Spider-Man (2002)

spider-man poster 2002 movie tobey maguire
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

A big screen Spider-Man, good use of story

Green Goblin's costume, too long

Movie Info

Movie Name: Spider-Man

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Genre(s): Comic Book/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): May 3, 2002

MPAA Rating: PG-13


Green Goblin…Can’t we just be friends?

Dorky Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is bitten by a radioactive spider that gives him superhuman powers.  Unfortunately for Peter, power can be a gift and a curse.  When his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) is killed by a burglar that he allowed to escape, Peter learns with great power comes great responsibility and takes up the guise of Spider-Man to help protect the city.  Spider-Man actions continue to have consequences and when he is faced with the threat of the Green Goblin (Willem Defoe), Peter, his friend and dream girl Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), and his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) might be in danger.

Directed by Sam Raimi, Spider-Man adapts the Marvel Comics character who first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 in August 1962.  The movie had some early problems when the first trailer had Spider-Man capture a helicopter between the towers of the World Trade Center…which was quickly pulled after 9-11.  The movie was met with critical acclaim and became a box office hit which helped to usher in the new wave of superhero films.  The movie was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects (losing to Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers) and Best Sound Mixing (losing to Chicago).


Why are you smiling MJ? The whole world sucks.

I was so excited about Spider-Man…for years.  The movie was hung up in production limbo and legal ties for ages and as the years past, it felt like we were never going to get a Spider-Man movie.  When X-Men finally came out and was a big hit, Spider-Man seemed like the next logical step…and for the most part, it made the step right.

Spider-Man does a lot of stuff right but gets  some stuff  wrong. The best thing about Spider-Man is that the story is crafted to include a big period of the comic, tie-up some loose ends, and does a good job setting up sequels while  telling a complete story. Visually, the movie has good and bad  points.  A lot of the stylized shots are very “comic book” and the action  is  pretty easy to follow.  Sometimes however Spider-Man just seems like a complete animated character instead of flesh & blood and it would be good if the people in charge of animation had given the character more “weight”.


Tobey Maguire may be a bit off as Spider-Man, but J.K. Simmons is dead on as J. Jonah Jameson

There are problems with Spider-Man however.  The first problem is that the dialogue  tries to be like the comic and comes off over-the-top (like all the moaning about how mysterious Peter Parker is by his family and friends).  The other problem is the casting.  James Franco (Harry Osborn), Willem Dafoe (Norman Osborn), and Rosemary Harris (Aunt May) work, and J.K. Simmons’  J. Jonah Jameson is probably the best comic book character translation in the story.  Dafoe is a good choice for the creepy Norman but he is hindered by a really bad Green Goblin mask. The weakest in all of the characters is Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. Spider-Man is meant to seem “alive” when he is in costume, obnoxious  banter, fun, and free. Maguire  is morose in and out of costume and doesn’t seem  to have fun in  this film and it is something that he never quites masters in the series.

Spider-Man is a pretty good movie, but it does have its faults.  It moves a bit too slow, at points is a little clunky, and struggles with its main actor, but for the most part finally shows what the character can do on the big screen.  The success of the movie guaranteed sequels (starting with Spider-Man 2 in 2004) , but eventually (way too soon), this movie was even remade as The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012.

Related Links:

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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