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.
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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