Wait a second, just hear me out. Yes, the third installment in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man series wasn't what we were all expecting. Compared to the bar that was set by Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3 was frankly a huge dissapointment. But the question is: does Spider-Man 3 deserve all the hate that is has been getting? Frankly, no, it does not. Here's why.
The number one criticism I hear about the movie is that it is packed with too many villains and none of them got the justice they deserved. Well, they all have good intentions.
Since the first Spider-Man movie, tensions had been growing between Peter Parker and his best friend Harry Osborn. After Spidey killed Harry's dad when he was all suited up as the Green Goblin, and Harry found out that Peter was Spidey all along, he wanted revenge. The first two movies were ultimately building towards an inevitable show-down between the two buddies. However, they couldn't focus the whole movie around that. They needed a more iconic villain to follow the likes of Green Goblin and Doc Ock.
Of course, that villain was Venom. Venom has been one of Spider-Man's greatest adversaries, and the entire symbiote storyline is pretty memorable. After seeing Spider-Man defeat some big villains, it would be interesting to see him battle against himself. But while Parker is experiencing the symbiote-suit experience, what villain will he face? They can't introduce Venom until after he gets rid of the suit.
Enter Sandman. Sandman isn't too major of a villain to deserve his own movie, but he is important enough to deserve a bit of screen time. He made enough of a challenge for Peter to resort to the symbiote-suit, and it allowed Peter to explore the darker side of himself. You see, all three villains had a distinct purpose. Their major flaw was that they didn't quite mesh together right, and the film came off as too crowded.
I actually thoroughly enjoyed the final battle. Instead of the typical one-on-one that we have been exposed to in the first two movies, the studio took a fresh new approach. The story of Peter and Harry came to a close when Harry joined up with Peter for a massive brawl that made for an exciting cinematic experience. Sandman got to show off the scope of his abilities, and the film closes with a solo battle between Spidey and Venom, as it should. All in all, it was a satisfying ending for me.
But What About Gwen?
Okay yeah, they butchered Gwen, but think about it this way. The Spider-Man movie franchise started out when superhero movies weren't as big as they are today. They needed to use a familiar hero (Spider-Man) fighting a familiar villain (Green Goblin) with a familiar girlfirend. Although the comics started with Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson was essentially the main girlfriend for Peter Parker.
After two movies of success, they decided that they would introduce the character of Gwen in order to please comic-book fans. However, the Gwen in the movie and the Gwen in the comics were very different, and the love-triangle thing started to get out of hand. This caused fans to lose interest, but at least the studios tried.
And What About This?
Yeah, what about this? When trying to portray a bad-boy Peter to symbolize the influence of the symbiote, they came up with this. Believe it or not, the studio had some grounds in portraying Peter like this.
In the comics, Peter is essentially a stereotypicall nerd. He's smart, awkward, quiet, and did I mention awkward? When he adopts the bad-boy persona, that didn't automatically give him credibility to be a cool kid. That little strut that you see him doing is Peter trying to be cool. He is still an awkward nerd, but he is trying to come off as a cool kid, and has that ever really worked. He looks stupid on-screen because he would look stupid in real life given that scenario.