Kambole Campbell says that was the first in the director’s social web trilogy established the route for the contemporary superhero cinema twenty years ago, but none of its heirs have ever equaled it.
To wield immense power, there must also be a great deal of accountability. Peter Parker’s struggle to also try to live up to that same adage has been a constant in all of Spider-many Man’s iterations since 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15, when a radioactive spider bite grants him spider-like powers.
Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man in Sam Raimi’s early Noughties Spider-Man trilogy is possibly the greatest example of this ageless quest in cinematic form. It’s hard to believe that the first of these pictures released in US theaters twenty years ago this week, but it had a major influence on the subsequent superhero films while also being a radical departure from the norm.
Spider-massive Man’s box office triumph was a shot in the arm (or bite in the hand) for the whole comic book movie genre. However, in light of today’s multi-franchise economy, it suddenly appears antiquated too in the face of the all-consuming industry that has blossomed in its wake.
Raimi’s Spider-Man films, for all their good and terrible, helped mold what comic-book movies have become since their premiere in 2002, even though the X-Men and Blade series had already established themselves as popular superhero franchises. While Raimi was creating happy family pictures, other producers were crafting dour superhero action so that they could escape charges of campiness, according to Hunt, the film’s “light (if heightened) tone” marked it apart straight away.
A comic-book adaptation par excellence
Instead of trying to “modernize” superheroes and make them more cool, as other franchises have done (but in keeping with a “1990s action movie tradition with a heavy dose of post-Matrix influence,” as Hunt puts it), Raimi chose to embrace both the humor and the pathos of the original 1960s “Silver Age” comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, which were written by Lee and Ditko. superhero movie comic books are designed to be ageless, and Raimi’s films aimed to capture this idea of timelessness, allowing the audience to jump (or web swing) into a tale that doesn’t age.
In spite of his reputation as a gory horror filmmaker, Raimi’s version on Spider-Man has a more traditional vibe. As someone who grew up reading classic Marvel Comics, and whose love for the primary source material extends to every aspect of the film, from its colorful Spidey costume ripped straight from 4-color print pages, to the old-fashioned feeling of its central romance between the Spider-Man/Peter Parker and his classmate Mary Jane Watson. Superhero movies haven’t had as much of a comic book vibe since.