Greatest Movie Series
Franchises of All Time
The Spider-Man Films




Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man Films
Spider-Man (2002) | Spider-Man 2 (2004) | Spider-Man 3 (2007)
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) | The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

The Spider-Man Films - Part 1

Spider-Man (2002)
d. Sam Raimi, 121 minutes

Film Plot Summary

The film introduced the character of geeky, bespectacled Midtown HS senior Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), who was at love from afar with his pretty, redheaded next door Queens, NY neighbor Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), although she was the girlfriend of bullying jock Flash Thompson (Joe Manganiello). During a field trip with his class to Columbia University's Science Department where he served as photographer, Peter was bitten in the hand by a "genetically-designed super-spider" that had escaped from its enclosure. On returning home where orphaned Peter lived with his recently-unemployed 68 year-old Uncle Ben Parker (Cliff Robertson) and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), he became feverish from his bite.

Meanwhile, nanotechnology researcher Dr. Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), the father of Peter's classmate best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), was the head of Oscorp, a company that had developed a surfboard-like horizon glider and was also working on "human performance enhancers" (with one unsuccessful human test trial producing disastrous side effects: "Violence, aggression, insanity"). Threatened with losing his funding from the US military, Norman experimented on himself, but the unstable test went awry and he killed his assistant Dr. Stromm (Ron Perkins).

Peter Parker also became freakishly transformed from his bite: improved vision, a muscular build, quick-reflexes, stringy web-production (from his wrists), wall-scaling abilities, long-jumping across buildings, etc.. To impress neighbor girl M.J. with a car purchase, he entered an amateur wrestling contest (and devised a crude spider costume) to win a prize of $3,000 for remaining three minutes in the ring. Just before the contest, Uncle Ben lectured to an angered Peter about his recent changes: "Just be careful who you change into... Remember, with great power comes great responsibility".

Nicknamed "Spider-Man" (rather than the Human Spider), Peter won the match against Bone Saw McGraw (Randy Savage), but was cheated out of his prize money and given only $100. When the promoter's gate money was stolen by a carjacking thief named Dennis Carradine (Michael Papajohn), Peter avoided stopping him, but soon after realized the thief had carjacked his Uncle's car on the street and tragically shot him to death. As Spider-Man, Peter pursued and confronted the criminal who died from a backwards fall out of a window, and then committed himself to a life of fighting city crime after his graduation.

Mary Jane became Harry's boyfriend, but kept it a secret that she was working as a waitress at the Moondance diner while attending acting auditions. Peter took pictures of himself as Spider-Man in action and sold them to the Daily Bugle's barking chief editor J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) for publication, and became their freelance photographer.

Norman's company was bought by his major competitor QUEST, and he was ousted by his board of directors. The deal was to be announced after the World Unity Festival, causing Norman to go schizophrenically insane. Now in the persona of a metal body-armored Green Goblin (Jameson gave him the name), he assaulted the Festival while riding the glider, forcing Peter as Spider-Man to rescue many individuals (including Mary Jane) from being killed (Daily Bugle headlines later revealed, however: "Terror in Times Square - Oscorp Board Murdered").

After M.J.'s rescue, Spider-Man departed from her with the words: "You know who I am...Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man". The Green Goblin offered Spider-Man a partnership to consider ("I'm offering you a choice. Join me"). When Mary Jane was attacked by a gang in an alley and threatened with rape, she was saved by Spider-Man and she rewarded her rescuer in the rain with a passionate upside down kiss.

Spider-Man saved a baby in an apartment fire, and then was again confronted by the Green Goblin - but declined his offer of working together. This angered the Green Goblin ("No one says no to me"). Afterwards at a Thanksgiving dinner, Norman figured out that Peter was Spider-Man (because of a bloody arm cut), and in retaliation, he attacked Peter's Aunt May - who required hospitalization. During a visit to her bedside, Mary Jane confessed to Peter that she had a girlish crush on Spider-Man who had saved her twice, while Peter expressed his own heart-felt feelings for her ("...when you look in her eyes, and she's looking back in yours, everything feels not quite normal because you feel stronger and weaker at the same time..."). Feeling betrayed after Harry realized that Peter and Mary Jane cared deeply for each other, he told his father ("there's no one Peter cares for more") - causing the Green Goblin side of his persona to plot to hurt her, in order to injure Spider-Man.

In the film's finale set at the Queensboro Bridge, the Green Goblin forced Spider-Man to choose between saving Mary Jane or saving a gondola-tram car filled with children. Spider-Man miraculously saved everyone and, in a final one-on-one matchup in a deserted building, was able to impale the unmasked, double-crossing Green Goblin through his mid-section against a brick wall with his own razor-sharp glider blades.

At his father's funeral, Harry was vengeful: "One day Spider-Man will pay" - due to his belief that Spider-Man was responsible for his father's death. Mary Jane confessed her love for Peter, but he left her with tears when he told her that he could only be friends. As he walked away - he recalled the final advice given to him by his Uncle Ben before being killed: "Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: 'With great power comes great responsibility.' This is my gift. My curse. Who am I? I'm Spider-Man."

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

Based upon the Marvel comic-book character by writer Stan Lee.

Nominated for two Academy Awards (with no wins): Best Visual Effects and Best Sound.

With a production budget of $139 million, the film grossed almost $404 million (domestically) and $822 million (worldwide). It was the No. 1 grossing film of 2002.

The most famous scene - the upside-down kiss between Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson in the rain.

Set-pieces: the montage Costume design sequence, the wrestling match, the pursuit of carjacker sequence, the Green Goblin's assault during the Oscorp Industries' World Unity Festival at Times Square, the one-on-one conflict between the Green Goblin and Spider-Man in a burning apartment building, the Queensboro Bridge confrontation, and the final match-up in an abandoned building between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin.

A new version or reboot of the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Spider-Man comic book super-hero, with a new director Marc Webb and a new Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) and love interest Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), titled The Amazing Spider-Man (in 3-D), debuted in mid-2012.


Peter Parker
(Tobey Maguire)



Spider-Man
(Tobey Maguire)


Mary Jane Watson
(Kirsten Dunst)


Norman Osborn
(Willem Dafoe)


Green Goblin
(Willem Dafoe)

Harry Osborn
(James Franco)

Uncle Ben Parker
(Cliff Robertson)


Aunt May Parker
(Rosemary Harris)


J. Jonah Jameson
(J.K. Simmons)


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