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Road to No Way Home: Spider-Man (2002)

If somebody told you I was just your average guy, not a care in the world... somebody lied.

Spider-Man is a 2002 superhero film directed by Sam Raimi, written by David Koepp, produced by Columbia Pictures, Marvel Enterprises, and Laura Ziskin Productions, and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. It is based on various Spider-Man comics by Marvel Comics. It stars Tobey Maguire and Willem DaFoe. It was nominated for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound, but did not win either. This is the first film in both the Spider-Man film series as well as the first film in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. It was followed by Spider-Man 2.

"With great power comes great responsibility." -Ben Parker


Nerdy high school teenager Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and given superhuman abilities. When tragedy strikes and Peter is left grieving, he uses his powers for good and becomes the amazing Spider-Man. However, his courage is tested when Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin, goes insane and begins terrorizing the city of New York.

With great power comes great responsibility.

How Did Spider-Man Get Made?

Shockingly, production on a live-action Spider-Man movie started twenty years before this movie came out. In 1985, Tobe Hooper, director of horror classics such as Poltergeist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, was attached to direct the film and wanted to take it in a horror direction. Instead of a superhero, Spider-Man would be a literal Spider-Man...a human tarantula. Stan Lee hated this, and a new script was written.

A new movie, now called Spider-Man: The Movie was developed that was much more faithful to the comics and had Doc Ock as the main antagonist. However, after superhero movies such as Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Masters of the Universe failed critically and commercially, the budget for Spider-Man: The Movie was slashed.

Eventually, James Cameron (Terminator, Aliens, Avatar) was hired as director. His film would've been a darker exploration of the character where Electro and Sandman were the villains. However, law suits and studio mishaps caused the film to fall through and Cameron left to go make Titanic.

In 1999, studios approached a bunch of directors, including M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable), David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Game), and Tim Burton (Batman, Edward Scissorhands). None of these directors stayed on, though.

In 2000, Sam Raimi was hired. They worked with Cameron's script, meaning Electro and Sandman were still the villains, but Raimi didn't like it, so the script was re-written again. This time, Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus would serve as the antagonists. After realizing the father-son theme between Green Goblin and Spider-Man would be a great plot element, Doc Ock was dropped from the film and eventually used in Spider-Man 2.

After two more years of production, Spider-Man was released to positive reviews and massive box office numbers. This movie contributed heavily to the increase in popularity of superhero movies and likely indirectly caused the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Positive Aspects

PSA before you read this: I love this movie. I want the review portion of this article to be a little bit shorter, so that's why I only have a few positives. If this was a full review, I'd have much more to say in this section.

My personal favorite thing about Spider-Man is the way it tells Peter Parker's iconic origin story. It absolutely nails everything about the Spider-Man origin. It is incredibly faithful to the comics, and that was a great decision. From the spider bite to Uncle Ben's death to the theme of power and responsibility, this movie just hits the nail on the head with the character of Spider-Man and the themes surrounding him. To this day, I think Spider-Man is the best translation of a comic book to screen. It just is perfect with the way that the story is told and the way that Peter's character is handled.

Speaking of perfection, Willem DaFoe is the ultimate Green Goblin. He is just allowed to go in all of these crazy directions with the character. He fits the cheesiness of this film perfectly while also being this terrifying and insane character. I think Green Goblin is an incredible villain, and he is elevated by DaFoe's performance. I love the way that the script balances his soft, tame side as Norman Osborn and his crazed alter ego that comes from a science experiment gone wrong. This villain would not be who he is without Willem DaFoe, though.

Both Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 focus much more on Peter Parker's personal life than his life as Spider-Man. However, this movie doesn't do that. This film is centered on Spider-Man. Not Peter Parker. Spider-Man. And that's why this movie is great. Peter Parker is an interesting character, but I don't find him super likable in the Raimi trilogy, so he's much more fun to watch as Spider-Man. And this movie really does make it fun to watch him as the web-slinger.

And the impact that this movie had on the superhero genre cannot be emphasized enough. Without this movie, there is no MCU. Without this movie, we might not even have The Dark Knight. This movie is so influential on the superhero genre. And I absolutely adore superhero movies, so I am very thankful for that.

Negative Aspects

My least favorite thing about Spider-Man? Most people will disagree with this. But I absolutely despise Tobey Maguire. I don't like Kirsten Dunst either, but Tobey Maguire is this soft-ass crybaby that I cannot stand. I have never liked him. Part of the reason I don't really find Peter Parker likable in this trilogy is because of Maguire's gross portrayal of the character. I do think he's good when he is wearing the Spider-Man costume. Otherwise? I hate him. He is such a nerdy wimp. Yes, Peter Parker is supposed to be a nerd. But he isn't a wimpy b**ch boy. And that's how Maguire plays him.

And this movie is relatively dated. The CGI doesn't hold up super well. Some of the lines are kind of offensive/way too corny for nowadays. I just think some of the elements are very much stuck in the 2000s. It's 2021. Most of the humor is extremely outdated. There will be lines that are just cringy if you watch this movie. And even the look/feel of this movie will be just out of place in the modern day.

How Will Spider-Man Affect No Way Home?

It hasn't been confirmed that Willem DaFoe will be reappearing, but we know that Green Goblin is in No Way Home. In the trailer, there is a goblin bomb that appears alongside the Goblin's sinister laugh. He also appears in the background of the poster. And we know that it is the Raimi Green Goblin because his suit looks almost exactly the same on the poster. Also, the goblin bomb is clearly from Spider-Man.

Final Score

Spider-Man is a milestone for superhero movies. Despite elements that will appear outdated as well as a horrible lead actor, this movie nails the tone and vibe of the Spider-Man that we all know and love.

I'm going Sweet here. Age range is 7+.


Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)

Sour (Bad)

Moldy (Terrible)


Fun Factor: 9/10

Acting: 6.5/10

Story: 9.5/10

Characters: 9/10

Quality: 7.5/10

Directed by Sam Raimi

Rated PG-13 for superhero violence and action, language, minor sexual content, frightening images, thematic elements

Released on May 3, 2002

2 hours and 1 minute

Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man

Willem DaFoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin

Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson

James Franco as Harry Osborn

Cliff Robertson as Ben Parker

Rosemary Harris as May Parker

J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson

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