It is said that movies are actually made three times: when writing them, shooting them, and then finally in the editing bay. This process helps solidify what the movie is supposed to be about, striping the project of superfluous details, sequences, or even a couple of redundant plot threads. It works as a bullshit filter, making the final product more concise, streamlining the viewing experience. It’s basically everything a late-night, tequila-induced, fanboy fever dream of a movie pitch isn’t. In that situation, anything goes and there’s room for every single character we can think of, often creating an unbalanced Jenga tower of ideas piled up on top of each other with no real structure to them. All of it is coupled with a vampiresque type of humor, the sort that isn’t likely to survive daybreak. Sadly, that’s the sort of mess that Spider-Man 3 feels like.
Whereas Spider-Man 2 is a great (and sadly rare) example of how to further explore a world beyond an already well-received first movie, Spider-Man 3 feels like an over-filled balloon that blows up in the audiences’ face leaving them with a bad case of tinnitus. It brings so much to the table that you hardly get the time to value each of the separate elements, while also not being one of those cases where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Aristoteles would not be impressed
Right at the start of the movie you get the natural progression of Peter and MJ’s relationship as well as Harry’s deep dive into his father’s secret room containing prototypes of Green Goblin’s gear. These threads alone would make for a pretty solid story, building from the relationships explored in the previous movie. The build-up was priming Harry to finally turn into the main villain we all knew he could become. There was no need to bring any more (relevant) characters into the fold unless the aim wasn’t so much making a good movie as it was selling a few more toys.
And so, instead of looking inward, valuing what it already had, Spider-Man 3 looked outward and tried to bite off more than it could chew. In the first ten minutes alone, the movie tries to establish Flint Marko – our future Sandman – and brings the symbiote crashing down on Earth. Soon after we are also introduced to Eddie Brock and Gwen Stacy, characters that never went beyond being a parody of themselves, serving as glorified cameos that could have been easily kept for another occasion. Gwen’s inclusion is especially remarkable since, after all the relationship drama in the previous movies, the decision was to double-down on that by having not one but two love triangles for Peter to be a part of. All with him remaining completely oblivious of how his actions affected people around him, making him incredibly unlikable along the way.
This movie ultimately became a tale of people not being able to do what they set themselves up for. The studio execs couldn’t keep out of the way (their meddling was pretty obvious and only hurt the final product) and the writers couldn’t come up with a consistent story, having to balance an unusually high amount of characters, and subplots. Also … Peter Parker can’t dance, Mary Jane can’t sing, Eddie Brock can’t use Photoshop and Harry Osborn can’t make a freaking omelet!
Above all, Spider-Man 3 just isn’t a fun movie, albeit you can certainly have fun watching it. And that’s one of the only things a Spider-Man movie simply cannot afford to be: dull. But Spider-Man 3 does have one incredibly strong redeeming factor as Stan Lee‘s cameo is probably one of his best, if not the best. “You know, I guess one person can make a difference. ‘Nough said.” I’m extremely happy Kevin Feige got the hint.