An Hour-Long Look At What Made Sam Rami’s Spider-Man Movies Great

An Hour-Long Look At What Made Sam Rami’s Spider-Man Movies Great

In our current age of mega-Marvel machinations and decade-long transmedia story arcs, it’s easy to forget what it was like before the Avengers assembled. Way back at the turn of the century, we got a pair of films that in many ways paved the way for the Marvel Cinematic Universe we know and love today.

Those movies, of course, were Sam Rami’s first two Spider-Man films. The original was a colourful, optimistic shot in the arm that the otherwise gloomy comic-book movie desperately needed in the early 2000s. The sequel expanded on and more fully realised many of the ideas set forth in the original, while improving fundamentals across the board. (As we all know, Rami made the first two Spider-Man movies and then stopped making Spider-Man movies. He most certainly did not make a third movie that failed to live up to the first two in almost every way. Nope. That did not happen.)

Rami’s Spider-Man films were influential, sure, but they were also well-made, perfectly-cast films that captured a comic-book character in a way we arguably hadn’t seen since Christopher Reeve first suited up back in 1978.

I’ve been watching Moviebob‘s film-crit series “Really That Good” for a little while now; the lengthy episodes make for fun watching when I’m taking a break for lunch. His newest episode focusing on Rami’s first two Spider-Man films is as enjoyable as the rest, so I figured I’d share it.

Sometimes I get the suspicion that I enjoy Really That Good is because it congratulates me on liking the geeky blockbusters that I already liked… but then I’ll think about of Bob’s specific criticisms and observations, and in particular the way he places films within their specific cultural context, and I’ll realise that no, there really is a lot to be gained from giving this kind of movie a closer reading.

If this particular entry accomplishes nothing else, it will at the very least stand as a tribute to the timeless masterwork that was J.K. Simmons’ portrayal of J. Jonah Jameson.


  • It would be nice if you could actually spell the man’s name correctly in the article – it’s Sam Raimi with 2 i’s, not ‘Rami’.

    • Agreed! Found myself really enjoying the whole video and looking forward to checking out his other stuff. I think I’ve found another movie show to watch at lunchtime!

  • Ive enjoyed Moviebob for a while. Check out his Die Hard really that good video. Then theres his pixels review which is just inspired stuff

  • Great!!
    Started watching this because I love Raimi & company for these movies.
    Soooo disappointed in the films that followed–But every so often when I catch
    a glimpse from either of these originals, I inevitably feel heart warmed again.
    Excellent analysis on so many levels-
    Interesting point that these movies fulfilled a void/need in the context of
    9/11. Our freshly scarred/shocked/numbed society…Wonderful &
    I’ll definitely be on the look out for more of Movie Bob’s work 🙂

    • Other than being Johnny One Note, you’re right about ONE thing.
      J.K. Simmons IS fabulous.
      Had he written the script, the inventive music, his own humorous dialogue, directed, casted, choreographed (not to mention the ground breaking CGI work) I’d say you were on to something.
      He didn’t though.
      But as JJJ? That was spot on casting.
      J.K. Simmons…Hell yes.

      • Music was unmemorable Humorous dialogue? Must have seen a different movie to me.
        Casting was horrible outside JJJ. CGI work was abysmal and hasnt stood the test of time.
        The writing was horrible. And this is for the two supposedly good spiderman films. No point even touching the third.

        • Hardly worth arguing over because I think this is more about context than
          perspective. I know what tickles me won’t necessarily be of interest you or the next person.
          That said-
          I grew up reading the originals when they first hit the stands, so seeing
          Mr Raimi & company get as close to the original atmosphere of the
          comics as they did…That was a home run for ME.

          • I read the comics as well. I felt they missed the mark on the tone/atmosphere something severe. Even the reboot got closer.

  • Moviebob fangasms over these movies too much. I’m a huge Spider-Man fan, and I loved and hated things about Raimi’s films. Dismissing the 3rd movie and downplaying the other awesome Marvel movies like X-Men(Fox but still Marvel, good though re-envisioned) and Iron Man(which was seriously great) is just being biased.

    Spider-Man is one of the most mis-characterised Marvel characters(and not just in film). The Raimi and Webb films give different takes but even if you combined them, they’re still a bit off.

    There are two halves to Spider-Man; Peter Parker and Spidey. Both aspects are essential, but there is also the supporting cast and villains too. What is definitive? I love Stan Lee’s original run in Amazing Spider-Man(~#31-110 or so), but it needs elements from things like the ASM and Spectacular Spidey cartoons. Breakdown:

    Peter Parker: A common misconception is that he’s a nerd that gets bullied, and so creators portray him as a stereotypical nerd that gets bullied. He’s a genius, who loves his Aunt May. He cares about her so much that his focus was on things like earning money for her medicine, etc. to the detriment of his surroundings… NOT that he is awkward and lacks social skills like a stereotypical nerd. Think about if you were distracted on your phone because a loved one was injured and you missed something going on around you. Then think about if the people around you thought that you were snubbing them because you were too good for them. Kind of like that. Peter Parker is mature, independent, and his head and heart are in the right place. It’s hard to illustrate the exact nuances of the character, so I encourage people to read ASM#31-100 or so. Basically think about Tony Stark… also a nerd, but you don’t think of him like someone who gets bullied. Genetically engineered webbing, and getting webbing from Oscorp or Osborn Industries or w/e detracts from PP’s intelligence. He is Tony Stark crossed with MacGyver.

    Spider-Man: The biggest mistake is that people make him more annoying than funny, like a brat that doesn’t know when to quit. Deadpool is fairly funny in the movie trailers. Spider-Man should be that, without being needy. Confidently funny, basically. That’s really hard to do… not every actor can be a comedian. He isn’t a scrawny gymnast like in USM. He’s Spider-MAN. Fairly solid, but while most of the movies do a decent job in that aspect… he is incredibly agile, can lift 10 tonnes, and dodge bullets. I do expect a little more(like running up a wall sometimes, an easy one hand/finger handstand, more grace and multiple flips) but it’s mostly okay.

    Supporting Cast: JK Simmons was PERFECT as JJJ… that was the biggest treat for everyone. A+ =D But the movies were off with the supporting cast. The biggest thing is the Gwen/MJ thing. If you think about how huge the “Friends” and “Seinfeld” tv shows were… that dynamic needs to be there. Gwen and MJ are both beautiful(and interested in Peter), but there is Harry and Flash as well. In both the Raimi and Webb movies, PP has been a bit stalkery over them… but a lot of the fun of their competition over him is lost when it could bring in the $’s. The friend dynamic and blossoming romance of Peter and Gwen was my favourite part of Spider-Man, and author Gerry Conway infamously killed Gwen off because he liked MJ. While many people like the drama of that, to me it’s what ruined Spider-Man. The Peter/Gwen dynamic is what made the ASM1&2 movies(the rest of it was quite terrible imo), and getting rid of the best part is stupid. It’s kind of like establishing that Hicks and Newt and Ripley died in Aliens 3. Well that’s very good for a stand-alone story… but do you want to end an awesome franchise with something mediocre?

    Villains: Praising the Raimi films as a modern miracle is wrong when the Green(Robo-) Goblin was done so terribly straight out of the gate. The GG got his notoriety from finding out that Peter Parker was Spider-Man, and later on from killing Gwen… after which he remained dead for decades and the legacy of Green Goblins II-V and the Hobgoblin and Demogoblin remained. Goblins are something which are archaic, and although Norman Osborn uses tech, it’s hidden under that facade to be scary. I did like Doc Ock, and Sandman though.

    So to summarise… the first two Raimi films were decent. Watchable, enjoyable, not definitive. SM#2 was better than #1. But to laud them up when they keep rebooting them and the actual movies fall short in overall score(70% or lower?) vs other much better Marvel movies like Captain America and Iron Man(80%+?), CapA2/DofP(90%)? Nah. They were good for their time. And it’s also not fair because Marvel haven’t known what to do with Spider-Man for a few decades now(not making that up… so much confusion post Clone Saga).

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!