Based on Marvel Comics' superhero character, this action-oriented superhero saga delves into the trials and triumphs in the life of Peter Parker, who is a nerdy teenager in high school. In an inexplicable occurrence, one day while on an excursion to a laboratory, a runaway radioactive spider bites him... and his life changes in a way no one could have imagined. Peter acquires immense superpowers that open up a whole new set of possibilities for him, but will he get the chance to explore them?
An eccentric millionaire Norman Osborn administers a performance enhancing drug on himself and his maniacal alter ego Green Goblin emerges. Now Peter Parker has to become Spider-Man and defeat Green Goblin before the goblin wreaks havoc in the city. Will Spiderman succeed in defeating the Green Goblin?
Embedded with fierce action and intense emotion, this fantasy superhero drama revolves around high-school senior Peter Parker visits a genetics laboratory with his friend Harry Osborn and love interest, Mary Jane Watson for a school field trip. There, Peter is bitten on the hand by a genetically engineered "super spider". Shortly after arriving home to his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, he goes unconscious.
Meanwhile, Harry's father, scientist Norman Osborn, owner of Oscorp, is attempting to preserve his company's critically important military contract. He experiments on himself with a new but unstable performance-enhancing chemical vapor that increases his speed, strength, and stamina. However, it also drives him insane and he kills his assistant, Mendel Stromm.
The next morning, Peter finds that his previously impaired vision has improved and his body has metamorphosized into a more muscular physique. At school, he finds that his body can produce webs and his quickened reflexes let him avoid injury during a confrontation with bully Flash Thompson. Peter discovers he has developed superhuman speed, strength, the ability to stick to surfaces, and a heightened ability to sense danger.
Brushing off Uncle Ben's advice that "With great power comes great responsibility," Peter enters a wrestling tournament to get money to buy a car and impress Mary Jane. He wins his match, but the promoter cheats him out of the contest money. When a thief steals money from the promoter, Peter accidentally allows the thief to escape. He later discovers that Uncle Ben has been carjacked and shot dead. Peter confronts the carjacker, only to realize it was the same thief he let get away. After Peter disarms him, the fleeing carjacker falls out a window and dies. Meanwhile, Norman Osborn kills several scientists and the military's General Slocum.
Upon graduating, Peter begins using his abilities to fight injustice, donning a costume and the persona of Spider-Man. Newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson hires him as a freelance photographer, since Peter is the only person providing clear images of Spider-Man.
Norman, upon learning Oscorp's board members plan to sell the company, assassinates them at the World Unity Fair. Jameson quickly dubs the mysterious killer the Green Goblin. The Goblin offers Spider-Man a place at his side, but Spider-Man refuses. At the Osborn and Parkers' Thanksgiving dinner, Norman deduces Spider-Man's true identity after noticing a cut on Peter's arm which he saw on Spiderman; the Green Goblin subsequently attacks and hospitalizes Aunt May.
Mary Jane admits she has a crush on Spider-Man, who has rescued her on numerous occasions, and asks Peter whether Spider-Man ever asked about her. Harry, who loves Mary Jane, arrives and learns she does feel likewise towards Peter. Devastated, Harry tells his father that Peter loves Mary Jane, unintentionally revealing Spider-Man's biggest weakness.
The Goblin holds Mary Jane and a Roosevelt Island Tram car full of children hostage alongside the Queensboro Bridge. He forces Spider-Man to choose who he wants to save, and drops Mary Jane and the children. Spider-Man manages to save both Mary Jane and the tram car, while the Goblin is pelted by civilians showing loyalty to Spider-Man. The Goblin then grabs Spider-Man and throws him into an abandoned building where they fight. When the Goblin boasts about how he will later kill Mary Jane, an enraged Spider-Man overpowers the Goblin.
Norman regains control of his insanity and reveals himself to Spider-Man. He begs for forgiveness, but his Goblin persona attempts to remote-control his glider to impale Spider-Man from behind. The superhero dodges the attack, causing the glider to accidentally impale Norman instead. As he dies, Norman tells Peter not to tell Harry about the Green Goblin. Spider-Man takes Norman's body back to Norman's house and hides the Green Goblin's equipment.
At Norman’s funeral, Harry swears vengeance toward Spider-Man, believing he is responsible for killing his father, and asserts that Peter is all the family he has left. Mary Jane confesses to Peter that she is in love with him, but Peter, feeling that he must protect her from the unwanted attentions of Spider-Man's enemies, hides his true feelings and tells her that they can only be friends. As Peter leaves the funeral, he recalls Ben's words about responsibility, and accepts his new life as Spider-Man.
With great power comes great responsibility. An Ordinary Man. An Extraordinary Power. Get Ready For The Ultimate Spin! Do you want to know who I am? I'm Spider-Man Next Summer, One Hero will take you for the Ultimate Spin On May Third, the Entire World Will Connect to the Web. A Gift. A Curse. A Destiny. If somebody told you I was just your average guy, not a care in the world... somebody lied. This is my gift. It is my curse. Go for the ultimate spin Turn your world upside down
Audio/Video Mismatch When the Green Goblin says "Hello, my dear." to Mary Jane, he's clearly mouthing something else.
Audio/Video Mismatch At Columbia University, one of the two girls say "Hey MJ!", yet neither one's lips move.
Audio/Video Mismatch At the Times Square battle, when Green Goblin grabs Spider-Man's hand and says, 'impressive' his mouth doesn't move but stays shut.
Audio/Video Mismatch In several scenes, the Green Goblin's mouth (which is visible through the mesh in the "mouth" of his mask) does not move while he is talking.
Character Error MJ tells Peter in the cafeteria that she noticed his eyes are blue. She says, "I didn't notice without your glasses." Clearly she meant she didn't notice his blue eyes when he had glasses.
Character Error During the science trip where Peter is bitten, Harry says that the microscope is the "largest electron microscope on the eastern seaboard". However, the microscope images shown are taken from a phase contrast microscope not an electron microscope. (Phase contrast gives less magnification but lets you work with live material, for example, the cell being manipulated in the image shown on the film).
Character Error Peter won the Bonesaw wrestling match by knocking him out, but when the fight promoter stiffs him, the promoter claims he pinned him for the victory.
Character Error While Peter is looking at ads for used cars, he sees an ad for a "Triumph TR-3". Above the price it says, "Drives it home!" instead of "Drive it Home!"
Continuity Mary Jane's hand disappears briefly from Peter's face at the cemetery.
Continuity After Peter clobbers Flash, a fat boy with glasses can be seen standing in shock at Peter's abilities, then clapping and smiling, then standing in shock again between shots.
Continuity When Peter is fighting the carjacker in the warehouse, the thief drops his pistol to throw a knife at Peter, but when Peter thows him against the wall, the pistol is suddenly back in the car jacker's hand.
Continuity While Norman Osborn is in the chamber, the electrode wires jump about between shots.
Continuity Mary Jane's jacket collar changes when she's talking to Peter outside the diner the first time.
Continuity In the cafeteria after MJ slips on the spilled beverage on the floor, later when Peter gets up, the beverage is gone.
Continuity While looking up at the balcony during the World Unity Festival, Peter's part in his hair changes as his spider sense first warns him of the Goblin.
Crew/Equipment Visible In the scene with the burning building, when the Green Goblin says "No-one says no to me!", you can see the camera in the reflection of his eyes.
Crew/Equipment Visible When Peter gets bitten by the spider, the camera pans over to a tv screen showing the spider DNA. You can see a camera man's head peek from behind the camera in the reflection
Errors in Geography The tropical orange flowers behind Peter and Norman at the graduation scene are native to California and couldn't possibly survive in New York (although they could be fake).
Errors in Geography When Spider-man catches the falling MJ from the balcony at Times Square, the first web he shoots in mid-air to swing away is directed at an angle impossible to grapple to any buildings in that area.
Factual Mistake When Peter is first becoming aware of his "spider sense" in school as Flash is approaching from behind, he sees a fly and a paper airplane moving in very slow motion. The fly has two wings when in reality, flies have two sets of wings, the main wings plus a smaller "halter" wings underneath (to maintain balance in flight), for a total of four wings.
Factual Mistake In the scene where Peter is trying to figure out how to shoot his web across to the crane, there is a billboard that says tune into 98.8 FM. In the United States, FM radio stations do not end in even numbers.
Revealing Mistakes When Spider-man swings MJ to safety and we see them swinging close-up, not only is MJ's hair blowing in the wrong direction, but Spider-man's head, neck and shoulders appear to be stiff as if it were a mannequin she is holding on to for the sake of the shot.
Revealing Mistakes When Spider-Man is chasing the carjacker, a brief shot from the inside of a police car shows they are moving at only 15mph. This is not nearly as fast as the obviously sped-up sequence leads us to believe.
Revealing Mistakes When Peter's uncle drops him off at the library, he parks on a one way street, but the reflection in the car's window shows traffic heading in the opposite direction.
Revealing Mistakes Although Spider-Man is supposed to have perfect vision after his bite, Tobey Maguire's contact lenses are visible at various points throughout the movie. Perhaps Peter Parker took to wearing "blank" contact lenses to account for the fact that he no longer needs to wear glasses. But perhaps not.
Revealing Mistakes When we see an exterior view of the Oscorp office building, just before Norman Osborn's meeting with the board, the main sign is for Oscorp. However, at each corner of the building, the ING logo with its distinctive lion can clearly be seen.
Continuity When Mary Jane is being mugged by four men, Spider-Man throws two of the men into two windows behind Mary Jane. The shot switches to Spider-Man beating up the other two guys; but when it cuts back to Mary Jane the two windows are intact.
Hugh Jackman revealed that he was supposed to have a brief cameo as Wolverine. Jackman actually showed up in New York to film the scene, but the entire plan was scrapped when the crew couldn't get access to the Wolverine costume from X-Men.
The scene in which Peter Parker catches Mary Jane's lunch on the tray involved no CGI. With the help of a sticky substance to keep the tray planted on his hand, Tobey Maguire eventually (after many takes) performed the stunt exactly as seen.
One of the chief difficulties that Tobey Maguire experienced in the now-famous upside-down kissing scene was that his sinuses kept filling up with water as it was performed in driving rain.
Willem Dafoe performed 90% of his own stunts.
By signing on for two sequels, Tobey Maguire secured himself a paycheck of $26 million.
After the terrorist attacks on the USA of 11 September 2001, Sony recalled teaser posters which showed a close-up of Spider-Man's face with the New York skyline (including, prominently, the World Trade Center towers) reflected in his eyes. Not all the posters were recovered, however, and the ones still at large are now highly prized collector's items.
Tobey Maguire said he had never read a Spider-Man comic book but took the role because he liked the script.
Several Spider-Man costumes were created at a cost of up to $100,000 each. Four were stolen from the set in early April of 2001 and Columbia Pictures posted a $25,000 reward for their return. The costumes were not returned.
Leonardo DiCaprio was considered for the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
In the comics, Peter Parker designed and made Spider-Man's synthetic spider web and the mechanical wrist guns that fire it. In the movie he shoots the web from his own body. Director Sam Raimi answered the protests of comic book fans saying that it was more credible to have Peter shoot web this way than for a high school boy to be able to produce a wonder adhesive in his spare time that 3M could not make.
Tobey Maguire had to have his Spider-Man outfit slightly remodeled as the original design had not made any allowances for when the actor needed a bathroom break. A vent was added to enable him to perform that function without having to take the entire costume off.
One of the reasons why Sam Raimi was a popular choice with Sony for the director's gig was because he is an avid comic book collector in his private life, with a collection of over 25,000.
Color costume considerations meant that Spider-Man was shot in front of a green screen, while the Green Goblin was shot in front of a blue one.
To acquire his pumped-up physique, Tobey Maguire went through a strict five-month regimen of exercise, weight training and martial arts six times a week, as well as eating a high protein meal four to six times a day.
When Jameson's subordinates are trying to tell him about Spider-Man, one of them says, "Eddie's been trying to get a picture of him for weeks." This is a reference to Eddie Brock, a comic book character featured in Spider-Man 3 (2007).
The highest-grossing movie of 2002.
The first film to gross $100 million in its opening weekend alone. At the time, no movie had done so, even when adjusted for inflation.
Bonesaw, the wrestler Spider-Man fights for money, is played by real life wrestler Macho Man Randy Savage. Early in his career, Savage wrestled under the name The Spider.
When Sam Raimi first offered to cast Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, the studio was initially very reluctant. That was until they saw Maguire's test and they saw that the actor had clearly bulked up for the role.
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