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Why the original Spider-Man trilogy is still great


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When Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man released in 2002, it became one of a handful of successful superhero movies, joining the likes of Tim Burton’s Batman, and the more recent X-Men. Credit: YouTube

Now, fifteen years later, the world famous web-slinger is back once more, with Spider-Man: Homecoming adding to the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, as exciting as Tom Holland’s new Spider-Man may be, there will always be something very special about Sam Raimi’s original trilogy and Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of the much loved character.

Until the first movie, people only had the cartoon Spider-Man in the nineties and an awful live action series from the seventies. After some twenty-five years of studios struggling to get a feature film made, Sony’s Colombia Pictures acquired the rights to Spider-Man in 1999 and there was never much doubt that something would soon be in the works. Sure enough, in January 2001 Sam Raimi’s eventual classic began filming.

Being released in May 2002, Spider-Man proved to be a critical and financial hit, bringing glowing reviews as well as raking in $821.7 million at the box office. From that point, sequels were always bound to happen and two came along with both Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007).

Both performed incredibly well at the box office but a critical panning of the third instalment tanked the plans for a fourth film, and the series was subsequently ended. Overall Sony took around $2.5 billion worldwide for the three films and it still remains one of the most successful trilogies of all time.

But aside from critical and box office success, there's something more to these films that keep them relevant and enjoyable today.

Movies That Motivate The Adventures of Motivatorman! - blogger One of the best things about the Sam Raimi films is Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker. This isn't a very popular opinion as many have, in hindsight, questioned his casting. It is true that Maguire wasn’t comic book Peter Parker. He didn’t use as many quips when fighting, he was smart but not the tech genius that is depicted in the comics and of course he was nowhere near the right age. However, the trilogy as a whole has a very different feel to the comics.

Unlike the Marvel and DC movies of late, Spider-Man set out to be a great movie on it’s own, without relying too much on the source material. In this sense it can be compared more to Nolan’s Batman trilogy in which the characters and basic story elements are the same as in the comics, but the movies stand clearly apart.

As a result, we were given a different kind of Peter Parker, one who Maguire portrays as more pensive and responsible. This version of Peter works brilliantly for the Raimi films and helps tell some excellent stories.

The first film explored Peter’s grief, growing responsibility and new found enjoyment for his powers, and Spider-Man 2 showed us the difficulties of leading two lives and the struggle between choosing to help others or yourself. Of course Spider-Man 3, being the weakest of the trilogy, delves into much less engaging stories. That being said though, it still carries with it a great redemption tale in James Franco’s Harry Osborn.

As far as these movies go performance-wise, all involved are brilliant in their roles. Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, James Franco and Tobey Maguire in their previously mentioned roles, J.K Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson and not forgetting Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina as the villainous Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus respectively. All these actors take the trilogy to the next level as their portrayals of these characters remain iconic today. Of course though, Spider-Man movies wouldn’t be much if they weren’t exciting, and once again these films excel with some breathtaking action scenes that are still just as impressive today as they were at release.

The train fight between Spider-Man and Doc Ock takes the number one spot in terms of action scenes as it's certainly up there as one of the best movie action sequences of all time. But there is also the Green Goblin’s attack on the parade, Sandman’s truck chase and the final confrontation with Doc Ock.

The Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, aside from the struggling third, have a near perfect balance of story, character development and action. This is something that was sorely lacking in Sony’s ultimately failed reboot, which was heavily criticised for its poorly written characters and non-sensical plots.

A year after Spider-Man 3’s release, Iron Man made its debut on the big screen and the rest is history with superhero movies now being the most popular and highest grossing genre of modern day film.

Although Raimi’s trilogy didn’t influence and spark this success alone, it is undeniable that his films showed that it was possible to make a more serious and engaging superhero movie that was still financially viable. It had been proven before with X-Men in 2000 and would be again with 2005’s Batman Begins. Arguably though, the massive success of the Spider-Man films in that early period of the noughties is what pushed the industry towards building the huge franchises that we have today.


Spider-Man: Homecoming looks to be another excellent entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tom Holland’s debut in last year’s Captain America: Civil War was very well received and if early reviews are to be believed, Homecoming is right up there with what is still considered the best Spider-Man film, Spider-Man 2.

It’s great to see a new take on the character and it will be of great benefit to Homecoming that it is coming out at a time when superhero movies just keep getting better. For many though, the Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi adaptations will always hold a special place and be regarded as the best of the Spider-Man films.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is out now, distributed through Sony Pictures. Watch the trailer for Sam Raimi's Spider-Man below.

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