Spider-Man (film)

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Trilogy of films starring Tobey Maguire as the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man. All were directed by Sam Raimi of Evil Dead fame. Pretty highly successful in both the critical and box-office record departments (save for the third movie's mixed reviews and fan backlash). Three movies have been released. The franchise was rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012 and rebooted again (as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) with Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017.

Also stars Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, James Franco as Harry Osborn, J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, and Bruce Campbell in various cameos.

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Spider-Man

The first movie is an origin story, telling the tale of Peter Parker, a nerd who is bitten by a genetically-engineered spider and gets the powers of the arachnid - web shooting, high jumping, wall-adherability, enhanced strength/endurance and sensing vibrations in the air. At first he attempts to use these powers for profit, but when his actions accidentally lead to the death of his Uncle Ben, Peter decides to use his abilities to fight injustice, under the name Spider-Man. This comes in handy when the father of his best friend, Norman Osborn, becomes the villainous Green Goblin after using a performance-enhancing chemical vapor that grants him super strength, but also makes him mentally unstable and dangerously psychotic.

Tropes used in Spider-Man (film) include:

Unique to Spider-Man

  • Arc Words: "Don't tell Harry." Also "Thank God for you, Peter."
  • The Atoner: This is the main reason why Peter Parker became a superhero, he doesn't want anything like Uncle Ben's death to happen to him again, or to anyone for that matter.
  • Attempted Rape: The thugs who attack MJ in an alley.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The General clearly prefers Aeroquest's cumbersome flightsuit over Oscorp's Human Performance Enhancers... before it promptly gets annihilated by The Goblin in a single shot.
  • Axe Crazy: Norman Osborn ends up like this after taking the Goblin formula.
  • Badass Bystander: Averted, the man who earlier cheated Peter out of his prize money, points out that Peter could have "taken that guy apart" but he instead let the robber pass. Peter replies "I missed the part where that's my problem".
  • Beeping Computers
  • Berserk Button: Green Goblin threatens to have a "hell of a time" with MJ. Spidey responds by dropping a brick wall on him, and after subsequently tackling him, he repeatedly punches Gobs in the face and knocks him down only to be propped back up for another hit to the face.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: The famous upside down in the rain scene.
  • Bill, Bill, Junk, Bill: "Crap ... Crap ... Megacrap."
  • Blatant Lies: Most of Jameson's ideas for stories about Spider-Man are one of these.
  • Board to Death
  • The Cameo: Lucy Lawless as the redheaded woman in the "man on the street" segment, as a favor to Sam Raimi (who was the Executive Producer of Xena: Warrior Princess).
  • Celebrity Paradox: Aunt May briefly tells Peter "You're not Superman, you know!", and Peter half-jokingly yells out "Shazam!" and "Up, up, and away!" when he's trying to figure out how to fire his web. This seems to imply that DC Comics exists in the movie's universe--but it makes you wonder what it would look like in a world without Marvel Comics. Would they have a running rivalry with a different company? Would they change their superhero characters to accommodate changing tastes in the 60s? Did Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ever get into the comics business? If not, did DC ever publish New Gods?
  • Comically Missing the Point: J. Jonah Jameson's response to Peter's complaints about the Daily Bugle's portrayal of Spider-man:
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Peter: Spider-Man wasn't trying to attack the city, he was trying to save it. That's slander!
JJ: It is not! I resent that. Slander is spoken. In print it's libel.

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Woman: (about Spider-man) He has those tights and that tight little--
(Hard Cut to a man playing the old TV series theme song)

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Announcer: The Human-Spider, that's it, that's the best you got?
Peter: Yeah.
Announcer: Oh, that sucks...

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  • Famous Last Words: "Don't tell Harry."
  • For the Evulz: The Green Goblin gives no clear motive in the movie other than messing with Spidey and generally acting like a homicidal maniac.
    • He does say he exists to fulfill Norman Osborn's dreams, but aside from killing the Oscorp board members, it is very unclear what he hopes to achieve.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Radioactive spider --> genetically-engineered spider.
  • Genre Savvy: Arguably, the Green Goblin. His dialogue suggests that he's treating Spider-Man like someone who wants to play comic book superhero and is trying to prove to him that heroic actions are foolish and self-defeating.
  • Hammy Herald: The deliciously hammy wrestling announcer, played by Bruce Campbell.
  • Heroic Bystander: Stan Lee's cameo. In both this and the second movie, he pulls people away from pieces of falling buildings.
    • A whole bunch of these help out Spider-Man at the climax by tossing junk at the Green Goblin to keep him busy while Spider-Man saves Mary Jane and the people in the cable car.
  • Heroic Second Wind: After Green Goblin threatens to "Have some fun" with Mary Jane, Spider-Man gets back up after a brutal beat-down and absolutely beats the flying pig-shit out of the Goblin.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Green Goblin impales himself with his Goblin Glider
  • How Do I Shot Web?
  • Ironic Echo: "I missed the part where that's my problem."
    • "Don't tell Harry." is also a line repeated throughout the movie.
    • Also "Back to formula".
  • Idiot Ball: So Green Goblin has Spidey unconscious. Instead of taking his mask off and learn his secret identity he later finds out by pure accident.
    • There was no reason for the Goblin to take off his mask. Given that they were in New York, the odds that Spider-Man was someone that he could recognize just by seeing his face were incredibly small.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: The Goblin.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Green Goblin tries attempts this multiple times with his glider. This is ultimately what kills him.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Peter's basis for not dating MJ at the end of the movie.
  • Jerkass: Flash Thompson is a textbook example.
  • Jerk Jock: Flash Thompson is your typical athletic bully.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold/ Even Jerk Has Standards: Jameson, the man who has no problem defaming Spider-man, lies in the face of injury or death so as to protect Peter from the Goblin.
    • The novelization looks deeper into his motives: Jameson always protects his sources, and has gone to jail twice for doing so in the past.
      • Considering that this is related to a strict code of journalistic ethics and integrity, it is a little surprising since he shows no scruples about libeling Spider-Man.
  • Large Ham: J. Jonah Jameson, The Green Goblin (And at times, Norman Osbourne outside of the suit), Bonesaw, and the wrestling announcer are all quite hammy characters, and it's clear that their actors (J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, Randy Savage, and Bruce Campbell respectively) are having the time of their lives.
  • Like a Weasel
  • Match Cut
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: At least one Norman Osborn / Green Goblin dialogue/monologue is done via this.
  • Nonchalant Dodge: When Flash Thompson tries to pick a fight with Peter, Pete's new Super Reflexes are depicted by showing everything except him in slow motion, allowing him to dodge the punch, look at Flash in surprise and confusion, then back to the fist.
  • Odd Friendship: Harry and Peter who are best friends despite coming from complete polar-opposite backgrounds.
    • Subtext would indicate that they bonded over having lost parents and being respective outcasts among their peers, Harry being the Lonely Rich Kid and Peter being a Hollywood Nerd.
    • Harry also implies in the second film that Peter initially may have been his tutor, as he credits him with "single-handedly getting me through High School Science."
  • Oh Crap: Or in Osborn's case: "Oh."
    • Also the look on his assistant's face when, after turning around, finds a single hand clenched around his face and realizes that that hand belongs to a very, very pissed off Norman Osborn, who until just recently was believed to have suffered a terminal heart attack.
  • The Paragon: Spider-Man's efforts got ordinary citizens to help in the climax.
  • Parting Words Regret: Norman to Peter regarding Harry.
  • Pet the Dog: New York's citizens are generally giant jerks to Spider-Man until the scene where Green Goblin tries to kill a bunch of children, then stop Spider-Man from saving them. The assorted crowd on the bridge throw pipes and assorted debris at him. Similarly, J. Jonah Jameson is all Bad Boss around everybody until Green Goblin flies in through the window looking for Peter just after Peter's left the room. Jameson insists that Peter's never even gone to the Bugle office even as the Goblin is strangling him.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: The first film depicted wrestling as real as a direct adaptation of his origin story. In that world, Spider-Man beat a wrestler named Bonesaw McGraw, played by the late Randy "Macho-Man" Savage.
  • Rain of Blood: A part of how Norman Osborn deduces that Peter is Spider-Man.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The film was delayed thanks to the need to remove an extended scene involving the World Trade Centre judged inappropriate after the 9/11 attacks. The reaction to these was also responsible for adding the aforementioned scene in which New York citizens rally together to verbally attack the Goblin.
  • Roof Hopping: The scene is so iconic, even Kick-Ass used the same set as a direct homage.
  • Rousseau Was Right: The moment when the citizens of New York prove the Green Goblin wrong once and for all by not turning against Spider-Man was the true dramatic climax of the film. After that point, the final fight with the Goblin was pretty much all a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Sadistic Choice: Goblin. The Trope Namer.
  • Save the Day Turn Away: Ends on a really textbook example of one
  • Scare Chord: A scene with Norman talking to the Goblin's spirit features a chord that's rather jarring in its loudness.
  • Split Personality Makeover: Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin. The difference between the two is huge, but it's done entirely with facial expression, vocal mannerisms, and body language!
  • Stalker with a Crush: As sweet and innocent as Peter's crush on Mary Jane appears to be, in real life, Pete would be considered somewhat of a stalker. If this movie were set in real life, Mary Jane would most likely be slightly creeped out by Peter's behavior toward her.
  • Staring Kid: The kid gawking at falling debris that Spidey had to save during his fight with the Green Goblin.
  • Stripped to the Bone: What happens to the victims of the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs.
  • Sword Limbo
  • Take a Third Option: The bridge scene. And it works too.
  • Talent Double
  • Inner Dialogue: A literal example with Norman Osborn talking to his Green Goblin half in the mirror.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: "Hero", written by Chad Kroeger and sung by him and Josey Scott.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Norman's reaction to getting impaled by his glider.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The kid at the Festival, who stands like a deer in headlights as the large globe falls towards him. Even Peter shows irritation that he's not running.
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Peter: C'mon move kid!

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Tropes used in multiple movies

  • Adaptation Distillation: Classic moments, images and arcs from 40+ years of Spider-Man stories are squashed down to their best bits to fuel the films.
  • Big Bad: The Green Goblin in the first film, Doc Ock in the second, and the alien symbiote in the third (with Venom serving as the Final Boss.)
  • Big No: Octavius discovering his new condition, Brock before dying.
  • Blind Without'Em: Pete before getting his powers, and when they start failing.
  • Building Swing
  • Burning Building Rescue
  • Bus Full of Innocents: A tram car in the first, a train in the second.
  • The Cameo: Stan Lee and Bruce Campbell, in all movies. Stan Lee protects a little girl in the havoc created by the Green Goblin in the first film. In the second, he pulls a woman out of the way of falling debris while Spider-Man fights Doc Ock; "Look out!" is his only line. In the third, he has a much more substantial cameo as a man who talks to Peter on the street. "Y'know, I guess it's true what they say: one person really can make a difference. 'Nuff said."
    • Bruce Campbell appears once in every film as someone who actually helps develop Peter's plot in some small way. In the first movie, he plays the ring announcer who introduces Peter as Spider-Man instead of "The Human Spider" as Peter originally wanted. In #2, he plays an usher at the theater who refuses to let Peter in because the doors have already been closed. Finally in #3, he is a french Maître d' at a restaurant who gladly helps Peter with his plans to propose to Mary Jane (though it doesn't exactly work out).
  • Cash Cow Franchise
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: The immortal "this is really heavy" in movie 2.
  • Cheap Costume
  • Chest Insignia
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Harry.
  • Civvie Spandex: Used in the second and third films. Dr. Octopus wears a trenchcoat and a suit. The Sandman, meanwhile, sticks to a pair of khakis and a green striped shirt while in Flint Marko form.
  • Clothes Make the Maniac
  • Composite Character: Mary Jane has some traces of Gwen Stacy in the first two movies.
    • Mary Jane also has a strong basis in Liz Allan. Like Allan, MJ in the movies is a classmate and longtime crush of Peter's who is much higher on the social ladder and dates Flash Thompson. In fact the only real similarities MJ has with her comics counterpart are her being Peter's neighbor, her coming from an abusive household, her brief relationship with Harry Osborn and her aspirations to be an actor.
  • Confused Bystander Interview: There are a few examples of this throughout the series.
  • Da Editor: J. Jonah Jameson.
  • Deadly Dodging
  • Death by Adaptation: Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and Venom.
    • All of whom have died in the comics, they just ended up coming back afterward.
      • To be fair, how many major comic book characters haven't died at some point or another?
  • Death by Secret Identity: Green Goblin is impaled soon after he discovers Peter's secret. In the second film, a big part of the movie marketing was that Harry would learn Peter's secret, but Harry's death wouldn't come until he made the full transition to baddie in the third movie. Peter also reveals his identity to Doc Ock, probably knowing that this trope would spell death for the doctor. In the final movie, this works against Eddie Brock/Venom, but actually leads to the redemption of the Sandman. If this trope is truly in full swing, then all those people on the subway in S2 better look both ways before crossing the street...
  • Development Gag: The second film has a couple of playful jabs at Tobey Maguire's back problems, which nearly forced him to drop out. This includes the "I'm back, I'm back! ... My back, my back!" scene, and a Freeze-Frame Bonus Bugle headline claiming link between back pain and brain shrinkage.
  • Damsel in Distress: Mary Jane gets kidnapped by the villain in all three movies.
  • Female Gaze: Well, of course. We're talking about a muscular young dude who wears a skintight outfit and is unbelievable agile.
  • Foreshadowing: In the first film Harry Osborn says of his father "If I'm lucky I'll be half the man he was". Come the third movie, we find out what exactly is meant by this. There are other foreshadowing moments involving Harry, such as the green bowtie he wears during the wedding scene in 2, and "They're my best friends ... I'd give my life for them".
  • Freak Lab Accident: Origin of all villains save Venom.
  • Girl Next Door: Mary Jane. Supplies the page image.
  • The Glasses Come Off: See Blind Without'Em.
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: Green Goblin in the first movie, the tentacle AI with Otto Octavius in the second, and Peter bonded with the symbiote in the third.
    • Although one could argue that each one could have put a stop to it at any time.
  • Harassing Phone Call
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Peter wants Mary Jane.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Doc Ock and Harry.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity
  • I Have Your Wife: Mary Jane, of course.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice
  • Ivy League: Although Peter Parker attends the fictional Empire State University (modeled after New York University) in the comics, the Raimi films make him a student at Columbia.
  • Large Ham: All the villains but Sandman. Also, J. Jonah Jameson and Bruce Campbell's cameo appearances.
    • Special mention has to go to Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin. When he is fighting Peter, he is having the time of his life, complete with evil cackles and poor one-liners.
    • Evil Is Hammy: In addition to the villains, Maguire was having FAR too much fun being Emo-Jarkass-Peter in the middle of the third film.
  • Load-Bearing Hero
  • Made of Iron: Spidey is a given; his powers allow him to shrug off huge amounts of punishment. But especially notable is Ock in the second film. He's an out-of-shape scientist who shouldn't be standing after one of the super-strong Spider-Man's punches. Even if Spidey pulls his punches, Ock takes a web-slung bag of coins to the face at one point without a mark to show for it, and also keeps fighting after being slammed through the floor when Spidey catapults himself from the roof.
  • Marquee Alter Ego: Spider-Man's mask being destroyed, Venom removing his.
  • Meaningful Funeral
  • Megane: Peter himself before he got his powers and turning back to normal. Doesn't wear glasses in the third movie.
  • Moment Killer: And how!
  • Mr. Fanservice
  • Mythology Gag: The old TV series theme.
  • Neutral Female: Mary Jane and Aunt May do some subversions.
  • Never My Fault: Harry and Eddie Brock.
  • Nice Guy / Nice Girl: Ben and May Parker.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Parts 1 and 3.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The trailer songs.
  • Once an Episode: Cameos by Stan Lee and Bruce Campbell, an in-movie performance of the 1960s TV show's theme.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: J. Jonah Jameson and his assistant Hoffman. Also Peter's landlord and his daughter.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Parts 1 and 2, and some of Part 3 in regards to the Symbiote.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Green Goblin and Doc Ock.
  • Redemption Equals Death
  • Reflective Eyes
  • Running Gag: Jameson keeps yelling for "HOFFMAN!" who keeps appearing faster and faster as the movies progress, much to Jonah's confusion, eventually culminating in Jameson screaming his name while turning around, only to be face to face with Hoffman before he finished saying his name.
  • Say My Name: The entire trilogy could be summarized through one name: "MARY JAAAAAAAAANE!"
  • Secret Identity: Peter's secret identity as Spider-Man.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Where does Peter get the mass for all those webs his body produces without being an extreme Big Eater?
  • Shirtless Scene
  • Shout-Out:
    • Peter opening his shirt like Superman; Doc Ock climbing NY buildings like King Kong; "Symbiote Night Fever".
    • Shouting "Shazam!" and "Up, up and away, web!" in the first movie, which was an ad-lib by Maguire.
    • In the novelization of the first movie, the wheelchaired and bald Oscorp Board Member, Maximillian Fargas, is compared to the "professor character in that mutant movie."
    • Aunt May telling Peter that he's not "Superman."
    • When Jonah and Hoffman are discussing what to call Octavius for the paper headline:
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Jonah: What are we gonna call this guy?
Hoffman: "Doctor Octopus?"
Jonah: That's crap.
Hoffman: "Science squid"?
Jonah: Crap.
Hoffman: "Doctor Strange"?
Jonah: That's pretty good... But it's taken!

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