Boss: Hey guys, let’s talk about this new Spider-Man 3 movie.
Executive #1: What about it?
Boss: Hob Goblin. Is that the only villain we are going with?
Executive #1: Well, I mean, the one villain formula has brought in a boat load of money and critical…
Marketer: Polls show that Venom is a popular villain amongst our target demographic.
Boss: No. He’s too big of a character to squeeze in with Hob Goblin.
Executive #2: Just knock James Franco out of the movie with amnesia for like half the movie.
Secretary: Oh, can we do Sandman too? I always loved that character growing up.
Executive #1: Really? Who says that?
Boss: Yes. Executive #1 is right. The Sandman would require too much focus to develop adequate effects.
Executive #3: Let’s have Mary Jane break-up with Peter.
Executive #1: What? Peter has been chasing MJ for like two entire movies and you just want them to…
Executive #4: Oh. And let’s have Gwen Stacy in the movie so Peter can cheat on MJ with her!
Executive #2: Can we have Stacy date Eddie Brook? I think that’s what happens in the comics.
Executive #1: Does Raimi even want to do these…
Executive #3: And Eddie can compete with Peter for a job at the Daily Bugle!
Boss: I love the synergy people! More ideas, please!
Executive #4: I’ve always wanted to see Tobey Maguire dance like a complete idiot. Is this a possibility?
Marketer: Dancing is trending in superhero movies nowadays.
Executive #1: That’s a load of…
Executive #2: Can we completely revise Uncle Ben’s death and change his original killer?
Boss: Guys, guys. Do we really want to risk making a crap movie by trying to cram in all these plot threads?
Sony Board: Yes.
Boss: Oh, well, what was I thinking? Let’s do EVERYTHING!
Sony Board: YAY!!!
Boss: Great work today people. Executive #1, you have the pleasure of informing Raimi of our…
Executive #1: I QUIT!!!
*storms out the room*
Boss: What’s his problem?
An over-long, unorganized mess is what you are going to get every time you let people who don’t know anything about filmmaking tell filmmakers what to do. It’s that simple.
Raimi never wanted to do venom. He wanted two villains. Hob Goblin and Sandman. That’s why venom is shoe-horned in there. Because some people at the top thought it was a good idea to exercise their power over a director who brought in well over 1.5 billion dollars in box office receipts for the studio in just two films. This is a guy who grew up with a Spider-Man poster hanging on his bedroom wall. What exactly was Sony worried about?
Raimi not only has my forgiveness. He has my utmost sympathy. Sony had to stick their nose into his project and turn it into… well, you know.
However, at this point, Spider-Man 3 is so universally hated and exposed that it almost feels like a cheap shot to even include pictures of emo Peter Parker dancing, let alone spend time talking about. Spider-Man 3 got a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not Daredevil’s 44%. Not Green Lantern’s 25%. Spider-Man 3 has a near “certified fresh” aggregate of 63%.
Which begs the question: is Spider-Man 3 as bad as people make it out to be? No. I wouldn’t say so. Even though it isn’t a very good film, this is a film that is often framed as being one of the worst superhero movies out there. Right there with Catwoman and Ghost Rider.
In terms of falling short of expectations? Maybe. Catwoman and Ghost Rider never had prospects of being any good. Spider-Man 3 was following Spider-Man 2, one of the greatest superhero sequels made, if not the greatest.
If I haven’t made myself clear on why I think Spider-Man 3 is subpar at best, I’m going to refer you to Confused Matthew’s in-depth review of it. I find no gratification in bashing a movie that has already been bashed time and time again. Instead, I’m going to attempt to remind people why this movie still made close to 900 million dollars and got more fresh reviews than rotten ones.
Reason #1: Black Spider-Man is cool.
Say what you will about the underdeveloped Venom and emo Peter Parker. Black Spider-Man is still cool. After seeing two films of the same red and blue Spidey uniform, the black suit breathed life into the aesthetics of Spider-Man 3. Not only that, but it felt like there was a real concerted effort to make black Spider-Man more vicious and even stronger. His fight with Sandman, although made slightly mundane by the use of trains again, is a highly intense fight sequence, and the movie’s best, showing off what Spider-Man is really capable of.
Reason #2: Harry Osborn’s character arc.
Okay, so his costume still sucks, but him finally fighting beside Spider-Man in the final battle? We’ve never really seen tag-team superhero battles up to this point, and while the action wasn’t great, the idea behind it was full of potential, demonstrating aspiration from Raimi’s crew. Not to mention, the franchise shows some courage by killing off a protagonist as prevalent in the series as best friend, Harry Osborn.
Reason #3: Sandman’s transformation.
If there’s anything truly beautiful in Spider-Man 3, it’s Flint Marko’s tragic transformation into Sandman. It’s a physical transformation so graceful and yet imperfect that it makes you believe this is Sandman’s first attempt in trying to stand up or pick up an object. Wonderfully scored by Danny Elfman (how did he not get mentioned until now in my reviews?) and rendered by the effects team, this feat in spectacle and visual storytelling will have you momentarily forget how much of an expressionless dud Sandman turns out to be.
Reason #4: The franchise’s tone.
Remember this elevator scene in Spider-Man 2? Or how about the milk and chocolate cake scene between Peter and the land-lord’s daughter? Surely you must recall the line, “Whoa! He stole that guy’s pizza!”, not putting together the fact that the pizza guy is indeed Spider-Man. Raimi’s Spider-Man is and has always been innocent and light-hearted. So when Raindrops Are Falling On My Head starts playing in the background, or when Peter does some improve jazz piano or disco dancing, I’m actually kind of
okay with it prepared for it. Kind of.