Sam Raimi‘s first two entries in the Spider-Man series are often cited as the two of the strongest films for the character — including the more recent films The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
In fact, Spider-Man 2 is even more frequently credited as one of the best superhero films ever made (it currently sits at 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). You can imagine the fans’ surprise when Spider-Man 3 came out in 2007 to a less-than-favorable reception. Everything that had been great about the previous film had been lost in favor of trying squeeze in as many villains as possible.
Having been in the apex of promotion at the time, Raimi couldn’t necessarily open up about his regrets on the film. But now, with the film nearly eight years in the rear view mirror, Raimi was finally able to share his true feelings with Chris Hardwick on the Nerdist Podcast. “I messed up plenty,” he told Hardwick.
“It’s a movie that just didn’t work very well. I tried to make it work, but I didn’t really believe in all the characters, so that couldn’t be hidden from people who loved Spider-Man… If the director doesn’t love something, it’s wrong of them to make it when so many other people love it. I think [raising the stakes after Spider-Man 2] was the thinking going into it, and I think that’s what doomed us. I should’ve just stuck with the characters and the relationships and progressed them to the next step and not tried to top the bar. I think that was my mistake… I got a whole lifetime of learning from that picture.”
Trying to one-up the previous installment isn’t only a problem for that film, but is an increasing problem for superhero films in general. Ever since Marvel opened Pandora’s Box that was shared universes, audiences have been hungry for complex, interconnected stories between franchises. As a result, the exact issue Sam Raimi is talking about only seemed to repeat itself with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which, at 53 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, is the lowest reviewed film in the franchise — lower even than Sam Raimi’s self-proclaimed “awful” foray into the webslinger’s world. In attempts to open up the Spider-Man world into multiple franchises, many fans felt the filmmakers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 alienated the characters and the natural developments they should have gone through.
As pertinent of an issue as it was to Sam Raimi back in 2007, it seems like in the coming decade full of shared universes, studios will need to become increasingly savvy on how to create fulfilling single-film experiences while simultaneously servicing the bigger picture. Have studios learned their lesson yet, or are they doomed to repeat them in the near future?
Let us know what you think below.