Spider-Man is that superhero that is hard to hate; after all, he’s a kid hero who’s known for being relatable. He’s lonely, dorky, and funny, a stark contrast to the older, more mature superheroes in the Marvel Universe. He is one of the best and most loved Superheroes of all time, no doubt about that, and this helped spawn the multiple Spider-Man film franchises I have grown up with. But, and I won’t be afraid to admit my biases may come out, the first has always held a special place in my heart, so I want to share what I consider to be the best parts of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man.
I need to say a big thank you to Danny Elfman because the Spider-Man theme is the song of my childhood. It’s chilling and heroic but is unique when set against other superhero themes. It connects beautifully with the themes that Spider-Man is all about: responsibility, power, guilt, sacrifice, all while remembering that the character is meant to be a young adult, still exploring and learning who he is as a person.
The Themes – With Great Power
“With great power comes great responsibility”, is that classic line that I will never be able to get out of my head. I remember the first time I watched that scene, I was sitting crisscross on the floor of my grandma’s house, leaning against my dad’s legs as I stared up at the T.V. with wide eyes. The phrase has stuck with me ever since, and I am sure other people can say the same. Coming from a college student who has never had the same amount of power as Spider-Man (and I sadly don’t think I ever will), I think of how I use the small power I do have. It reminds me to be kind, and to do the best I can for the world and the people around me.
The Organic Webbing
One thing that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man can stand against the others is that Tobey Maguire’s version has organic webbing that literally comes from his wrists. Andrew Garfield and the most recent version, Tom Holland, both gain their webbing from man-made web-shooters (which, I’ll admit, is comic accurate). In fact, I feel as though Raimi really wanted to emphasize the “Spider” part of Spider-Man. From that scene of Peter realizing he can climb walls, to the web practice montage. The audience never forgets that Peter is not completely human, stressing the way his character has always been a loner.
Uncle Ben and his death is the driving force for Spider-Man’s mission and ideals. He gave Peter lessons that were needed in order for him to remember his roots. He is the one who told him, “With great power comes great responsibility”, and it is that line Peter recites at the end of the first movie. Uncle Ben’s death was incredibly sad, even to four-year-old me (the age when I first watched it), and the way that Peter’s anger and guilt were able to morph into him becoming a more responsible hero was moving. By having Uncle Ben be the driving force behind the story, Peter is forced to recognize the effect of his own actions and become the responsible man that Ben had always known he could be.
The Train Scene from Spider-Man 2
This one is definitely more of a personal preference, but the train fight scene from Spider-Man 2 has always been amazing to me. The fight itself is phenomenal, so action-packed and fast-paced, but the way the train passengers stand up for him against Doctor Octopus was incredibly brave. Here are these people, with no superpowers like Spider-Man, but they saw he was hurt and tired from saving them so they unanimously decided to band together to protect him. It was a small love letter to the way people band together and support one another. And, as if I could forget to mention this, they all vow to never tell that they know what Peter looks like under the mask. They are good people, and a reminder of why Peter does this hard, tiring, and deadly work. These are the kind of people who are worth all the fighting and near-death experiences. I would actually consider this to be my favorite Spider-man scene of all time, that’s how much I love it.
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man has flaws, but so do all the other variants. But there’s just something so magical and moving about this version, and it genuinely feels like watching a comic book come to life. I’m sure the nostalgia has something to do with it, but I don’t care. It has great themes, a great score, and is a reminder of all the ways that people are flawed, but are still wonderful and caring beings.