SpidermanRated PG-13
Running Time: 121 Minutes
Directed by Sam Raimi
Screenplay by David Koepp
Based on the Marvel comic by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.


The allure of Spiderman is that despite his superpowers, he’s still a regular guy. Unlike Bruce Wayne, who’s a millionaire playboy, or Clark Kent, who’s an accomplished newspaper reporter, Peter Parker is just a college student who can barely afford to pay the rent. He’s very easy to relate to. And, as box office is showing for the record-breaking opening weekend, he’s got a huge fan base.

It seems to me that for the comic book purists out there that they’ve done an excellent job of staying true to the origin storyline. This is to be expected since Stan Lee was a producer on the film. The only difference is that they did away with the notion that Peter Parker invented his webshooters and made the webslinging an organic part of the mutation process after he was bit by the superspider.

This film has excellent casting. Tobey Maguire is perfect as Peter Parker. Kirsten Dunst (whose potential I first noticed in “Interview With A Vampire”) is also good as the love interest, Mary Jane. Then, there’s Willem Dafoe, arguably one of the best actors of our generation, as the villain, the Green Goblin. Seeing his potential reduced to a two dimensional comic-book villain was a little disappointing. After his roles in “Platoon,” “The Last Temptation of Christ,” or “Shadow of the Vampire” I can’t imagine him saying to himself that hiding behind an immovable mask for over half his screentime was just what he needed to push his artistic boundaries forward. Then again, if they’re willing to pay you several million dollars to prance around in a green suit…take it!

Sam Raimi has done a good job with the direction. His work in “Army of Darkness” and “Darkman” made him a good pick for the project. He kept the pace of the action rolling right along and there is a darker throughline to Spiderman’s origin than most people realize, which Raimi was just right for.

The dialogue needed help in spots, though. It was too uneven. The scene where Parker is in his aunt’s hospital room and speaking to Mary Jane seemed interminable. The gage on the old mush-ometer was about to explode. But later, in the last scene in the film, Parker has hardly any words at all. Unrequited love makes for fluttering hearts and paves the way for a sequel, but Parker’s excuse to the obviously lovestruck Mary Jane was just lame. If I were Mary Jane, I’d probably write Parker off as gay and move on.


Peter Parker is a nerdy high school senior and an orphan, who lives with his aunt and uncle. Next door to him lives the girl he’s had a crush on his entire life, the red-headed Mary Jane. Unfortunately, Mary Jane is going out with a bullying jock with a fancy sports car. Peter, who can’t even find a seat on the school bus most days, dreams of a way to get Mary Jane’s attention. He wants to become a photographer and move to the big city.

Then, Peter’s high school biology class takes a field trip to a local museum/laboratory. On display is an exhibit of genetically enhanced superspiders, but one of the spiders has escaped. While Peter tries to take a picture of Mary Jane with his camera, the superspider lands on his hand and bites him. This propels the story forward, as the spider bite genetically mutates Peter and gives him superpowers such as increased strength, the ability to jump great distances and climb buildings, the ability to shoot spider webs, and a precognitive “spider sense” that warns him when danger is close by.

Peter learns about his abilities and quickly deduces that he might be able to make some money by becoming a pro wrestler. He could wear a mask to hide his identity, and off his winnings, buy a car and afford to pursue the beautiful Mary Jane. However, after successfully defeating a pro wrestler, he finds himself cheated of his cash by a greedy wrestling promoter. Afterwards, the wrestling promoter is robbed at gunpoint and Peter declines to help catch the criminal, figuring it’s not his problem. Then, during the escape, the criminal carjacks Peter’s uncle and shoots him. After his uncle’s death, Peter remembers his uncle’s words that “With great power comes great responsibility.” Peter decides then and there not to use his powers for personal gain, but to only use them to fight crime and help those in need.

Meanwhile, Norman Osborn, the millionaire scientist and father of Peter’s best friend, has been tinkering with nanotechnology for the army. The army threatens to pull funding, so Norman decides to dose himself with the secret formula. It turns him into the supervillain, the Green Goblin.

So, Peter is in mourning, and trouble is brewing, when the thing he has been waiting for his whole life happens…Mary Jane breaks up with her dim-witted boyfriend. However, before he can take off his Spidey suit and think of a cool one-liner, Peter’s best friend asks her out. Even if Peter had made a move, though, his best friend looks just like James Dean (and the actor playing him also played James Dean in a recent television biopic).

Peter has lost his uncle, apparently lost Mary Jane, and just when he thinks it can’t get any worse, the Green Goblin suddenly makes an appearance at a public ceremony to incinerate the enemies who’ve taken over his company.

Spiderman rescues everyone (except a couple of corporate lowlifes) and drives the Goblin away, but not for long. Norman Osborn deduces that Spiderman is Peter Parker and brings his attack to a more personal level by becoming the Goblin once more to terrorize Aunt May and kidnap Mary Jane.

Then Spiderman tries to stop the Goblin, but the Goblin kills him!


The ending is a bit disappointing, though. After a big battle with the Green Goblin, the Goblin ends up accidentally killing himself. Spiderman returns Norman’s body, covering up the fact that Norman was the Green Goblin out of respect for his best friend. However, his best friend sees Spiderman with his father’s body and assumes Spiderman killed him.

At Norman’s funeral, Peter is stricken by such guilt over the death of his best friend’s father, not to mention fear of developing a love relationship that could unravel his Spiderman secret, that he spurns the love of Mary Jane and tells her he just wants to be friends.

Bummer. Oh well. There’s always the sequel…