One BIG Reason ‘Spider-Man 3’ Doesn’t Deserve The Backlash It Received

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*These “One BIG Reason” articles will be a bi-weekly series that takes a look at some of the blockbuster films we love to hate and find one redeeming quality about that particular film.*

This week we’ll be taking a look at one of Hollywood’s most controversial superhero films in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. This film was Raimi’s last Spider-Man movie that concluded a trilogy which starred Tobey Maguire as everyone’s favorite wall-crawler. The first two movies are considered to most as being some of the best superhero films to date. 

Sure Bryan Singer arguably began this superhero movie trend with his first of many  X-Men films, but the following year began with Raimi’s first Spider-Man film. That film introduced us to a fantastic superhero origin story with great characters, dialogue, and action. The second film stepped it up a notch and gave us improved special effects with a better villain in Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina). However, Raimi’s third and sadly final Spider-Man film hit a roadblock.

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Spider-Man 3 did make the most at the box office out of the three films but it was also the most disappointing. We can agree all day on many of the decisions that were atrocious including seeing Peter Parker’s dark side. The studios clearly had too many cooks in the kitchen for this one, forcing Raimi to cram in too many villains that were completely unnecessary. I am of course referring to Venom and to an extent, Harry Osborn’s (James Franco) New Goblin.

Though the film overall was a big step down from the previous two, there’s still plenty to enjoy about this movie. In fact, I believe that Spider-Man 3 gave us one of the greatest comic book villains on the big screen; Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman.

Why Sandman Was One of The Best Developed Characters In Raimi’s Trilogy

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“My daughter was dying. I needed money. I was scared.”

If there’s one criticism about the current MCU, it’s that they tend to focus solely on the heroes and not give enough depth to the main villains. On the other hand, Sam Raimi did both and gave us very memorable villains including Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and of course Sandman. Flint Marko is definitely the best part of this film and this scene perfectly describes that…

Sandman’s backstory is a tragic one. This is a man who’s an escaped convict and divorced father who continues to rob banks and other places to support his daughter’s cancer treatments. His daughter Penny is dying and with no job to help pay for these treatments, Marko is forced to doing criminal acts.

Marko is a well developed villain because he’s not a person who’s trying to take over the world or is holding a grudge against a corporate organization (unlike Norman Osborn). This is a person who is dedicating his life to do whatever he can to keep his daughter alive. His daughter is the only person worth living for.

Watching Flint Marco Marko Getting Turned Into Sandman Adds A Tragic Nature To The Character

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“I didn’t choose to be this. The only thing left of my now, is my daughter.”

One of the most emotional scenes in the film happens shortly after Marko is changed into Sandman. You can watch the entire scene below:

After Sandman mistakenly finds himself inside an experimental particle accelerator, Marko is soon turned into the Sandman. On top of having to rob banks and local stores to keep his daughter alive, Marko now has to deal with his entire DNA getting transformed into nothing but sand. This scene is quite emotional because you can’t help but feel sorry for this character.

As the scene progressives, we see him struggle to make a bodily figure of what he once was. He then finds his special charm with a picture of his daughter in it and does his very best to grasp it. At first he doesn’t succeed, but then tries again focusing his entire body on creating a human hand.

Sandman Was Also Partially Responsible For Uncle Ben’s Death

“I did a terrible thing to you. I’ve spent a lot of nights wishing I could take it back. I’m not asking you to forgive me. I just want you to understand.”

Not only did Flint Marko have to cope with a daughter who was dying, a divorced mother who doesn’t want any part of it, and the entire police force after him, but he also has to deal with a moment that would haunt him forever; the death of Ben Parker.

In a surprising twist in the film, we find out that Marko was the one who actually killed Peter’s uncle not the robber from the first film. While this is somewhat true, the film later describes what actually happened in the words of Marko himself. Watch the entire scene below as Sandman confesses to Peter:

This moment brought the whole character of the Sandman together and allowed audiences to feel even more compassion towards Marko. Here’s a guy who’s trying to keep his daughter alive and constantly outrunning police, but now has to deal with something much worse. Marko tells Peter that he threatened Uncle Ben with a gun, but that he wasn’t going to shoot Ben. All he wanted was the car. As his partner ran toward him, he bumped into him by mistake thus triggering the gun and killing Ben in the process.

Peter’s expressions in this scene says it all. He found out in the film by the NYPD that this man was the actual killer, so Peter unsurprisingly wanted this man dead. The entire film he sought revenge on this guy but didn’t know the man’s true backstory. The way Sandman tells this story in a flashback is brilliantly done. The score by Danny Elfman also adds to the emotional pull. This scene could not have been crafted better.

Final Thoughts

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Spider-Man 3 is not a great film by any means. I think everyone can attest to that. The movie clearly has many flaws and fails in many ares but there are great emotional depths and character developments with Sandman. No, emo Peter Parker should not have been in the film and Venom had no business being there in the first place. However with all of the flaws that this movie has, there’s still plenty to enjoy. Had Raimi just kept the Sandman as the central and only antagonist, I think Spider-Man 3 would have no doubt been a much better movie.

But what do you think? Is Spider-Man 3 as bad as you remember it? Let me know what you think in the comment section below!


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