In Defense of ‘Spider-Man 3’ (2007): What Went Right

In Defense of Spider-Man 3: What Went Right is an opinion piece. Many different opinions and theories have covered the topic over the years since the film released, and this is another one!

Last week I talked about What Went Wrong in Sam Raimi‘s Spider-Man 3 (2007). Detailing that I felt that it was mainly the inclusion of the Eddie Brock and Venom storyline that was mainly responsible for the films negative response and general distain that it has garnered since its release … but not everything on the internet has to be negative — let’s talk about what went right! There are certain parts of this movie that I love and there are certain parts of this movie that I hate. When it comes to this “beautiful disaster”, I believe that there is magic to be found … you just have to know where to look.

Peter Parker

I have always enjoyed Tobey Maguire in the role of Peter Parker and felt that he did an excellent job at bringing the character to life in all three of these movies.

Despite Peter Parker being such an iconic character who has been established and cemented in pop culture over the course of many decades, Tobey Maguire had big shoes to fill; shoes he was able to step into flawlessly. The way he is able to represent the down-on-his-luck, everyman trope that makes Peter Parker such a relatable character and easy to connect with establishes him as the perfect casting choice.

Considering Peter is the main character throughout the trilogy, there is a lot of ground to cover but what I mostly want to focus on in Spider-Man 3 is the symbiote and the marriage proposal storylines. After establishing his origin in Spider-Man (2002) and seemingly giving him a happy ending in Spider-Man 2 (2004), even if Venom weren’t included in the script, Spider-Man 3 really had nowhere else to go but to incorporate a much darker tone.

Peter is on top of the world, but the character still needs to be relatable and maintain his “underdog” status which makes his downward spiral inevitable. Losing the girl of his dreams is a simple and believable plot device.

His ego gets inflated due to Spider-Man’s new found popularity and putting Peter through another hardship not only creates a scenario for him grow and evolve but to also ground him and realize that he is losing himself in the process. This is where I feel Uncle Ben’s last words before his death come into play:

“These are the years when a man changes into the man he’s gonna become for the rest of his life. Just be careful who you change into.” 

Of course, we know that it’s symbiote that is making him rebel and lash out and throughout the movie we see Peter struggling to find his own way in this world as he transitions from an adolescent into an adult without a father figure or any type of male role model to whom he can turn for advice.

The true test comes during the bell tower scene. He proves just how much of a fighter he truly is when he is able to overpower the symbiote’s control instead of giving in to it. Even with his self doubts, he belief in himself is enough to become the type of man who Uncle Ben would be proud of.

I actually don’t mind the break-up plot between Peter and Mary Jane because it gives both of the characters a struggle to overcome. Neither Peter nor MJ feel they are getting what they want out of the relationship, with Spider-Man seemingly getting in between them.

They reconcile in the final scene which is suppose to represent that they do in fact love each other. It’s unfortunate that the engagement ring storyline gets left unfinished because the happy ending that they deserve never fully comes to be …

Mary-Jane Watson

Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) doesn’t have much of her own story in Spider-Man 3, with the exception of her getting fired from Broadway. But considering this isn’t her movie, it doesn’t really matter. As previously mentioned, what she does do is intertwine in both Peter and Harry’s stories, creating another love triangle between the three of them.

The only thing I question is why Peter waited three years to finally propose to MJ, especially considering that they knew they wanted to be together. I suppose it can be understandable that Peter waited so long because he doesn’t have much money and isn’t able to afford a ring. Maybe they didn’t want to rush into things so soon given the fact she had just ditched John Jameson at the alter.

Even with that little nitpick, I actually buy a lot more of this part of the story than I don’t. The jealous feelings and the whole doubting of their relationship after three years. To have them go through a break up was a necessary plot point for the two of them to experience and endure in order for them to ultimately end up back in each others arms.

It’s understandable that she would go back to Harry because of their romantic history. It’s hard to blame MJ for rebounding before she hits rock bottom and things had to start to get romantic between the two in order for her to realize who it is she is truly in love with.

However, this storyline gets cut short when she ends up getting kidnapped by Eddie Brock in the cab. It would make more sense to have Harry be the one who kidnaps her with the intention of hurting Peter. He already has the motive, so this would get his revenge plot against Peter back on track and it would also make the love triangle story come full circle.

Spider-Man and the Symbiote

Spider-Man didn’t get much of a story with the exception of the ceremony where he receives a key to the city. Most Spider-Man’s story in Spider-Man 3 mostly has to do with the alien symbiote and how Peter reacts to being possessed by the symbiote, which is an important part of the film. There’s nothing I would change about the black suit storyline. The symbiote falling from space is comic book accurate and I like how it brings out Peter’s rebellious nature, (with the depiction of “Bully” Parker being the only real complaint).

The Daily Bugle Staff

J. Jonah Jameson

What can I say about J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) that hasn’t already been praised? His performance is lauded for a reason. He is literally ripped from the page and slapped on the screen. There is nobody who would be able to play this character better than he did and it’s a big reason why Marvel brought him back for Far From Home and No Way Home in the MCU.

Robbie Robertson

Robbie (Bill Nunn) only shows up when there needs to be some type of random input whenever he is able to get a word in edgewise during Jonah’s incessive ramblings. It’s hard to really find anything to complain about when it comes to Robbie, if anything at all. Maybe a few more scenes between him and Peter would’ve been nice but he does what he needs to do and that’s all that matters.

Betty Brant

I always forget that Betty Brant is played by Elizabeth Banks. I don’t remember when exactly it was that Banks became a household name but it’s hard to imagine that there was ever a time when she was considered an “unknown”. Even when I rewatch the first movie, I’m always surprised it’s her when she shows up, but I enjoy Banks in the role and the minor screen time she is given.


… and let’s not forget about Hoffman (Ted Raimi), Sam Raimi’s brother. An original character who serves as nothing but comic relief and he’s actually funny! The comedic chemistry that both he and J.K. Simmons have with each other is nothing shy of impeccable and much like with Bruce Campbell, the few scenes with Hoffman at the Bugle are a highlight across all three movies.

Flint Marko

Spider-Man has a lot of iconic villains, but after using Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus it very much feels like you are picking and choosing your next favorite … or at least one that is going to be able to easily translate to the big screen. Sandman seems to fall into that category but I have to admit that Thomas Hayden Church is a dynamite casting choice.


When I say that there is magic in this movie, The Birth of Sandman is what I’m referring to. This scene is all Sam Raimi, it has the same feel that the first two movies had is the perfect example of what Spider-Man 3 could’ve been had Raimi been able to make the movie that he wanted to make instead of the one he was told to.

A big reason why they didn’t give Flint too much of a story in Spider-Man 3 mainly falls on the fact that Sandman doesn’t exactly have too many iconic storylines in the comics. He hasn’t made too much of an impact on Spider-Man nor Peter Parker’s personal life in the same way Norman and Otto have, I don’t mind him being the “B” villain. Even though he should’ve gotten more screen time, I feel that they give him enough of a storyline with his daughter to the point where his motivation is believable to simply accept it for what it is.

The Car Jacker

I see people say that Flint being an accomplice to the car jacker from the first movie doesn’t make sense … but it actually does. The rule of a third installment states that there needs to come back to the first movie in some way and make a connection to have the trilogy come full circle. (Ras al Ghul’s (Liam Neeson) connection in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises is another example of this type of storytelling).

So, even if this wasn’t exactly the best storyline to connect the two films together, it works because it gives Flint some pre-existing character development as well as a backstory so there isn’t too much time spent on getting the ball rolling with the movie. It’s good enough for me to include it in this segment instead of criticizing this extremely minor plot point.

Aunt May Parker

Still probably the best Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) to date and another character who I feel was ripped from the comic page. There’s nothing I would change about Aunt May’s storyline. She had less to do in this movie than the previous two films but she did have an important part to play: giving Peter her engagement ring. But her story also comes back to the car jacker storyline, which is another reason why I don’t have a problem with because it also provided Aunt May with some closure as to what really happened with Uncle Ben.


This is what I feel went right with Spider-Man 3. As you can see, a lot of this has to do with the returning characters. If it wasn’t for Eddie Brock suddenly taking over as the big bad in the final battle, Harry Osborn would be included in this portion of the film. With the elimination of that one specific character, there really wouldn’t be anything to criticize. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, if Venom had not been included then I truly believe that a lot of the hate that this movie gets wouldn’t exist at all.

I’m not claiming this movie is perfect, all I’m wanting to do is point out the fact that even though there is a few negative plot points and character decisions, there is also a lot of good in this movie and the positive deserves to be acknowledged because there is just as much, if not a lot more in this movie that works far better than what doesn’t.

To be continued…