2002’s ‘Spider-Man’ the first live-action, theatrical presentation of Marvel’s most famous hero was met by overwhelmingly positive reactions from fans of the comic as well as newcomers. The film was directed by Sam Raimi and starred Toby Maguire in the title role, as Peter Parker, a nerdy high school student turned city savior. Believe it or not, its sequel, ‘Spider-Man 2’ in 2004 was met with even greater fan reaction. Then came ‘Spider-Man 3’ and well… wah waaaaaaah!
Now to be perfectly fair, ‘Spider-Man 3’ grossed $890 million worldwide, more than either of the first two films.
But for fans, it was a complete nosedive. The film centered on Peter becoming possessed by an organic symbiotic suit that brings out the dark side of his personality. Peter manages to free himself of the suit, which then bonds with his archrival Eddie Brock (played by an obviously clueless Topher Grace) to become the monstrous Venom.
While recently appearing on Chris Hardwick’s ‘The Nerdist’ podcast, Raimi admitted that “It’s a movie that just didn’t work very well.” And by the end of the interview, he went so far as to call it “Awful!”
Here is an excerpt from the interview:
“I tried to make it work, but I didn’t really believe in all the characters, so that couldn’t be hidden from people who loved Spider-Man. If the director doesn’t love something, it’s wrong of them to make it when so many other people love it. I think [raising the stakes after ‘Spider-Man 2’] was the thinking going into it, and I think that’s what doomed us. I should’ve just stuck with the characters and the relationships and progressed them to the next step and not tried to top the bar …”
The director doesn’t name names as to which characters that he didn’t believe in, but it’s likely he is referring to Eddie Brock/Venom. The first two films were based on the work of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko from the Silver Age, during Spider-Man’s early days. Venom is a relatively new character, created in the 80s. Though popular, Venom doesn’t resonate with older fans, who don’t view him as a “classic” part of Spider-Man’s lore.
He could also be referring to Gwen Stacy, who IS considered a classic character, but– as portrayed by Bryce Dallas Howard– was essentially shoehorned into the movie with no real purpose.
At any rate, what’s done is done. And Raimi’s take isn’t the only Spider-Man to stumble. The current ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ franchise has struggled from the start. Both movies so far have made less than any of Raimi’s and the third in that series has been pushed back from 2016 to 2018 and will reportedly recast the lead after the latest movie became the worst grossing of any Spidey flick.
Is it good that Raimi came clean about his feelings regarding this movie? Or should he stand behind his work?