Spider-Man has always been a very relatable superhero. Even though he has amazing powers, at heart he is still just an awkward kid from Queens who just wants to get the girl of his dreams. In terms of his film history, Spider-Man helped kickstart the craze for superhero movies in the 2000s. He has had a lot of ups and downs over the course of the last 15 years. He’s gone through six movies (soon to be seven), two reboots, three actors, many costume changes, a few too many villains, some critical acclaim, financial success, but also a few bombs that didn’t live up to their potential. With Captain America: Civil War, fans finally got the Spider-Man they wanted: a wide-eyed high school kid who is both awkward and funny. Unfortunately, not all of his cinematic ventures could be that great. Even his best movies featured some moments that will make your skin crawl.
In honor of Spider-Man: Homecoming, here are Spider-Man’s 15 most cringeworthy movie moments.
15. JAMES FRANCO
The Oscar-nominated renaissance man has done a fine job in many dramatic and comedic roles throughout his career, but he is no Harry Osborn. With each sequel, his acting becomes more and more embarrassing. Absolutely no one buys that he could ever be the head of OsCorp’s research division by the time Spider-Man 2 rolls around. He comes off as more of an oaf than a scientific genius that can be in charge of research.
Harry’s obsession with killing Spider-Man also comes off as very wooden and silly. By the time Spider-Man 3 takes place, Harry’s plot to destroy Peter hits a new low when he starts dating Mary Jane. All of these issues could have been resolved long ago had Peter just told Harry the truth about his father’s demise. But why take the easy route? Then Spider-Man 3 would have only had two villains to contend with and more time for Venom’s story arc.
14. SPIDEY KISSES GWEN
So in Spider-Man 3, Gwen, the daughter of NYPC captain George Stacy, gives Spider-Man the key to the city after saving her live. The right thing for Spider-Man to do would have been to graciously accept the key, take a few pictures and leave with dignity. This did not happen. Instead, Spider-Man thinks it is a good idea to kiss Gwen for show. On the lips. Even though he is dating Mary Jane at the time. And she is at the ceremony! Sure, the public isn’t aware of this, but in what world does Peter think this is a good idea? Does he really think is girlfriend would approve of it? He was planning to propose to MJ at the beginning of this movie, yet he thinks it’s wise to publicly kiss another girl. Not cool, Spidey.
No wonder you keep having problems with girls. It’s decisions like this that make you think that Peter is a jerk even before he comes into contact with the symbiote.
13. ALL ABOUT THE SEQUELS
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers from the same problem that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had: the studio spends too much time setting up potential sequels rather than creating well-rounded characters (more on that later).
Why would Sony want to waste your time by making you sit through meaningful character-driven moments when they could be getting you excited for sequels that no one will care about because no one was given the opportunity to care about any characters in this movie? Studios get so ahead of themselves trying to ensure that audiences are excited about future films that they forget why people come to the theatres in the first place: to escape, to be astonished, to fear, to care. In short, they want to feel something, and they can only do that if they actually care about what’s going on.
12. WHO KILLED UNCLE BEN?
No he didn’t. Remember how he didn’t even exist in the first movie? You can’t just shoehorn characters into scenes that were previously accounted for to make your sequel have more dramatic weight. To do that, you’d have to think your audience is extremely stupid. The filmmakers attempted to pretend the events in the first film didn’t happen. It’s all just such a ridiculous ploy to give the Sandman character a more personal conflict with Spider-Man. There was absolutely no reason to revisit Uncle Ben’s murder when it was perfectly dealt with in the first movie.
Furthermore, it’s also pretty unrealistic that the police captain would only inform Aunt May and Peter of the real uncle Ben killer after he escapes from prison. That’s some pretty terrible police work on the NYPD’s part.
11. PAUL GIAMATTI
Academy Award nominee Paul Giamatti thought he could cash in on the superhero phenomenon by signing up to play Rhino in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and, if all went well, maybe a few sequels. All did not go well. He has less than five minutes of screen time and he manages to make the audience cringe the entire time. He is so over the top and hammy that he just doesn’t fit with the tone of the rest of the movie. Tonal issues plague the entire film, and not just Giamatti’s performance, but his definitely stands out because he ramps it up to 11 in no time. You’re completely taken out of the movie and left thinking why is Paul Giamatti yelling at children with a strange Russian accent?
Beyond the silly mech suit with a giant head, there’s the ridiculous barbwire forehead tattoo. Whoever did this ridiculous design must have inspired the person who created The Joker’s look in Suicide Squad. And nothing beats his dialogue: “I crush you! I kill you! I destroy you!” Yes, that is actual dialogue.
10. MARY JANE SINGS
In Spider-Man 3, Mary Jane somehow manages to get third billing in a musical on Broadway with a rather weak voice. Maybe it would have been better if she didn’t invite her friends to watch her performance, because she later finds out she is fired from the gig when she arrives on set for rehearsals. Only one of two things could explain how this happened. Either she had one of the greatest agents in the business who sold her as a performer to the director despite her weak voice, or the director is tone deaf and needed to read the reviews of the show to know that one of his performer isn’t very good.
And then there’s the fact that Mary Jane had to be humiliated and find out that she was fired only when she arrived on set. Does her agent just go M.I.A. after he gets her a role? Very unprofessional.
9. HARRY’S BUTLER IS FORGETFUL
This is the second entry on the list where lack of communication led Harry to turn on Peter. Let’s give Peter a break and pretend that he was too busy fighting crime to tell Harry the truth about his father’s death. That still leaves Harry’s butler, whose sole purpose is to take care of Harry. He should be able to tell him the truth so that he can come to terms with it and stop blaming Spider-Man for his father’s evil deeds and ultimate demise. Right?
Wrong. It appears as though he had temporary amnesia for about two whole films worth of conflict between Peter and Harry. If the butler is having such severe memory issues, perhaps it is time to retire. The butler miraculously remembers that Norman accidentally killed himself using his own glider just in time for Harry to help Peter stop Sandman and Venom in the final act of Spider-Man 3. Perfectly convenient for the plot. Harry then gets to die a hero, redeemed by sacrificing himself to save Peter.
8. DISCOVERING SPIDEY’S IDENTITY
One of the most iconic scenes of the Spider-Man series is that of Spider-Man kissing Mary Jane in the rain while hanging upside-down after rescuing her from some thugs. Mary Jane only removes the lower portion of his mask to kiss him, so his identity remains a mystery to her, which is quite surprising given than Spider-Man sounds exactly like Peter Parker. You could always give her the benefit of the doubt. She might have been on such a rush for the altercation with the thugs that she didn’t even pay attention to his voice. Most audience members can forgive her this and suspend their disbelief in this instance.
However Mary Jane manages to figure out that Peter is Spider-Man based on the kiss they share after Norman Osborn’s funeral. How could she figure this out based on one kiss? Plus, she’s comparing a regular kiss to an upside-down one. There is absolutely no way she could make that connection but not recognize his voice.
7. GWEN’S OXFORD PLANS
Throughout The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Gwen expresses her dreams of studying at Oxford. When she finds out she was accepted, she leaves Peter a phone message letting him know she is leaving for England in a few hours to pursue her dreams because she received a scholarship. Keep in mind that she has been dating Peter since the first Amazing Spider-Man movie and although he called it quits as a vow to her father, they were still in love. Not only is that a really cold thing to do, it also looks like Gwen is extremely impulsive.
What would motivate her to get up and leave so quickly? Was her scholarship going to vanish if she didn’t leave that very day? It just comes down to lazy writing in order to make the stakes higher.
6. ELECTRO’S MOTIVATION
Max Dillon/Electro makes for an extremely immature and two-dimensional villain in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (although it’s not like the other bad guys fair any better). Before turning into Electro, Max is a socially awkward electrical engineer that works at OsCorp. He lived a rather muted life, rarely interacting with others. When Spider-Man saves him one day, he becomes obsessed with his hero, thinking that they are friends. After he turns into Electro and blacks out Times Square trying to recharge his power, he is confronted by Spider-Man and a slew of cops. Spider-Man tells him that the cops won’t shoot him so he doesn’t have to worry. Of course, Spider-Man doesn’t control freewill and a cop does shoot Electro. Naturally, Electro feels completely betrayed by his best friend Spider-Man and blames him for this, because it’s totally his fault.
It is this kind of lazy writing that make Electro such a cringeworthy character in the movie. Most characters in children’s cartoons have far more complex motivations than this guy.
5. GREEN GOBLIN’S COSTUME
Ever since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, a lot of film studios have attempted to ground their movies (superhero or not) in reality. In this case, they failed big time. The designers were going for a gritty realism when creating their Green Goblin makeup for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but he looks like he would be far more comfortable in the Leprechaun movies that fighting Spidey.
It is also understandable that the studio would want to differentiate this version of the Green Goblin from the one that was prominently featured in the previous trilogy. The last thing they would want is to just rehash what has come before (although that’s exactly what they did in many regards with The Amazing Spider-Man), but it probably would have been safer just to stay clear of the character.
4. EMO PETER
After Peter Parker embraces the symbiote in Spider-Man 3, feeding his anger and hunger for revenge, he starts to become a little too arrogant. What ensues are some of the most cringeworthy scenes in the entire Spider-Man movie franchise. A montage showcases this newfound cockiness as Peter struts through the streets dancing to James Brown and pointing finger guns at all the women as he walks by. To complement his new attitude, he also gets a new look by letting his bangs fall into his eyes and wearing all black.
Nothing screams cool like a dorky person attempting to act cool but failing miserably. It’s played up for laughs, but it is really painful for any fan of the character to sit through scene after scene of him acting like a total jerk. To the amazement of the entire audience, Betty Brant, J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary, is turned on by this behavior and flirts with Peter. You can have him, Betty because no one else does.
3. TOPHER GRACE
Although the costume was quite inspired, the man beneath the suit did not fit the role. Most Spider-Man fans would argue that the casting of Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom in Spider-Man 3 was the biggest casting mistake in the entire series. Controversial casting choices sometimes work wonders for a film, but unfortunately it wasn’t the case here.
As it turns out, fans were right to worry about Eric Forman from That ‘70s Show playing Venom. Perhaps it is because the film didn’t give Venom enough time to develop as a character, as he was forced to share the movie with two other villains. He didn’t have time to show why he is such an intimidating enemy. Or perhaps it is because Grace would have probably made a better Spider-Man than Venom, as his charm doesn’t translate well to the type of villain Venom needs to be. That is not to say Grace can’t play a bad guy, he just wasn’t right for this particular role.
2. NEW YORKERS
One thing that is really cheesy in every single one of the Spidey movies is the use of New Yorkers. New Yorkers are often stereotypically portrayed as smart asses who like to give their two cents when no one asked them their opinion, but the Spider-Man series takes this to another level.
There are a few too many scenes where Spider-Man is swinging past a crowd of people and someone shouts “Go Spider-Man” or “You get him!” The worst offender being an old man on the runaway train Spider-Man tries to stop in Spider-Man 2. After trying a few different things to stop the train, the transit user tells Spider-Man: “Any more bright ideas?” Are you kidding? Don’t you think you should be a little grateful that he’s actually trying to save you? Let the man concentrate! He’s trying to save you, after all.
1. DANCE SCENE
That leaves the epitome of emo Peter moments. The scene is so cringeworthy, it deserves an entry that is completely separate from the emo Peter one: the dance scene. Not only does Peter try to humiliate Mary Jane by bringing Gwen on a date her place of work, he also thinks it’s a good idea to take things a step further by going up on stage when Mary Jane is about to sing and he starts a dance number. After his little show, in a fit of rage, Peter fights with security guards and hits Mary Jane by mistake. Only then does he realize that something is deeply wrong with him and it may be due to the symbiote. You mean he didn’t think there was anything wrong with himself while he was dancing?
After watching that scene, you just feel bad for everyone involved: Mary Jane, Gwen, and the entire cast for not refusing to take part in this scene in the first place.
Do you think we’ll get any more cringeworthy moments in Spider-Man: Homecoming?
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