Why the original ‘Spider-Man’ (2002) has not aged well

Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker in Spider-Man (Image via Sony)
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker in Spider-Man (Image via Sony)

Spider-Man fans have been overjoyed to see the second trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home. Fans were greeted with a slew of villains and the incredible hype involving the possible return of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.

With so many Spider-Man movies embedded in modern culture, there has been both great success and failure within the franchise. Much of this stems from the campiness of the original Spider-Man film from 2002.


It was the first live-action Spider-Man film, if you’re not counting the Nicholas Hammond movies from the late 1970s. However, given the technological advancements of 2002, Sam Raimi’s first outing with the hero didn’t look much better technically.

Let’s unpack why Spider-Man has not aged well after almost twenty years.

Why 'Spider-Man' (2002) aged badly

The effects were bad even for 2002

Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane (Image via Sony)
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane (Image via Sony)

One thing that makes this movie nauseating to rewatch is the fact that the visual effects look half-hearted and lazy. It's understandable if they had a subpar shot in one scene, but almost every scene involving swinging looked like something out of a dilapidated video game.

What’s more embarrassing is the fact that both Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, and Attack of the Clones were released the same year with significantly better visuals. If better visuals meant delaying the movie, it would have been in the film's best interests to do so.

Dafoe’s Green Goblin costume looks laughable

Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin (Image via Sony)
Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin (Image via Sony)

Understandably, Dafoe’s Green Goblin costume will be reappearing in No Way Home, but that’s only with the added CG touch-ups to make it look more menacing. However, looking back at Dafoe’s Goblin costume from 2002 will remind people of a hammy Power Rangers villain.

Given that the Green Goblin is supposed to be the biggest Spider-Man baddie, his appearance certainly falls flat. If anything, the costume will elicit a slight giggle from viewers rather than intimidation or fear.

'Spider-Man' has very low stakes

Spider-Man faced with a difficult choice (Image via Sony)
Spider-Man faced with a difficult choice (Image via Sony)

What makes this film a let-down from the other Spidey films is that the stakes remain low. Unlike other Spidey films, Spider-Man’s biggest issue is not trying to save New York City, but rather save his love interest Mary Jane. It definitely seems like a rather generic hero-villain scenario that is played out far too often.

This proves to be a flimsy pay-off and only serves to try and begin their romantic arch across the next three films. This was improved upon in later installments in the franchise, but the damage had already been done.

This article reflects the personal views of the author.

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