Now for the movie that finally brought your friendly neighborhood Spider-man to the big screen.
The Film: Spider-Man (2002)
Director: Sam Raimi
Producers: Avi Arad, Laura Ziskin, Ian Bryce
Distribution: Columbia Pictures
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Joe Manganiello, Bill Nunn, Elizabeth Banks
Plot: Peter Parker gets Spider powers, becomes Spider-Man, defeats bad guy Norman Osborn (Green Goblin). He also struggles to form a relationship with Mary Jane and hold down his job as a photographer.
This is one the most important and influential superhero films of the last generation, whilst Blade was really the first modern take on a superhero, this was the first that was family orientated, and focused on a single hero, not a team. It set the template for solo superhero films for years to come, likable heroes, damsel in distress love interests, Spider-Man films, all things that we're still seeing today. This film was, surprisingly, the first real shot that the web-slinger had on the big screen and, for better or for worse, it was crucial in defining the Superhero genre as we know it and hanged audience and studio expectations.
Spider-Man was adored by critics at the time of release, praising it as an immensely fun summer blockbuster with heart. And whilst it can tug at the heartstrings, I don't feel like this film ages very well. The campy style is good for establishing a family audience and the film still succeeds in that regard, but it feels out of place now. The plot is overly simplistic and the Mary Jane never strikes you as anything but annoying. And whilst that's sort of the point, it's designed for kids, but that doesn't mean that it has to be too simple. A lot of other things don't hold up, the Motorcycle helmeted Green Goblin, that time where he throws a bomb and it turns people to terrible CGI skeletons, some of the camerawork, golluming. Having said that, it's still a good fun watch, but it has been surpassed by imitators that have come after it.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Certified Fresh (85% Top Critics, 67% Audience)
Budget: $140 Million
Box Office: $821.7 Million
Spider-Man is one of the most important and influential superhero films ever. Essentially becoming the first true superhero box office conqueror in recent times (Blade II and X-Men made money, but were not even close to this). For better or for worse, it has established the tropes of modern superhero films. The film was loved by audiences and critics alike at the time, but looking back the film doesn't really hold up against those that have followed it, even in it's own series. It's not the all time classic many hail it to be, but it's fun and entertaining. It's the second best Spider-Man film, even though that's not saying much.
3 Lessons from Spider-Man
1. Kids and families are ready to go see superhero films, really, really, really ready.
2. The public love them some Spider-Man
3. The tropes of superhero origin films, and solo superhero films in general.