Review: SPIDER-MAN (2002)

Check out my summary and review of Spider-Man(2002) below!

Director: Sam Raimi
Written By: David Koepp
Produced By: Laura Ziskin, Ian Bryce, Avi Arad

Here is the story of the first theatrical version of the famous high school web shooter, Spider-Man. It starts out with a zoom in of a red-head, MJ on a bus, with narration by Peter Parker, and Peter Parker himself, running to catch the school bus. He manages to get onto the bus, and after some bullying, the class heads to a genetics lab where they are manipulating spider DNA.

Harry Osborn pulls up in a car with his dad, Norman Osborn, where they talk about how Harry has moved from every private school to finally public school because he has flunked out. Harry gets out of the car, and Norman follows with his backpack and gets introduced to Peter, and is told by Harry he should adopt Peter because he is a genius. Peter and Harry walk into the genetics laboratory and the tour of the genetically altered spiders begins.

I like this tour, because as they go over each spider, each spider has one of Spider-Man’s powers; it is kinda cool to me. Harry learns some cool spider and microscope knowledge from Peter, and then proceeds to use it to betray Peter’s forever love in MJ by hitting on her.

The tour guide points out that all of the spiders shown so far have been genetically engineered together, and the DNA has been bred to fifteen spiders, and MJ points out there are only fourteen on display. The tour guide blows it off, with a shown image of the spider spinning its web above the students. MJ and Peter decide to have a photoshoot (for the school paper *rolls eyes*) in front of the fourteen spiders, and the fifteenth genetically engineered spider spins down and bites Peter. Peter winces, and the screen behind him shows the DNA strand of the genetically altered spider.

We head from one lab, to another, specifically the Oscorp lab, where we find many military members interviewing Oscorp employees about a glider, a green, exoskeleton suit, and the main focus, human performance enhancers! Norman Osborn says they are ready to begin human trials and the military officers exclaim if they aren’t ready to present the enhancer in two weeks they will lose the military’s contract to their rival, Quest.

The next scene leads us to the Parker residence, where we find Uncle Ben changing a light bulb, and we meet Aunt May who is cooking dinner.  I like how they are on the older side, it emphasizes the mentor relationship, and why they are so good with parenting/managing Peter, and his crisis’s. Peter comes in from the field trip, and refuses dinner, to go upstairs and pass out on his bedroom floor. The camera pans to the spider bite on his hand, and it is purple and swollen, major major gross.

We head back to OSCORP where Norman is going to test the enhancer drug! He is with one other doctor, who straps him onto a table, and sends him into a sealed chamber to take in the enhancement gas. Once the gas gets going, Norman grows muscle, his heart rate increases, he starts thrashing, and then he passes out and his heart stops.

Don’t go in the chamber Doctor!!! Crap, he’s going in the chamber. Of course. For a guy who’s supposedly so smart, he’s really dumb.

The doctor unlocks Norman’s restraints to begin CPR and then Norman recovers, tosses the doctor out of the chamber through the glass, and Norman jumps on the doctor, and presumably, kills the doctor.

Meanwhile, Peter wakes up from his catnap all muscular! He tries to put his glasses on but figures out  after staring at MJ through the window, he doesn’t need them.

Peter leaves for school and Uncle Ben reminds him not to forget about painting the kitchen after school. Peter acknowledges him, and walks out the door to see MJ’s dad shouting at her. They talk, MJ hops in a friend’s car, and Peter misses the bus again. But wait! Peter runs fast enough to catch up to the bus, only to pull the sign off of the bus?

Harry walks into his living room to find his dad on the floor asleep. Harry wakes him up, and asks him what happened, but Norman doesn’t remember. A woman comes in from OSCORP, tells Norman the glider has been stolen, and Dr. Strom is dead.

Well its lunch time at school, Peter is sitting at a table and gets a premonition spidey sense, that MJ is going to slip, and suavely catches her, and her food. MJ tries to talk to him, and Peter freezes, of course *rolls eyes*.

Peter sits back down to find his fork stuck to his hand, and shoots web onto someone else’s lunch tray, and slings it onto Flash. Flash gets mad, and he chases Peter to the hallway where a fight breaks out and we see some of Peter’s awesome moves. Peter ends the fight, and runs out of the school into an alleyway, where he looks at his wrist to see a web like “image” on it, then the bite, then a spider’s web, and then a close up of his thumb shows hair like sticky things on it, (while you’re thinking about this Peter, are you remembering about the kitchen?)

Peter begins to climb up the side of a building on his hands slowly and surely after some thought and proceeds to start jumping across buildings. The years on this movie really show here, because the CGI is that of the marks of the Star Wars Episode II era, but it works for the era. Peter then tries to figure out how to actually shoot web voluntarily, and after a few phrases, he figures out how to do it. He starts shooting web, and fails the first swinging test. Wait wait wait, is Peter forgetting something?


I really cannot stand Tobey Maguire. He is a horrible horrible actor, and this is a great movie, but it would been an even greater movie without him. He doesn’t have the skills to emotionally achieve a single character correctly. In this movie, Peter Parker is supposed to be emotionally withdrawn, because he does not understand how to be emotional, and Maguire pulls that to the absolute max, to the point where it looks, feels and is not real. Raimi is a great director, and he pulls off a great movie with what he has, and I give him extreme props for that. But I still think a casting change of one Peter Parker would have done wonders for this movie.

Peter gets home, and he and MJ talk, MJ goes off with Flash in his new car, and Peter starts looking at cars, and realizes cars cost money. He spots a wrestle ad for $3000, and decides he’s gonna make a costume and go get the money. He spends time practicing and finishing his costume up.

Quick flash to Norman reading the paper with a lot of articles about how OSCORP is failing, and he’s hearing voices

Back to the Parker residence, where we see Uncle Ben and Aunt May talk about what could be wrong with Peter recently and Peter comes down to go to the “library”, and Ben insists on driving him to talk with him, about change, and the famous quote “with great power comes great responsibility” is stated here. Peter gets mad, and insists on Ben letting him be.

Oh ho ho! Peter is not actually going to the library!

Peter signs up to wrestle, and the lady basically calls him crazy. He steps up to the plate as Spider-Man, and enters the cage match, and exits a champ. Peter goes to collect his money, but the wrestlemania guy doesn’t want to hand over the money. Peter leaves with $100, and a guy comes in after Peter and robs the wrestlemania guy. He runs out and Peter lets him get away, mad at the guy for not giving Peter his money.

Peter is walking home, when he notices a bunch of cops, he joins the crowd around a hurt man, and he sees that it’s Uncle Ben, and he stays with him until he dies. Peter walks, well runs away as soon as Ben dies, and climbs some buildings to find the carjacker. Several web swings later, he lands on top of the car. After some bumps, he traps the guy in a building, and fights the man. The carjacker stands in the light of a window and Peter realizes it is the robber he let get away. The robber goes to shoot Peter then trips, then falls to his death out the window. The cops want to get Peter, but by the time they get to the window, Peter is gone.

The military men we saw at the beginning at OSCORP, are at Quest, and looking at their flying exoskeleton, only to be overrun by a creepy voice who flies in and shoots up the place.

Norman tells Harry he’s proud he actually graduated, Harry and Peter get an apartment in New York, MJ tells Flash they’re done, and Harry peeps in on their conversation. Norman tells Peter he’s like a brother to Harry and if he ever needs anything to let him know. Peter and Aunt May head home, and Peter goes off in his room, overcome by missing Uncle Ben, and Aunt May reminds him Uncle Ben knew an argument didn’t determine how he felt about Peter, and how he and she both believed/believe Peter will do great things. This is another great moment where Aunt May being older shows better with the mentorship. I’m not sure a 30-45 year old woman portraying Aunt May would be able to pull off the feel and one sided familial bonding in this moment.

Peter moves on and decides he will be responsible with his power, and decides to help people, saving a store from a robbery, and a lot of people start spreading rumors. We see multiple news articles, and interviews with people who have been saved or who have seen Spider-Man.

We find ourselves now at the Daily Bugle, where Jameson is in a tizzy about Spider-Man, believing he is a villain, but figures out Spider-Man sells papers, and demands a good picture of Spider-Man.

Peter and MJ meet up as she walks out of a diner trying to hide she’s a waitress, lying until she gets found out. She asks him what he’s up to and he says hes looking for a job. Peter heads back to his apartment to find Norman there, and Peter tells Harry he got fired Norman asks how he can help, Peter says he wants to do it on his own, and wants to find something in photography, and sees the ad in the Daily Bugle. He sets up a camera for stopping robbers, and gets his pictures.

Peter takes his pictures to Jameson, and fights for to get $300 for his pictures, and when he hears Jameson’s headline, he tries to argue, gives up, and tries to get a job, but Jameson just tells him he’s a freelancer.

Shoot to Norman with the OSCORP board of directors, telling them they’re the biggest supplier for the military, costs are down, prices are up. The board of directors tells him they’re selling the company, but he cannot come with it, and that the sale is final.

Peter heads to the world unity day to take photos, and finds MJ and Harry on the roof with OSCORP board. Peter gets a spidey sense, and sees smoke in the air. Turns out, its the OSCORP glider and suit that has gone missing! And there’s as guy in the suit! Suit guy attacks the balcony with OSCORP board, Harry and MJ on it.

In the turmoil, Peter starts saving people and we see a superman esk costume reveal, while suit guy goes up to the broken balcony and throws a bomb that turns the board into skeletons, and rubble hits Harry in the head, knocking him out, and suit guy scares MJ, who is close to falling off the balcony. Spider-Man knocks suit guy off the glider, and suit guy calls the glider to him on the ground. Spider-Man saves a little kid, and suit guy “surrenders” and then attacks police. Suit guy gets back on glider and chases after Spider-Man.

MJ starts actually falling, and suit guy prevents Spider-Man from coming to save her by knocking him into a woman. Spider-Man finally kinda takes out the glider and always the damsel in distress, MJ falls to the ground, with Spider-Man barely saving her

MJ asks who Spider-Man is and he tells her “you know who I am”, and “Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!”, and then Spidey swings away.

We head back to Harry and Peter’s apartment, and MJ is on the phone with Harry, telling him Spider-Man is incredible. Harry apologizes to Peter for not telling him he was dating MJ, telling him he never made a move, and Peter agrees. They both agree someone has to stop the suit guy.

Norman is in his house, hearing voices and drinking whiskey. He talks to himself in the mirror, realizing he killed the board, he is the suit guy! Because of performance enhancers, he became his personality split. Creepy Norman tells Norman only [Spider-Man] can stop him, but imagine if they teamed up?

In the daily bugle, Jameson is talking to Peter, where he has officially named suit guy, The Green Goblin, complaining about how everyone has to have a name these days. Peter begins to argue with Jameson about his newspaper title, when BOOM! Green Goblin comes crashing in through Jameson’s window, demanding the photographer who takes Spidey’s picture. Jameson refuses to give him Peter’s name, and Spider-Man comes in! Jameson says he was right and gets web to the face, Spider-Man gets knocked out with some of Goblin’s sleep gas, and gets carted off to Norman’s house where he wakes up paralyzed. 

Goblin tries to convince Spider-Man in spite of everything he’s done the city will eventually hate him, and Spider-Man needs to just give up on the city already. Goblin tells Spidey they are exceptional, but he could squash Spider-Man, and is giving him an option to join him. Goblin tells Spider-Man to think about his offer.

Peter sees wanted signs for Spider-Man’s arrest and runs into MJ. He asks about her audition, she says it was horrible, and Peter offers to get her a cheeseburger. She says she can’t but tells him to come with her and Harry on a date. He refuses, and she walks off.

Peter sees guys point her out and follow her, and starts changing. MJ gets attacked, and Spider-Man follows her, not all the way changed, and saves her with his mask off. Spider-Man finishes off the bad guys, and steps into the alleyway, disappearing as MJ calls after him. He reappears, upside down, behind her, with his mask on. He says its nice to have a fan, and MJ asks if she can say thank you this time, pulls off his mask halfway after he tells her to wait, and upside down kiss makeout, whatever, move on. She puts back on his mask, and he spins away.

The upside down kiss is the most stupidest thing in this movie. This is saying something coming from the romantic at heart I am, but I really hate it. It seems like a ploy to obtain the dates that don’t want to see a superhero movie, but went because of this moment. 

We swing off to a building on fire, a mom says her baby is still in the building, and Spider-Man comes in, swinging into the building. He comes out, with -> an elephant! No, just kidding, its the mom’s baby.

Police come into arrest Spider-Man, and a woman yells. Spider-Man asks for permission to go get her, and the cop tells him he’ll be here when Spider-Nab gets back. Spidey says he’s not coming back and swings into the building, only to find it’s Goblin! Goblin asks if Spider-Man is going to accept and he says no! The winged bombs of doom come swinging towards Spidey, he gets a slice across the arm and fight scene! Explosion, and Spider-Man disappears.

Thanksgiving Day! MJ finally meets Norman, and Norman brings a fruit cake. Peter swings into his room to get changed, and everyone walks in. Peter has to jump on the ceiling, where the blood from his cut from the fight starts to drip. As everyone is walking out, one blood drop falls to the floor, and Norman hears it and turns back. He looks at the ceiling, and Peter is no longer there, but outside his apartment, under the balcony. Peter comes into the apartment with the cranberries, and everyone sits down for grace.

Norman creeps Aunt May out with knives, and Aunt May notices the blood coming from Peter’s arm. He says it was a bike messenger, but Norman figures out Spidey is Peter! Norman walks out, flustered, saying he’s got something to do, Harry chases him, Norman says MJ is a gold digger and Harry should get rid of her, while everyone hears what she is saying. MJ walks out because Harry didn’t defend her.

Norman is seen here talking to himself again, while creepy Norman tells him not to destroy Spider-Man, but Peter Parker, and while Norman says he doesn’t want to do it, creepy Norman says do it.

Aunt May is saying the Lord’s Prayer at her bed and the Goblin attacks Aunt May, freaking her out to the max. Peter runs into the hospital to be with Aunt May, and with the nurses rushing him out, he hears her say it was the Goblin, and Peter realizes the Goblin knows who he is.

MJ walks into see Aunt May, and confesses to Peter she’s in love with Spider-Man. She asks him if he thinks the terrible things being said are true, and he says no, and that he knows Spider-Man (duh). He says he’s the unofficial Spider-Man photographer, and MJ asks if Spider-Man has mentioned her.

Peter says Spider-Man asked what he (Peter) thought about MJ. Peter pours his soul and love for MJ out into what he says (and Tobey doesn’t pass this off AT ALL grr hatred hatred hatred). Meanwhile Aunt May is listening in and smiles cause she knows he means it.

MJ and Peter have a moment and Harry walks in with flowers for Aunt May, and MJ and Peter quickly stop holding hands. Harry looks at them like Peter has been wooing MJ while they were supposed to be dating(dude he’s been trying to do this FOR YEARS (even though Tobey CAN’T pull it off)).

Flash to the Osborn mansion, where Harry tells Norman he was right about MJ, and that she’s in love with Peter (but she doesn’t actually know that). Norman asks how Peter feels and Harry admits Peter has had a crush on MJ since the fourth grade. Norman tells Harry he’s sorry for not always being there for him, Harry says it’s ok, he understood Norman was busy, and Norman tells Harry he will rectify some inequities (aka take care of Peter). Peter is passed out at the hospital and is woken up by Aunt May, who tells Peter he has to take care of himself, and that he’s not Superman. Aunt May tells him the first thing he said when MJ moved in was “Aunt May Aunt May, is that an angel?” (Now tell me, could little Tobey Maguire pull that off? NO).

Aunt May asks Peter if it really would be so dangerous to let MJ know how much he cares, because everyone else knows. This causes Peter to realize MJ is in danger, and he calls her only to get her voicemail, and while he’s leaving the message, the Goblin picks up, telling Spider-Man to come out to play.

MJ wakes up on Queensboro Bridge, and as she gets up to see where she is and the Goblin flies over her, and past a tram car full of kids, singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider. The Goblin blows up a the tram, causing the tram wire to break, and the kids to fall while Spider-Man is still in the city. Spider-Man slingshots himself using web to the bridge. He lands where Goblin is holding MJ, and the broken tram car wire that is all that is keeping the kids in the tram car from falling to the water. He tells Spider-Man he must choose, between the woman he loves, or a bunch of little children. He tells them the hero’s choice will always cause the hero to suffer, and drops MJ, and the broken tram car wire.

Spider-Man jumps after MJ first, catches her, and sings under the bridge to catch the tram car. Goblin starts to fly to get to Spider-Man and Spider-Man tells MJ she can climb down to the tram car to be safe.

Meanwhile, the Goblin is flying around Spider-Man, causing him to lose his grip on the tram car wire. The citizens start throwing stuff at the Goblin to help Spider-Man get the tram car down to a barge for safety, and in the huzzah, Goblin gets a tie around Spider-Man and drags him to an abandoned building. Spider-Man lands and gets blown up. Goblin starts landing punch after punch and Spider-Man won’t win! Just kidding. Goblin gets trapped in a web Spider-Man manages to spin, but Goblin continues to fail. Goblin tells Spider-Man MJ will suffer before she dies (never tell them that, they gain more resolve!). Spider-Man drags a wall onto Goblin, and now who’s taking punches Goblin? (spit out face)

Norman reveals himself, and tells Spider-Man creepy Norman has been the bad guy. While he’s talking with Spider-Man, he presses a discrete button to call the glider. Spider-Man gets a spidey sense, as Norman tells him he was always like a father to Peter, and Spider-Man jumps, causing the glider to impale itself into Norman, not Spider-Man. Norman’s last words are “Don’t tell Harry.”

Spider-Man strips Norman of his gear, and brings him home. Harry sees him, and yells “What have you done?” to Spider-Man as he leaves the house through the window. Harry thinks Spider-Man killed Norman.

At Norman’s funeral, Peter comes up to Harry and offers his condolences, saying he knows what it is like to lose a father. Harry declares Norman was stolen from him, and swears on his father’s grave Norman will pay. He then says he’s thankful for Peter, that he’s the only family he has left.

Peter walks to Uncle Ben’s grave, and MJ follows him. She tells him while she was on the bridge, he, Peter Parker, was the only one she was thinking about, and wanted to make it out for. She tells him, he has always been there for her, and she loves him. She kisses him, and while you want this to work, and for Peter to confess his love, he tells her they can only be friends, but he will always be there for her. Peter walks away from MJ, and the narration by Peter says Whatever lies before him, the words “With great power comes great responsibility” will be his gift, his curse, and that he is Spider-Man.

This ending!! I hate this ending. It is such the cliche of cliche superhero endings, and it just makes me mad. But I think it is technically the first movie to start off this cliche, so I can’t truly hate it that much.

Overall, this is a great movie. It has some flaws, but its triumphs overcome its weaknesses. Raimi really does well with this movie, and the next two in the series. Dunst is good as MJ, Maguire, well, I covered him, Franco is good as Harry, he makes some missteps I think in the characterization, but he pulls it off well. CGI is relatively good for its time, but the age of the movie shows.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

That’s my review of Spider-Man! Follow us @AstonishMarvels on twitter to let us know your thoughts. Our 9 days of Spider-Man continues tomorrow with the review of Spider-Man 2.

Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into theaters July 7th.

Clemson University Graduate. Lover of all things Star Wars and DC.

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