It’s safe to say that, if there’s a sort of “godfather” for this current age of superhero movies that we’re in, it would be Sam Raimi’s 2002 film Spider-Man. The comic-book adaptation had been in the works for years, and while previous comic-book adaptations certainly did well at the box office (2000’s X-Men was also a formidable foundation for today’s comic-book movie era), Spider-Man took the world by storm and grossed a then-unheard-of $114 million in its opening weekend. That number stood as the record holder for four whole years, until Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest broke it in 2006. Spider-Man not only kicked off a new franchise, it ushered in an era of superhero franchises, and while Spider-Man 2 earned critical raves, 2007’s Spider-Man 3 garnered derision from critics and fans alike and, in its own way, led to Raimi departing the franchise for good and Sony rebooting with 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man.
While you can find plenty of people that strongly dislike Spider-Man 3, there’s someone else who isn’t crazy about the film: Raimi. During a recent interview, the filmmaker candidly talked about why he thinks the superhero sequel failed. Read on after the jump.
Speaking with Chris Hardwick on the Nerdist podcast, Raimi explained the principal problem with Spider-Man 3:
“It’s a movie that just didn’t work very well. I tried to make it work, but I didn’t really believe in all the characters, so that couldn’t be hidden from people who loved Spider-Man. If the director doesn’t love something, it’s wrong of them to make it when so many other people love it. I think [raising the stakes after Spider-Man 2] was the thinking going into it, and I think that’s what doomed us. I should’ve just stuck with the characters and the relationships and progressed them to the next step and not tried to top the bar.”
It was really no secret that Raimi was not at all crazy about the character Venom, but citing the villain’s large following amongst young fans, Sony pushed hard for Raimi to include the character in Spider-Man 3. Ultimately, Raimi was forced to shoehorn in a character that he didn’t like, and the result was a film that the director didn’t fully stand behind.
The experience with Spider-Man 3 is why, when it came time to develop Spider-Man 4, Raimi dug in his heels and said he would be using Vulture as the villain (with John Malkovich set to play the character). Sony wanted to bring Lizard into the fold, and when Raimi and the studio reached an impasse, they both agreed to part ways. The studio must have seen the writing on the wall, as merely hours after Raimi’s departure from the franchise was announced, Sony said it already had a script for a reboot by screenwriter James Vanderbilt, which eventually became The Amazing Spider-Man.
I don’t think Spider-Man 3 is a total misfire—there’s definitely some good stuff in there. But it’s a film that absolutely falls apart in the third act. Regardless, Raimi has moved on, but his place in film history is still solidified as someone who helped craft the template for superhero movies going forward (and it could be argued that Marvel Studios took a page out of his book re: the lightness in tone of its films).
During the podcast interview, Hardwick tried to tell Raimi Spider-Man 3 wasn’t that bad, but the director was refreshingly candid:
Raimi: [But] directors don’t like to talk about their bad films.
Hardwick: I don’t think that “bad” is the right word.
Raimi is currently developing a miniseries adaptation of his Evil Dead franchise, with the filmmaker set to co-write and helm the first episode. The Spider-Man series, meanwhile, is facing the possibility of yet another reboot after the disappointment that was The Amazing Spider-Man 2.