The Most Influential Superhero Trilogy Ever Is Leaving Netflix
The Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies are leaving Netflix at the end of January.
Fans of Marvel’s beloved web-slinger are getting a final notice from What’s on Netflix: if you want to watch (or re-watch) Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series, you’d better do it now. As of February 1, Spider-Man 1, 2, and 3 are all leaving Netflix, meaning that you’ll no longer be able to watch Tobey Maguire play Peter Parker to perfection.
At first, Maguire seemed like an odd choice to some, but he made an impression on Sam Raimi, who saw him in The Cider House Rules and knew he was the one for the role. He wasn’t looking for a big, burly butt-kicking hero, he was looking for someone kind and gentle, like Maguire. In the comic books, part of what makes Spider-Man such a relatable hero is that, at heart, he is always Peter Parker: a wholesome teenage nerd trying to juggle his messy life and awkward situations.
Aside from being one of the most faithful adaptations of the Spider-Man comics, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series from the early 2000s is responsible for making the comic book movie landscape what it is today. Moviegoers came out in droves to watch Spider-Man in theaters, not just for its action sequences (which are also awesome), but also for its lighter, more optimistic feel. According to BBC, James Hunt of the Cinematic Universe podcast said: “While Raimi was making upbeat family movies, other companies were off making dour superhero action so that they could avoid accusations of campness.”
So, basically, in order to keep from being chuckled at like the 1960s Batman live-action series, other studios were taking themselves extremely seriously. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films, though, were more lighthearted. Fans were not only rooting for Peter Parker, they could see themselves in him.
The films captured both the lightness and the darkness of being both an average guy and a superhero, making it something fun instead of something heavy and onerous.
Other franchises also tried to make their comic book movies “cooler” and more modern, but Sam Raimi stuck with the vibes from Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s original Silver Age comics of the 1960s. This led his Spider-Man films to have a timeless feeling to them as if they could take place anytime, anywhere.
It is said that, while it is true that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films kicked off our current comic book movie era, it is also true that their essence has yet to be replicated in another film. Yes, there have been two other Spider-Man series that are both also great, along with a myriad of other blockbuster superhero films, but none of them give the viewer the same feeling that they are watching a story that was pulled right from the pages of a comic book.
Sam Raimi wanted to focus on the idea of a man caught between his normal life and the life he is fated to live as a hero for the people. He also wanted to focus on how that affected his relationships with others, such as his crush, Mary Jane Watson, played by Kirsten Dunst, his would-be mentor Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), and his best-friend-turned-enemy, Harry Osborn (James Franco).
This struggle was so absorbing to fans that even now, more than 20 years after Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film was released, there is constant campaigning for Tobey Maguire to put on that red and blue suit again. His appearance as “Peter Two” in Spider-Man: No Way Home in 2021 only served to fuel fans’ passions even more, with many of them begging for studios to un-cancel the once-planned Spider-Man 4.
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man also influenced the portrayal of the character in comic books, future Spider-Man films, and even an animated series based in the same universe, changing Spider-Man’s legacy forever.
So, in other words, if you haven’t seen it yet, hurry up, because it won’t be on Netflix much longer!