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What Went Wrong? Spider-Man 3

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Reviewing a bad movie that could’ve been better

Spider-Man 3 image
Sony Pictures

Peter Parker has been moonlighting as New York’s web-slinging superhero for close to 50 years. The Stan Lee invention has seen many incarnations including an impressive cinematic franchise. But, Spider-Man 3 is a bad movie.

One of the most lucrative Spidey stories includes Sam Raimi’s 2000’s trilogy. Yet, the third Raimi outing is a point of contention for many fans of Marvel Comics.

How could something so right, go so wrong? Join me as we take a look at another movie with promise, that fell short.

Was Venom Actually Good?

Sam Raimi’s trilogy saw Tobey Maguire don the red mask and successfully retell the origin and adventures of Spiderman. This was done in Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004). A far cry from Raimi’s cinematic background as a horror pioneer with the Evil Dead series.

Both films were a one-two punch of silver screen success. They captured a new generation whilst honouring the original tale for the established fans of the comic book creation.

Yet it was this success that created the pitfalls for the third film in the trilogy. Raimi originally had no plans of including the villain of Venom into Spider-Man 3 due to his “lack of humanity” yet producer Avi Arad insisted.

A gallery of bad guys

All of the villains in the film have human characteristics and motives that fit the narrative. Harry Osborn/New Goblin (James Franco) is the son of the Green Goblin, the villain of the first film and involved in a love triangle with MJ and Peter. Flint Marko/Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) is a farther, trying to look after his sick daughter and caught in a life of crime. Plus, it’s revealed that Marko was responsible for the death of Uncle Ben, yet another tie to the first film in the series.

Yet, Eddie Brock/Venom (Topher Grace) is just unfortunate. The extra-terrestrial symbiote of Venom crashes to earth on a meteor, and anyone who comes into contact with it just has bad luck. Yes, it affects their personality and holds some weight in the story, but overall it’s just shoehorned into an already busy film.

The number of villains goes a long way towards making Spider-Man 3 a bad movie in the eyes of many fans.

The studio influence

Raimi’s hand was forced following Arad’s case that the studio was receiving a large amount of fan mail about Venom. Sony Pictures also backed the character and the decision was made.

Whilst studio involvement is nothing new, it paints the picture of how this film was created. How it ultimately failed to meet expectations. The success of the two previous films in the franchise made this a high-pressure situation, with the studio keen to maximise every opportunity. This included fan service over the story. Raimi had proven that he could take the reins and create not one, but two successful comic book blockbusters. Ones rooted in human emotion and clear storytelling. By forcing the story of Venom into this film, we begin to see how it was doomed from the start…

Too many characters

Every good superhero film relies on its villains as the backbone of the story. With the inclusion of Venom as well as Sandman, and the New Goblin, every storyline becomes diluted.

After the slow burn and emotional investment seen in the two previous films. Instead we get a half-baked sympathetic backstory for Sandman and the infamous ‘Emo-Peter’ in leu of a credible threat in Venom.

We also have the introduction of Gwen Stacy. Here serving only as a separate love interest to Peter, and adding very little to this smorgasbord of undercooked characters. Stan Lee’s wife Joan was the inspiration for Stacy in 1965. Yet, instead of keeping with her comic origins, she has no back story with Peter, she isn’t killed and she has no real emotional connection with anyone in the film. Her character is stripped away and is replaced by nothing. She is simply the ’other woman’ to Mary Jane. This is one of the main issues with Spider-Man 3 in a nutshell.

Rather than being everything to everyone and overstuffing the text with characters, further investment should have been made into the core cast. This could have been the pay off the groundwork of the first two movies. The dominoes were all lined up ready to fall, but Play Doe and Jenga pieces were thrown instead.

How could it have been better?

Let’s start with the character issue. If the studio was forcing Venom into this film, lets compromise. We see Venom, but we introduce it and set the narrative up for Spider-Man 4 (the film that never happened).

Rather than rushing Eddy Brock and the symbiote through this film, it would slowly build as a subplot. Spider-Man 3 should remain focused on Harry becoming the New Goblin and using Sandman as the ‘muscle’. All whilst linking back to avenge the death of Uncle Ben.

Harry suffering amnesia after a battle with Spider-Man is a wasted opportunity in this film as he simply gets his memory back. Instead, a reveal that he never had amnesia and was playing into Peters compassionate side. This would have been a strong way to show his alliance with Sandman; like how he aided Dr Octopus in Spider-Man 2.

Gwen Stacy

Gwen Stacy’s’ one-dimensional character only adds a second love triangle into this film. Why not use the character to either be the only old friend that sticks by Peter when he loses it all? The only friend he reconnects with after Harry dives a wedge between Peter and MJ? Why not have her murdered by the Goblin/Sandman coalition? Or why not have the only beacon of hope turn on Spider-Man for personal gain?

From the opening shot of Parker watching himself on the outdoor screens, Spider-Man 3 establishes Peters ego at the centre of the film. So have the hero lose everything throughout the film. Then just as he’s pulling his life back together and slaying the demons that have arisen over this trilogy… Venom is born. All nicely setting up film number four.

Was it all bad?

Spider-Man 3 did have a lot going for it in fairness to avoid being a bad movie. The CGI is frequent throughout the film and can still hold up by today’s standards.

Harry and Peters chase through the alley is captivating. Sandman vs Spider-Man in the subway is gruesome. Then Sandman’s first transformation is a brilliant hybrid of cinematic storytelling and technological achievement.

The reliance on CGI can be criticized as part of the downfall of this film, but it adds to its campy nature. The effects and goofy performances all match with the tone of the movie, these are insane stories being told in insane ways. The films third act sees Harry and Peter team back up as Spider-Man and the New Goblin. Whilst a little hoky given Harry’s lineage and his inherited evilness brewing since the first film, it set the audience up for more. It saw a supergroup of sorts, working together against the villain, paving the way for the next step in the MCU with the Avengers.

The last of it’s type?

Whilst the next wave of superhero films took a serious turn favouring grit and drama, Spider-Man 3 was comfortable in its own skin. It knew it was a comedy at the core and didn’t shy away from it. Raimi was able to weave action, drama, heartfelt emotion and comedy into his trilogy without ever taking itself too seriously.

It may be a film, bursting at the seams with underdeveloped characters. But, it also gave us the infamous ‘dancing peter’ and one-liners that salute the comic book dialogue of yesteryear. If Peter was genuinely ‘cool’ and suave when playing the host to Venom, the tone would have been missed. He became this goofy, fake lothario, played for laughs as it embellishes the worst parts of his character. Raimi may have been forced to include this element, but he played his hand well.

Overall

Spider-Man 3 is far from a failure and perhaps it’s harsh to call it a bad movie. Making $895 million worldwide Sony went all out for this film. The PR campaign included a spider exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History and Green Goblin mask-making workshop at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

In the end, going ‘all-out’ was the film’s problem. It failed to live up to its two cinematic siblings. The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane described the film as a “shambles” which “makes the rules up as it goes along.”

Raimi had a lot on his plate for his third outing the Spider-Verse and he was up against a lot of creative voices wanting input. Ultimately, these voices resulted in a convoluted plot and stunted charters with a lack of substance.

Closing the series

In spite of this, Raimi somehow managed to tie up his trilogy with some poignancy. Eddy Brock, whilst rushed, embodies every bad part of Peter making him a perfect foe. Whilst Harry is impaled by his Glider, mirroring his father’s death in the first film. However, the New Goblin’s death was from giving into his human side, the Green Goblin’s death was from giving in to his Goblin side. Raimi somehow found a way to string some balance amongst the chaos.

Raimi’s final Spider-Man film didn’t fire on all cylinders. He’s has admitted himself he “didn’t really believe in all of the characters”. But within this bulging campy mess, he somehow created 139 minutes of fun and a film that laughs with you, not at you… at itself.


Thanks for reading our review of Spider-Man 3 (2007) a bad movie. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


More from our movies that could’ve been better HERE

Read IMDB information on Spider-Man 3 HERE.

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Movie News

Hogwarts Houses For MCU Characters

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MCU Harry Potter houses image
Marvel Studios & Warner Bros.

Since its conception, Hogwarts houses have been a deciding factor in getting to know people. How someone answers “what Hogwarts house are you in?” can tell you a lot about a person. But where do some of our favourite MCU characters shape up when faced with the sorting hat?

Tony Stark/Iron Man- Ravenclaw

While Tony could be argued for almost any of the houses, Ravenclaw suits him best. Most of his development comes from the pursuit of knowledge. Aside from being one of the smartest characters in the MCU, he is constantly learning and improving upon his technology. He tends to approach large problems from a strategic and pragmatic standpoint, especially in his later films. Admittedly he can be brave and somewhat self-servingly ambitious. But who he is at the end of his arc and the way that he solves problems points to Iron Man being in Ravenclaw.

Steve Rogers/Captain America- Gryffindor

Is it even a question? Steve Rogers is definitely a Gryffindor. From day one, he has always strived to do what’s right. And he subtly wants a bit of glory for it too. He’s a natural leader and has always rushed into danger without a thought. He is undoubtedly driven by bravery and righteousness and is through and through a Gryffindor.

Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow- Hufflepuff

Natasha is tricky. She could truthfully swing in any direction. It may seem strange to put a spy in Hufflepuff, but if nothing else, Natasha is loyal. She cares deeply for those close to her and has shown that she’s willing to die for them. Her characterization throughout the MCU has been lacking, but her solo film has shown her to be fiercely loyal.

Bruce Banner/The Hulk- Ravenclaw

Another Ravenclaw. Similar to Tony, Bruce is very intelligent. While he seems to be less inclined to want to fight battles than Tony is, he is constantly learning. His relationship with the Hulk can even be characterized this way. By a desire to learn how to control him, then to understand him, then to become him. His arc is one that is driven by knowledge.

Thor- Gryffindor

Thor is always looking to prove himself. Even though he can lift the hammer, he is constantly looking for validation that he is worthy. He’s not usually afraid of much, and when he is, he faces it anyway. What makes Thor a Gryffindor though is his desire to be the hero. He’s not in Slytherin because he doesn’t desire to rule. He’s not ambitious, he just wants validation.

Peter Parker/Spiderman- Gryffindor

Peter is another hard one. He’s intelligent like Bruce and Tony, which could throw him into Ravenclaw. He’s loyal to his friends, which could put him into Hufflepuff. But at his core, Peter is in Gryffindor. The proof is in one of his first lines in the MCU. In Civil War, he tells Tony, “if you can do the things I do, and you don’t, then bad things happen because of you. (paraphrased)” He feels that because he’s special, he has to act. And unlike Steve and Thor, Peter is almost always afraid. He faces his challenges in spite of that. And while he wants to have a normal life, and a typical High School experience, he selflessly puts himself on the line. Once again, Peter is not looking for recognition, he’s just trying to do the right thing.

Dr Strange- Ravenclaw

Lots of Ravenclaws in the MCU. For Dr Strange, there really isn’t any other option. He is completely driven by the pursuit of knowledge. And while recognition came with that, we see with his journey into the mystic arts that his true motivation comes from learning. He’s a very similar character to Tony Stark, and both of them are textbook Ravenclaws.

Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch- Hufflepuff

Like Natasha, Wanda is driven by her relationships. She is faithfully loyal to her brother, then Vision, then her family. She is definitely motivated to protect and care for those she loves. Including creating an entire alternate reality to be with them! Wanda is brave and intelligent, but at her core, she is loyal.

Loki- Slytherin

Finally, a Slytherin. Once again, was there any other option? Loki is characterized by his cunning and ambition. He wants to rule. And he doesn’t get there by rushing into battle. He gets there by being sneaky and clever. Loki is a Slytherin through and through.

Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel- Slytherin

This may not feel like the obvious choice for Carol, but she definitely portrays characteristics of a Slytherin. She’s the best, and she wants people to know it. She’s confident and clever, and she likes attention. We don’t know her very well yet, but from what we’ve seen, she seems to relish in the attention her efforts provide. She is good, helpful, and ambitious.

T’Challa/Black Panther- Hufflepuff

T’Challa is also driven by loyalty. But while he is protective of those he loves, his true loyalty is to Wakanda. He’s not king because of ambition, he’s king out of duty. Everything he does is through the lens of “what is best for Wakanda?” While it’s a bit unconventional, his loyalty to Wakanda characterizes him as a Hufflepuff.

Scott Lang/Ant-Man- Gryffindor

At first, it appears that Scott would be in Hufflepuff. After all, he is very motivated by his relationship with his daughter. But if he were truly 100% driven by that, he would have made different choices. He would not have betrayed Hope and Hank and teamed up with Captain America without their permission. He also would not have stolen from his company and landed in jail in the first place. But both of those above decisions do characterize him as a Gryffindor. He wants to be in the action, and he doesn’t always consider the consequences. Scott isn’t really looking for recognition and is not that ambitious, but he does want to be involved in the big events. He wants to help people, and he bravely faces battles. Sometimes without discretion.


Do you agree with our picks for these MCU characters in Hogwarts Houses? If not or if we’ve missed any out, leave us a comment below.


Check out our review of Black Widow HERE.

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