The original Spider-Man trilogy by Sam Rami holds a nostalgic place in many people’s hearts. It has a lot to look back upon including some good action, an enjoyable Aunt May played by Rosemary Harris, a great villain in Doc Ock played by Alfred Molina, and of course J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson (even at the movie’s worst points he was still amazing). But the truth of the matter is there are many glaring flaws to the movies that people will overlook simply the problems simply out of that nostalgia. This article takes a look at these problems.
1. The special effects of the first movie
Thankfully the effects for this trilogy would get a lot better down the road but in the first movie they were off the mark. Scenes like when Peter is testing his abilities by jumping for the first time, the Green Goblin flying around, or when as Spider-Man he holds up the car of children are rather easy to see through. Sometimes when Spidey would swing on a web in this movie it would look good but for the most part the way they render the action looks more like a video game than a movie.
2. William Dafoe as the Green Goblin
Let’s be fair here: Dafoe’s portrayal of the character is still light years better than the one we got in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and it is iconic. But Dafoe’s portrayal goes far too over-the-top goofy and the dialogue they gave for the character is in the same vein. This is a sharp contrast to what he was like before he became the Green Goblin in that he seemed more threatening and commanding. As Norman Osborn even when he was trying to be friendly you definitely sensed something frightening inside of him. But every time he’s communicating with his alter ego it’s hard not to laugh. As Norman Osborn he gives off a sinister demeanor. As the Green Goblin, he’s a comic book villain all right but his personality is more comical than it is villain.
3. The death of Uncle Ben’s killer
At first this was a really well built-up scene. Peter lets a robber at a wrestling match steal money out of spite and it results in Uncle Ben getting shot. Peter in a fit of rage goes after the guy and is horrified when he realizes what he did. Peter scares the guy and he falls to his death. While the guilt of letting the guy escape is done greatly, outside of a throwaway line with MJ in the third movie, the impact of his death on Peter is largely discarded. And for all of the good things of the sequel this could have been a great thing to work in with Peter fighting a losing battle as Spider-Man.
4. Peter losing his powers
Now I’m not against the concept of this. Various superhero movies and TV shows have done this and it gives time to show who the character is as the hero without their powers and not the hero as the character and leads to some good development. The problem is that this movie never really explains why this is happening and is very inconsistent in showcasing his power loss. The movie does give a taste of what life would be without Peter as Spider Man but it feels rather tacked on considering that he gets them back just as quickly as he loses them. There’s no sense of Peter trying to rebuild himself as Spider-Man from the ground up. It does well with it trying to rebuild him as Peter but him rebuilding himself as Spider-Man again is rather rushed. It’s a good concept but one that isn’t fleshed out nearly enough.
5. The extras of the second movie
As much as I enjoy the second movie the extras can get really awkward. Even at the most tense and awesome of moments like the train scene their delivery just in no way felt natural. Sometimes they could work in exaggerating moments in this and the other two, which worked to the movie’s goofy tone but mostly they came across as too cartoony.
6. John Jameson
In the second movie Mary Jane is engaged to the son of J. Jonah Jameson. That’s all there is for this character. Him and his father don’t share a single scene together and after Mary Jane ditches him for Peter, he is never seen or heard again. Talk about a complete waste of a character. A neat twist would be making this guy to be Venom. Like maybe after the events of the second movie he went on a space mission and came across the symbiote and it would be a great way to tie the villain into Peter. Unlike…well look at the next one.
7. Too many villains in the third movie
This is one of third movie’s hugest problems: it juggles all of these villains, connects them in little way, and leaves them rather under-developed. The first villain we have is Harry Osborn who is arguably the least awful of the three. In the second movie he found out Peter was Spider-Man and was hell bent on revenge thinking Peter killed his father, which leads to his villainy in the third movie. However after one action sequence in the first movie, he suffers a head injury, which conveniently leads him to forget Peter is Spider Man and they can be friends again. Eventually he recovers from his amnesia and forces Mary Jane to break up with Peter in a horrible way, which she agrees to though it is questionable why (seriously nothing was keeping her from telling Peter the truth). And towards the end he finds out from his butler in horrible fashion that his dad died by his own hand (that explanation did not change anything and why did the butler wait so long to tell him).
The second villain we had was the Sandman played by Thomas Hayden Church. Church’s portrayal of the character was good and they set him up well enough with him turning to a life of crime to help cure his ailing daughter. And the movie pulled his transformation in an extremely powerful manner emotionally and physically. But then the movie apparently does a completely pointless retcon with him with it turning out that he killed Uncle Ben. More importantly why did the police wait until now to tell them any of this? Even Peter points this out.
The third and worst villain of the bunch is Eddie Brock aka Venom. Aside from the fact that we only get him as Venom during the last couple of minutes, Topher Grace was horribly miscast as the character. They set him up as a rival to Peter in trying to get a job at the Daily Bugle and for Gwen’s affections the executions of both of them being incredibly weak. He’s certainly a horrible person but he in no way gives the impression of a super villain.
8. Gwen Stacy
Much like Eddie, this is a character that shouldn’t have been in the movie to begin with. Gwen is an important part of Peter’s life in the comics, and once again while it’s understandable that they can’t adapt everything, here she is relegated mostly to being the object of Peter and Eddie’s affections to ignite the rivalry to Peter and Eddie and complicate things with Mary Jane. People can get angry with the Amazing Spider-Man movies all they want but that doesn’t change the fact that they portrayed Peter and Gwen’s relationship leagues better. This Gwen has almost nothing to her.
9. Emo Peter
Upon Peter bonding with the symbiote he takes on a darker and edgier personality. In the comics it outright tormented him and consumed him making him a lot more mean and crazy. Some of this was exemplified in the movie with him brutally beating up Sandman. But then you’ve got scenes with him dancing in the streets and the jazz club. Being goofy has always been a part of the trilogy’s charm but this was just really pushing it. It’s difficult to feel anything with this character with scenes like this and even when he does act mean and crazy it doesn’t feel believable. The dance scene in particular completely breaks away from any seriousness the movie is trying to provide with Peter’s bond with the symbiote. What’s worse is that it’s followed with Peter hurting Mary Jane and on a church rooftop dwelling over his actions. This is supposed to be a big moment for Peter but having seen something so silly only moments ago that does not work at all.
10. Mary Jane Watson
I personally saved this for last because her character is a problem that encompasses all three movies. For starters she is pretty much in some kind of peril in just about every movie. On top of that though she’s given a bit of a backstory and does kind of become her own woman in the third movie, she really does not have much of a character to her. She’s basically relegated to being a love interest for almost every male character in the movie including Harry, Flash Thompson, J. Jonah Jameson’s son, and Peter. Throughout the movie there is just so much teasing of the romance between Peter and MJ in the first two movies with the way they look at each other and such and neither of them makes any move on it. Just when it seems she has made up her mind at the end of the second movie to be with Peter she’s threatened into dumping him by Harry who threatens to kill Peter if she doesn’t. This is completely nonsensical and doesn’t bring them closer together in any way. The harder part about this is that the two have little if any chemistry whatsoever and the awkward dialogue (which extends a lot throughout the movie not just in their romance) between the two really doesn’t help. There is really nothing to Mary Jane and as much as I enjoy looking back upon the trilogy Gwen Stacy in the Amazing Spider-Man and heck even Liz Toomes and Michelle Jones in Homecoming will always be far more enjoyable.
Are there any other problems in the trilogy? Any you disagree with? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.