On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of “Spider-Man”, a look back at this monument to the superhero film signed by Sam Raimi in 2002.
A delicious shiver down your spine as the first notes of the credits begin to ring, a wave of goosebumps as Peter Parker starts climbing the walls, an unstoppable smile at the corner of his lips as he teaches Flash a lesson Thompson in the high school classrooms, an adrenaline rush as he rushes through the streets of New York to join his uncle’s killer …
Even 20 years later, if you discovered Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man through the eyes of a child or teenager when it came out in theaters in 2002, you couldn’t forget the avalanche of feelings and emotions that fell upon you in front of. this movie like no other.
A real event when it landed in the cinema, this first feature film dedicated to Spider-Man represents for many an unforgettable memory of a spectator. And there are many who evoke an essential monument of the genre, two decades later, some even go so far as to talk about the greatest superhero film ever made.
But how to explain this almost unanimity around Sam Raimi’s film? What’s more than the others? What are the secret ingredients that made it so successful at the box office at the time of its release? And to win the hearts of all the fans, practically without reservations?
On the occasion of Spider-Man’s 20th anniversary, a look back at this diamond in the rough that wowed dark rooms, audiences and the film industry …
A SIMPLE, EFFECTIVE AND UNIVERSAL STORY
Peter Parker is a normal young high school student who has to chase his bus every morning to get there on time, who is often pushed around by bullies in his class and who has always dreamed of hanging out with his neighbor, the beautiful Mary – Jane Watson. The day he is bitten by a genetically engineered spider, his body suddenly begins to change and he suddenly finds himself endowed with Herculean strength, as well as incredible powers.
What if it was its simplicity that made Spider-Man such an effective film? Born from the imagination of Stan Lee and amplified by the staging of a Sam Raimi particularly inspired, the story of Peter Parker is, ultimately, very classic. Sober, basic, refined, almost rudimentary compared to the scenarios of recent blockbusters.
Here, no multiverse, parallel dimensions or intergalactic travel. The entire film takes place in New York, between Queens and Times Square.
Here, no mad titan trying to exterminate half the universe, artificial intelligence launched to conquer the world or the Norse god from the depths of the cosmos. Just a student in love with a girl. A hero on a human scale. A teenager who leads a normal life, which he thinks of as a teenager, has adolescent problems and adolescent dreams.
It’s hard not to feel worried when you lead a lifestyle more or less like Peter Parker’s when he is sitting in the room. It is difficult not to identify with this familiar character, especially for the humanity that a Tobey Maguire in excellent shape breathes in him. It is therefore difficult not to feel transported with him when, later in the film, the supernatural suddenly bursts into his daily life.
However, even in its spectacular dimension, when viewed metaphorically, Peter Parker’s adventure remains wholly universal, and simply evokes puberty, the transition to adulthood.
The physical and emotional changes that the character goes through, his bodily upheavals, his new “great powers” that are accompanied by “great responsibilities” are therefore realities that every young spectator can easily adhere to.
MOST AWESOME ACTION SCENES
As soon as we are emotionally concerned with the character, efficiency and sincerity of a relentless scenario, we are necessarily in an excellent position to follow Peter Parker on each of his adventures.
This is where one of the film’s main strengths comes into play: a Sam Raimi at the top of its form. Dizzying and ethereal as Spider-Man swings from canvas to canvas on the streets of New York, the production is also very organic, especially during action or tension scenes.
Physical, epidermal, almost visceral, it is made up of simple shots (no pun intended compared to another film by the director), concrete, without artifice or embellishments, sharper and clearer, therefore necessarily more impactful.
Whether it’s the slow motion during the sequences where Peter uses his “spider sense”, the particularly successful cut scenes when designing a costume, or the fighting choreography in front of the Green Goblin, totally fluid and perfectly legible, the efficiency is constantly on the appointment.
Spiderman it is therefore, from start to finish, a visual spectacle and a real sensory experience that allows us to share (at our scale of spectators) the emotions of a Peter Parker capable of climbing walls, fluttering between buildings or launching himself from the high of a tower.
THE MUSIC OF DANNY ELFMAN
Impossible to enumerate Spider-Man’s strengths without dwelling a little (and a lot) on one of the most fundamental: the masterful score of a Danny Elfman at his highest level.
Accustomed to composing all the soundtracks of Sam Raimi’s films, the maestro has from the start an absolutely unforgettable main theme, which no other superhero film has managed to equal since then (except perhaps Hans Zimmer with The Dark Knight or Alan Silvestri with Avengers).
Gradually woven – like a spider’s web – by the archers of the numerous violins, by the percussion, then by the choirs, Elfman’s music perfectly embodies the subject of the film. Tangled between adrenaline, emotion, heroism and a sense of urgency, it is nothing more than a dizzying rise to power, similar to the rise of a New York skyscraper.
From the first seconds of the credits, therefore, even before Sam Raimi has begun to tell us the story of Peter Parker, thanks to the inhabited score of an immense Danny Elfman, the journey has already begun.
A DATE IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA
When it came out in June 2002, thanks to the many perks we mentioned and the colossal expectation of fans around the film, Spiderman it collects $ 821 million in box office worldwide, making it essential as the 7th biggest hit of all time (at the time).
It must be said that at the beginning of the 21st century the territory explored by Sam Raimi is still almost virgin. At a time when most superheroes still inhabit the comic billboards and very few of them have ventured to the big screen, everything remains to be created. The foundations of a new genre have yet to be built.
The public, curious to see if the coexistence between comics and dark rooms will be a good omen, eagerly awaits the film that will be able to create the event. And what’s better than a Spider-Man adventure to get a spider web?
By landing in dark rooms, Spider-Man is shuffling the cards, and literally breaking the box office record for a superhero film, held so far by Tim Burton’s first Batman and his 411 million (followed by Richard Donner’s Superman and his 300 million millions ).
In the midst of a landscape hitherto occupied almost exclusively by DC Comics adaptations, and after some timid attempts alongside Marvel (Blade in 1998 or X-Men in 2000), Spider-Man upsets the table and proves that even the Maison des Idées has something underfoot.
Champion in its class for the next 6 years (before being definitively dethroned by The dark Knight in 2008), Spider-Man undoubtedly marks a turning point in the Hollywood industry and undeniably participates in the launch of the superhero movie gold rush.
Two decades later, the world has changed. More than 20 superhero films have already surpassed the score achieved by Spider-Man in 2002. The characters in the comics are now permanent residents of cinemas. And Peter Parker now sports three different faces in one feature film.
Yet … Whenever we hear the theme of the Marvel logo resonate in the cinema, how can we forget that the first time was in the company of Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, Danny Elfman and Sam Raimi?
(Re) discover our video dedicated to Spider-Man …