The popular opinion on Spider-Man 3 is that it is the worst in the Sam Raimi Trilogy. When cited why many would say it is because of the overstuffed plot, a mishandling of Venom, the countless conveniences, or Peter Parker's emo hair and dancing. In this instance, we try to look further. In the pursuit of the spider truth, we count the 5 areas of Spider-Man 3 not many talks about and convince the world that Spider-Man 3 is actually even worse than you think.
Sandman Is A Bad Person No Matter How Much He Says He isn't
Most of the complaint about Sandman is that he is wedged into Uncle Ben's death when any new information just overcomplicates Spider-Man's origin story. Other than that, people do not have much to say about him other than the potential that he could have been so much more if he isn't sharing any screen time with other competing subplots.
What no one talks about is that no matter how sympathetic the film frames him out to be with sad music following him around, he remains unsympathetic. He does have the staples of a sympathetic character. He is a poor man, after all just trying to take care of his sick daughter. There is this beautiful scene the first time he is trying to control his sand powers and he willingly put himself up back together because he is looking at a pendant with his daughter's picture.
The problem is, he keeps telling himself that he is not a bad person. He is just a victim of circumstance then proceeds to do bad things like robbing banks and hurting people, possibly even killing some that get in his way. This is how monsters justify to themselves that it is okay to do immoral things as if knowing that it is being done for a sick family member and knowing that he is dealt with bad cards in life absolves him from any sense of responsibility.
When he confronts Peter Parker to find forgiveness and tell him that he is a good person underneath, it shows a flashback of him pointing a gun at Uncle Ben. No matter how much he tells the audience that he only has bad luck, Uncle Ben's death is directly in his hands - Holding a loaded gun directly someone is exactly what a bad person would do. A good person would tell himself that he is a bad person after that. It is bad people that tell themselves they are not.
By the end of the movie, he is forgiven by Peter Parker. His body turns into sand as if he is a ghost who has been set free. It is a beautiful scene until you realize he is just going to rob a bank again.Advertisement
It Does Not Know How Dark Peter Gets
When Peter as Spider-Man fought Sandman in the sewers, Peter actually thought he killed him. When he did the act he said with such pride, "Good riddance." Then after that, he went to tell Aunt May what happened, thinking that she would be glad that Uncle Ben's killer is now dead. Instead, Aunt May is disappointed that Spider-Man killed someone. If we are going with the possibility that Aunt May actually knows that Peter is Spider-Man, then she believes that Peter killed someone. It is a nice scene, but the moral discussions of what Peter has done are never brought up again. The movie just moves on and we never see Peter get to realize the terrible nature of what he has done.
Then when Peter Parker confronts Harry, he did it again by throwing a bomb directly at his face and again walks away with great satisfaction. What does it say about his character if he thinks he killed someone only to do it again?
Yes, these are the parts where his actions are influenced by the symbiote, but the problem is the movie does not treat it as something unforgivable, it happened, we move on then because Spider-Man's name is on the title he gets lucky that both of them ends up being alive.
To prove that the movie does not know how bad Peter is getting, what finally snaps Peter to getting rid of the black suit is not that he killed people, it is that he hit Mary Jane. We are not saying that this is not a terrible thing to do, and no one would have imagined Peter doing that since the first movie, but it does not equate to double attempted homicide. Where exactly are Peter's priorities?
In the end, Peter bookends the movie with the words, "It is the choices that make us who we are. We can always choose to do what's right." The problem is, he made the right choices too late, after murdering two people that just turns out to be alive.
There is a debate about which Spider-Man movie is worse - Spider-Man 3 or The Amazing Spider-Man 2? We put our hats into the debate by saying in Spider-Man 3, Peter Parker is unforgivable and irredeemable, yet the movie forgives him anyway.
It Does Not Know When Peter Does Good Things
When Eddie Brock faked pictures of Spider-Man robbing a bank to get a staff job he is competing with Peter on, Peter confronts him, and with sinister music playing as he exposes Eddie Brock for the fraud that he is. We get to realize how far Peter has fallen. Except that exposing Brock is a good thing. It is what anyone should do if we realize someone is a fraud.
Later, the movie demonstrates again that Peter is going evil by demanding Jonah for the staff job in the Daily Bugle and an increase on his pay with double the money. Again, this is not a bad thing. He should have done this a long time ago. Jonah has been underpaying him and disrespecting him for years now.
One of Peter's problems that the movies never bother to explore is that people treat him with little respect and he never stands up for himself in any meaningful way. Now that he is doing that, Spider-Man 3 is treating it as if it is a bad thing.
In a movie about exploring what happens if Peter gets to be evil, it does not know when he is doing something bad and when he is doing something good.
The Tone Is Badly Organized
When asked why Spider-Man 3 is bad, the first thing anyone would think of is Peter Parker awkwardly dancing. Why is that? On paper, it should be so proper. If Peter Parker is influenced by an alien symbiote and thinks he is some cool bad boy, this is exactly how he should look like, not a cool bad boy but a dork who just thinks he is. Yet we all treat it like it came out of the left field.
This is because the film does not know what kind of tone to put at this particular moment. For some reason, the film is organized in a way that Peter does the serious and dark - like killing Sandman and blowing Harry's face-off, right before the minor crime of Peter being more aggressive than usual. The progression of how evil he is becoming is in reverse. Because it is reversed, the serious drama about the morality of killing progressively turns into a light comedy.
We mistakenly take Peter dancing in isolation. What we are actually reacting to is the tonal dissonance of seeing Peter being funny right after tossing a bomb to Harry's face. After that, no comedy scene is gonna be deemed acceptable. If the movie did the comedic scenes first, then it might be a different story.Advertisement
The Confused Message of Forgiveness And Redemption
The central theme of Spider-Man 3 is forgiveness. In which all the superpowered players have done something that is in need of redeeming and forgiveness. So what are we supposed to take away when Harry sacrificed himself to save Peter? If a person is judged by his actions, the movie is trying to say that because he has done some terrible things and only redeems himself at the last minute, it is already too late for him and that he has to die. This. Sounds reasonable until we realize Harry is actually the most redeemable player on the board.
Sure, Harry has done some terrible things like threatening MJ, but it is nothing compared to the terrible things Peter has done while in his black suit. Peter actually killed a guy and acts without remorse over it. Harry's scarred face is not a symbol of Harry's inner demons, it's a symbol of Peter's inability to find his fist so he hit his face with a bomb instead.
Sandman killed Uncle Ben and probably killed other people while he robbed banks. So why does he get to live and be forgiven by Peter and get to be a free man? Why does Peter get to live and be forgiven by Harry and Mary Jane, but Harry dies in Peter's place even if he did not hurt anyone by the end?
What is the movie trying to say about forgiveness? That it does not matter? That as long as you do bad things but for good reasons, you are deserving of it, but if you are a jerk to your friends for too long you don't? Something about finding religion? While we are at it, what did Eddie Brock do to deserve to die when the others didn't?