Looking Back on Spider-Man 3

At the time, Spider-Man 3 was one of the most hotly anticipated comic book movies... after it hit theaters it became one of the most hated comic book movies.

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By jamedog - 2/10/2011
Yesterday, a link was posted up on this site to the Nostalgia Critic's Top 11 Dumbest Spider-Man Moments (http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/nostalgia-critic/29737-the-top-11-dumbest-spiderman-moments). Overall, I enjoyed the video, I didn't agree with some of NC's opinions, but if anything it reminded me why I love the first two movies so much. At one point in the video, NC says that he kinda liked Spiderman 3 and that he constantly gets ridiculed for it. Nostalgia Critic states that the third Spidey film is the worst of the series but is no sillier than the previous two movies, and that fans were too hard on the movie.

His remarks got me thinking, particularly why do we hate this movie so much? Yes it is silly, but the first two movies are silly too. Sam Raimi has said that his movies take place in a fantasy world, and it's apparent in how over-the-top his Spider-Man movies are. Raimi understood that Spider-Man was a movie that couldn't be too serious, and he gave the movie the same kind of over-the-top atmosphere that his Evil Dead movies and his Hercules and Xena shows had, and it's what made the Spidey movies unique.

In my opinion, Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 are two of the best comic book movies of all time. Hell, I think Spider-Man 2 is one of the best sequel of all time. Now I've never been a big Spidey fan, I like the character, but I've never been a die hard supporter. That said, when Spider-Man 2 ended, I wanted more! How would MJ and Peter's relationship develop now that she knew he was Spider-Man? How would Harry take his revenge on Peter? Who would the villain be? Needless to say, I couldn't wait for the next movie, that leads me to one of the reasons why I think we hate it: The hype.

In my last article, I wrote how I think Marvel isn't doing enough to build the hype for Captain America because when it comes to comic book movies, hype can make or break it. Spider-Man 3 had a ton of hype leading up to it. Things first started when Thomas Haden Church was cast in an unspecified villain role, and immediately the fanboy theories started flying. Soon after, Topher Grace was announced as yet another unspecified role. Us fans were drawn in by the mystery surrounding the movie, but then it was announced that Bryce Dallas Howard would be playing Gwen Stacy. Would Gwen die? Would there be a Peter/MJ/Gwen love triangle? Things were slowly building but all the hype peaked when the first poster for the movie came out. I remember geeking out at my computer when I saw it: Spider-Man, sitting on top of a church, in the rain, wearing his black costume. Fanboy excitement went through the roof! Would Venom be in this movie? Or would this build up to Venom in a fourth movie? It was soon revealed that Thomas Haden Church would play Sandman and Topher Grace would play Eddie Brock, which only added to the excitement for the movie. The trailer further won over fans over by showing Peter in a church bell tower, trying to tear off the symbiote suit. Our expectations were at an all time high, we all thought Spider-Man 3 would be something special. Sadly that wasn't the case.

So, wild fanboy expectations were no doubt part of Spider-Man 3's downfall, but there was one reason why expectations were so high, and another reason why fans hate the movie: Venom. Being a child of the 90s, I was a huge Venom fan. Though I never was a big fan of Spider-Man, I loved the whole symbiote suit/Eddie Brock story arc. After the first Spider-Man movie's success, I remember hoping that they would find a way to include Venom into a future sequel. I was excited when I found out the symbiote suit would be in the third movie, but I wondered if Venom himself would make an appearance. When it was revealed that Venom would indeed be in it my excitement for the movie went through the roof, as did many other fans.

Sadly, the Venom in the movie was not the Venom I had grown to love. Instead we got a watered down version of Eddie Brock and about ten minutes of Venom. I remember sitting there in the theater, hoping Venom would get away because I wanted to see him in a sequel, but those hopes were soon gone when Spidey blew him up. Sometime later we all found out that Sam Raimi wasn't a fan of Venom and was forced by the studio to put the character in the movie. I have to give the studio props because they knew what they were doing; I remember when I went to the midnight showing of the movie and seeing an ocean of Venom t-shirts (I was wearing one as well). Venom has always been a fan favorite villain and fans like me turned out in droves to see him on the big screen, and when we saw how he was brushed off as just a subplot, we felt betrayed.

Other than our expectations being too high and seeing our favorite villain butchered, there's one other I reason I think is key to why Spidey 3 failed: it was just too damn packed. In one movie we had Peter and Mary-Jane trying to balance a relationship, Peter finding out Sandman is his uncle's real killer, Harry trying to kill Peter and then getting amnesia, Gwen Stacy's love triangle, Peter finding the black suit, and Eddie Brock's jealousy. That's like two movie's worth of plot lines crammed into two hours, and they all suffered. The plot line I found myself most invested in was surprisingly the Peter/Harry relationship, mostly because James Franco seemed like the only actor in the film who was trying. Sadly though, that storyline ended up going into bad soap opera territory with Harry blackmailing MJ into dumping Peter. I remember sitting in the theater, watching the scene when MJ dumps Peter, and mentally walking out of the movie because the scene was just so forced and melodramatic. But the soap opera moments were not what made me realize that Spider-man 3 was terrible, there was one scene that would do it for me: the dance scene.

After seeing Peter Parker whine like a little girl after MJ dumped him, I thought the movie couldn't sink any lower. Then Spidey succumbs to the black suit, gets emo hair, and jazz dances. At that point, I realized that months of building my expectations, months of hype, months of hope, were for nothing. After the movie ended I went into fanboy denial. I refused to admit that the movie was bad; after it ended all of my friends were standing around talking about how much they hated it and all I said was "it was alright". I regretted hyping up the movie for months, regretted being it's cheerleader.

I guess that may be the main reason why we all hate it, we just felt let down. After two amazing movies we had all placed our faith in Sam Raimi, and he dropped the ball. Sam Raimi says that even he was unhappy with the movie, and it's obvious when you watch it because that love and excitement that was present in the first two movies is gone. I said earlier that James Franco seemed to be the only one of the cast that cared because everyone else in the movie seemed to know they were making something sub-par so they chose not to bring their "A" game. Sam Raimi said he wanted to make a fourth movie to make up for letting us down with the third but disagreements with the studio led him to depart the series and now we're getting a reboot.

As for the reboot, at first I was against it, wishing Sony would just let the Spidey series die. But Spider-Man is too much of a cash cow to let die, and I'm curious to see where the reboot will go. Photos of the costume have been leaking almost daily, and why I don't love it, I don't hate it either. My excitement levels are very low right now, but will I be there on opening night? Absolutely, it can't be any worse than Spider-Man 3, can it?
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16 Comments
wbrowning79 - 2/10/2011, 12:01 PM
Oh for Peter Parker sake! Spider-man 3 was FINE I did not have any problems with it.

1.The acting=EPIC
2.The directing=EPIC
3.The bringing to life of the comic books=EPIC
(Like seeing a comic book on a screen!)
Sure there were some twists and turns such as Emo Parker and venom leaving to quickly but come on guys! Its still a good spider-man movie I think its as good as 1&2!
BIGBMH - 2/10/2011, 12:06 PM
I agree with your point that fanboys rip on this movie partly due to their high expectations being let down. I also feel like there's kind of a badnwagon hate that happened with it. There are several legitimate and serious flaws with the movie, but I often hear people citing cheesiness as one of the main things that made it "such a horrible movie" The whole franchise was cheesy. 2 a little bit more than the first, and 3 a little bit more than two. I think that when people dislike or like something, it makes them biased towards everything involved with it. For example, The Last Airbender sucked. My friend said that everything about it was terrible. I pointed out that certain things like the costume design were pretty decent. He admitted I was right. Now let's bring it back to Spider-man. People hate spider-man 3, so its cheesiness is terrible. People love Spider-man 2 and deny it's cheesy. Then you point out a scene like Mary Jane running in her wedding dress, or Jameson shaking his fist and yelling at the ceiling "I want Spider-maaaan!" and the excuse is "Oh, it's a comic book movie. It's supposed to have stuff like that." People are too affected by overall opinion to look at movies objectively.
AlexdoxA - 2/10/2011, 12:33 PM
Well said Jamedog... my thoughts exactly...
captaingeorgestacy - 2/10/2011, 1:48 PM
I hated Spider-Man 3 as much as the next guy and then I found the fanedit "Spider-Man 3:Redemption" it removes loads of the subplots and stupid humour and makes it a nice bookend to the first 2 movies.
Check it out it's really well done.
http://fanedit.org/11286/
superotherside - 2/10/2011, 1:49 PM
i agree most people spidey 3 was a let down because they hyped it up way too much that is one thing that i hope marvel does is not hype their movies up so much that it's a let down to everyone... in some cases that happened to iron man 2 and i think that is why they aren't making as much hype doing thor and captain america... which to me is smart, i loved spidey 3 and iron man 2 they both had problems as all CBMs... but they aren't nearly as bad as they are made out to be...
Angelus - 2/10/2011, 3:09 PM
I just saw it on sunday and oh my it was horrible. James Franco on a hooverboard and PP going emo. Just blææ! And what the [frick] is up with Kristen Dunst being this Mary Jane? It's absolutely disgusting! No girl in the whole world would dream of being Mary Jane just because Dunst is so disgustingly ugly. And poor Spidey and Tobey MaGuire who has to kiss that foul hydra! No wonder redhaired people are shunned upon!
deathoncredit - 2/10/2011, 3:26 PM
I think that the main problem with the movie was that Raimi decided to make a 2 hour long hissy-fit instead of a movie. The studio was actually on the ball with this one - it was time for Venom. Sandman wasn't even kind of interesting, he should have just been left out. If Raimi had just gone along with what fans wanted and actually tried to do Venom properly, the movie would have been much more successful. The battle between Venom and Spider-Man should have been huge, not a 2 minute cheese-fest. The very least that he could have done was keep Venom around for a sequel (which, if he did, the studio certainly would have given him the opportunity to make).
naterator - 2/10/2011, 3:37 PM
what wbrowning79 said. they should have just kept going ....same cast ...kept the continuity....frick the reboot!
superbatspiderman - 2/10/2011, 4:15 PM
I enjoyed this movie it had some good action and cool scenes. Theere werer some stupid parts tho but it is a fine film


Angelus- Dude lay off Kirsten Dunst she isn't ugly. I'd do her.
DukeAcureds - 2/10/2011, 5:26 PM
I've said it many times before and I'll say it again: Spider-Man 3 was the best of the trilogy.
@fangz - Venom has a lot of fans, but Raimi was into the classic Spider-Man. To him, Sandman was up there with Doc Ock and Green Goblin. To him, Venom was a ridiculous style-over-substance cahracter with big muscles that only appealed to stupid kids. Well, those stupid kids then became adults who still loved Venom, went to see his flick and hated it.
However, Raimi used Venom and the symbiote costume to his advantage as an artistic representation of Peter Parker's pride. Sandman was a representation of his guilt. His guilt is his entire motive for being Spider-Man and when he forgave Sandman and Sandman disipated, he forgave himself for his part in the death of his Uncle Ben, for [frick]ing up things with MJ, for his pride and his ego-trips and for what happened to Harry. This ends the trilogy (and the story of Spider-Man) in a very satisfying and suprising way. Just when everyone expects a big cheesy final battle with Sandman, Raimi bravely brings in the more important and pertinant human factor in resolving the saga. Instead of ending with Spidey swinging by the American flag, it ends with MJ surrendering to a small moment of understanding with Peter. They may not get back together and Parker may no longer feel the need to be Spider-Man.
marvel72 - 2/10/2011, 5:39 PM
liked the first two films even though they had there faults,i can watch them from start to finish.

but spider-man 3 i can only watch the action scenes everything inbetween is shit.
PaulRom - 2/11/2011, 5:14 AM
As much as I loved Spider-Man 3 (go ahead, bash me for liking it), it definitely had its flaws. Topher Grace wasn't the best Eddie Brock, Venom came and left too quickly (he felt more tacked on at the end than anything else), Emo Parker, and it was kinda crammed in. Needless to say, the casting was brilliant (Grace excluded), the action scenes were excellent, and even the overall storyline was good, albeit with full hands. And the costuming looked almost perfect in terms of comic-book-turned-live-action.
aishiteru - 2/12/2011, 5:36 PM
it in it's self wasn't a bad movie, but it was to pop culture-y like the disigns and stuff, and not really spiderman's story, the thing that pissed me off the most was the death of venom, venom is one of the longest lasting characters, even if the sample that the professor had got loose somehow, it was pretty much a big F*** YOU to venom and carnage...and black cat and volture.
Spidey1976 - 2/12/2011, 6:46 PM
There were a lot of things I liked about Spider-Man 3 but there were probably more things I didn't like. There was too much going on in the script. I don't think it's fair to blame the use of three villains - the first and second X-Men movies and each of Nolen's Batman movies had multiple villains - but the villains stories didn't work as well with each other in SP3.

As a die-hard Spidey fan, I was so hopeful for a great Spider-Man 4, that I wrote my own sequel, loosely based on "Kraven's Last Hunt".. There are three villains (Kraven, Chameleon and The Rhino) but I think you'll find they work well together. The feedback I have received so far is great and I'd love to hear your thoughts if you take the time to read it. You can read it here: www.ifiwrotespiderman4.com.
NeoBaggins - 2/14/2011, 2:08 AM
Spider-man 3 is a good comic hero movie that puts many comic films to shame. The entire Raimi trilogy holds a level of quality that no other Marvel movie has. The acting, directing and the writing in general is top notch. It's real film making. No other Marvel movie is on this level of production. Venom wasn't handled right but that's from the point of view from someone who knows Brock's story. Who the hell knew Brocks story sitting in the theatre with you besides your friends, or the nerd stranger who was also alone next to you?

The SP3 hate is a band wagon thing. Just like the whole "The matrix sequels suck" fad. People think it's cool to diss something cool and always kill the things they've built up. They're going to do this to Christopher Nolan too. Watch.

I watched my SP3 DVD the other night, the entire trilogy that week actually. It's awesome. The gag reel is priceless too. Osborne's butler is funny as hell messing up his lines.
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