Peter Parker is a huge nerd.
That's not an insult; it's a fact. He's a high school senior who reads about nanotechnology in his spare time. (Hope that doesn't make you feel too guilty about spending last weekend parked in front of your PlayStation with a bag of chips balanced on your knees.)
Peter lives in Queens, New York, with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Oh, and one more thing: he's been crazy in love with his next-door neighbor, Mary Jane "M.J." Watson, since they were both 6 years old.
On a school field trip, Peter is bitten by a genetically engineered super spider that gives him the same enhanced abilities that it has: super strength and climbing skills, precognition, and powerful webs that he can shoot out of his wrists at will.
Luckily, Peter doesn't also get six additional legs.
Meanwhile, Norman Osborn—the mega rich scientist father of Peter's BFF Harry—undergoes changes of his own. In a desperate bid to nab a huge military contract for his company, Oscorp, he tests out human performance enhancers on himself—serums that, in trials, have turned rats into violent psychopaths. They do the same to Norman.
He kills his chief scientist and takes off with Oscorp's proprietary glider and armored flight suit, too.
Meanwhile, back in the world of good people, Peter enters an underground wrestling competition so he can buy a used car. He wins, but the promoter shortchanges him. When the promoter is robbed, Peter lets the robber go. He goes outside to meet Uncle Ben, only to find that his uncle has been carjacked. Uncle Ben dies, and Peter discovers that the carjacker was the robber he'd just let escape. Oof.
After graduation, Peter fights crime as Spider-Man while selling photos of Spidey to the Daily Bugle to make some cash. He shares an apartment with Harry, who's started dating M.J. Not a bad setup, other than the whole best-friend-dating-your-dream-girl situation.
Over at Oscorp, the board tells Norman they're selling the company to their chief competitor and that Norman's out. The Green Goblin—Norman's glider-riding, armored flight suit-wearing, pumpkin bomb-throwing split personality—kills the board members at the World Unity Festival. Mary Jane is there, too, as Harry's date, and she almost becomes collateral damage as Gobby blows the board to bits. Fortunately, Spider-Man swoops in to save her just in the nick of time.
At the Daily Bugle, the Green Goblin kidnaps Spider-Man and makes him an offer to team up. Later, Spider-Man saves Mary Jane from a gang of thugs. She develops a massive crush on him. (Sorry, Harry.)
The Green Goblin lures Spider-Man into a burning building. When Spider-Man refuses his offer to become partners, they duke it out, and Spidey suffers a gnarly cut to his arm in the scrap that follows. Afterward, Peter, Harry, Norman, Mary Jane, and Aunt May celebrate Thanksgiving at Peter and Harry's apartment. Norman notices the cut on Peter's arm, realizes Peter is Spider-Man, and abruptly leaves. Uh-oh.
That night, the Green Goblin attacks Aunt May as she recites her bedtime prayers but doesn't kill her. Phew. Later at the hospital, Harry shows up with flowers and finds Peter and Mary Jane holding hands at Aunt May's bedside. (Whoops.)
Dejected, Harry heads home and tells his dad about Peter and M.J., inadvertently revealing Peter's greatest weakness to Norman: his love of Mary Jane. (Whoops again.)
Back at the hospital, Aunt May advises Peter to tell M.J. how he really feels about her since everybody else already knows he's crazy about her. Peter then realizes that if everybody knows, that means the Green Goblin knows. He bolts.
Mary Jane wakes up on top of the Queensboro Bridge, having been kidnapped by the Green Goblin. Spider-Man arrives, and the Green Goblin ups the ante by snagging a Roosevelt Island Tramway car full of kids and holding them hostage, too. He forces Spider-Man to choose: save the love of his life or save a bunch of innocent kids who really wish they'd taken a ferry or something.
Before Spider-Man can make a decision, the Green Goblin lets go of both M.J. and the cable that he's been using to hold up the tramway car. This dude does not play fair. Spider-Man swings down and saves Mary Jane. Then he keeps swinging and nabs the car full of kids, too. In your green, metallic face, Green Goblin.
Once the tram car and Mary Jane have both been lowered safely to solid ground, Spider-Man dukes it out with the Green Goblin once more. When Gobby tries to run through Spider-Man with his glider, Spider-Man evades it, and the Green Goblin is impaled by his own equipment. Before he dies, Norman tells Peter not to tell Harry. Peter returns Norman's dead body to his penthouse, where he's spotted, as Spider-Man, by Harry.
At Norman's funeral, Harry thanks Peter for his friendship and vows revenge on Spider-Man. M.J. then confesses her love for Peter. Peter says he'll always be her friend—and that's all he can be for now.
What he doesn't tell M.J. is that it's because he's Spider-Man, and that means his loved ones will always be targets for hoodlums, heavies, and guys dressed like goblins.
In other words: with great power comes great responsibility…but not a girlfriend.