Release Date: 2002
Director: Sam Raimi
Running Time: 121 minutes
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, Cliff Robertson, Tobey Maguire, James Franco
Comic Artist: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
First Appearance: Amazing Fantasy 15 (August 1962)


Bitten by a radioactive spider, Spider-Man (alias Peter Parker) is endowed with super spider abilities.

The 1960's anti-hero, Spider-Man is another of Lee's superheroes with problems. As Peter Parker is an adolescent, there is a lot of space devoted to his mooning about his sweetheart, living with his aunt, getting his exams passed, etc. He is also sought after by the police as they suspect that he is the malfactor rather than the hero.

Spider-Man continues to be Marvel's biggest success story - the hero that broke the old superhero mold. Whilst Superman and Batman left behind their original dark origins to become bland, colour-less and rather sterile, the appearance of Peter Parker and his incessant self-doubt and feelings of rage against an adult populated world found a spark in the 1960's readership - and continues to do so.


The most amazing thing about Sam Raimi's franchise-launching adaptation of the 40-year-old Marvel comic book is that its high-tech special effects are overshadowed by witty writing and inventive performances. Tobey Maguire rediscovers the smart, alienated adolescent underneath the superhero's mask, and mocks the heroic crime-fighter conceit without subverting it. Mr. Raimi and the screenwriter David Koepp are masters of pop realism, tossing off easy jokes and corny sentiment with gratifying enthusiasm. The romance between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is as ripe as an old Hollywood melodrama, and a minor-key conclusion like something out of Henry James. The cold, thin computer-generated action sequences and a fatigued performance by Willem Dafoe dampen the fun a little, but Mr. Maguire, Ms. Dunst and J. K. Simmons, in an uproarious turn as the irascible tabloid editor J. Jonah Jameson, manage to save the day.

© A. O. Scott , The New York Times

Prequels, Sequels and Follow-ons:

Spider-Man 2 (2004) Director: Sam Raimi. Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Rosemary Harris, Alfred Molina, Tobey Maguire, Donna Murphy, James Franco

Spider-Man 3 (2007 release date). Directed by: Sam Raimi. Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Thomas Haden Church, Tobey Maguire, Topher Grace

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