Like most, I was a fan of the first two Spider-Man movies by director Sam Raimi. The CGI seemed a bit obvious at times when Spider-Man was jumping and swinging on occasion, but overall was acceptable. The story had some heart along with the action.
But before the release of Spider-Man 3, I predicted the movie would fail. Not necessarily from a monetary standpoint, but as a movie.
Spider-Man 3 had way too much going on. Gwen Stacy (Peter Parker’s first true love), Harry Osborn as the New Goblin, the Sandman, Venom, Parker’s ego struggle as a result of the new black suit, his attempt to propose to Mary Jane…that’s enough for at least five movies!
Any film student will tell you that the more elements you add to a story, the more difficult it is to get much depth of any of them. A “jack of all trades, master of none” kind of thing.
Sure enough, fans and critics alike loathed the movie. On Rotten Tomatoes, only 63% of critics liked Spider-Man 3 and even fewer moviegoers (54%) liked it—a steep drop from the 93% critic and 81% audience rating for Spider-Man 2.
I didn’t like it either, despite making the effort to see it in the theater rather than wait for the DVD.
The dislike for the film was so strong that fans actually demanded an apology from Raimi—even two years after Spider-Man 3 came out in theaters! And Raimi, to his credit, did admit it was too much crammed into the movie.
“I think having so many villains detracted from the experience. I would agree with the criticism… I think I’ve learned about the importance of getting to the point and the importance of having limitations.”
But in an interesting interview before Spider-Man 3 was released, Raimi revealed that the original Spider-Man 3 story was just to have the Sandman as the villain.
“I had worked on the story with my brother Ivan, and primarily it was a story that featured the Sandman. It was really about Peter, Mary Jane, Harry, and that new character.”
Turns out the former president of Marvel, Avi Arad, pressured Raimi into adding Venom and Gwen Stacy. Raimi read up on Venom and didn’t find the character to be very interesting. Arad insisted that Raimi include Venom, arguing that all Spider-Man fans love Venom. So Raimi tried to fit Venom and Gwen Stacy into the movie to “maybe incorporate this villain to make some of the real diehard fans of Spider-Man finally happy.”
That would explain why Venom and Gwen Stacy are minor characters in the film. Gwen Stacy could have been substituted with any female character since her role as Peter Parker’s first real love interest isn’t on display in the film. And Venom is more of a sidekick to the Sandman (restraining Spider-Man while the Sandman delivers the blows), rather than a lead villain character.
History repeats itself?
I’ve recently found out that Amazing Spider-Man 2 is following the same tragic movie formula as Spider-Man 3.
ASM2 will introduce Mary Jane Watson (in a minor role) and Harry Osborn, with Electro and (supposedly) Rhino as villains.
[Side note: Electro will not be in his familiar green-and-yellow suit; actor Jamie Foxx, who will play the villain, said Electro’s suit will be black and won’t wear the infamous yellow electricity mask.]
So let’s see: both Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2 will have some sort of love triangle, an Osborn, and two villains.
Maybe ASM2 director Marc Webb, who is reportedly going to start production this month, should get his apology ready beforehand.