Study Guide

Spider-Man Director

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Sam Raimi

Before Spider-Man, Sam Raimi was mainly known for directing the cult classic The Evil Dead and the cult-er classic Evil Dead II. But Spider-Man wasn't Raimi's first superhero rodeo. He first tried his hand at bringing comic book-style action to the screen with 1990's Darkman, a dark, stylish story about a horribly burned scientist-turned-antihero who vows revenge on the people who disfigured him. Raimi both directed and had a hand in writing it.

With Darkman, Raimi dug deep into fantasy, even by superhero standards. That film's protagonist foils his enemies by impersonating them and wearing masks of their faces that he engineers in his lab—masks whose synthetic skin expires after 99 minutes.

Not exactly realistic.

Superheroes: They're Just Like Us

Spider-Man, by comparison, is a much more grounded and realistic superhero film. It's set largely in Queens, New York, and centers on an otherwise normal teenager who still has to go to school and, later, find a way to pay the rent when he's not saving the world from the Green Goblin and roving bands of thugs.

Don't get it twisted, though: Spider-Man and the Green Goblin are still very much comic-book characters, but they're duking it out in a world that's familiar to the audience. While the CGI hasn't aged well in the years since Spider-Man's release, the backdrop against which Spider-Man slings and soars feels authentic. Raimi's direction captures the sense of excitement and outsized adventure that come with rocketing across New York City on a spider web or saving the girl.

At the same time, it reflects the mundane business of daily life. Even superheroes (and supervillains, for that matter) have downtime. Spider-Man can duke it out with the Green Goblin in a burning building, for example, but Peter is still expected to show up for Thanksgiving dinner, canned cranberries in hand.

Raimi's use of special effects lets us ride shotgun as Spider-Man zips around Queens, but it never overshadows the fact that Peter is still just a regular dude, dealing with a pain-in-the-butt boss and pining for the girl next door.

Fan Service

Production began on January 8th, 2001. Shot on a budget of $139 million, the movie was originally slated to be released in November of that year, but the release date was nudged back to the following spring when the filmmakers required more time to polish all of its digital effects. (Source)

On the eve of the film's release, Raimi told MTV News that, more than anything, he just wanted to do right by Spidey's legion of devoted fans:

I feel like there's a great bar of expectation that I have to meet. It better be damn good. That's all I'm thinking, and that's what occupies all of my waking hours and all of my sleepless nights. "Is it good enough? Is it right for the character?" All I can do is what makes the character work for me and what I was attracted to when I read the comic books and try and bring that to the big screen in the Spider-Man movie and hope that appeals to everyone else. (Source)

Given that Raimi's efforts on Spider-Man led to two sequels, both of which he directed, and that his trilogy of Spidey flicks grossed a combined $2.5 billion worldwide, yeah, we think it turned out pretty good.

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