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Film

Why Sam Raimi thinks 'Spider-Man 3' is "awful"

@Russellisation

Way back when the concept of seeing The Avengers and Justice League on the silver screen was a mere comic book pipedream, Sam Raimi was helping to establish the identity of the superhero movie with Spider-Man in 2002. A superhero seemingly designed for the innovations of contemporary cinema at the dawn of the new millennium, Spider-Man became the poster child of event cinema, swinging around the skyscrapers of New York with spectacular energy. 

Fun, fresh and exuberant, Raimi’s film was the perfect middle ground between the corny superhero movies of old and the craving for more grounded fantasy tales. Achieving great commercial success with the release of the first film of the trilogy in 2002, Raimi’s Spider-Man allowed him to make two sequels each dealing with the character’s increasing responsibility as he deals with the heavy burden of his abilities. 

If the original Spider-Man was a blockbuster mastermind, Spider-Man 2 in 2004 was a genre-defining classic, elevating the stakes of the first film with a threatening villain and compelling central tale. As a result, the excitement for Spider-Man 3 in 2007 was at an all-time high with fans eager to experience how Raimi would complete the trilogy, particularly with the news that Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis, Venom, would make an appearance. 

Fatefully Spider-Man 3 was a notorious critical failure, even if it gathered a healthy box-office return, with modern fans pointing to its overabundance of villains and lack of focus as to why it was such a failure. In conversation with the Nerdist podcast, Raimi explained, “It’s a movie that just didn’t work very well. I tried to make it work, but I didn’t really believe in all the characters, so that couldn’t be hidden from people who loved Spider-Man”. 

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Discussing why the film failed, Raimi added: “If the director doesn’t love something, it’s wrong of them to make it when so many other people love it. I think [raising the stakes after Spider-Man 2] was the thinking going into it, and I think that’s what doomed us. I should’ve just stuck with the characters and the relationships and progressed them to the next step and not tried to top the bar”. 

It was widely reported that many of the questionable decisions in the film actually came about as a result of studio interference rather than creative decisions from Sam Raimi, with Sony pushing hard for Venom to appear in the third instalment. Unable to resist the might of the movie studio, Raimi was forced to shoehorn in the character against his will, leading to such a disjointed final film. 

Though the podcast interviewer tried to convince the director that Spider-Man 3 wasn’t that bad, saying, “I don’t think that ‘bad’ is the right word,” Raimi simply replied, “awful,” making his feelings well-known about the infamous superhero film.

The final film in the modern Spider-Man trilogy, Spider-Man: No Way Home is released in December 2021 and stars Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe and Benedict Cumberbatch.