There have been so many different offerings in terms of Spider-Man movies, series, and video games, that it’s hard to keep them all straight. However, the original three live action Spider-Man movies with Tobey Maguire will always have a special place in fan’s hearts. But what about Spider-Man 3?
I used to be obsessed with the original Spider-Man movies. It was one of the first high quality instances of seeing a beloved comic book icon brought to life. Before that, I grew up on the 1994 animated series, which is still impossible to beat in my book. Fun fact: Did you know the voice actor for Peter Parker in this series (Christopher Daniel Barnes), also played the voice of Prince Eric from the original Little Mermaid? There. Your mind is now blown.
But I digress…
What still works in Spider-man 3
The first two Maguire Spider-Man films were very well received. Spidey 3? Not so much. I remember seeing it in theaters and being disappointed. That was in 2007. I didn’t watch it again until 2023, a whopping 16 years later! My second time around was better. I was in more of a position to accurately determine what I did and didn’t like about it.
Just to keep this article from being monstrously long, I’m gonna throw some bullet points at ya. Also? Here there be spoilers. You have been warned. Alright, here’s what still held up for me:
- Great acting
- The black suit (via Venom) looked great. On that note, here’s how to get the black symbiote suit in Spider-man 2
- Eddie Brock’s Venom was fun
- JJ Jameson is always the most perfect incarnation of the character in these films
- Decent moments of humor throughout
- The story itself is engaging and holds up
- Action scenes (though a little dated in terms of CGI), are still a blast
- The Sandman character. Nuanced, sympathetic, and very well acted
- The running theme of forgiveness throughout the film is an interesting one and well balanced
- I’ve always loved that you care just as much about Peter Parker’s life and relationships as you do when he’s actually Spider-man. You really feel immersed in his world
- Harry’s redemption at the end was wonderful, albeit tragic
What doesn’t work in Spider-Man 3
- Too many villains. You’re juggling Sandman, Harry as the Goblin, and Venom. Venom got shortchanged. He is one of the most popular villains in the Spider-man universe, he deserved more attention
- Harry’s butler finally admits to Harry the truth of his father’s death, exonerating Peter and repairing their friendship. Dude. You should have said something like a freaking year ago. I hate when huge plot points hinge on unrealistic details like this, when a real person would have said something long before then
- Harry getting amnesia. I’m sorry, amnesia is just lazy writing in my book. This isn’t a soap opera
- The way Peter treats Mary Jane. Even before he was being taken over by Venom, he kissed Gwen Stacy for the cameras, probably a nod to her character’s involvement with Peter in the comic books. Still, it seems uncharacteristically callous and hurtful when he’s in love enough with Mary Jane to want to propose to her. If he’d done so AFTER being affected by the Venom substance, I could get behind it. But no, it was just sheer thoughtlessness and insensitivity and though I get they were trying to show that being Spider-Man was going to his head, I still thought it a step too far
- Speaking of a step too far, I did not like it when Peter hits MJ at the jazz club fight. Yes, I know he was in the middle of a fight and didn’t realize it was her, yet I still think with his inhumanly fast reflexes he could have stopped. I also know he was semi-possessed by the black suit, yet I still have a hard time getting over this. He hit his girlfriend. End of story. This doesn’t age well in my book. I just don’t like it. Period.
- I feel like there could have been less drama with Peter and MJ overall. It felt contrived, unnecessary, and it was frankly unpleasant to witness. By the end of the movie it shows them starting to reconcile, but you just know it’s going to take a while to work through everything that happened. Those two definitely will need some couple’s therapy. For me, as someone who has always enjoyed the romance between Peter and MJ, it just left a bad taste in my mouth. The first two movies were all about them getting together and then you taint things like this? Nope. Give me my 1994 animated series any day. THEY did things right.
In spite of my qualms with the film, I did enjoy Spider-Man 3 a lot more the second time around. It was nice to see familiar faces. To see characters that I loved and were portrayed so well. I’ve never been a huge fan of Dunst as MJ, but Maguire was a perfect Spider-man. Harry, Aunt May, Jameson, all were such well crafted versions of their characters. It was even nice to see Willem Dafoe cameo as Norman Osborn again, he’s always been a heck of an actor.
Though it is the weakest of the original Spider-Man trilogy, it’s still worth watching. There’s good action, good acting, and enough done well that I can overlook the things that bother me. Still, if you haven’t seen the 1994 series, you’re really missing out. You just can’t beat it.
Want more Spider-Man reviews? Here’s every Spider-Man movie ranked worst to best.