Following up on the incredibly successful and popular origin story of Spider-Man comes Spider-Man 2 from director Sam Raimi. The sequel picks up two years after the first movie with Peter Parker trying to balance being an ordinary collage kid living in New York and being the super hero Spider-Man. Life gets even harder for Peter as he deals with his feelings for Mary Jane and the stress of his friendship with Harry who believes Spider-Man killed his father. When life gets too much for Peter he must choose what is more important to him, being happy or being a hero. A choice not made easy by the rise of the new villain Doctor Octopus. Tobey Maguire returns as Spider-Man with Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, J.K. Simmons, Rosemary Leslie and Dylan Baker.
People often consider Spider-Man 2 to be one of the best comic book movies made and the reason for that is how Sam Raimi demonstrates the double edge sword that comes with being a superhero. It was something not really explored in cinema before where the hero’s personal life suffers under the weight of being the hero. You can feel the toll it is taking on Peter as he disappoints the people in his life who are not privy to his secret. This is amplified by the way Raimi shoots the film, highlighting the emotion in Spider-Man that is visible even through the suit. Raimi also cleverly uses Spider-Man’s performance problems to further highlight the emotional and physical toll being a hero was having on him.
It is a hard task being a strong villain, especially when you are following on from an incredible villain in Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) but Alfred Molina was up to the task. Doctor Octopus is one of Spider-Man’s mainstream iconic villains and Molina brought the character to life in a brilliant way, creating a man who thinks he is doing the right thing and that the ends justifies the means. He gives a fantastic performance as the mad doctor with artificial intelligent robotic arms and though this is the second Spider-Man villain who talks to inanimate objects it still works. Whilst I think The Green Goblin was more menacing, Doctor Octopus has the better action pieces when he fights Spider-Man, the bank sequence is a great tease of what can come before an epic fight on top of the train. The fight itself is very comic book in nature but that is why it works so well. Doctor Octopus is a great villain and though Alfred Molina doesn’t look like someone who could do action, the action holds up great.
Where Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 excel is the fact they have one main villain. By doing this you can develop the hero and the villain so that the viewers are attached to both of them. Despite the fact the villains from both movies have similar traits, overall they are quite different people so the formula of one villain to fight the hero worked across both movies. Spider-Man 2 effectively uses Harry Osborn as an antagonist but not a villain, which allows the focus to be on Alfred Molina. We are teased that Harry may become a villain in the future but the emphasis is on Doctor Octopus. This is a story lesson many films could benefit to learn from.
It is rare for a sequel to be better than the original, usually due to the sequel copying the formula that made the first one great. Truly great sequels will elevate themselves through, story, themes or even action and Spider-Man 2 does that and more. Raimi ups the action with great conflicts that look real despite the need for CGI; he delves further into the characters that were developed in the first movie and begins to explore the ideas of balancing the hero life with being a normal person. These are just some of the reason Spider-Man 2 is elevated above the first movie into that top echelon of Comic Book Movies.
See it if you enjoyed the first movie as this one is even better. Again this isn’t just for comic book lovers but movie lovers.
Spider-Man 2 scores an 8/10
Thanks for reading my review. Let me know what you think of Spider-Man 2 in the comments below. Should it be considered one of the best? Does it hold up?
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Great review, and I could not agree more with everything that you wrote. I can think of only two other superhero movies where the sequel is actually better than the original : Captain America: the Winter Soldier, and ofcourse Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
This was truly a fantastic movie though. As you say, not just one for comic book lovers. The problem with the next installment was that there were just too many villains, and that is why it ultimately failed, despite the appearance of Venom 😊
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Thank you for the compliment.
It really is a great movie that I had forgotten how great it actually was. It is hard to make a sequel that is superior to the first movie so you need to go deeper, not bigger and thats what Raimi achieved with Spider-Man 2.
It is a real shame that the third one is such a mess. I am watching it now and I can’t believe it.
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