Peter Parker is an intellectually precocious but socially inept teenager, too shy to approach
Mary Jane, the girl next-door with whom he is smitten. His only friend is Harry Osborn, and even their friendship is tainted
with jealousy by the fact that Harry's successful industrialist father, Norman Osborn, favors the brilliant Peter over Harry
himself. Parker lives in New York City, in the Sunnyside neighborhood of the borough of Queens. On a student tour of a college's
genetics laboratory (with exterior scenes shot at New
York City's Columbia
University), Peter is bitten by an escaped experimental spider that has been bioengineered
with various extraordinary and enhanced traits (i.e. jumping, webbing and reflexes). The spider's venom causes him to fall
ill and he barely arrives home before collapsing into bed. After a difficult night's sleep while the venom alters his genetic
makeup, he wakes up seemingly unharmed. However, he learns to his surprise that his body has changed dramatically and literally
overnight. Over the course of that amazing first day, Peter learns that not only has he acquired perfect vision and muscle
tone, but he has also gained greatly increased strength and agility, the ability to fire strands of strong webbing from his
wrists, a "spider-sense" that gives him a psychic warning of danger, and the ability to extend a mass of minute barbs from
his skin that allow him to adhere to surfaces. While he glories in these new abilities, which allow him to fend off bullies
like Eugene "Flash" Thompson and jump from rooftop to rooftop with ease, his Aunt May and
Uncle Ben, with whom the orphaned Peter lives, become concerned for their nephew's new strange and secretive behavior. On a trip to the library, Uncle Ben confronts Peter about it and stresses to him that
with maturity and power comes great responsibility. Peter snaps at him and secretly heads off to his true destination, a sports
arena that promises a $3000 prize to any man who can last three minutes in the ring with the wrestler Bonesaw McGraw(played
by Randy Savage). With some difficulty, Peter defeats the wrestler and is cheered as the "amazing Spider-Man." However, Peter
is cheated by the fight promoter and, in retaliation, does not stop a criminal who has stolen the gate money. Walking to the library with some satisfaction, he finds that his uncle has been shot by a carjacker in
the street. Ben dies in front of him. Enraged, Peter dons his spider costume to pursue the murderer using his webs for transportation
for the first time. He confronts the killer in an abandoned warehouse only to learn to his horror that the killer is the same
criminal he could have stopped earlier. The terrified murderer falls out of a window to his death. Peter is wracked with guilt
over the death of his uncle. Months later, after graduation from high school,
Peter decides to live up to his uncle's words, "with great power, comes great responsibility," by becoming a superhero fighting
crime all over the city. He eventually learns a way to make it pay by supplying photographs of his alter-ego to Daily Bugle
publisher J. Jonah Jameson, who has a continual need for Spider-Man photos though he villifies the vigilante in his paper. Norman Osborn experiences his own dramatic transformation. To save his company from
losing a vital military contract, he subjects himself to a dangerous test of an experimental treatment. It increases his strength
and intelligence but also drives him insane, creating a new, malevolent personality that murders anyone standing in his way.
Using his company's prototype armor — a personal flight device called a glider and a green facemask from his collection
— Norman lashes out as a figure later dubbed "the Green Goblin". Spider-Man and the Goblin eventually battle at the World Unity Festival held at Times Square, where the
Goblin murders the company board of directors that were planning to fire Osborn. Spider-Man drives the Goblin off and saves
Mary Jane as well. While Peter mourns the fact that he seems to have lost M.J.
to Harry, the Goblin tempts him, after abducting him as Spider-Man, to join with him against an ungrateful world that hates
him. Spider-Man refuses and the insulted Goblin vows revenge. Norman deduces that Peter is Spider-Man
and begins to strike at his loved ones — first attacking Aunt May, who ends up hospitalized, and Mary Jane. Later, Harry
discovers that Mary Jane has fallen for Peter, and grows bitter. In a climax
on the Queensboro Bridge, the Goblin tells Spider-Man to choose whether to save the kidnapped M.J. or
a tram car full of children. Spider-Man, with some help from New York City by-standers, manages
to save both. The Goblin, enraged at being thwarted, brings Spider-Man to an abandoned building on Roosevelt Island, below the bridge. The Goblin promises to torture and kill Mary Jane,
and then duels with Spider-Man in hand to hand combat. Spider-Man defeats him, only to see the Norman personality regain control
and beg Peter to stop his attack help him control his mental problem. Yet the Goblin personality is manipulating subconsciously
sets a sneak attack on Spider-Man, using the Goblin-glider's remote control. Peter barely avoids the charging glider hurtling
in to spear him in the back. When he dodges, it fatally impales Norman in the chest. Honoring Norman's request not to tell Harry the truth, Spider-Man brings Norman's body home and Harry becomes convinced that Spider-Man murdered his father. At the funeral, Harry swears revenge
on Spider-Man while reaffirming his friendship with Peter. Dismayed at the tragedy he seems to cause to all those close to
him, he rejects Mary Jane's words of love to keep her from again becoming a potential target of his enemies. The film ends
with Peter walking away from M.J., while trying to make the best of the situation with a victory lap as he swings around the
city with ease.
The general critical reaction was enthusiastic, with Maguire and Dafoe singled out for particular
praise. There were complaints about the second half of the film being rather derivative and the CGI being overused towards
the end. The relatively flat acting from most of the other lead actors, especially Kirsten Dunst and James Franco, also created
some criticisms. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, some of the CGI shots of New
York were redone to remove the World
Trade Center from the shots. Despite this, you can still see the Twin towers in about two
scenes of the movie. Some vocal comic-book fans aired complaints about the change
made in Spider-Man's webs. In the comic books, Peter Parker invented a mechanical web-shooting device, while in the movie
he produced his webbing naturally. Sam Raimi has, however, explained this decision, saying that "the only thing I could not
relate to with Peter was him being a genius". The film was a hit, grossing $403,706,375
in its theatrical run in North America, becoming the highest-grossing film of the year, and denied a Star Wars film (Star
Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones) from being number one for the first time ever. and the fifth highest grossing of all
time. Its $114,844,116 opening weekend set a record, and the movie became the first to earn over $100 million in a weekend.
It had an equally successful home-video release. Maguire, previously known as a baby-faced character actor, became a major
star. According to court documents, Marvel Comics tried to use "Hollywood accounting" to deprive Stan Lee of due royalties from the films, claiming the film's "earnings" were not profits.
Lee successfully sued in 2002. The most famous scene in the film and one which
immediately entered popular culture is the 'upside down kiss' scene where Spider-Man after saving Mary Jane from a gang of
thugs has a romantic kiss with her as he hangs upside down from the wall.
Sum 41's "What We're All About" plays in Uncle Ben's car before he drops Peter off at the
Peter Parker has spider-web wallpaper in his bedroom.
Actor Cliff Robertson, who plays Uncle Ben, has the middle name "Parker," which is Ben's last
Both in the movie and comic adaptations, Peter Parker has a poster of Albert Einstein.
The climax of the film is loosely based on The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122, in which the Goblin
kidnaps Spider-Man's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy and suspends her over a bridge. Gwen is killed by the fall and the Goblin is later
impaled by his own glider. The main differences in the movie is that the damsel in distress is Mary Jane and she survives.
A tv spot for Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (released in the same year) spoofed Spider-Man:
a text (in the same "Spider-Man" font, with web in the background) said: "This summer comes up the greatest hero..." and then
Another TV spot for Eight Legged Freaks, also released in the same year, spoofed the opening
scenes of Spider-Man: webs are seen flying, and a shadow of a costumed man appears. In the next scene (from Eight Legged Freaks),
a citizen is heard saying, "It's a spider, man."
The sets, scenic backgrounds, and clothing for both Peter Parker and Norman Osborn were deliberately
color-coded to represent their alter ego's color schemes, according to the film's art directors and set decorator. Peter nearly
always wears some combination of red and blue, his room at home has blue wallpaper with an octagonal "spider-web" pattern,
and shots of him on-camera are often framed against a blue sky or a red brick background. Norman wears some form of green
in nearly every shot, the walls of OsCorp's experimental chamber are greyish-green, and the study where he spends much of
his time is decorated in dark woods with hunter green accents; even the chaise lounge where his body is laid at the end is
dark green, not black. The only time this color combination is reversed is in the Thanksgiving dinner scene, where Peter shows
up wearing a grey-green shirt and matching tie and Norman wears maroon and blue.
In addition to both Peter Parker and Norman Osborn wearing their enemy's costume colors during
the Thanksgiving dinner scene, Harry Osborn is seen wearing all of the colors. He's wearing a green shirt, red tie and blue
Throughout the movie, as Harry tries to get closer to his father, his wardrobe gets progressively
greener until he, too, is wearing some form of green in every shot. At Norman's funeral, Peter is framed with
the bright blue sky behind him, while shots of Harry have the green grass of the cemetary as a backdrop, a symbol of the comic
book storyline where Harry takes on the mantle of the Green Goblin after his father's death.
Freddie Prinze Jr. and Leonardo DiCaprio were both considered for the role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
Sam Raimi was not Sony's first choice as director. Others considered were Jan de Bont, James
Cameron, Ang Lee and David Fincher.
Pre-production planning for Spider-Man actually began in 1986 by Cannon Films. Later, Cannon
sold the production rights to Carolco Pictures. Carolco would later sell the production rights to Sony Pictures Entertainment
Inc. Sony and Marvel produced the Spider-Man film we see today, released through Sony's Columbia Pictures division.
James Cameron wrote a treatment for this film over the years as the rights to the character
jumped between companies. Nearly all of his ideas were scrapped except for the biological web shooters.
USA Today had expected its logo to appear in Spider-Man, replacing one on a billboard in
Times Square. "But a legal web proved to be a snag," it said, after Sherwood 48 Associates, the owner of the billboard sued the
studio. (The USA Today logo was seen on the billboard in the trailers and commercials for the movie.)
The writers Alvin Sargent & Scott Rosenberg contribute to the last uncredited re-write
on the shooting script.
In preparation for his role, Tobey Maguire trained for a short while before the screen test
and after he got the role, went on a strict exercise regime and a specific diet for five months.
The scene at Columbia University
was filmed on an unseasonably warm spring day, however, the costume department had provided the high school extras with cold-weather
clothing. The real Columbia University students can be seen in the background wearing shorts and t-shirts by contrast.
A welder building sets for the movie was killed on 6 March 2001
when a crane toppled onto a construction basket in which he was riding and struck him in the head.
Zach Hudson, the stunt double for Tobey Maguire, fractured his leg after a stunt went wrong
and he slammed in to a brick wall.
Several Spider-Man costumes were created at a cost of up to $100,000 each. Four were stolen
from the set in early April of 2001 and Columbia Pictures posted a $25,000 reward for their return. The costumes were not
The genetically modified spider that bit Peter Parker was not a black widow spider but a Steatoda
spider, which was chosen by Steven R. Kutcher and painted red and blue by Jens Schnabel while the spider was anesthetized.
The sketches Peter Parker does of his costume were actually done byPhil Jimenez, an artist
on Wonder Woman comics.
The original trailer for the movie depicted a theft of a bank, with the robbers making a
getaway in a helicopter. A close-up of the helicopter was shown, until the helicopter stopped, apparently caught in mid-air.
As the camera zoomed out, it was shown that the helicopter was caught in a spider web, suspended between the two towers of
the World Trade Center. After the attacks on the towers 11 September 2001, however, the trailer was changed.
The World Trade Center towers can be seen in the background of some scenes and once in the reflection
of Spider-Man's eye. The makers of the film chose not to remove them digitally.
The owners of the billboards that surround Times Square attempted to sue Sony Pictures Entertainment
Inc., Marvel Enterprises, and the other companies involved with the production of Spider-Man for "digitally superimposing
advertisements for other companies over their billboard space in the film." The suit was thrown out by a federal judge in
Bleu's song "Somebody Else" was originally written to be the theme for a different superhero,
Superman for the TV series Smallville (2001).
In the comics, Peter Parker designed and made Spider-Man's synthetic spider web and the mechanical
wrist guns that fire it. In the movie he shoots the web from his own body. Director Sam Raimi answered the protests of comic
book fans saying that it was more credible to have Peter shoot web this way than for a high school boy to be able to produce
a wonder adhesive in his spare time that 3m can't make
Director Sam Raimi's 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, also known as The Classic, appears in the movie
as Uncle Ben's car. This car is used frequently in Raimi's films.
Tobey Maguire said he had never read a Spider-Man comic book but took the role because he
liked the script.
Willem Dafoe was never an intended choice to play the Green Goblin. After the script fell
into his possession, he began lobbying for the role and met with Sam Raimi. Sometime later, while filming a movie in Spain, Dafoe was approached and shot some test footage inside the hotel room he was staying. It led to his being cast. Once
he received the role, Dafoe asked that he be allowed to perform his own stunts so that the character and movements would feel
authentic, or else the audience would notice the difference. He performed about 95% of his own stunts, and unlike many of
the stunt crew, learned how to handle the Goblin Glider after just 15 minutes. Having such a great time during filming, he
offered to return for the sequel and asked if they could write him in somewhere. Sam Raimi took him up on the offer and both
of them set aside a specific day of filming on Spider-Man 2 for Dafoe to shoot Norman Osborn's cameo sequence.
The scene when the Oscorp Industries board kick Norman Osbourne off the council may have been
inspiration for a similar scene in Fantasic Four, in which Victor Von Doom is kicked off the Von Doom Industries.
When used in the trailer, the shot of Peter doing a long back-flip onto a car hood was digitally
altered to put him in his Spider-Man outfit instead of his wrestling outfit.
The jumping spider that Peter attempts to take a picture of is an Avondale Spider, the same
type used in Arachnophobia.
The smoke in the lab during Harry Osborn's transformation scene was originally white but was
then digitally altered to green. Director Raimi wanted to use real green smoke, but went with the CG effect when prop designers
could not create a colored smoke that was non-toxic.
Scenes of New Yorkers throwing trash at the Green Goblin and Spider-Man perched alongside
the American flag were added after 11 September 2001 to reflect the city's sense of
unity and patriotism.
When Uncle Ben drops Peter off to go to the library, a bus can be seen driving by with a promotional
advertisement that reads, The Producers, a Mel Brooks musical. Brooks later sued Sony Pictures Entertainment for unwanted
advertisement in motion-picture space.
The last few shots of the spider dream sequence were taken from the Lucio Fulci film E tu
vivrai nel terrore - L'aldilą.
At the time of its release, the movie passed the US$100 million mark faster than any other
movie, in just three days. That record has since been broken.
Doctor Octopus was in the early draft of the script to appear as the second bad guy. Later
on in pre-production it was decided that he be saved for the second movie.
During the fight between the Green Goblin and Spider-Man near the end of the movie, Willem
DaFoe accidentally clipped Tobey Maguire on the chin with one blow.
The Daily Bugle newspaper building is actually the Flatiron building, a famous Manhattan landmark that was built in 1902. In the comics, the Bugle's building is on East 38th Street and Second Avenue.
Eliza Dushku had auditioned for the role of Mary Jane Watson. In Tobey Maguire's screen test
(as seen on the DVD), the actress playing Mary Jane was Eliza Dushku.
When Peter is making his way to the wrestling ring there is a wounded wrestler screaming in
pain, his voice is overdubbed by Bruce Campbell. This technique was also used in Darkman.
The first Marvel movie to showcase the flipping pages Marvel logo.
Entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as having the Highest Box Office Gross in
a Single Day, taking in US$43.6 million on its second day of release. That record has been broken since then.
Bonesaw, the wrestler Spider-Man fights for money, is played by real life wrestler Macho Man
Randy Savage. Early in his career, Savage wrestled under the name The Spider.
Sam Raimi wanted Bill Pope to be the film's cinematographer, but Pope was busy working on
The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Raimi's second choice was Peter Deming, but he was working on Austin Powers
The balloons at the Unity Festival were made by Aerostar International, Inc., in Sioux Falls,
After the terrorist attacks on the United States of 11 September
2001, Sony recalled teaser posters which showed a close-up
of Spider-Man's face with the New York skyline (including, prominently, the World Trade
Center towers) reflected in his eyes. Not all the posters were recovered, however, and the ones
still at large are now highly prized collector's items.
When Jameson's subordinates are trying to tell him about Spider-Man, one of them says, "Eddie's
been trying to get a picture of him for weeks." This is a reference to Eddie Brock, who in the comics is a rival photographer
to Peter Parker and ultimately becomes the villain named Venom.
When James Cameron was developing Spider-Man in the early-'90s, Charlie Sheen actively campaigned
for the role, apparently to Cameron's disinterest. After Titanic, Cameron said his only choice was Leonardo Dicaprio before
he eventually passed onto other projects.
The diner that MJ worked at is the same diner (at least the exterior) where Monica worked
in the early seasons of Friends.
At the beginning of the movie when we first see Mary Jane on the school bus, she is dressed
in the Green Goblin's (from the comic book, anyways) colours. Her top is purple and her coat is green.
The line Peter uses during his first experience swinging is "Tally ho!" This is the same line
used in Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness, when Ash (Bruce Campbell) swings on a rope during a fight sequence in the battle at
The Thanksgiving scene when Aunt May puts the turkey in front of Norman is a reference to the Norman Rockwell painting "Freedom From Want".
In the scene where Peter Parker is on his ceiling hiding from Mr. Osbourne, a green sweatshirt
with a beaver insignia can be seen on the ground. This is a sweatshirt from Sam Raimi's childhood camp, Tamakwa.
Both Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe incorporated a Yoga technique called Ashtanga into their
training regimens for this film. "Ashtanga" translates into English as "eight-legged."
The Moondance Diner where Mary Jane Watson works is the same one that Rent creator Jonathan
Larson (and actor and star of Rent, Jesse L. Martin) worked at prior to quitting to pursue a career writing musicals.
Early in the film, various posters can be seen in Peter`s room, including ones for D&D
and Magic: The Gathering.
During the funeral sequence at the end of the film a tombstone reads Gwen Stacy. Gwen Stacy
was a love interest of Peter's in the comics and is killed in the comics by the Green Goblin. This could cause a problem as
Gwen Stacy has been confirmed to be in Spider-Man 3.
The general whose ultimatum to Norman Osborn causes Osborn to rashly test his supersoldier
formula on himself is named General Slocum. This may be a reference to the General Slocum disaster, since the results to Osborn
could be called disastrous.