When I was growing up, Batman was easily my favorite superhero (and he still is). However, some people might argue that Batman is not actually a superhero since he doesn’t have super powers. Fine. Whatever. If that is the case, though, then I’d have to say my favorite superhero is Spider-Man, since he was always my second favorite anyway. This is partially because Peter Parker on his own is a pretty good character (though not as good as Bruce Wayne), but to be honest, it’s mainly because Spider-Man’s powers are just so cool. Looking at other superheroes, many of them have very generic powers (i.e. they’re really strong and can fly and are fast and stuff) while Spider-Man is very unique. Not only is he really strong, but he can shoot webs, climb walls, and has that awesome Spidey-sense that lets him know about upcoming danger. He might not be as powerful as some superheroes, but in my mind, he has the coolest abilities.
So naturally, I was excited for the first Spider-Man movie, which came out in 2002. I remember liking it a lot, as well as its sequel two years later. I liked Spider-Man 3 when I first saw it, but after a while I came to feel the same about it that pretty much everyone else does. So, because that series ended at the third film, it can safely be called a trilogy, and thus a perfect candidate for me to take a look back at. However, as I’ve said before, I consider a true trilogy to be a single story told over the course of three films, and this trilogy doesn’t really fit that bill as the three movies aren’t really building to anything, and Spider-Man 3 isn’t really a finale (the studio was ready to move on to movies four and five, but those plans fell through). Still, I have to give the movies credit for keeping a consistent tone and feel throughout, and to be fair there are a few story lines that go through all three movies, the best example being Harry Osborne’s search for his father’s killer, which is introduced in the first film, builds in the second, and pays off in the third (though not very well).
So for Spider-Man 1 I don’t have a ton to say about the movie on its own. It works very well as an origin story to Spider-Man and has a lot of fun building his character. Some of the special effects are very dated and the Green Goblin is a pretty crappy villain (what exactly was his motivation for terrorizing the city?), but overall it’s a very fun movie and starts things off well for the series. In recent years I had kind of turned on the movie, thinking it wasn’t nearly as good as I thought it was when I was a kid. However, my appreciation for the first Spider-Man movie grew tenfold after last summer, when I witnessed the absolute travesty of The Amazing Spider-Man.
Yeah, it was kind of inevitable that I was gonna have to bring up the recent reboot, and for the record, the best thing I can say about that movie is that I can now look back at the 2002 movie in a much more positive light. Everything in The Amazing Spider-Man is done worse than in the original, aside from the villain (though the Lizard is still a crappy villain, at least he had some sort of goal, unlike the Goblin). It helped me appreciate all the great things in the first movie, because of how poorly those same things were executed in 2012. Spider-Man 1 is a genuinely fun movie with many iconic moments that stick in your mind and was made by people who actually care about the character. The remake is a cynical, boring piece of garbage that was just made to make a quick buck and keep Spider-Man culturally relevant, completely lacking in any sort of passion or heart.
But enough about the crappy remake, let’s move on the best Spider-Man movie, the second one. Spider-Man 2 does what any great sequel (especially superhero sequel) should do. It builds upon characters and storylines introduced in the first movie, while introducing new characters and stories that make for a great plot. In my opinion, Spider-Man 2 might just be the best superhero movie ever made, at least as far as movies focused on a character with super powers dressing up in a costume and going out to fight crime (so basically, the best not including the X-Men or Batman movies). The conflict that Peter Parker goes through in the film is captivating, and the villain, Doctor Octopus, is the best he’s had to face in a movie (though it still bugs me that Doc Ock is like most Spider-Man villains, in that he also just so happen to know Peter Parker). The action is just awesome in this one (that train scene!), an element that was somewhat lacking in the first movie and got a bit too over the top in the third. My only complaint, I guess, is Mary Jane’s astronaut boyfriend: a really important character that barely gets any screen time. But hey, that’s just a nitpick.
I find it pretty incredible how much the Spider-Man trilogy mirrors the X-Men trilogy. It starts off with a good, but not quite great, origin movie, continues with an amazing second movie, and then because of unfortunate studio interference, the third movie suffers greatly. Now, I’ll be honest, Spider-Man 3 is a far less disappointing movie than X-Men The Last Stand. While the X-Men series was actually building towards an amazing climax that the third film failed to deliver, Spider-Man 3 is just another Spider-Man story. The second movie left things totally open for the series to just do whatever, and as much of a letdown as Spider-Man 3 was, it’s not like it retroactively ruins the first two (well, except when it reveals who Uncle Ben’s killer really was, and when Harry’s butler reveals important information to him a few years too late). And to be honest, Spider-Man 3 is actually a really fun movie to watch. It’s about half and half between enjoying it as fun Spider-Man movie, and sort of laughing at it for all the absurdly bad things that happen in it (like, any scene with dancing in it. And there are several). I suppose I’ll concede that The Amazing Spider-Man was at least technically better than Spider-Man 3, but given the choice between watching either of the two of them, I’d go with Spider-Man 3 any day of the week.
So yeah, at the end of the day I can’t really hate Spider-Man 3, because really, it’s just so much fun, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Overall the Spider-Man trilogy is not one of the greatest trilogies out there. But they’re still three fun films that do a pretty good job at portraying Peter Parker and his super cool alter ego Spider-Man. Despite the third film, it’s one of the better superhero series of all time, and while each film is sort its own self-contained story, there are just enough themes and storylines that last through all three films that I would say it works pretty well as a trilogy, given my definition of the word. It’s just too bad about how The Amazing Spider-Man turned out. Maybe the sequel will turn out okay?