Let’s talk Spider-Man. Remember 2002? There weren’t a lot of successful comic book movies based on the mainstream stuff from Marvel or DC. Batman was still lying in a shallow grave after Batman & Robin tanked. X-Men was out by that point, and while it hit a lot of right notes, it still wasn’t exactly what people really wanted, which was lots and lots of colorful mutants. Other than that, all we had before were the first two Blade movies, which is…I mean, there weren’t a whole lot of hardcore Blade fans that complained about the changes made to the character.
Spider-Man came out in May of 2002. Audiences were jonesing for some wonderment on the screen. (For the sake of argument, let’s not remember that Fellowship of the Ring came out at Christmas time 2001, even though that as well provided ample wonderment, but I mean come on, we’ve seen elves and dwarves on the big screen before, usually in really bad movies)
Leading up to the movie, buzz was good. Sam Raimi was known for being a cool director, what with Army of Darkness and everything, but Spider-Man isn’t the same kind of thing. Sure, X-Men was good, but Spidey’s look is iconic. You can’t just have him in a pleather jumpsuit like Wolverine.
So after the moody Danny Elfman intro music, we get an origin story. Admittedly, a necessary evil for a super hero movie, but this one…works. I mean, a bad origin sequence can tank a superhero movie. Raimi pulled it off great.
I mean, sitting in the theaters, watching nerdy Peter Parker pining away for Mary Jane (Watson! Not hemp!), Flash Thompson getting his comeuppance! Willem freakin’ Dafoe as Norman Osborne! All that early stuff was pretty cool, but what about, you know, Spidey?
And Holy crap, it’s the first time he webslings and he slams into a billboard! Awesome!!!! Then he figures out how to swing around New York!!! And it’s the first time we see J. Jonah Jameson!! And he calls Spider-Man a menace!! You get the idea. It was an inner child’s dream come true.
Are there flaws? I just watched it again, and yeah, there’s some goofy moments and some of the CGI doesn’t stand up to age that well, but come on! We got to see Spidey swinging around New York in live action and it looked almost exactly like we imagined it would in our heads (except for the Green Goblin’s costume, that was kind of weird). And that ending, that bittersweet ending!
It. Kicked. Ass.