his genius level intellect, having almost all of his character motivation revolve around his crush on Mary Jane like his reason why he got into wrestling was so that he could win money and buy a car to impress Mary Jane over winning money for his uncle and aunt in the comics, and making him extremely passive as he allows Harry to treat him like crap (such as letting him slap him repeatedly at a party in public) while being a Love Martyr with Single-Target Sexuality for MJ and barely raising his voice against J. Jonah Jameson.
      • Fans are also divided on Tobey Maguire's performance as the character. While the majority agree he does very well with the more dramatic and emotional moments, his casual performance is considered on-point with the character's social awkwardness to some fans while others find it very wooden.
  • Broken Base:
    • Sam Raimi's involvement in a Spider-Man film series. Defenders think that based on his acclaimed work for Spider-Man 1 and Spider-Man 2 compared to the other live-action Spider-Man films, he's more fit to direct a Spider-Man film than anyone. While detractors think that his direction of the films as well as his portrayal of most of the characters isn't really true to the comics and would hold the Spider-Man films back in terms of following the comics.
    • 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?
  • Can't 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.
    • 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."
  • Fandom Rivalry:
  • Fan Nickname:
    • The films are known affectionately on Reddit as the "Holy Trilogy".
    • This version of Spidey is often referred to as "Tobey" to differentiate himself from his successors.
  • First Installment Wins: Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 are still the most highly-regarded Spider-Man films; while the MCU Spidey outings have been well-received, only the animated Into the Spider-Verse has reached the same level of acclaim. 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.
  • Fountain of Memes:
    • Everything the Green Goblin says. William Dafoe apparently decided that if the costume looked that silly, he was going to take Evil Is Hammy to the greatest extremes he could. It made for an extremely memorable and quotable performance.
    • Likewise, everything J. Jonah Jameson says. In the eyes of many fans, J.K. Simmons is the character, and every scene he has is packed with so much snark, energy, and fast talking, that it makes the character and all his dialogue stick in your mind.
    • The Venom-possessed Peter Parker from the third film, affectionately known as "Bully Maguire". His scenes and dialogue have become quite funny from the Narm-tastic dance scene to the part where he tells Mr. Ditkovich that he will get his rent when he fixes his door.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
  • 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 (2011)) 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 cancelled 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".
  • Iconic Sequel Outfit: While the two versions of the red and blue suit that Spidey wears are nearly identical, the suit in the second and third movies has a darker shade of blue, a thicker, more prominent black spider on the chest, and a larger red spider on the back with more spindly legs compared to the suit in the first movie. The second red/blue suit was the version added to Spider-Man (PS4) after much fan demand.
  • 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 Badass: Tobey Maguire's portrayal of Peter Parker/Spider-Man seems to be given this status in the late 2010's, especially on YouTube. YouTubers tend to edit scenes from other Marvel films (or even non-Marvel films) to include Tobey's Peter/Spidey in it; some videos even replace other characters with him, such as Captain Marvel's Big Damn Heroes in Avengers: Endgame being replaced with his failed 'leap of faith' from Spider-Man 2 while shouting his infamous "I'M BACK! I'M BACK!" Other videos have him throwing himself to get the Soul Stone, survive, and still gets the stone, among other things.
  • 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.
    • Every once in awhile there's a news story about a criminal or bank robber wearing a Spider-Man mask. This usually leads to jokes that Jameson's claims about Spidey being "a menace to society" getting vindicated.
    • 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.
  • Misblamed: The cancellation of the planned Spider-Man 4, along with the film series itself is usually blamed on Sony Pictures because it is believed that they had their own idea for the film that clashed with Sam Raimi's idea that caused him to walk away from production and cancel the series. But in truth, everything that was rumored to be Sony's idea was mostly all Sam Raimi's idea for the script because he was aiming to make Spider-Man 4 bigger than its predecessors with every villain planned to be in the film be his choice alone, and wouldn't start the film's production until he happily made the script work with his intentions. The reason why Raimi cancelled the series was due to the pressure of the deadline that Sony had on the film, as well as struggling with the script so much to the point of not being able to make his script ideas work in time for the deadline. Sony couldn't be able to push the deadline any further because they had to be in active with a new Spider-Man film every handful of years or else they would lose the film rights to Spider-Man and be reverted back to Marvel. Which is why that even before Raimi decided to cancel the series, Sony already had plans to reboot the franchise in case Raimi couldn't meet the deadline in time. In other words, no matter if Sony decided to push the deadline further or if Sam Raimi decided to cancel his Spider-Man series, Spider-Man 4 was just not going to happen in the end.
  • 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 beginning of the Lee-Ditko Spider-Man. 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 quite a wisecracker as Spider-Man even then, he didn't become a massive Deadpan Snarker he's well known for until later. Peter in Spider-Man 3 has his joke cracking displayed somewhat more with or without the black suit.
    • 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 sort of behind the curve 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.
  • 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.
  • Sacred Cow: The one thing that the fandom unanimously enjoys from the trilogy is J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. They all agree that he's completely on-point with his role in the comics, and is one of the best characters in the trilogy. Simmons's take is so popular that he's actually reprised it in a variety of Spider-Man adaptations since then.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • When these films released, many audiences and Spider-Man fans applaud these films as one of, if not the best super hero adaptations, as well as the best Spider-Man adaptations. But nowadays, with the release of the other Spider-Man films, including Marc Webb's films of the character, along with the MCU's, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, some people have turned away from these films and began to spot flaws in the writing. Like the second film's frequent angst and needlessly mean-spirited tone, and some of the characterization with the trilogy's portrayal of Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, as well as their chemistry. But regardless, these films still have many fans who stand by them for leaving an impact of superhero cinema, as well as its memorable moments.
    • 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.
  • Tough Act to Follow: For quite some time, the Spider-Man trilogy proved to be this for Spider-Man's cinematic endeavors. After superhero movies went through something of a Dork Age in the 1990's, the Spider-Man trilogy, alongside the original X-Men trilogy that was being released at the time, proved to be a Genre Turning Point in the early 2000's, resonating incredibly well with a mainstream audience because of the way it reinvented the Spider-Man mythos. The films were a critical and financial success and still have a large amount of influence on pop culture to this day, despite the third film being universally agreed to be the weakest and messiest of the bunch. The Amazing Spider-Man Series, despite having its own set of fans, never managed to break out and leave its mark on the same level, and in the eyes of a lot of people, never managed to step out of the Raimi trilogy's shadow. Towards the end of the 2010's, this trope was successfully averted with Spider-Man's solo films in the MCU, his third cinematic incarnation. Spider-Man: Homecoming not only managed to match the Raimi trilogy's level of critical and financial success, Spider-Man: Far From Home exceeded it by being an Even Better Sequel.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Harry Osborn is this in the entire trilogy. The audience is meant to sympathize with him over his father dying and feel sadness over the broken friendship between Peter and Harry when Harry figures out Peter is Spider-Man, as Harry believes Spider-Man was the murderer of his father. Unfortunately, even before Harry finds out Peter is Spider-Man, he's had moments of coming off as a jerk to both Peter and Mary Jane that makes it seem kind of hard to believe he's had a strong friendship with both of them, as despite knowing that Peter has a crush on Mary Jane, Harry still tries to go steady with Mary Jane, and he barely sticks up for Mary Jane when Norman insults her. He also treats Peter poorly in the second film for not giving up Spider-Man's whereabouts, and then tries to kill him in the third film as well as ruin his relationship with Mary Jane. Also, given how Word of God states that Harry's butler was a hallucination that reminded Harry of how his father actually died, this meant even before he became the New Goblin, he knew the truth about his father's death but still falsely accused Peter and tried to kill him to defend his father's honor. Harry just comes off as an Entitled Bastard who expects everything to go his way, and a Manchild who refuses to move on from his father's death and takes his problems out on other people.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: The trilogy's portrayal of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He's portrayed as not really having much personality outside of being a run-of-the-mill awkward nerd who doesn't really have much development outside of his sense of responsibility, and his character conflicts revolve mostly around his family and friends as they seem to be typically the ones who suffer the most from the side effects of Peter's duties as Spider-Man rather than Peter himself. Not to mention, Harry's goal to avenge his father's death and Mary Jane attempting to prove her father wrong about how he states no man will ever love her are seen as the trilogy's most deep character writing with Peter just simply trying to resolve the problems as they seem to affect him in the process.
  • Watch It for the Meme: Due to these films practically being a Fountain of Memes, a lot of people who aren't even Spider-Man fans watch it to see where "Tobey Face" came from.
  • The Woobie: Peter himself is an obvious example. MJ at times is even more of a woobie than him.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: Downplayed; Most people love Spidey's suit in the series, but some have criticized the mask's curved triangular eyes, which to some make Spider-Man look more aggressive than he actually is. Another criticism is that the suit looks too good; people find it unrealistic that a teenager fresh out of high school can make a suit that looks like it costs a thousand dollars to make, not to mention that it must take a fortune to repair, since the end of every film has the suit get severely ripped apart, but looks fine in the next movie note 


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