Long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe set the industry standard for modern superhero films, Sam Raimi crafted a trilogy of perfectly campy Spider-Man films that have gone down in history for revolutionizing the comic book genre. The most critically praised film in the collection, 2004’s Spider-Man 2, is available to stream on Netflix.
Widely considered the best superhero movie ever made, Spider-Man 2 is available on Netflix.
It should come as a shock to absolutely nobody at this point to say that Spider-Man 2 is a certified classic. In addition to spawning hundreds of memes, its own subreddit, and an MCU revival nearly two decades later, the film has maintained near-perfect scores from critics. The review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes has given Spider-Man 2 a staggering 93 percent certified fresh rating, praising its entertaining performances, gripping story, and deep emotional resonance.
Spider-Man 2 stars Tobey Maguire as the titular web-slinger, alongside Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, JK Simmons, Elizabeth Banks, Willem Dafoe, and frequent Sam Raimi collaborator Bruce Campbell. Though many of the aforementioned stars are certified A-listers in their own right today, at the time many of them were virtually unknown, marking the Spider-Man trilogy as a massive benchmark in their careers.
In the years since Spider-Man 2 first premiered in 2004, James Franco has gone on to create a comedy empire alongside frequent collaborator Seth Rogen, while Elizabeth Banks has transitioned into a role behind the camera, directing such features as Pitch Perfect 2, Charlie’s Angels, and most recently, Cocaine Bear. Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina recently reunited with Tobey Maguire in the MCU, each reprising their roles from the Raimi films alongside Tom Holland and a host of villains from the Spider-Man rogues gallery.
Spider-Man 2 features Alred Molina as Doctor Octopus, one of movie history’s most sympathetic yet terrifying villains.
Spider-Man 2 centers on Peter Parker as he faces a number of significant losses. He is estranged from both his best friend and the love of his life, his elderly aunt May is facing eviction from her apartment, and his powers begin to wane, forcing him to confront the possibility that he may be forced to return to life as an ordinary person. In the midst of all this, Peter works alongside Alfred Molina’s Otto Octavius, a nuclear scientist making great strides in the field of artificial intelligence and mechanized exoskeletons.
During a demonstration where Octavius is wearing mechanical tentacles to handle sensitive material, a fusion core becomes destabilized, killing his wife and burning the microchip that connects the arms to his central nervous system.
Spider-Man 2 then takes a moment to flex Sam Raimi’s roots as a horror filmmaker in a sequence that rivals any modern slasher film to this day. Octavius becomes overpowered by the artificial intelligence powering the claws, causing him to lash out and kill a hospital full of doctors.
Meanwhile, Peter Parker’s life continues to spiral out of control as his love interest, Mary Jane Watson, becomes engaged to John Jameson, a successful astronaut. The stress becomes too much for Peter to bear, prompting him to quit being Spider-Man and attempt to return to normal life. The emotional core of Spider-Man 2 truly makes the film stand out for its ability to balance absurdist comic book concepts and heart-wrenching drama.
Spider-Man 2 earned almost $800 million at the box office in 2004.
When Mary Jane is captured by Octavius, Peter leaps into action, regaining his Spider-Man abilities in a fit of adrenaline. The Spider-Man 2 train fight sequence which follows has gone down in action film history as one of the greatest set-pieces in history, as Peter must save an entire moving train full of civilian passengers from their certain demise. The film’s thrilling climax has inspired filmmakers of modern superhero movies now nearly 20 years later.
The Raimi trilogy has become so revered in recent years that an online petition even brought the iconic costume from the films to the Spider-Man PlayStation 4 game that came out in 2018, setting the stage for Tobey Maguire to reprise his role in 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Though the third installment in the trilogy failed to live up to expectations due to studio meddling, Spider-Man 2 is often regarded as a high watermark for Sam Raimi’s filmography and comic book films. If you haven’t had the pleasure, be sure to stream all three of the Raimi Spider-Man films on Netflix today, especially Spider-Man 2.