It’s been 2 years since Peter Parker has been bitten by a super-spider, making him into Spiderman. He has since turned his bad luck around, and is enjoying life more. He is excelling in college, has steady work for the Daily Bugle, and is dating the girl he’s been in love with for some time now, as she debuts on Broadway.
But stormclouds gather once more. An alien organism lands on Earth and takes residence in Peter Parker’s apartment, and Harry Osbourne attacks Peter Parker, which results in Harry suffering short-term memory loss. Mary Jane’s debut on Broadway flops, and Peter is challenged by a rival photographer at the Bugle. Complicating Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship is Gwen Stacy, who is a classmate of Peter Parker – and highlights as an advertising model.
Meanwhile, Flint Marko, an escaped felon, is pursued by the police until he stumbles upon a lab which is performing a special experiment in de-molecularization. Unfortunately for Flint, he is caught in the middle of the experiment itself and finds himself transformed into a sand-based creature. The only thing that keeps him going is his love for his daughter, Penny, who has a serious health condition that requires lots of money for treatment.
Things turn even darker when Mary Jane, already suffering a setback in her career by flopping on Broadway, breaks off the engagement with Peter. It gets worse when the police call to inform the Parkers that Jason Carridine (the robber from the first film) was only the accomplice in the murder of Ben Parker – now Flint Marko has been ID’d as the real killer. It would be now that the alien organism would appear and subsume Peter Parker.
When he regains consciousness, Peter finds that he is in a black version of his uniform (courtesy of the organism) – and the suit has made him much stronger than before. It also makes him more aggressive. With his newfound extra power, he defeats Sandman in an underground battle and manages to humiliate Eddie Brock. When Peter gets back to his apartment, he finds that new suit has a few side effects that he doesn’t like (including aggressive behavior), and dumps the suit.
Meanwhile, Mary Jane has taken a job as a singing waitress at a jazz club, and feels like she has hit rock bottom. She doesn’t feel like Peter actually understands what she is going through anymore, so she calls on her previous ex-boyfriend Harry, who invites her up for a festive time cooking an omelet and reminiscing on old times. They kiss, but Mary Jane rushes out of his penthouse. But the kiss awakens Harry’s memories, and he vows once again to kill Peter.
Harry grabs his power suit and threatens Mary Jane with Peter’s life, unless she does a favor for him. She meets Peter in the park, where she breaks up with him. Peter talks with Harry and Harry plays mind games with Peter, who realizes that Harry has regained his memory. Peter grabs the alien-infested suit, and fights Harry in his penthouse. The fight ends with Peter telling Harry the truth of his father and how the battle ended. Harry attacks Peter one last time, and Peter counters the attack, which results in Harry’s face being disfigured in the explosion.
Peter, now drunk on the power that the suit has given him, finds that Eddie Brock has published a photo of a black-suited Spiderman robbing a bank. When Peter confronts Eddie at the Bugle, Peter shows the evidence that the photo was faked. J. Jonah Jameson, who has hated Spiderman – and was quick to publish the photo, is now forced to print a retraction.
Things continue to spiral out of control. Peter now has pictures of the Black Suit Spiderman, which he uses to get himself a staff position within the Bugle – and at double the rate they normally pay. And thanks to the organism’s influence, he is also flirting with Ms. Brandt – Mr. Jameson’s secretary, and Ursula Deekovitch, the landlord’s daughter. Later on that week, Peter takes Gwen Stacy out to the Jazz club that Mary Jane happens to be employed at – much to the chagrin of Eddie.
When Mary Jane takes her turn at the microphone, Peter steals the show at the piano, and dances up a storm; and showing off his new girlfriend Gwen. At the end of it, Gwen realizes that Peter was only using her to get back at Mary Jane. Peter has an encounter with the club’s security staff, which he dispatches. Mary Jane, for some reason, tries to intervene and gets slapped away as well. Peter runs away once more.
Peter as Black Suit Spiderman shows up at a church steeple. Below, in the Pew, Eddie Brock is appealing to his faith to kill Peter. It would be at this time that the bells would ring at midnight, which adversely affects the organism. As the organism begins to separate from Peter, Eddie, having started to investigate the sounds, finds that Peter Parker is Spiderman. The organism on Peter has started to separate, but the organism has found a new host – Eddie Brock.
Peter showers and contemplates his next move, when he is visited by his Aunt May. When she gives him a course of action to take, he decides to go see Mary Jane. Unfortunately, without the organism’s amplified abilities, he finds that he now has cold feet in following through on anything these days, and ends up starting back to his apartment. Mary Jane, acting on the feelings on the back of her neck, decides to leave her apartment to talk to Peter. However, she gets in the one cab being driven by Eddie Brock.
A news report tells of a kidnapping and hostage situation unfolding in downtown Manhattan, where the police have been unable to rescue the hostage thanks to the Sandman and the Black Suited Villain That is Not Spiderman. When the news identifies the hostage as Mary Jane, Peter moves to get his old suit. The newscast continues, until a TV turns off, where we find we have come back to the Osborne residence. Peter makes an impassioned plea to a disfigured Harry, who rebuffs Peter. Werner, Harry’s butler, tells Harry that the blade that killed Norman was not from Spiderman.
Spiderman shows up at the hostage scene and is immediately assaulted by a Black Suited Villain with Spider-like powers greater than those possessed by Peter. The villain (never gave himself a name, but is considered to be “Venom”) reveals its human face…as Eddie Brock. A pitched battle commences, with Peter unable to defeat Eddie, who seems to be able to know what Peter does in battle. When things seem lost, the Sandman shows up and continues to attack Peter. Now facing two villains, and unable to reach his ex-girlfriend, Peter valiantly struggles in vain.
When all hope seems extinguished, Peter is rescued by his estranged friend Harry. Together, they fight the Sandman and rescue Mary Jane. But the battle comes with huge sacrifice; Harry is killed by Eddie and Peter, in destroying the alien organism, also kills Eddie Brock in the process. Peter forgives Flint for killing his uncle, and Flint turns into a cloud of sand and disappears.
At the end, Harry Osborne is buried, and Mary Jane and Peter reconcile their differences.
This is a very confusing movie. Whereas the first two lacked direction, but at least had a monster that Peter fights to make him reflect on his life, this third movie lacks even that.
I’ve never been much of a fan of the Spiderman mythos, mostly because I find it to be self-serving and a complete guilt trip on the one hand, but on the other, Peter, for all of his “loser” traits, is hounded by a bevy of beautiful girls, as well as able to foil better and more honorable rivals by whining a lot.
But, then again, the girls who pine for Spiderman are just as bad. You would want to root for the villains if they had any common sense, but even that is in short supply.
Raimi the Clown Juggler:
Ultimately, the problem with this movie is that there are too many elements that are being juggled at once in trying to keep the story coherent and technically correct. We are introduced to Sandman as a tragic character (via his daughter Penny Marko). We get Eddie Brock as rival for Peter’s job and life and eventually as Black-Suit Bodybuilding Spider. We get Mary Jane as Broadway Bomber, which coupled with Peter’s newfound success, is supposed to help with relationship conflict. Also, we get the Stacy family, which was introduced as sideshows for Peter’s character conflict with Mary Jane.
In other words, too many things were going on in this film at once, and it hurts the whole show.
Moral of the Story:
Don’t menace Mary Jane Watson-Parker directly. If you are the main villain and you kidnap and/or menace Mary Jane YOU WILL DIE.
Let’s look at the main villains, shall we:
Norman Osbourne. Kidnapped Mary Jane and dropped her off of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Punishment? Death by hoverboard.
Dr. Otto Octavius. Kidnapped Mary Jane with Peter powerless to stop him. Almost had her vaporized when she began flying into his artificial sun, and then smacking her away when she tries to intervene when Peter is captured at the end.
Punishment: Death by Drowning.
Edward Brock, jr. Kidnaps Mary Jane and suspends her in a taxi cab almost 600 feet above the ground. Threatens to kill Mary Jane, and prevents Peter from rescuing her…twice.
Punishment: Death by Implosion Device.
Harry Osborne. Kidnaps Mary Jane and threatens to kill Peter unless she breaks up with him (more on this later). Later fights Peter, which results in his face being disfigured.
Punishment: Death by hoverboard. Just like his father.
Flint Marko/Sandman: Kills Ben Parker. Kills a number of cops. Nearly kills Peter on a number of different occasions.
Does NOT kidnap or directly menace Mary Jane at any point during the film.
Punishment: Allowed to leave the scene of the crime, despite being an accessory to several murders, including the death of Harry Osborne.
With Great Power Comes No Responsibility:
The NYWL robbery was supposed to be a one-person job, where Peter Parker does nothing to stop the robber (including not even finding a phone to call the cops, btw). This would blowback on him when the robber carjacks his Uncle Ben’s car, killing him in the process.
This is the impetus that gets Peter to realize that he cannot pick and choose the battle he wishes to fight (albeit that this reasoning is self-serving if one is looking to be “hero” and not just a vigilante) because the consequences are unpredictable.
With Flint Marko now being part of the robbery – and the actual shooter of Ben Parker – it makes the scene in the arena totally irrelevant. It also serves to remove the reason why Peter becomes Spiderman (the hero) altogether.
Counterargument Dispensery: Flint Marko states that he pulled the trigger when he sees his partner running towards him to complete the getaway. This counter would work like this: Ben Parker talks the guy out of completing the robbery. Because Jason Carradine does not come out with the cash because Peter stopped him earlier, Flint does not pull the trigger.
This counter depends on far too many variables. Flint Marko is not of sound mind. He is scared out of his wits, AND he is armed with a gun. Thus, based on his own words, any false misstep – real or imagined – would have lead to Ben Parker being killed.
The second counterargument is that we don’t see who killed Ben in the first movie. This is true. But what happens afterwards is what nullifies this argument.
Peter chases the villain into an abandoned warehouse where he confronts him. Jason never once tells Peter that he did not kill the guy. You would think that given how criminals, even in movies, try to convince others of their innocence that he would have said something about it before Peter sent him to his death.
Apparently, You Will Not Be Saved If You’re a Man…Again:
Think back to the out-of-control building crane. The construction worker is pretty much trapped in the crane (at tens of stories up) until the power is shut off. But Spiderman shows up, saves the pretty girl (Gwen Stacy), gets into a conversation with a photographer who will become his rival (Eddie Brock) and swings away with triumphal music.
But the crane is still out of control, and the guy is still trapped inside.
The Villains Always Think Small – And Thus Come Up Small:
There are three villains in this film. And none of them could be categorized as super-villains in the traditional sense.
The only true villain for Spiderman was Harry Osborne (Goblin II).
Unfortunately, Harry’s actions, while providing a moment for Peter to be psychologically attacked, shows just how aimless the movie gets. Subtle mind games work if the main goal is to destroy a hero or protagonist that does not suffer extreme misfortune. These games could work to make a hero more of a vigilante if the hero follows a strict code of conduct.
Peter Parker of the movies doesn’t follow such a code. Or, rather, drops the code at convenient times.
Flint Marko was supposed to be the tortured villain who was only in it to save his daughter.
In fact, the only confrontations Flint has with Parker are both robberies. The first time was in an armored car, and only because Flint “flew” through Spiderman’s ceremony for the key to the city.
Eddie Brock was only supposed to be a foil for Peter Parker. Until Peter’s super-duper suit comes off, that is.
But because of all of the clown-juggling of the plot points – and way too much time spent trying to set up major scenes to make minor point turns – we learn NOTHING about Eddie Brock. Other than is ability to Photoshop a headline when Black Suit Spider-Parker breaks Eddie’s camera. And, while Eddie’s response to having his camera destroyed was over the top (the fake headline of Black Suit Spiderman robbing the bank using a Bugle Photo), he could have had the same effect if he made the charge of destruction of property and assault.
If Eddie really wanted to stick it to Spiderman, he could have still accused Spiderman of being a bank robber. The camera Eddie used seems to be one that stores images on memory cards (there are not many places or photographers that use ‘film’ – and this was true back in 2004), thus Peter’s destruction of Eddie’s camera should not have destroyed the memory card – and would still have the images Eddie took before Peter destroys his camera.
Oh, and never really having a chance at being Gwen Stacy’s boyfriend despite his poor attempts at flirting.
Another Victim of the American For-Profit Health System:
I guess this means that if the United States had a Universal Health Care System, a Single Payer System, or a Public Option, it would have been more likely that Penny Marko would have been treated for her condition, and Flint would not have teamed up with Jason Carridine, thus avoiding both Jail and becoming the Sandman.
Women as Props:
This is the third Spiderman movie where women in New York are stuck in traditional misogynist roles. Not a single female emergency responder in sight.
However, lots of women shrieking to the top of their lungs – which once again, includes Kristen Dunst.
New York is attacked by a flying Goblin during a big party, in which Spiderman helps to control the chaos (somewhat, until he gets his hands on the hot girl he’s been pining over – then he swings away with her). He also stops other criminals before and after the Dr. Octavius incident. The city itself really doesn’t give Spiderman anything.
But he saves a pretty girl who happens to be the daughter of a police captain, and they want to give him the Key to the City?
First, We Attack…His Heart?
According the first movie, Peter Parker’s “Heart” was May Parker. So Goblin I blasts the Parker home. But now, Parker’s “Heart” is Mary Jane?
It would seem that Spiderman villains have no better plan than to kidnap or attempt to kill the women in Peter Parker’s life. First, Norman destroys most of the Parker home, sending May Parker to the hospital – and then kidnaps Mary Jane. Then, Dr. Octopus kidnaps Mary Jane to get Peter to contact Spiderman. Mary Jane gets kidnapped by Harry so that she can “dump” Peter. Finally, Eddie Brock kidnaps Mary Jane and leaves her in a taxi at least 50 stories up.
Sad, isn’t it?
I would say to stay away from New York City if Spiderman is in town. If you get caught in a battle between Spiderman and a super-villain AND you are not a hot chick OR a small child, Spiderman will not save you. The most you can hope for is a web that stops some immediate danger.