Guest Post -James M's review of SPIDER MAN (2002)

Salutations, nerds and fans. CVGWJames here and we're back to review something unrelated to Sonic, a Marvel movie. But not just ANY Marvel movie or superhero movie, its SPIDER-MAN starring Tobey Maguire as the web-slinging fella himself. Released in 2002 and directed by Sam Rami, Spider Man was a smash success and helped rejuvenate the superhero movie genre, eventually paving the way for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008 with the release of Iron Man while scoring two sequels.

In light of the nearly earth-shattering Endgame-level SPIDER-MAN NO WAY HOME featuring Tom Holland's Spider Man meeting Tobey's Spider Man and 2012 Andrew Garfield's Spider Man through multiverse madness and with Spider Man's 60th anniversary looming, it is time we look back at the film that revitalized the superhero craze and landed Spider-Man on the big screen. SPIDER-MAN!

Side Note: Before we start, I will say that before we got this movie, there were many attempts to get a Spider-Man film off the ground for decades with James Cameron writing the script for his own R-rated Spider-Man flick at one point until things didn't work out. Now, onto the story...


Peter Parker is a nerdy kid from Queens, New York, who is socially awkward, but attends school like everybody else. He's in love with his long-time crush Mary Jane Watson and his best friend is Harry Osborn, they both attend high-school together. 

One day, while on a field trip to a genetics university, after meeting Harry's father Norman (who's something of a scientist), Peter is taking photos of Mary Jane Watson when a radioactive spider lands on his hand and bites him. Wouldn't be a Spider-Man story without the classic "Peter getting bit by a radioactive spider" deal that's been part of his backstory since 1962, which is what ALL Spider Man origins should involve, am I right? *Glares at the Japanese Spider-Man show*

After returning home to his Uncle Ben and May Parker's house, Peter feels feverish from the bite and passes out in his room as his body begins to change. Meanwhile, Norman is faced with his company Oscorp being shut down by the millitary and volunteers himself for an experiment in a laboratory.

However, things don't go well during the experiment after Norman takes a performance enhancer as he passes out and his heart stops for a time. But when Norman wakes up, he attacks his assistant Doctor Stromm and basically kills him. At this point, this is where Spider-Man's most iconic supervillain known as the Green Goblin is born.

The next morning, Peter wakes up and notices that he's changed. Not only does he no longer need glasses, but he's muscular too. After heading to school, Peter discovers he has improved reflexes (when he catches MJ and a food tray after she slips) and can shoot webs from his wrist. An incident with his webs involving a food tray quickly lands him in a fight with Flash Thompson in the school hallway.

"I don't wanna fight you, Flash." Peter says as he tries to get out of the situation.

"I wouldn't wanna fight me neither." Flash replies.

So, Peter fights Flash and beats him. Then he runs off and learns he can climb surfaces like a spider can before he figures out how to shoot webs from his wrist. The night afterwards, after talking with MJ, Peter watches her go for a car ride with Flash in his new car and decides to enter a wrestling event to earn money for that car with his powers.

On the day he goes to the event after making his wrestling suit, Peter has a little chat with Uncle Ben, who then delivers the iconic; "With great power comes great responsibility." Peter then enters the wrestling match with the wrestler Bonesaw and initially tries to use the name "The Human Spider" as an alias, only for the wrestling announcer played by Bruce Campbell to change it to... "THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN". Buddy, you just planted the seeds without knowing it.

Peter battles Bonesaw, who is no pushover, and at one point says, "That's a cute outfit, did your husband give it to you?" Oh, Peter, you're such a sissy, aren't ya?. Going off track, Peter defeats Bonesaw but, when he gets the money, he ends up getting less than what the ad promised since the promoter's a bit of a jerk.

As Peter is leaving, a thief named Dennis Caradine arrives and steals the money. However, when someone begs for Dennis to be stopped, Peter, out of revenge against the promoter for cheating him on the money, lets the thief get away. "I missed the part where that's my problem." He tells the man, not knowing that letting Dennis get away will have consequences, and suffer the consequences he does.

While Peter is leaving the wrestling place, he discovers that his Uncle Ben was shot by a carjacker and is dying. Ben barely has enough strength left to hold Peter's hand and say his name when he dies in front of the young man, who cries and then goes after the car thief. But when he confronts the car thief at a warehouse, it turns out the thief is none other than the same guy he met earlier.

Dennis pleads with Peter, who is outright furious with him for killing Uncle Ben. Oh, Peter, little do you know this isn't the case with who killed your uncle. Peter attacks Dennis, who trips over a pipe and falls to his death on a pier below, Peter heads home to mourn the loss of Uncle Ben with Aunt May. Sometime later, during a millitary flight suit test, Norman Osborn as Green Goblin attacks and kills the test pilot along with General Stromm and other millitary officials.

In the days following Uncle Ben's death, Peter graduates high school with Harry while Mary Jane breaks up with Flash Thompson during the graduation after the ceremony and Norman begins to get closer to Peter, seeing him as almost like a son to him just like Harry. After the graduation, Peter once again mourns the loss of Uncle Ben as Aunt May comforts him. He later reviews his old wrestling outfit and soon fashions himself a new outfit, one that everyone knows very well.

Under the new alias of Spider-Man and deciding to take the "with great power comes great responsibility" saying of his uncle to heart, Peter begins fighting crime in New York and takes out many criminals. Opinions about Spider-Man are mixed but his actions catch the eye of the Daily Bugle and its editor J. Jonah Jameson, played by remarkable J.K Simmons.

"If he doesn't want to be famous, I'll make him infamous!" Jameson remarks during a conversation with his employees.

Peter decides to put his photography skills to use and starts taking photographs of himself as Spider-Man for the Daily Bugle after seeing an ad in the paper for someone to photograph Spider-Man. Peter gives his photos to Jameson, who makes him a freelancer for the Bugle. Meanwhile, Norman Osborn finds himself facing a dilemma as the Oscorp board members declare that he's being voted out and will no longer be chairman. "DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I'VE SACRIFICED?!" Norman yells.

During the Unity Day festival, the festivities are ruined when the Green Goblin arrives and starts attacking on his glider, causing chaos and killing the Oscorp board members out of revenge while putting people in danger. Thankfully, Peter steps in to protect the present MJ, who's dating Harry, and fights Green Goblin for the first time. "WE'LL MEET AGAIN, SPIDER-MAN!" Goblin yells as he retreats following the battle.

Following the event, Norman has a conversation with his Goblin self in a mirror and Goblin suggests that Peter could be an ally for them. The Green Goblin attacks the Daily Bugle and demands to know from Jameson who is the one taking photos of Spider-Man, who arrives on the scene and Jameson accuses of working with the Goblin.

Goblin gasses Peter and takes him up to the city rooftops, where the two talk and Goblin attempts to persuade the web-slinger to join him. "Think about it, hero!" Goblin sneers before flying away. Peter later saves MJ from a group of thugs attempting to... take advantage of her and they finally share their first kiss in an iconic scene as Peter hangs upside down as Spider-Man.

One day, while saving a baby from a burning building, Peter once again encounters the Green Goblin, who started the fire and again tries to make him join his side. "Are you in or are you out?" Goblin asks.

"You're the one who's out, Gobby! Out of your mind!" Peter quips.

"WRONG ANSWER!" Goblin attacks the web-slinger with spinning blades, one of which scratches Peter's arm, before he leaves the building while Goblin curses the hero for saying no to him. Peter and Norman arrive at the penthouse to join MJ, Aunt May and Harry for Thanksgiving dinner but tensions arise when Norman notices a cut on Peter's arm and leaves, secretly coming to the conclusion that Peter is Spider-Man while insulting MJ during a tense chat with Harry about women.

Goblin deduces the best way to get to Peter and make him suffer is to hurt his loved ones, despite Norman's protests. The villain attacks Aunt May's house while she's praying and May lands in the hospital, but she survives thankfully, and Peter realizes what is going on. While chatting with MJ in Aunt May's hospital about Spider-Man, Peter holds her hand and Harry sees them when he walks in, leading to him telling Norman (and the Goblin) about everything.

Aunt May wakes up and has a heart to heart with Peter about MJ and his feelings for her. Motivated by the discussion, Peter goes to call MJ on the phone only to end up learning that Green Goblin kidnapped her when Goblin's voice cackles on the other end of the line; "Can Spider Man come out to play?"

Green Goblin holds Mary Jane hostage on the Roosevelt Bridge and Peter arrives as Spider-Man just after the Goblin damages a tram system and takes the tram holding many kids in it hostage as well. "This is why only fools are heroes..." Goblin declares, offering Spider-Man a choice, "Because you may never know when some lunatic will come along with a sadistic choice; Let die the woman you love or suffer the little children."

Goblin drops MJ and the tram, telling Spider-Man to choose. Peter saves MJ along with the tram at the same time as the Goblin attacks and the New Yorkers defend their hero, throwing junk at the Goblin, who drags Peter to an abandoned hospital on Roosevelt Island where their final battle of the movie begins. And the fight is brutal, Goblin shows no mercy and lets Spider-Man have it. 

Side Note: This fight actually pushed the PG-13 rating, especially since Peter was going to spit blood from his mouth, and the fight was going to be more intense. But to ensure the film got a PG-13, the blood from Peter's mouth had to be digitally edited to just spit. 

As he beats Spider-Man down, Goblin tells him what he's going to do to MJ when its all over and threatens to finish her slowly. This enrages Peter and gives him the strength he needs to let the Goblin have it to, he beats him and punches him relentlessly until the villain cries out in Norman Osborn's voice, unmasking himself and pleading with Peter to help him and be like a son to him.

When Peter tells Norman that he has a father whose name was Uncle Ben, its revealed that the Goblin was pretending to be Norman and attempts to attack him with his glider. Peter evades and Norman gets stabbed by his glider blades, the man known as Norman Osborn dies, but not before telling him not to tell Harry about it.

Sometime later, at the graveyard, Peter and MJ chat again by Uncle Ben's grave and MJ asks Peter if he loves her while kissing him at one point. Knowing that he can't put her in danger as Spider-Man, Peter declines and walks away while MJ begins to suspect he might be Spider-Man. The film ends with Peter in his outfit swinging through New York City.

Final Thoughts:

Since its release in 2002, Spider-Man has been seen as an unforgettable movie masterpiece and a treasure by many Spidey fans, superhero fans and Marvel fans alike. Having seen it twice, I do see why it still holds up in many people's hearts after over two decades since it released. 

Sam Rami is a Spider-Man fan and the movie under his direction oozes with that Marvel passion most of the Marvel movies have, it is a very good movie that is worth your time if you want to sit down and watch a superhero movie like this one. 

Tobey Maguire has gone on to be a fan-favorite Marvel movie actor and is seen as the OG movie Spider-Man, which is true unless you count the made-for-TV movies from the 70s or 80s. After all these years, he's still synonymous with the web-slinger so much, I hear tell that some people hear his voice in their head when they read Peter's dialogue in the Spider-Man comics. Rosemary Harris played Aunt May fairly well and some people also apparently imagine her voice when they read the comics.

Willem Dafoe's casting as the Green Goblin was a swell idea to a degree at the time and J.K Simmons went on to play Mr. Jameson in many more Spider-Man projects such as the rest of the trilogy, a few cartoons and finally reprises his role in the MCU as a new variant of Mr. Jameson himself.

My final thoughts? Well, its fun, its got charm and its an inspiring superhero story. Could it be one of my favorite superhero movies? Sure, of course it is, man. Now, I must go. 

See you next time, true believers. Excelsior!


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