Recently I wrote an article about why The Dark Knight trilogy isn’t dark in tone and are basically glorified pop corn movies. I recently watch the spiderman trilogy recently and it’s one of the most cohesive movie experiences i’ve ever seen. It feels like one solid movie instead of a trilogy, first off let me just explain why it’s super dark and depressing instead of a kid’s movie insult people like to use on superhero movies that aren’t TDK.
Even more so Spiderman. Sam Raimi puts Peter Parker through so much punishment the first two spiderman movies it seems to be counting down until Peter really snaps and becomes a dick. But let’s look at the story overall. Guy has a quaint little life living with his aunt and uncle. He’s a nerd, nay a super nerd, and only has his family and his two friends Mary Jane and Harry. ONLY 4 PEOPLE care about this guy. Then he gets super powers, and the one time he reasonably becomes an asshole his uncle Ben gets shot. He chases the guy down , and he accidentally falls to his death, while we see a dark side of peter we didn’t know existed, as he contemplated murder. That’s one father figure gone. Next Peter meets Norman osbourn, a potential father figure, and harry and Mary Jane start dating. Norman turns out to be evil, and Peter has to watch another father figure in his life die.. again. The end of spiderman leaves Peter without an uncle and sad, Harry has no father and is out to kill his ” best friends” alter ego, and Mary Jane doesn’t end up with Peter Parker or Spiderman. All really depressed.
A lot of critisms people give spiderman is that Peter Parker doesn’t joke around enough. My argument is that it ruins the dramatic tension. He jokes around when appropriate but most of the fight scenes are him saving somebody. Next Sam Raimi’s direction is incredible here, this movie is so fun to watch because of how exciting and fun the action scenes are. Also Peter’s many powers are illustrated in really creative ways. Him catching all the food on a lunch tray, and his fingers clinging onto a flyer not eh bus. Even when the action scenes aren’t fun they’re actually really tense and almost horror like with they’re imagery. Every spiderman movie, the music will stop and it gets really intense. Here it’s the Norman osbourn final fight which doesn’t have one note of score making it super effective, and when Peter hunts down his uncles killer and contemplates murder. Great movie works as it’s own and as set up, and this is a classic. The imagery and iconic moments from him climbing the wall the first time to ” With great power comes great responsibility” are all burned into our sub conscience.
But it gets worse. Spiderman 2 Peter is a college student and his social life is being constantly ruined by being Spiderman. Even worse Mary Jane is getting married, and Harry Obsbourn is being driven mad by his father’s death and wants nothing more then to kill Spiderman. But there’s a silver lining Doctor Octavious will not only make Harry lots of money, but will help Peter pass college and also be a potential father figure. Of course he gets transformed into a villain, but not just any villain, a sympathetic villain. Peter stops Doc Ock after getting revealed to the two people the movie has been focused on Harry and Mary Jane. He gets Mary Jane in the end after leaving her ex fiancée at the alter waiting, bitch, and Harry is still conflicted on his feelings towards Peter. As it ends on a somewhat bitter sweet note, with Mary Jane looking out the window wondering if she made the right choice dating a superhero.
Once again the series stays focused on it’s big 3 and delivers everything the original did , but bigger, better , darker. Basically one of the best sequels off all time hands down. It has a way of paralleling the first movie, but in a way that’s more like poetry then imitation. And this has to have the best action scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie ever. You get the best of both worlds, tense dramatic scary action and fun aestethicaly pleasing action. These characters are so disposable, but likable at the same time. Not to mention the movie is frickin hilarious. Jonah Jameson gets a laugh every time he’s on, and the movie is so goofy it’s hard not to laugh. Sam Raimi is on a tone tight rope. There’s campy fun moments , but also dark depressing moments all throughout, and it really works, but Spiderman 3 is where the formula bends a little.
Spiderman 3 starts and finally for once Peter’s life is where he wants it to be, or so you’d think. Harry finally attacks Peter and ends up with amnesia, yeah I know I rolled my eyes too, and Mary Jane is a failing actress. Peter goes to marry Mary, shit doesn’t work out, and Harry ends up making the two break up. Now a lesser movie would’ve had a love triangle for most of the movie, but no it’s there just long enough to get the point across that Mary has second thoughts, but it doesn’t take over. Also the Sandman is out to get Spiderman as he tries to get money for his sick daughter. Peter puts on the black suit, kicks Harry and Sandman’s ass, and we finally see him become that dick we expected him to become. It’s revealed that Sandman actually killed Uncle Ben. Peter in the black suit manifests Venom, and him and Sandman take over the city and threaten to kill Mary Jane. Harry and Peter team up as the trio huddle over Harry’s dying body, before realizing that the Sandman accidentally killed his uncle, adding more of a bittersweet twist to what already was there. Peter and Mary Jane dance and it’s ambitious if they ever even got back together or if they deserve to.
Now Let me address the legitimate complaints first. Yes, while this is the darkest of the 3 movies it also makes the mistake of being the goofiest. The amnesia sub plot is a little dumb, but I understand why it’s there. Now when Peter decides to dance around and try to be cool as black suit spiderman and his hair is emo, That doesn’t bother me. Somebody put it into the context that not only do the people around Peter look at him like he’s a dork, he is a dork. He’s never been a ladies man and his idea of being cool is extremely dorky. What doesn’t work is the whole jazz club scene. We’re not going to talk about that atrocity literally the lowest moment in the franchise. Also admittedly the story pacing can be problematic , and a little choppy. There are like 2 major scenes I can think of where it felt like a small scene was missing, which is quite possibly the case.
Now the critisms that aren’t legit, is that it’s got too much going on. Well that’s subjective but for me Sam Raimi handles all the story lines masterfully. The big one people bitch about is Eddie Brock and Venom being underdeveloped, but Venom is a manifestation of Peter’s dark side. Had Peter never broke Eddie’s camera, Venom wouldn’t be a thing, so Venom is more of a theme or an extension of Peter then a villain. The main focus here was once again on Harry, Mary , and Peter and the editing and story pacing are excellent, moving the story briskly enough. There’s a fight scene in the first 15 minutes that is absolutely badass. The movie doesn’t waste any time, so the whole too much going on doesn’t make sense to me, especially considering this is the last movie in the trilogy. Spiderman 3 seems to be the big pay off. We see confrontation on every level. Our 3 characters are finally where the previous movies teased. My absolute favorite thing about it is how shitty these characters are. Mary Jane may be the worst girlfriend in movie history and it’s intentional, and Harry is just a jerk, but reasonably so.
The main compliment I can give this that I can only really say about maybe Toy Story, granted I haven’t seen lord of the rings, is that this trilogy feels completely cohesive. You can watch the movie in one sitting and forget where one stops and the other starts. Spiderman 3 is the weakest, but it’s still a good movie. It really set the bar for what you can do with a super hero movie and even a trilogy in itself. It’s sad that people really dog pile on spiderman 3 and down play the other two movies. Overall definitely worth a rematch and I’ll make it a ritual to watch all these movies back to back. And if Spiderman is in the Avengers it’d better be Tobey Macquire not Andrew Garfield.