Spider-Man is a 2002 American superhero film, the first in the Spider-Man film series based on the fictional Marvel Comics character Spider-Man. It was directed by Sam Raimi and written by David Koepp. It stars Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, a high-school student who turns to crimefighting after developing spiderlike powers, along with Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn (a.k.a. the Green Goblin), Kirsten Dunst as Peter’s love interest Mary-Jane Watson, and James Franco as his best friend Harry Osborn.
After being stuck in development hell for nearly 25 years, the film was licensed for a worldwide release by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 1999 after it acquired James Cameron’s original scriptment. Directors Roland Emmerich, Tim Burton, Chris Columbus, and David Fincher were considered to direct the project before Raimi was hired as director in 2000. Koepp wrote the script, using Cameron’s scriptment as a basis, and it was revised by Scott Rosenberg and Alvin Sargent during production.
High school senior Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) lives in Forest Hills, a quiet neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens, with his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris). He secretly loves Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), a warm-hearted girl next door, but he is too shy to approach her. His friend Harry Osborn (James Franco) is the son of Dr. Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), president of the Oscorp manufacturing corporation, which is working to win a contract to supply weapons to the United States Army.
On a field trip to a genetics laboratory, Peter is bitten by a genetically engineered spider. He passes out in his bedroom at home, and the next day his vision is perfect, he has become more muscular, his wrists emit web strings, and his reflexes are super-quick. At school, he saves Mary Jane from a split-second fall and easily defeats her bullying boyfriend in a fistfight. Realizing that the spider’s bite has given him spiderlike powers, he trains himself to scale walls, jump between rooftops, and swing through the city.
Peter enters a wrestling tournament, hoping to win $3,000 so he can buy a sports car to impress Mary Jane. On the day of the tournament, Ben tries to give him some fatherly advice, but Peter lashes out at him. At the tournament, the announcer presents Peter as “The Amazing Spider-Man”. Peter defeats his opponent, Bonesaw McGraw (Macho Man Randy Savage), but the man in charge only gives Peter $100 for winning the match early. When a thief robs the man, Peter takes his revenge by allowing the robber to escape, but he discovers later that the thief killed Uncle Ben during his getaway. Feeling responsible for Ben’s death, and feeling guilty for rejecting his advice, Peter dedicates himself to fighting crime as Spider-Man. He makes money by selling pictures of himself as Spider-Man to Daily Bugle newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), who declares Spider-Man as a menace to New York.
Meanwhile, under pressure from the military, Norman tests Oscorp’s dangerous new performance-enhancing chemical on himself. The chemical manages to make him much stronger, but he quickly develops a maniacal alter ego. He immediately murders his assistant, then kills several of his competitor’s scientists from the air, wearing an artificial exoskeleton and standing on a small flying platform called a “glider”. After Oscorp’s directors fire him, he flies to an Oscorp-sponsored fair and kills them before Spider-Man drives him away. Jameson dubs Norman’s alter ego the “Green Goblin”. After Spider-Man refuses the Goblin’s offer to work together and Norman secretly discovers that Peter is Spider-Man, the Green Goblin attacks Aunt May.
As they watch over May in the hospital, Mary Jane tells Peter she loves Spider-Man, and Peter expresses his own feelings for her. Harry sees them holding hands, and in an act of jealousy tells his father about their love for each other, revealing that Peter has feelings for Mary Jane. The Goblin lures Spider-Man to the top of the Queensboro Bridge by taking Mary Jane and a Roosevelt Island Tramway car full of children hostage. He drops both at the same time, but Spider-Man saves them all with help from the people on the bridge and a barge, forcing the Goblin to take Spider-Man to an abandoned atrium for a fight. After a fierce battle, Spider-Man eventually defeats the Green Goblin, forcing Norman to reveal himself. However, Norman attempts to kill Peter by sending his glider flying towards him but Peter dodges it, causing it to impale Norman. Norman tells Peter not to reveal his true identity to Harry before dying.
Spider-Man delivers Norman’s body to the Osborn’s penthouse, but is spotted by Harry, who is now left with the impression that Spider-Man murdered his father. At Norman’s funeral, Harry swears to Peter that he will make Spider-Man pay dearly and avenge his father’s death. Mary Jane confesses her love to Peter and kisses him, but Peter insists that they can only be friends, afraid that she would suffer further harm if Spider-Man’s enemies knew that he loved her. Walking away from Mary Jane, who is now in tears yet also finds the kiss familiar afterward, he recalls Ben’s words, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and accepts his new life as Spider-Man.
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