I Watched: Maguire’s Spider-Man

There’re people out there who don’t understand why Tobey Maguire is considered to be the best Spider-Man. I’ve re-watched them to see if I could find out exactly what makes him so good.

Spider-Man – The first movie starts with Peter Parker being an unfortunate guy that misses the school bus. He’s a good natured, sweet guy who does everything he can for a girl that he’s too nervous to talk to. When he gets his powers he’s more surprised than anyone and he does what anyone would and acts selfishly. This causes a major problem and he kills someone out of rage. He’s normal, likeable, an underdog but most importantly so relatable that he seems to deserve something better which is what he gets. With it comes Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin who’s up there with Heath Ledger for having one of the best crazed villain performances ever, not only is the performance good but the motivation of saving his company turning into destructive dominance works well too. All the other characters are well cast too. It’s all just done really well, plus this is the one with the incredibly famous line that inspires Spider-Man’s heroism.

Spider-Man 2 – The established hero has grown up a little bit and is struggling with life, he has studies, work and rent to deal with, all on top of being Spider-Man. It’s a film about self belief, heartbreak and sacrifice. The villain isn’t truly evil, just incredibly misguided, Doc Ock is amazingly portrayed by Molina and at the end Harry learns some truth about his father. The other key theme is choices, Peter gives up on being Spider-Man for a bit and he gets his life in order, we could all learn from taking a step back rather than becoming overwhelmed. It’s an incredibly moving, emotional movie which ends with a true bond with Mary Jane ready to support Peter no matter the threat. Beautifully written.

Spider-Man 3 – This is a good film that just has too much going on. Spider-Man and Peter Parker have a good life until things start going wrong. The New Goblin comes for revenge, Venom crashes to earth, the Sandman is created and Mary Jane is having issues. Venom is basically explained as ‘space goo make bad’ which doesn’t really help the viewer, they do everything they can to try make Sandman seem justified and Harry Osborne’s story is the only one that really makes sense. If it was me, I’d have removed the Sandman and focused on Venom because Sandman ends up trying to be an emotional punch but Harry’s already there for that. It’s a fun movie with dancing, emo Parker but it misses the mark a bit and isn’t quite as good as the earlier two.

A few extra points

  • In the first film while trying to shoot a web, Peter tries saying Shazam as a trigger – he’s a DC fan.
  • Jameson lies to the Green Goblin to protect Peter at the Daily Bugle, he’s not a nice man most of the time but he is willing to do what’s right.
  • Spider-Man doesn’t beat the Goblin or Doc Ock, in some way they both end up killing themselves.
  • Tobey just has a slightly dopey, innocent looking face, especially in the earlier movies and it helps him naturally seem like a nice guy.
  • Peter believes that to be a hero he has to sacrifice everything and put Spider-Man first. This means he doesn’t get a happy ending until Spider-Man 2, an ending which he still rejects while he has the chance. His attitude is noble and he’s willing to take the pain for everyone else. It’s such a development from the selfish attitude he has when he first gets his powers.
  • The whole series revolves around Uncle Ben. He inspired Peter and taught him that above all else he should be a good man. Tobey’s Spider-Man is the best because his Peter Parker is such a good man and this shows through in moments like stopping a train. The people can get behind him, he’s an inspiration both in the film and for real people. The fact that Peter is so good is why Venom made him weird rather than monstrous. It’s in how well the character is written, the actor is only a piece of what makes it great.

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