Spider-Man (2002 film) 2002 superhero film directed by Sam Raimi, first installment in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy

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Spider-Man in his famous suit crawling over a building and looking towards the viewer. Below of him is New York City, the film's title, credits and release date.
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySam Raimi
Produced by
Screenplay byDavid Koepp
Based on
Music byDanny Elfman
CinematographyDon Burgess
Edited by
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing[1]
Release date
Running time
121 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$139 million[4]
Box office$825 million[5]

Spider-Man is a 2002 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Directed by Sam Raimi from a screenplay by David Koepp, it is the first installment in the Spider-Man trilogy, and stars Tobey Maguire as the title character, alongside Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, and Rosemary Harris. The film centers on outcast teen genius Peter Parker, who develops spider-like superhuman abilities after being bitten by a genetically-altered spider.

Development on a live-action Spider-Man film began in the mid 1980s. Filmmakers Tobe Hooper, Joseph Zito, and James Cameron were all attached to direct the film at one point. However, the project would languish in development hell due to licensing and financial issues. After progress on the film stalled for nearly 25 years, it was licensed for a worldwide release by Columbia Pictures in 1999 after it acquired options from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on all previous scripts developed by Cannon Films, Carolco, and New Cannon. Exercising its option on just two elements from the multi-script acquisition (a different screenplay was written by James Cameron, Ted Newsom, John Brancato, Barney Cohen, and Joseph Goldman), Sony hired Koepp to create a working screenplay (credited as Cameron's), and Koepp received sole credit in final billing. Directors Roland Emmerich, Ang Lee, Chris Columbus, Jan de Bont, M. Night Shyamalan, Tony Scott, and David Fincher were considered to direct the project before Raimi was hired as director in 2000. The Koepp script was rewritten by Scott Rosenberg during pre-production and received a dialogue polish from Alvin Sargent during production. Filming took place in Los Angeles and New York City from January 8 to June 30, 2001. Sony Pictures Imageworks handled the film's visual effects.[6]

Spider-Man premiered at the Mann Village Theater on April 29, 2002, and was released in the United States four days later on May 3. The film received positive reviews from audiences and critics, who praised Raimi's direction and tone, the faithfulness and fidelity to the Spider-Man mythos, the action sequences, visual effects, Danny Elfman's musical score, and the performances of the cast (particularly that of Maguire, Dafoe, and J. K. Simmons). The film became a financial success: it was the first film to reach $100 million in a single weekend, and became the most successful film based on a comic book at the time. With a box office gross of over $821.7 million worldwide, it was the third highest-grossing film of 2002, the highest-grossing superhero film and the sixth highest-grossing film overall at the time of its release. Spider-Man is credited for redefining the modern superhero genre, as well as the summer blockbuster.[7][8][9] Its success led to Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 in 2004 and 2007, respectively.


On a school trip, high school senior Peter Parker visits a Columbia University genetics laboratory, where he is bitten by a genetically engineered "super spider" that escaped from containment and seemingly falls ill after returning home. Meanwhile, Norman Osborn, a scientist and owner of Oscorp, tries to secure an important military contract. He experiments on himself with an unstable performance-enhancing chemical and goes insane, killing his assistant.

The next morning, Peter finds he is no longer near-sighted and his body has metamorphosized into a more muscular physique. At school, he finds that he can shoot webs out of his wrists, and that his quickened reflexes let him avoid injury during a confrontation with bully Flash Thompson. Peter discovers he has developed superhuman speed and strength, the ability to stick to surfaces, and a heightened ability to sense danger.

Brushing off his uncle Ben's advice that "with great power comes great responsibility", Peter considers impressing his crush Mary Jane Watson with a car. He enters an underground wrestling tournament to raise the money and wins his first match, but the promoter cheats him of his earnings. When a thief suddenly robs the promoter's office, Peter allows him to escape. Moments later, he discovers Ben was carjacked and killed. Peter pursues and confronts the carjacker, only to realize it was the thief he let escape. After Peter disarms him, the carjacker flees but dies after falling out a window. Meanwhile, a crazed Norman interrupts a military experiment by Oscorp's corporate rival Quest Aerospace and kills several people.

Upon graduating, Peter begins using his abilities to fight injustice, donning a costume and the persona of Spider-Man. J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of the Daily Bugle newspaper, hires Peter as a freelance photographer, since Peter is the only person providing clear images of Spider-Man. Norman, upon learning Oscorp's board plans to force him out in order to sell the company to Quest, assassinates them at the World Unity Fair. Jameson dubs the mysterious killer the Green Goblin. Norman (as the Green Goblin) offers Spider-Man a place at his side, but Peter refuses. They fight and Peter is wounded. At Thanksgiving dinner, Peter's aunt May invites Mary Jane, Norman, and his son Harry Osborn. During the dinner, Norman sees the wound and realizes Peter's identity. Shortly after he leaves, Norman attacks and hospitalizes May.

Mary Jane admits she is infatuated with Spider-Man, who has rescued her on numerous occasions, and asks Peter whether Spider-Man ever asked about her. Harry, who is dating Mary Jane, arrives and presumes she has feelings for Peter after seeing them hold hands. Devastated, Harry tells his father that Peter loves Mary Jane, unintentionally revealing Spider-Man's biggest weakness. Norman holds Mary Jane and a Roosevelt Island Tram car full of children hostage alongside the Queensboro Bridge. He forces Peter to choose whom he wants to save and drops Mary Jane and the children. Peter saves both Mary Jane and the tram car, while Norman is jeered by civilians who side with Spider-Man. Norman then grabs Peter, throws him into an abandoned building, and brutally beats him. When Norman boasts about how he will later kill Mary Jane, an enraged Peter overpowers Norman.

Norman reveals himself to Peter, who stops attacking, and begs for forgiveness but at the same time controls his glider to try to impale Peter. Warned by his spider-sense, Peter dodges the attack, and the glider fatally impales Norman instead. Norman tells Peter not to reveal his identity as the Green Goblin to Harry. After saying this, Norman dies and Peter takes Norman's body back to the Osborn house where Harry arrives to find him standing over his father's body. Harry seizes a gun, intent on shooting Peter, but he escapes.

At Norman's funeral, Harry swears vengeance toward Spider-Man, whom he deems responsible for his father's death, and asserts that Peter is all the family he has left. Mary Jane confesses to Peter she is in love with him. Peter, however, feels he must protect her from the unwanted attention of his enemies, so he hides his true feelings and tells Mary Jane that they can only be friends. As Peter leaves the funeral, he recalls Ben's words and accepts his new responsibility as Spider-Man.


"I felt like I was an outsider. I think what happened to me made me develop this street sense of watching people and working out what made them tick, wondering whether I could trust them or not. I went to a lot of schools along the coast in California, made few friends and stayed with aunts, uncles and grandparents while my folks tried to make ends meet. It was tough. We had no money."
— Tobey Maguire on identifying with Peter Parker.[10]
  • Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker / Spider-Man:
    An academically-gifted but socially inept student who is bitten by a genetically modified spider and gains spider-like abilities. Maguire was cast as Parker in July 2000,[11] having been Sam Raimi's primary choice for the role after he saw The Cider House Rules.[12] The studio was initially hesitant to cast someone who did not seem to fit the ranks of "adrenaline-pumping, tail-kicking titans",[11] but Maguire managed to impress studio executives with his audition. The actor was signed for a deal in the range of $3 to $4 million with higher salary options for two sequels.[11] To prepare, Maguire was trained by a physical trainer, a yoga instructor, a martial arts expert, and a climbing expert, taking several months to improve his physique.[13] Maguire studied spiders and worked with a wire man to simulate the arachnidlike motion, and had a special diet.[14] The studio had expressed interest in actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Freddie Prinze, Jr,[15] Chris Klein, Wes Bentley and Heath Ledger.[16] DiCaprio had been considered by James Cameron for the role in 1995,[17] while Raimi joked of Prinze that "[he] won't even be allowed to buy a ticket to see this film."[16] In addition, actors Scott Speedman, Jay Rodan and James Franco were involved in screen tests for the lead role.[18]
  • Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn / Green Goblin:
    The CEO of Oscorp who tests an unstable strength enhancer on himself and becomes the insane and powerful Green Goblin. Unaware of Spider-Man's true identity, he also sees himself as a father figure for Parker, ignoring his own son, Harry. Dafoe was cast as Osborn in November 2000.[19] Nicolas Cage, Jason Isaacs, John Malkovich and Jim Carrey turned down the role.[20][21] Dafoe insisted on wearing the uncomfortable costume as he felt that a stuntman would not convey the character's necessary body language. The 580-piece suit took half an hour to put on.[16]
  • Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson:
    The girl on whom Parker had a crush since he was six years old. Mary Jane has an abusive father, and aspires to become an actress, but becomes a waitress at a run down diner, a fact she hides from her boyfriend Harry. Before Raimi cast Dunst, he had expressed his interest in casting Alicia Witt.[22] Dunst decided to audition after learning Maguire had been cast, feeling the film would have a more independent feel.[23] Dunst earned the role a month before shooting in an audition in Berlin.[16]
  • James Franco as Harry Osborn:
    Parker's best friend and flatmate. Before being cast as Harry, Franco had screen tested for Spider-Man himself.[24]
  • Cliff Robertson as Ben Parker:
    May Parker's husband and Peter's uncle, a fired electrician who is trying to find a new job. He is killed by a carjacker whom Peter failed to stop, and leaves Peter with the message, "With great power comes great responsibility."
  • Rosemary Harris as May Parker:[25]
    Ben Parker's wife and Peter's aunt.[26]

J. K. Simmons portrays J. Jonah Jameson, the grouchy publisher of the Daily Bugle who considers Spider-Man a criminal. Ron Perkins portrays Mendel Stromm, Osborn's scientist, while Gerry Becker plays board member Maximillian Fargas. John Paxton portrays Bernard Houseman the butler to the Osborn family, Joe Manganiello, portrays Parker's bully Flash Thompson,[27] Bill Nunn, Ted Raimi and Elizabeth Banks portray Daily Bugle editor Robbie Robertson, Daily Bugle employees Ted Hoffman, and Jameson's secretary Betty Brant respectively.[28][29] Michael Papajohn appears as The Carjacker, the criminal who allegedly murdered Ben Parker.[30] In Spider-Man 3, it is revealed that his name is Dennis Carradine, and that he is not responsible for Ben's death, but rather Flint Marko.[31] Bruce Campbell, a long-time colleague of director Sam Raimi, cameoed as the announcer at the wrestling ring Parker takes part in. Raimi himself appeared off-screen, throwing popcorn at Parker as he enters the arena to wrestle Bonesaw McGraw, played by former professional wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage.[32] Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee briefly appears in the final cut of the film film to grab a young girl from falling debris during the battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin at the World Unity Fair in Times Square.[33] Octavia Spencer appears as a staff member at Parker's wrestling match. Tig Notaro was offered the role by Raimi and auditioned, but lost it to Spencer.[34] R&B/soul singer Macy Gray appears as herself performing at the World Unity Fair.[35] Lucy Lawless also appears as a punk rock girl who says "Guy with eight hands... sounds hot."[36] She did the appearance as a favor to her husband, Xena: Warrior Princess creator Rob Tapert, on which Raimi had served as an executive producer alongside Tapert.[37] One of the stunt performers in this film is actor Johnny Tri Nguyen.[12] Kickboxer Benny "The Jet" Urquidez has an uncredited cameo as a mugger who attacks Mary Jane. Comedian Jim Norton shows up in one scene as a truck driver who has an unfavorable opinion of Spider-Man.[38] R.C. Everbeck was intended to play Eddie Brock, but his scenes were unreleased.[39] Hugh Jackman, who played Wolverine in 2000's X-Men, was originally going to reprise the role in a cameo, but plans were scrapped.[40]



In April 1999, although Sony Pictures optioned from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer all preceding script versions of a Spider-Man film, it only exercised the options on "the Cameron material", which contractually included a multi-author screenplay and a forty-five-page "scriptment" credited only to James Cameron. The studio announced they were not hiring Cameron himself to direct the film nor would they be using his script.[41] The studio lined up Roland Emmerich, Tony Scott, Chris Columbus, Ang Lee, David Fincher, Jan de Bont and M. Night Shyamalan as potential directors. Fincher did not want to depict the origin story, pitching the film as being based on The Night Gwen Stacy Died storyline, but the studio disagreed.[16] Sam Raimi was attached to direct in January 2000,[42] for a summer 2001 release.[43] He had been a fan of the comic book during his youth, and his passion for Spider-Man earned him the job.[44]

Cameron's work became the basis of David Koepp's first draft screenplay, often word for word.[45] Cameron's versions of the Marvel villains Electro and Sandman remained the antagonists. Koepp's rewrite substituted the Green Goblin as the main antagonist and added Doctor Octopus as the secondary antagonist.[46] Raimi felt the Green Goblin and the surrogate father-son theme between Norman Osborn and Peter Parker would be more interesting, thus, he dropped Doctor Octopus from the film.[47] In June, Columbia hired Scott Rosenberg to rewrite Koepp's material. Remaining a constant in all the rewrites was the "organic webshooter" idea from the Cameron "scriptment".[48] Raimi felt he would stretch the audience's suspension of disbelief too far to have Parker invent mechanical webshooters.[13]

Rosenberg removed Doctor Octopus and created several new action sequences.[49] Raimi felt adding a third origin story would make the film too complex. Sequences removed from the final film had Spider-Man protecting Fargas, the wheelchair-using Oscorp executive, from the Goblin, and Spider-Man defusing a hostage situation on a train.[16] As production neared, producer Laura Ziskin hired award-winning writer Alvin Sargent, to polish the dialogue, primarily between Parker and Mary Jane.[50] Columbia gave the Writers Guild of America a list of four writers as contributors to the final Spider-Man script: Rosenberg, Sargent and James Cameron, all three of whom voluntarily relinquished credit to the fourth, Koepp.[45]


With Spider-Man cast, filming was set to begin November 2000 in New York City and on Sony soundstages. The film was set for release a year later,[11] but when the film was postponed to be released on May 3, 2002,[51] filming officially began on January 8, 2001[50] in Culver City, California. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, certain sequences were re-filmed, and certain images of the Twin Towers were digitally erased from the film.[52][53] Sony's Stage 29 was used for Parker's Forest Hills home, and Stage 27 was used for the wrestling sequence where Parker takes on Bonesaw McGraw (Randy Savage). Stage 27 was also used for the complex Times Square sequence where Spider-Man and the Goblin battle for the first time, where a three-story set with a breakaway balcony piece was built. The scene also required shooting in Downey, California.[54] On March 6,[55] 45-year-old construction worker Tim Holcombe was killed when a forklift modified as a construction crane crashed into a construction basket that he was in. The following court case led to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health to fine Sony $58,805.[56]

In Los Angeles, locations included the Natural History Museum (for the Columbia University lab where Parker is bitten and receives his powers), the Pacific Electricity Building (the Daily Bugle offices) and Greystone Mansion (for the interiors of Norman Osborn's home). In April, 4 of the Spider-Man costumes were stolen, and Sony put up a $25,000 reward for their return.[57] They were recovered after 18 months and a former movie studio security guard and an accomplice were arrested.[58] Production moved to New York City for two weeks, taking in locations such as the Queensboro Bridge, the exteriors of Columbia University's Low Memorial Library and the New York Public Library, and a rooftop garden in the Rockefeller Center.[54] The crew returned to Los Angeles where production and filming ended in June. The Flatiron Building was used for the Daily Bugle.[50]


The original animatronic headgear for the Green Goblin was created by Amalgamated Dynamics

Before settling on the look used in the film, the original headgear created for the Green Goblin was an animatronic mask created by Amalgamated Dynamics. One concept costume designer James Acheson became fond of was the idea of having a red emblem over a black costume. Another, which would eventually lead to the final product, featured an enlarged logo on the chest and red stripes going down the sides of the legs.[16] To create Spider-Man's costume, Maguire was fitted for the skintight suit, being covered with layers of substance to create the suit's shape.[59] It was designed as a single piece, including the mask. A hard shell was worn underneath the mask to make the shape of the head look better and to keep the mask tight while keeping the wearer comfortable. For scenes where he would take his mask off, there was an alternate suit where the mask was a separate piece. The webbing, which accented the costume, was cut by computer. The mask eye lenses were designed to have a mirror look.[60]

Visual effects

Visual effects supervisor John Dykstra was hired to produce the film's visual effects in May 2000.[61] He convinced Raimi to make many of the stunts computer-generated, as they would have been physically impossible. Raimi had used more traditional special effects in his previous films and learned a lot about using computers during production.[44] Raimi worked hard to plan all the sequences of Spider-Man swinging from buildings, which he described as, "ballet in the sky." The complexity of such sequences meant the budget rose from an initially planned $70 million to around $100 million.[12] Shots were made more complicated because of the main characters' individual color schemes, so Spider-Man and the Green Goblin had to be shot separately for effects shots: Spider-Man was shot in front of a greenscreen, while the Green Goblin was shot against bluescreen. Shooting them together would have resulted in one character being erased from a shot.[16]

Dykstra said the biggest difficulty of creating Spider-Man was that as the character was masked, it immediately lost a lot of characterization. Without the context of eyes or mouth, a lot of body language had to be put in so that there would be emotional content. Raimi wanted to convey the essence of Spider-Man as being, "the transition that occurs between him being a young man going through puberty and being a superhero." Dykstra said his crew of animators had never reached such a level of sophistication to give subtle hints of still making Spider-Man feel like a human being.[62] When two studio executives were shown shots of the computer generated character, they believed it was actually Maguire performing stunts.[16] In addition, Dykstra's crew had to composite areas of New York City and replaced every car in shots with digital models. Raimi did not want it to feel entirely like animation, so none of the shots were 100% computer-generated.[63]



Original Spider-Man teaser poster, which was recalled from theatres following 9/11 (the World Trade Center is reflected in Spider-Man's eyes)

After the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, Sony had to recall teaser posters which showed a close-up of Spider-Man's head with the New York skyline (including, prominently, the World Trade Center towers) reflected in his eyes. The film's original teaser trailer, released in 2001, featured a mini-film plot involving a group of bank robbers escaping in a Eurocopter AS355 Twin Squirrel helicopter, which gets caught from behind and propelled backward into what at first appears to be a net, then is shown to be a gigantic spider web spun between the World Trade Center towers. The trailer was attached to theatrical screenings of Jurassic Park III and Planet of the Apes. According to Sony, the trailer did not contain any actual footage from the film itself.[64] The trailer and poster both were pulled after the events of the attacks, but can be found online.[65] A new trailer deemed acceptable by Sony Pictures was later released online on December 15, 2001.[66] Raimi later stated that the scene was, in fact, originally in the film but removed due to the recency of the attacks.[67] The World Trade Center was later reinserted in the Blu-ray edition and can be seen throughout the film, particularly in Spider-Man's eyes during the origin scene and the final swing.[68]

Before the film's British theatrical release in June 2002, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave the film a "12" certificate. Due to Spider-Man's popularity with younger children, this prompted much controversy. The BBFC defended its decision, arguing that the film could have been given a "15". Despite this, North Norfolk and Breckland District Councils, in East Anglia, changed it to a "PG", and Tameside council, Manchester, denoted it a "PG-12". The U.S. rated it "PG-13"[69] for "stylized violence and action". In late August, the BBFC relaxed its policy to "12A", leading Sony to re-release the film.[70][71]

Home media

Spider-Man was released on DVD and VHS on November 1, 2002 in the US, the UK and Australia on November 25, 2002.[72] A Blu-ray release was followed on July 5, 2011.[73] Spider-Man was also included in the Spider-Man Legacy Collection, which includes 5 Spider-Man films in a 4K UHD Blu-ray collection, which was released on October 17, 2017.[74]

The film's American television rights (Fox, TBS/TNT) were sold for $60 million.[75] Related gross toy sales were $109 million.[75] Its American DVD revenue by July 2004 was $338.8 million.[75] Its American VHS revenue by July 2004 was $89.2 million.[75] As of 2006, the film has grossed a total revenue of $1.5 billion from box office and home video sales.[76]


Box office

Spider-Man became the first film to pass the $100,000,000 mark in a single weekend, even when adjusting for inflation, with its $114,844,116[77] mark establishing a new opening weekend record.[78][79] The gross surpassed the previous record holder's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone $90,000,000 opening; on this, Rick Lyman of The New York Times wrote "while industry executives had expected a strong opening for the film because there was little competition in the marketplace and prerelease polling indicated intense interest from all age groups, no one predicted that Spider-Man would surpass the Harry Potter record."[79]

The film also set a record for crossing the $100,000,000 milestone in 3 days, at the time being the fastest any film had reached the mark.[80] This opening weekend haul had an average of $31,769 per theater, which at the time, Box Office Mojo reported as being "the highest per theater average ever for an ultra-wide release."[78] The film's three-day record was surpassed by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest four years later.[81] The $114.8 million opening weekend was the highest at the North America box office film for a non-sequel, until it was surpassed eight years later by Alice in Wonderland.[82]

With the release in the United States and Canada on May 3, 2002, on 7,500 screens at 3,615 theaters,[79] the film earned $39,406,872 on its opening day, averaging $10,901 per theater.[83] This was the highest opening day at the time until it was surpassed by its sequel Spider-Man 2's $40.4 million haul in 2004.[84] Spider-Man also set an all-time record for the highest earnings in a single day with $43,622,264 on its second day of release,[78][83] a record later surpassed by Shrek 2 in 2004.[85] On the Sunday during its opening weekend, the film earned an additional $31,814,980,[83] the highest gross a film took in on a Sunday, at the time.[78]

The film stayed at the top position in its second weekend, dropping only 38% and grossing another $71,417,527,[86] while averaging $19,755.89 per theater. At the time, this was the highest-grossing second weekend of any film.[86] During its second weekend, the film crossed the $200 million mark on its ninth day of release, also a record at the time.[86] At the end of its second weekend, the film brought in a 10-day total of $223,040,031.[86]

The film dropped to the second position in its third weekend, behind Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, but still made $45,036,912, dropping only 37%, averaging $12,458 per theater, and bringing the 17-day tally to $285,573,668.[87] Its third weekend haul set the record for highest-grossing third weekend, which was first surpassed by Avatar (2009).[88] It stayed at the second position in its fourth weekend, grossing $35,814,844 over the four-day Memorial Day frame, dropping only 21% while expanding to 3,876 theaters, averaging $9,240 over four days, and bringing the 25-day gross to $333,641,492.[89] In the box office, Spider-Man became 2002's highest-grossing film with $403,706,375 in the U.S. and Canada, defeating The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.[90]

Spider-Man currently ranks as the 32nd-highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S. and Canada, not adjusted for inflation. The film also grossed $418,002,176 from its international markets, bringing its worldwide total to $821,708,551,[91] making it 2002's third-highest-grossing film behind The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and the 58th-highest-grossing film of all time, worldwide.[92] The film sold an estimated 69,484,700 tickets in the US.[91] It held the record for most tickets sold by a comic book movie until The Dark Knight topped it in 2008. It is still the 5th highest grossing comic book movie of all time adjusted for inflation. Only Avengers: Infinity War, The Dark Knight, Black Panther and The Avengers have sold more tickets than Spider-Man. Spider-Man was the highest-grossing superhero origin film, a record it held for 15 years until it was surpassed by Wonder Woman (2017).[93] It is the eighth-highest-grossing superhero film, as well as eighth-highest-grossing comic book adaptation in general.[94][95]

International markets which generated grosses in excess of $10 million include Australia ($16.9 million), Brazil ($17.4 million), France, Algeria, Monaco, Morocco and Tunisia ($32.9 million), Germany ($30.7 million), Italy ($20.8 million), Japan ($56.2 million), Mexico ($31.2 million), South Korea ($16.98 million), Spain ($23.7 million), and the United Kingdom, Ireland and Malta ($45.8 million).[96]

Spider-Man became the highest-grossing superhero film of all time at the time of its release, both domestically and worldwide. Its domestic gross was eventually topped by The Dark Knight (2008). Its worldwide gross was first surpassed by Spider-Man 3 (2007).

The film also held the record as Sony's highest-grossing film domestically until 2018, when it was finally surpassed by Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ($404.5 million).[97]

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 90% approval rating based on 245 reviews, with an average rating of 7.63/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Not only does Spider-Man provide a good dose of web-swinging fun, it also has a heart, thanks to the combined charms of director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire."[98] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 73 out of 100 based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[99] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[100]

The casting, mainly Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe and J. K. Simmons, is often cited as one of the film's high points. Eric Harrison, of the Houston Chronicle, was initially skeptical of the casting of Maguire, but, after seeing the film, he stated, "it becomes difficult to imagine anyone else in the role."[101] USA Today critic Mike Clark believed the casting rivaled that of Christopher Reeve as 1978's Superman.[102] Owen Gleiberman, of Entertainment Weekly, had mixed feelings about the casting, particularly Tobey Maguire. "Maguire, winning as he is, never quite gets the chance to bring the two sides of Spidey—the boy and the man, the romantic and the avenger—together."[103] The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt thought: "the filmmakers' imaginations work in overdrive from the clever design of the cobwebby opening credits and Spider-Man and M.J.'s upside down kiss—after one of his many rescues of her—to a finale that leaves character relationships open ended for future adventures."[104]

LA Weekly's Manohla Dargis wrote, "It isn't that Spider-Man is inherently unsuited for live-action translation; it's just that he's not particularly interesting or, well, animated."[105] Giving it 2.5/4 stars, Roger Ebert felt the film lacked a decent action element: "Consider the scene where Spider-Man is given a cruel choice between saving Mary Jane or a cable car full of school kids. He tries to save both, so that everyone dangles from webbing that seems about to pull loose. The visuals here could have given an impression of the enormous weights and tensions involved, but instead the scene seems more like a bloodless storyboard of the idea."[106] Stylistically, there was heavy criticism of the Green Goblin's costume, which led IGN's Richard George to comment years later: "We're not saying the comic book costume is exactly thrilling, but the Goblin armor (the helmet in particular) from Spider-Man is almost comically bad... Not only is it not frightening, it prohibits expression."[107] Entertainment Weekly put "the kiss in Spider-Man" on its end-of-the-decade "best-of" list, saying: "There's a fine line between romantic and corny. And the rain-soaked smooch between Spider-Man and Mary Jane from 2002 tap-dances right on that line. The reason it works? Even if she suspects he's Peter Parker, she doesn't try to find out. And that's sexy."[108]

Empire magazine ranked Spider-Man 437 in its 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list the following year.[109]


The film won several awards ranging from Teen Choice Awards to the Saturn Awards, and was also nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Visual Effects and Best Sound (Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Ed Novick), but lost to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Chicago, respectively.[110][111] While only Danny Elfman brought home a Saturn Award, Raimi, Maguire, and Dunst were all nominated for their respective positions. It also took home the People's Choice Award for "Favorite Motion Picture."[111] The film was nominated for Favorite Movie at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, but lost to Austin Powers in Goldmember.


In January 2003, Sony revealed that a sequel to Spider-Man was in development, and would be produced and directed by Sam Raimi. On March 15, 2003, a trailer revealed that the film, Spider-Man 2, would be released on June 30, 2004. Spider-Man 3, the second sequel to Spider-Man and, unintentionally, the final film in the series to be directed by Raimi, was released on May 4, 2007. Spider-Man: The New Animated Series was an alternate sequel to the film unrelated to the events of the later Spider-Man 2 and 3.[112]

Video game

A video game based on the film of the same name was released.[113] The game was developed by Treyarch (only for the home consoles) and published by Activision, and released in 2002 for Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. The game has many scenes and villains that did not appear in the film. It was followed by Spider-Man 2 two years later to promote the release of the second film. In 2007, to promote the release of the third film, Spider-Man 3 was released. Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe were the only actors who reprised their roles from the film.

The critical reviews for the game were positive. By July 2006, the PlayStation 2 version of Spider-Man had sold 2.1 million copies and earned $74 million in the United States. Next Generation ranked it as the 15th highest-selling game launched for the PlayStation 2, Xbox or GameCube between January 2000 and July 2006 in that country. Combined sales of Spider-Man console games released in the 2000s reached 6 million units in the United States by July 2006.[114]


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