The original Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy were the first time that many comic book fans had gotten to see a live action Spider-Man. Many kids were enchanted by the wall-crawler and his fights against the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Sandman and… Venom. Oh god Venom. The trilogy comes with a certain sense of nostalgia, because these films came at a time when superhero movies were only just coming to the popularity that they’re at now, and Spider-Man proved that a huge character like Peter Parker could carry his own franchise with great villains, great scenes and a good script (most of the time).
And although the films didn’t continue into the planned fourth instalment, they still have some great moments. Unfortunately, they also have some absolutely terrible ones. Maybe it’s because of certain changes they made to the character, or because they were playing to current trends rather than comic book arcs but sometimes these films just didn’t stick the landing. All the components are there for the franchise to be impeccable, but in each film there are moments that really grind to a halt. We’ve pulled together 15 problems with the Raimi Spider-Man trilogy we all choose to ignore.
15. THE UNCLE BEN TWIST
So during the third Spider-Man film, it’s revealed that during the night of Uncle Ben’s death the carjacker that died wasn’t actually the one to kill Uncle Ben. Instead, Flint Marko was the one that killed him, and he’s now roaming the streets after escaping from prison. But the it turns out that it was an accident and Pete forgives Marko. So what Raimi is telling us, is that the other carjacker died for nothing? Right.
It’s an unnecessary twist that just feels like an excuse to add another villain into the movie that has emotional significance to Peter and his journey as both Spider-Man and himself. Green Goblin and Doc Ock were both genuinely memorable villains that deserve recognition. Sandman? Yeah, not so much.
14. NO ONE NOTICES PETER’S POWERS IN SCHOOL
At the beginning of the first Raimi film, Peter is shown as a socially awkward dork who seems to only have two friends; Harry and Mary Jane. He gets good grades, gets bullied by Flash Thompson and isn’t the most popular student. But once he gets bitten by that Spider, and his powers develops, no one notices how he changes literally overnight. Those square glasses he constantly wore? Gone. Goodbye weakling, hello super strength.
He even manages to show Flash Thompson who’s boss by sending him flying backwards with a single punch. But not one student in the school thinks that a man that can punch someone that hard is going through a change, let alone the muscles and organic webbing that Peter gets. Nobody even mentions the webbing that’s attached to Peter’s dinner tray as he walks out of the cafeteria. Webbing? Super strength? Yeah, he’s Spider-Man.
13. EMO PETE
Pete, we need to talk. So when he wakes up and finds that his suit is now black, he discovers that he’s more powerful and also takes on an “edgier” personality. Cue the scene when he’s walking down the street, dancing and clicking at women as they walk past. Oh God. It’s so much worse than you remember. It’s so unnecessary. There are better ways of showing us that Pete has taken on a darker tone, like shoving Sandman’s face into a train for example, that works.
But the newfound sleazy Pete just feels unbearable against the rest of the film. And this is all before he’s introduced to two other villains. We know that Sam Raimi wanted to introduce Venom and the symbiote as a truly memorable villain, but this really was the wrong way of doing so.
12. GWEN STACY
Long before Emma Stone brought Gwen Stacy to Peter Parker’s life, Bryce Dallas Howard played the role in Spider-Man 3. Unfortunately, she wasn’t given too much to do apart from stand and look pretty every so often. She was part of a modelling shoot that was interrupted by a malfunctioning crane, and then was used to make Mary Jane jealous on two separate occasions.
Given that Gwen is such an integral character to Peter’s life in the comics, the treatment of the character during that last film is genuinely terrible. She’s merely there as a roadblock in the way of Peter’s relationship and not a lot else. It’s such a shame because Bryce Dallas Howard is an excellent actress and deserves more to do in that role, and because the film tries to pit two women against each other over Peter. Yawn.
11. REVEALING SPIDEY’S IDENTITY TO HARRY
At the end of Spider-Man 2, Otto brings Peter to Harry so that he can unmask him in exchange for a rare metal that he can use in his reactor. Obviously, this causes Harry some distress when he realizes who’s under the mask. But the consequences of the reveal just don’t carry the weight that it should. During the fight they have in Harry’s apartment during Spider-Man 3, the exchange between the two is nearly unbearable.
It’s like two kids fighting in school rather than the deconstruction of a life- long friendship. Pete’s identity reveal should have been a monumental moment for the series, but it feels a little weak compared to the characters built up to this point. Plus, Doc Ock bringing the hero to Harry on a plate felt like cheating, it would have been more satisfying if Harry worked it out himself.
10. MARY JANE DOESN’T RECOGNIZE PETER’S VOICE
So although Mary Jane doesn’t really hang around Peter too much at school, she lives next door to him and is obviously aware of his existence. We’ve seen their relationship develop from friendship to something more meaningful by the end of that first film. She’s had conversations with Peter about school, Harry Osborn and obviously Spider-Man. So why, whenever Spider-Man saves her or they’re having a romantic moment — doesn’t she recognize Peter’s voice?
This is someone she’s been around for years. She moved next door to Peter when they were both kids, surely she would know the sound of his voice as soon as he started talking. She’s an intelligent woman, but she doesn’t realize that the costumed hero is someone she’s known for years. She doesn’t even recognize his chin… Okay maybe that one’s a stretch too far. But, you get the point.
9. THE DEATH OF UNCLE BEN’S KILLER
We’re sorry, but this is one part of the plot that makes no sense whatsoever. So after Uncle Ben has been shot by a carjacker and Peter chases the criminal down, he stalks him through an abandoned warehouse. It’s an effective scene, right up until the point that the crook falls out of a window. What? He stumbles backwards through a glass window and dies when he hits the ground. It’s meant to see Peter get some kind of revenge or peace for Ben’s death without actually having any guilt on his conscience.
But, it’s just so odd. Why didn’t he just beat him up and leave him for the police below? That way, the murder’s solved and Pete can feel good knowing he caught the criminal. But no, he accidentally falls out of the window, and Pete watches him die without any remorse whatsoever.
8. ANOTHER VILLAIN WITH AN EXTRA PERSONALITY
When Willem Dafoe brought the Green Goblin to life during the first Spider-Man film, it was a refreshing take on a supervillain. A dormant alter-ego was lying inside Osborn’s mental state, taking over his body and forcing him to commit these acts as the Green Goblin. Great! But Spider-Man 2 followed a very similar route. When Otto’s inhibitor chip was fried during the accident, the Artificial Intelligence in the arms began to influence his actions and what he was doing.
Yes, Doc Ock was still a cool villain with intriguing motivations, but he’s surprisingly similar to the Green Goblin. They’re both scientists with dreams of expanding their horizons through technology, only for it to go wrong and they both delve into an alter ego because of it. Let’s not even touch Venom…
7. THE BRIDGE DILEMMA
For the most part, Willem Dafoe does a great job as the Green Goblin. The warped father-figure taunts Peter in emotional ways that shaped supervillains for years (“We’re the same, you and I…”). But we just can’t look past the finale on the Queensboro Bridge. He has Mary Jane in one hand and a tram full of kids in the other. He drops them both and Pete has to choose which one to save.
Essentially it’s a really poor adaptation of “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”, except Mary Jane isn’t killed by Peter’s web and the wallcrawler saves the day. That storyline shaped Spider-Man in a new way. It showed audiences and Spidey himself that he wasn’t perfect. It was a great way of saying that heroes don’t always win. Except in the Raimi film he saves everyone and defeats the Goblin. It’s a rubbish adaptation of a classic story.
6. PETER LOSES HIS POWERS
When Spider-Man loses his powers, you know that it’s because of the internal struggle raging on inside him about his dual lives. That makes sense, in fact — it’s a very good plot point. It allows Peter to grow and figure out his own path and it’s a great way of developing his character. What isn’t so great, is that he gets them back nearly as quickly as he loses them.
It would have made more sense if Peter lost his powers at the very beginning of the film whilst dealing with the death of Norman Osborn, rather than hastily including it during the middle of the film. It doesn’t quite feel like an afterthought, but it doesn’t feel fleshed out enough. Even though it teases Peter with what life could be like away from the suit, it’s irrelevant since we all know he’s going to start climbing walls again.
5. SPIDEY ISN’T FUNNY
One of the most iconic parts of Spider-Man is his ability to sling out fast quips and comebacks during fights and conversations with villains. But across the Sam Raimi trilogy we don’t really get a consistently humorous Spidey. There’s the odd sarcastic retort here and there, but no memorable remarks.
Spider-Man is Peter letting himself be his ideal self away from his normal life, so it’s a shame the Raimi trilogy doesn’t let him be as funny as he could be. And since the trilogy uses some extremely memorable villains (although not always in the best way), there are unlimited ways for Spidey to make fun of them or just completely dismantle their plans with his puns — but no. Instead we get teen angst-ridden Spider-Man who is creepily obsessed with Mary Jane.
4. THE SURGICAL DOC OCK SCENE
The birth of Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2 was a great example of a realistic birth of a supervillain, and the scene where the surgeons attempt to remove the harness is one of the best scenes in comic book movie history. It blends horror and super villainy in a truly unique way. The problem is that it sticks out like a sore thumb. It made Doc Ock scary, it made us scared of those robotic limbs but it’s the only scene in the movie to do so.
The rest of the time he’s a misunderstood genius rather than a terrifying monster. Maybe that’s the point, but the scene itself doesn’t fit with the rest of the film at all. It feels like Sam Raimi missed making the Evil Dead and needed an excuse to bring his horror roots back to a new film. It is still an incredible scene though.
3. MJ AND PETER’S RELATIONSHIP
Peter Parker and Mary Jane are one of the most iconic couples in comic books and superhero film history, but their relationship is surprisingly toxic across the trilogy. They bounce back and forth between each other, usually after a failed relationship or moment with someone else — Harry, J Jonah Jr. and Gwen Stacy. Not to mention that Pete actually kisses Gwen as Spider-Man whilst Mary Jane is watching, and is completely okay with it.
And are we all forgetting that moment where Peter slaps Mary Jane during the bar fight? Just because he was being influenced by the symbiote doesn’t give him a free pass to hit innocent people during a heated moment. Yes they reconcile at the end of the film, it still doesn’t mean that their relationship is a good one.
2. NEW GOBLIN
At the end of Spider-Man 2, Harry discovered his father’s hidden cave of Goblin armor, his glider and pumpkin bombs. And after he pumps himself full of secret Goblin serum, he becomes yet another villain that has ties to Peter’s emotional journey. His glider is a sleek version of the one his father rode, looking more like a snowboard than a glider. And his flight suit doesn’t resemble the Goblin costume in any way.
Then there’s the face mask, it’s bizarre and again doesn’t call back to the Green Goblin identity at all. Plus, why does he have a sword? Is he in Game of Thrones? Harry, son of Norman, House of Osborn? No. Even though his death at the end (spoilers) was well done, Harry really lost it in the third film. Come on James Franco, you’re better than this.
We weren’t going to do this list without delving into Venom. Look, if a meteor crash lands with the symbiote, fine. If Spider-Man gets a black suit, even better. But when it bonds with Eddie Brock, this is where it all goes wrong. For starters, Brock’s motives are just completely weak. He’s purely driven by revenge, and doesn’t convince us that he’s anything but a two-dimensional villain.
If they’d established Venom earlier on in the film, maybe having him stalk Peter and his friends, becoming a creepy horror-esque villain, he might have worked. But instead we got Topher Grace laughing and screaming lines all over the place. The visual look of Venom wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t terrifying as he could have been. Let’s hope that Tom Hardy brings a better version of Brock when he takes the role.
Did we miss out on any moments? Let us know in the comments!
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