Ok, before you write me off as a kook and a lunatic, hear me out: yes, I’ll happily confirm that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 is a well meaning mess and I’ll also concede that upon leaving the cinema in 2007 I felt quite let down by Sam Raimi’s overstuffed trilogy capper. Despite making money, fan opinion seemed to want its pound of flesh, decrying it one of the worst comic book movies ever and singled out Topher Grace’s lackluster version Venom as one of the primary causes.
However, years passed and while it’s no means perfect, Spider-Man 3 is a lot better than the outraged fan response would have you believe – a fanbase going toxic? Talk about far fetched…
Anyway, with the gargantuan Spider-Man: No Way Home on the cusp of being released (Spidey’s second crack at closing a trilogy by going huge), let’s give the movie a long overdue once over to pick out those nuggets of gold that are buried in Spider-Man 3’s tangled web.
5) Jive Turkey
If I’m gonna lose anybody with this list, I might as well get it out of the way first – yes, I am very confidently stating that the dancing Tobey Maguire scene is actually a work of comedy genius and it’s something I’m defiantly standing by. While I’ll happily concede that the other dancing scene set in the jazz bar is so cringeworthy it could very well pop a blood vessel, the infamous moment where Peter Parker embraces his mood altering, alien suit and a questionable emo haircut and struts down the street to James Brown’s Drive That Funky Soul is actually a magnificent comedy montage that acts as a counter point to Spider-Man 2’s Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head moment.
Still don’t believe me? Behold all the tiny moments that make the sequence sing – the look on J. Jonah Jameson’s when Peter plonks himself down at his boss’s desk and has the audacity to put his feet up, the fact that Parker can only fit himself with a slick suit because the store is having a sale and that all the women that Peter gives his finger guns rhythmic finger guns too seem overwhelmingly repulsed.
Trust me – this much maligned scene is gold, you just don’t know it yet.
4) Bruce Almighty
Sam Raimi’s long time collaborator and old school chum Bruce Campbell was a familiar face around the original Spider-Man franchise what him playing a skeezy wrestling promoter in the first film and the punch worthy snooty usher in the second. However, Spider-Man 3 required him to take on his most bizarre cameo yet as that of an overbearing French maitre d with an accent as subtle as Inspector Clouseau. Mispronouncing Peter’s surname as “Pecker” (“That is what I said. “Pecker”.”) and cooing over the tiny diamond in the wedding ring that our put upon hero hopes to give to Mary Jane, this is a rare Campbell cameo where he’s actually helpful to our web-slinging lead, but that doesn’t stop him from still being immensely patronising.
For such a short scene, the hit rate of jokes is phenomenal and Tobey Maguire’s permanently bemused expression is a picture.
3) Jonah And The Wail
Third item in and I’m still focusing on Spider-Man 3’s comedic chops (weird when you consider how serious everyone thought the film would be), but how could I write an article praising this movie without bringing up the irrepressible J.K. Simmons as tyrannical Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson. Be it engaging in a spot of vaudevillian back and forth with Elizabeth Banks’ Betty Brant involving blood pressure tablets and an extraordinarily loud tannoy (“Drink plenty of water!”) to bartering with a ruthless child over his desperate need for a photographer (“Film’s extra!”), you just can’t get enough of Jamesons volcano temper being triggered by virtually everyone and everything around him due to his planet sized ego and his never ending quest for pictures of that Menace, Spider-Man. Essentially a masterclass in stealing a movie with minimum screen time, Simmons still remains the undisputed king of comic book casting.
2) Sucking Out The Venom
It’s time to get serious, but that’s not gonna to be easy with my next choice. The miscasting of Topher Grace as bitter journalist Eddie Brock caused angry fans to make accusations of “That 70’s Venom” and while he admittedly lacks the necessary threat level needed to portray one of Spidey’s greatest foes, the scene where Peter attempts to violently remove his symbiote infested costume is actually perfect.
The infamous moment in the comics were split over two comics – Peter first removed the costume in Web Of Spider-Man #1 while Venom’s origin was hastily related in flashback in Amazing Spider-Man #300 – and the movie merges them seamlessly to create the most accurate Venom moment in cinema to date.
As a remorseful Peter Parker finally realises what affect his black costume is having on him, tries to tear it off in a bell tower while the deafening sonics of the ringing chime help purge the symbiote from his body. Meanwhile, in the church below, a ruined and vengeful Brock pleads with God to kill Peter Parker only to get an instant response in the form or the rejected, tar-like, alien creature treating him like the ultimate rebound. Obsidian tendrils grasp Eddie like needy little hands as they pour into every crevice and even though the finished product was too physically small for fans tastes (Tom Hardy’s version is more the correct size) and was reduced to being a glorified heavy – this moment couldn’t be more perfect.
1) Enter Sandman
Much like Venom, Thomas Hayden Church’s Sandman wasn’t treated particularly well in the relentless crowd of bad guys that populate the movie – at one point he literally melts out of the story for a full third of the movie in order to make more space for Harry Osborn’s turn in the villain’s chair. But aside from a few cool action scenes (the fight on top of the armoured car is short but sweet), Flint Marko’s most defining scene is his origin, a stunning moment that not only doesn’t use words, but doesn’t even use a human being. After getting blasted by some big science fiction machine that reduces him to sandy atoms, the bravura sequence begins with a couple of gains of sand start twitching and gathering momentum as the vaporised convict literally pulls himself back together. Willing his new body into cohesion after spying a locket with his a photo of his sickly daughter inside. Sublime and hugely moving (and weirdly reminiscent of a similar scene from Hellraiser where a character reforms himself out of a puddle of goo) it’s an incredible sequence made all the more impressive that it doesn’t contain actual actors, dialogue or even an actual facial expression.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is released on the 15th December in the UK and the 16th in the US