There’s not a lot can be said about Spider-Man 3, last in the Raimi trilogy, that hasn’t already been said. It’s common knowledge that pressure from the studio forced Raimi into introducing an extra villain that the fans wanted to see, one that he wasn’t entirely happy implementing, and one which he infamously screwed up (and he knows it), Venom. And maybe that’s on us! There was a lot of hype at the time, and I seem to remember a lot of discussions featuring the words “Well it’s got to be Venom, right?” from kids raised on the 90’s series who adored the Venom saga responsible for bringing the symbiote off the page and onto screen.
So, let’s have a crack at something different. I had fun proposing a better rendition of Iron Man 2 a few months back, so let’s do something similar with this… mess. The most common criticism is that there were too many villains, so let’s eliminate them one at a time, in order of appearance.
We start the hostilities in this film with an ambush by Harry Osborn who has completed his transformation into his own father. I did like the line “You knew this was coming Pete” because, well, we did. Now let’s cut him out.
With the extra time afforded to us we can… oh I don’t know, pad Venom’s screen time? Maybe introduce him a bit sooner. I know, seems like a soft pick, but fair. Not only would we have time to build the animosity with Eddie, we could also have J.J. Jameson III discover the Venom entity as part of a space flight, rather than the random meteor strike. Our act of opening heroics is Spidey pulling his girlfriend’s former fiance from the burning wreckage while Brock is taking photographs. Parker is dealing with some guilt and shame as he pulls the jilted groom from the crashed shuttle and barely notices the gunk now on his boot.
As the black suit takes over, he deals with Sandman in the most aggressive and unnecessary ways, actively attempting to destroy him, and only when he comes to realise that this is a man who needs help, not violence, does he realise what the suit is doing to him and fights to remove it, passing it on to Eddie. Venom spends some time putting the screws to Peter Parker, undermining his relationship that was already on shaky ground since the black suit ego-trip, threatening Aunt May, and proving that he’s better. Sandman starts helping Venom, but when Spidey offers him the help he should have offered in the first place, joins forces, does his best to make amends, but flees before Spider-Man can talk him into giving himself up.
- No stupid glider-skateboard
- No lousy amnesia story line
- The whole Harry Osborn story arc fizzles after so much work was put into it
Did you know that the sand they use in the effects is actually ground cork because it’s lighter? See, you’d have never known that if Sam Raimi hadn’t brought us a live action Sandman.
So, this version of the film gives us all of the more beloved villains, the ones that we wanted, and also gives us the proper end to the Harry arc. The black suit is used to take down Goblin instead, and it’s Harry that feels the full brunt of Peter’s outrage, anger at the betrayal he felt when his best friend stood over him with a knife, and all because he wouldn’t listen! Their fights are massively destructive, angry, heartfelt, and it sways public opinion against Spider-Man, and with Harry and Peter at each other’s throats, Mary Jane feels pushed away by their rivalry.
Not only could we have the better version of Venom I talked about before, we could also do a riff on Red Goblin (why not, we’ve got screen time, and Harry hates Peter as much as Eddie does) with a Venom-Goblin final fight. Harry’s final redemption comes with realising that he has become his father, his hate is destroying him, and – maybe bombs himself to cause a loud enough noise and reject the symbiote, and between them he and Peter web it to the side of a rocket (or whatever).
- None of the weird “Who Shot Ben” retconning
- All the fan favourite villains
- One of the most beautiful scenes in the whole trilogy is watching Flint Marko reforming himself, it’d be a shame to lose it
So, without the parasite, how can Sandman and Goblin fill in the gaps? While now we can only imagine what Sam Raimi imagined for his trilogy, but he’s proven a wizard with a sympathetic villain, and he’s laid more than enough groundwork with Harry’s story to make something truly terrifying.
We begin with the attack by New Goblin… maybe with a better glider, and keep that epic action moment, but let’s not have him lose his memory this time, maybe we end up in a situation where he’s beaten, but realises that Spider-Man is A: way harder to put down than he realised, and B: has the support of a city behind him. So he recruits someone from Parker’s past, someone that’ll force him into making mistakes, and it just so happens that a new face has appeared on the scene.
Maybe here some seeds can be planted for a Sinister Six set up, we saw the “Doctor Octopus Still At Large” headline in the Bugle at one point, maybe a few more criminals outfitted with Oscorp Tech, but only as homages rather than the whole hog. Maybe… it could work.
And then same again, Harry has his redemption arc, realises how his revenge has driven him to madness, maybe even has the truth spelled out to him, although not by a butler serving up exposition next to the brandy! I mean come on man, couldn’t you have said that an entire film ago?
- The film Raimi wanted to make in the first place
- No “cool” Peter Parker, no finger guns, no hair flick, no painfully awkward suit-dance
- Less curb appeal, and who knows what might have become of the series without a little fan-pandering
A Moment To Appreciate
Spider-Man 3 was bad… it was bad, and it wasn’t just the poor portrayal of Venom or the awkward as hell arrogant Peter Parker. Moments like the expositing butler, the excessively British reporter, the amnesiac Osborn, and the worst outing of Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson, all cobbled together into a slapped together storyline, make for a tragic end to an otherwise superb trilogy.
But let’s actually appreciate a few positives, shall we?
The subway fight with Sandman made the black-suit Spidey look truly scary, reenacting a few key frames from his fight with the original robber/shooter. That rage and unreserved murderous fighting was completely perfect for the character, and had that been the Black Spider we got for the rest of the film it would have been perfect! We saw him again once, throwing Eddie Brock up against the wall as he destroyed him for plagiarism, watch that scene again and – haircut aside – it was something worth praising.
Let’s also take a moment to appreciate the crane scene. Ok, there was a moment where I had to stop and wonder exactly how the crane was moving like that, but in terms of a straight forward action sequence, with Spider-Man slipping through gaps in the falling rubble with impossible grace, it was a visual spectacle that was practically perfect for the character. If that were made a few years later, in our slightly more bloody and brutal action style, we’d see more of those people on the ground actually dying, because they definitely died… they seriously died.
Next week… things get polarising.