(SPIDER-MAN 3 SPOILERS)
As we prepare for our third live action iteration of Spider-Man, what better time to revisit one of the worst Spider-Man movies ever made – Spider-Man 3. To be perfectly honest, Spider-Man 3 is not the worst Spider-Man movie. That honor belongs to The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I could definitely do a Top 50 Worst Things list on that garbage. The reason we’re going with Spider-Man 3 though is because that film is more notorious. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn’t even deserve our time.
I’ve never been a big Spider-Man fan, but the reason I dislike the Sam Raimi movies, with the exception of the second one, which is passable, is because I’m no fan of the director. His style and tone doesn’t jive with my taste in film. Having said that, I truly believe the first and third Spider-Man movies are flat out silly, pure and simple.
Even though people will throw tomatoes at me over my views on the first two Raimi efforts, everyone is pretty much in agreement that the third film stinks. However, I’ve noticed recently it’s become sort of chic to now defend this movie. Hopefully, this list will remind you all of how bad Spider-Man 3 really was.
I will say this though – Spider-Man 3 came out at the worst possible time. In 2007, people were craving dark, gritty superhero movies. This was two years after Batman Begins, so when this goofy garbage blasted onto cinemas, it was met with complete and utter venom (no pun intended). Had this movie come out today, it may have been received better in this resurgence of “We just want to have fun” mentality.
If only Spider-Man 3 and Man of Steel switched release dates, maybe we’d all be happier people.
Without further ado though, let’s revisit this train wreck. Get your jazz shoes out – It’s the Top 10 Worst Things About Spider-Man 3!
10. Spider-Man Gets Sand in his Shoe After Battling the Sandman
This is the perfect way to kick off the list. Again, think of what the state of superhero movies were at the time. We had just seen Batman Begins, a masterpiece of the genre. Two years later, we’re watching Peter Parker dump sand out of his Spider-Man boots. It’s about five seconds of screen time, but it doesn’t matter. It’s that type of nonsense we wanted out of these movies. It’s a Batman & Robin-esque moment that takes the genre less seriously. “Oh, those superhero movies! They are just for kids!” With scenes like this, it’s no wonder why people thought that way. Awful.
9. Everything is Way Too Convenient
You’ll hear this phrase often in the countdown – “the screenplay is lazy.” Spider-Man 3 is one of the laziest scripts of the last ten years. We’ll dig into more of that later, but let’s talk about how utterly convenient this movie is. What do I mean by that?
Look, movies are movies. I get it.You have to suspend your disbelief. Even if you look at a movie like Back to the Future, you can point to a multitude of plot elements that are way too convenient. Marty McFly happens to get a flier with the precise time the clock tower is struck by lightning. He just happens to get transported back to that exact time period. He just happens to still have that flier in his pocket. That’s pretty damn convenient. Why do we ignore it though? The movie is that good. You don’t even think about it.
Spider-Man 3 does not have that luxury. I can suspend my disbelief a lot with movies, but I can’t forgive Spider-Man 3. The black symbiote randomly decides to hit earth right where Peter Parker and MJ are kissing. Wow.
That’s not the worst though. Flint Marko just happens to run into a random sand particle testing site? I mean, come on! At least with Doc Ock, there was a buildup.Here though, Flint Marko just runs into a giant sand trap in the middle of nowhere? Wow.
8. THAT DAMN BUTLER!
This plot device is completely and utterly unforgivable. For three damn movies, the whole Harry Osborne avenging his father storyline had been building up. Then, at the very end of the last movie, we find out the damn butler knew the whole time that Norman Osborne killed himself!? He knows Harry has been harboring this anger towards Spider-Man/Peter and wants to kill him. It’s at this moment he decides to say, “Gee, maybe I should tell Harry what really happened?” YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!
7. The Romantic Chemistry
The Peter Parker/MJ romance has never been top notch, but Spider-Man 3 takes it to a whole new low. Here’s some of the dialogue:
MJ: “Tell me you love me.”
Peter: “I love you. I love you so much. I always have.”
Again, it’s just another example of lazy writing. I’m not expecting 500 Days of Summer here, but can we try a little harder? Am I over-reacting? It also doesn’t help when you have two bland performances spouting off these lines, but we’ll get to that later.
People can say what they want about the Andrew Garfield movies, but if you don’t think the romantic chemistry was better between Garfield and Emma Stone, you’re crazy.
6. This Cast Just Isn’t Very Good
Let me be very clear – this is more on Sam Raimi. We all know Willem Dafoe is a great actor, so his horrific performance in the first movie can be attributed to the direction. Having said that, I’ve never been a fan of any of these actors.
Tobey Maguire is by far my least favorite Spider-Man. This movie in particular is his worst performance. Listen to the opening narration of the film. Really listen.
Holy Moses. Could he be any more bland and apathetic? And just so I don’t sound like a complete jackass towards the guy, I have seen Tobey Maguire be great. Go check out Brothers. But as Spider-Man? He’s not for me.
You can also see in that scene Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacey. She’s passable, but that first scene is Raimi at his worst. Goofy and over the top.
Speaking of goofy, we get James Franco for a third turn as Harry Osborne. Yikes. His performance here is cringe worthy. You get that moment in the hospital when MJ walks in and he says “I know that face.” He gives that goofy grin as if he’s giving a bad audition for the Joker.
Then there’s the famous “Bop” moment. Remember that? When MJ asks if someone would bump her on the head, Harry gives her a little bop, and yes, he says the word “bop.” Oy vey.
We also have Thomas Haden Church, who drank the opposite of coffee, as he mumbles through Flint Marko. Sam Raimi amazes me. His performers either go over the top, or they are completely bland. There’s no middle ground.
Then there’s Kirsten Dunst. I feel for her in this movie, and the entire trilogy. Even if you were Emma Stone or Amy Adams, nobody could have survived the material she was given in all three of these films. She comes across as kind of unlikable, but it’s not her fault. This is all on the script and Raimi.
The one scene I’ll somewhat defend is the Twist/cooking scene. Look, the acting is bad, but it’s actually a nice moment that could have worked. If that scene were in an MCU movie, you all would have loved it.
5. The Last Action Scene
I’ll have more to say on this in regards to one specific moment, but this sequence needs to be addressed. This is the worst thing you can do in a superhero movie. This is the final action scene. The emotional climax. This is it. The time for jokes and tomfoolery are over. What Sam Raimi does here is take away any semblance of stakes or emotion with his little Sam Raimi-isms that are peppered all throughout this sequence.
First off, you get Spider-Man in front of the American flag. Yeah, that’s annoying, but it’s not even close to what irritates me most about this scene. Let’s break it down:
–You have the over the top news reporter:
“Just when all hope seemed to be lost…”
That is such bad writing, I can’t even deal with it.
–The J.K. Simmons camera debacle:
Yes, we all love J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, and he’s obviously one of the better elements to the film. When he argues with the little girl over the camera in the middle of what is supposed to be this intense showdown between Peter/Harry and Sandman/Venom, it once again takes the seriousness out of the scene in favor of cute little kid gags.
Yeah, you get those lines. Again, it’s these type of Sam Raimi cheesy moments that undercut the scene.
And just to be fair, I’ll even throw some criticism at The Dark Knight. I always hated the moment when the little kids shoot their pretend guns as Batman chases the Joker. That undercuts the scene in the same way.
You see, I can be fair. Let’s all relax.
4. The Stan Lee Cameo
Every time Stan Lee makes his obligatory cameo, it drives me up the damn wall. With the exception of Captain America: Civil War (“Tony Stank”), this might be the worst one. Again, it’s another example of taking you out of the film. It reminds us that we are watching a silly little superhero movie:
How forced is that? For crying out loud!
3. Let’s Kidnap Mary Jane…AGAIN!
YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! I get it. I get it’s a plot device, but really? They kidnap Mary Jane. Again. For a third time. It’s the “Oh my God, they killed Kenny” of superhero moments. Again, it’s just lazy screenwriting. Do something else! Figure it out!
2. Flint Marko’s Connection to Uncle Ben’s Death
We’ve talked a lot about lazy screenwriting, but this right here is the crème de la crème of laziness. And just to be clear, if this is what actually happened in the comic books, I don’t care. You need to change it. This is a desperate attempt to try and unnecessarily link this movie back to the first one. It’s the epitome of lazy sequel writing.
Why can’t Flint Marko just be a sympathetic villain who wants to provide for his daughter? It’s simple, and makes Flint more than a one-dimensional villain. When you tie it back to this Uncle Ben garbage, it takes away from more scenes that could have been spent on his own family drama. By doing that, you could have had an interesting villain with very personal motives. Instead though, everything gets jumbled, resulting in both story-lines left under-cooked.
It’s Bad Screenwriting 101.
1. Goth Peter Parker
We all knew this was coming. Instead of just saying “The Jazz dancing is stupid,” let’s actually try and go deeper as to why this is the single worst element to Spider-Man 3.
The reason this is so frustrating is because they had a real opportunity here. Peter Parker being infected with the black symbiote could have been compelling, as we watch this goofy kid we’ve all come to know and love actually go dark. Instead of taking this heavy material seriously though, they make a joke out of it. He twirls his bangs. He dances like an idiot on the street. They play it up for comedy.
This is why Spider-Man 3 fails. This is why it’s a relic of the past. Even in an MCU film, you couldn’t get away with this in today’s superhero landscape. This is treating the genre like a joke.
This sequence is even worse than something like Batman & Robin. Batman & Robin is consistently dumb. This movie tries to have its cake and eat it too. In the jazz club, you actually see Peter Parker hit Mary Jane. Okay. Stop right there. That’s dark. That really shakes your love of Spider-Man to the core. You see right there how badly this black symbiote has affected him. The problem is this heavy moment comes immediately after watching Peter dance like a complete buffoon.
This is why it’s not just dog piling on silly jazz dancing scenes. It’s these scenes that undercut the entire movie. I’m sure Sam Raimi just thought, “Oh, this will be a couple fun throwaway moments. Whatevs.” No, Sam. You don’t get it. You CANNOT do that in a superhero movie. It’s careless. If you were to do that in today’s superhero environment, the director would be put in movie jail for life, ala Joel Schumacher.
What I Liked About Spider-Man 3…
You’ve probably noticed in this whole countdown that I haven’t mentioned Topher Grace or Venom. This may come as a shock, but he’s the one piece to this movie I actually like. His arc was pure.
Unlike so many other characters in this Spider-Man universe, Eddie Brock wasn’t over played. He was kind of a schmuck, but you felt for him. He was a guy constantly over-looked and kicked to the curb. When he finally gets his moment in the sun, you feel bad when Peter completely ruins his life, even though he doctored the Spider-Man photo.
The scene in the church was genuine. The script doesn’t do a whole lot right, but they nail that part. Brock is easily a candidate who would succumb tragically to the symbiote. That’s why Brock’s death hits you. It’s the one part of the movie they don’t undercut with humor. Brock had become so pathetic that he couldn’t live without the symbiote’s power. It’s sad. That’s why he dives for it as it explodes. It was a genuinely powerful/tragic moment that completed the character’s arc.
I know Spider-Man fans get in a tizzy over this because it feels like they rushed over Venom. I say you got a great Venom in the same way you got a great Two-Face in The Dark Knight. It may have been short, but it left an impact.