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. The movie opts for comic book dialogue which comes off as-over-the-top.  You get all the characters moaning about “poor Peter” and why he is so mopey.  While the melodramatic dialogue does fit the comic, it is not always fun…the exception to that is J. Jonah Jameson who completely fits the comic and whose bombastic nature does not seem as out of place as some of the comic-book-esque script.

Toby Maguire is a bit problematic as well.  Peter Parker is supposed to be pretty timid and morose while he is completely free as Spider-Man.  Maguire does not seem to get this freedom and his Spider-Man banter does not seem free spirited.  James Franco, Rosemary Harris, and Kirsten Dunst fit their roles, but Maguire as the lead needs to be tighter.  J.K. Simmons as mentioned is pitch perfect as Jonah.  Willem Dafoe by definition is a great choice for the Green Goblin, but he’s so hindered by his bulky, goofy costume that he does not get to be the Goblin he should have been.


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

The visuals for the film are also sometimes good, but sometimes problematic.  Raimi was a good choice as director because he demonstrates this kinetic energy in his movies that feels like a living comic book.  This is smashed against the reality of trying to make a costume character come alive.  The Spider-Man models sometimes look very good, but other times look like you are watching a cartoon of Spider-Man…and once again, that Green Goblin…ugh.

Despite some faults, Spider-Man is still a pretty good movie.  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/Instagram/Letterboxd @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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