9 Behind the Scenes Stories About Spider-Man 3 and Why It Failed

Raimi Tried To Make Everything Bigger Than 'Spider-Man 2'

Why do so many people hate Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3? Released in 2007, the final movie in the Raimi trilogy has always had a mixed reputation among fans and critics alike, but the reasons for this are actually more juicy than you might have imagined. Let’s rewind time and go behind the scenes to better understand how fans ended up with such a meh final product.

How do you follow up a universally beloved film like Spider-Man 2? In Raimi’s case, he tried to make a spectacle with Spider-Man 3 by making everything bigger – unfortunately, this strategy was ineffective. Many fractures lurked behind the scenes of Spider-Man 3. Not only did Sony not want to give Raimi complete control over the third film, but they insisted upon Venom’s inclusion, even if he didn’t fit within the trilogy’s overarching narrative. Here are the reasons why Spider-Man 3 was destined to be a huge flop.

1. Sam Raimi Didn’t Want Venom In The Film

Sam Raimi Didn't Want Venom In The Film

Despite Venom’s presence throughout Spider-Man 3, Sam Raimi is not a fan of Spider-Man’s Symbiote-suited nemesis. Supposedly, Sony pushed Venom on Raimi because fans love the character, though this resulted in a film that the director just didn’t care about. 

To his credit, Raimi never lashed out at the fans for loving Venom but disliking his movie. He has admitted that he might not understand the character:

I don’t even want to comment on Venom, because I know he’s a great character and all the fans love him. I never want to say anything bad about a much-beloved character because usually it turns out that I’m the one that doesn’t understand what makes it great.

2. The Third Act Has Too Many Characters

The Third Act Has Too Many Characters

Spider-Man 3 follows Peter Parker as he juggles relationships with Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy while fighting Harry Osborne, Sandman, and Venom. These five plot lines all converge in the third act, a time when everything is supposed to become clear to the audience before sending them home happy. 

Instead, most fans agree the third act of Spider-Man 3 is an absolute mess. The poor pacing makes the film seem longer than it is, and when the final act does arrive, there’s so much at play that it’s difficult to determine exactly what happens. Peter and Harry form some type of bond, Sandman almost becomes a good guy, and Eddie Brock perishes without so much as an acknowledgment from Peter. 

If even one of these characters was removed from the puzzle, the film would not only be better paced, but the finale would be clearer, and Raimi would have had time to focus on the characters.

3. Raimi Tried To Make Everything Bigger Than ‘Spider-Man 2’

Raimi Tried To Make Everything Bigger Than 'Spider-Man 2'

Spider-Man 2‘s quality stems from its multiple story threads and complex characters. The audience can sympathize with its villain, and its action sequences are unforgettable. Raimi wanted to top his own work with Spider-Man 3, but rather than simply focusing on the movie’s quality, he attempted to make the third film bigger than the second in every way.

Rather than turning everything up a few notches and focusing on the character relationships forged in the sequel, Raimi tried to wow the audience with special effects, which backfired horribly. He said as much in a 2015 appearance on the Nerdist podcast

I think [raising the stakes after Spider-Man 2] was the thinking going into it, and I think that’s what doomed us. I should’ve just stuck with the characters and the relationships and progressed them to the next step and not tried to top the bar.

4. There Are Too Many Plotlines

There Are Too Many Plotlines

Any one of Spider-Man 3‘s villains could have been an A-plot to Peter and MJ’s B-plot. Adding two other villains as well asGwen Stacy only complicates what could have been a compelling story. After the film’s release, Raimi knew he’d added too much, and he owned up to this fact. Spider-Man 3‘s Thomas Haden Church told Joblo as much in 2018: 

Sam [Raimi] has gone on record as saying, “Hey we tried to shove ten pounds of story into a five-pound bag.” Even he thought it was just too much. And, to some extent it led Sam and Sony to part ways.

5. Raimi Didn’t Have Creative Control

Raimi Didn’t Have Creative Control

The element of Spider-Man 3 likely most responsible for the film’s failure was Raimi’s lack of creative control. With no one at the helm, the film lacked focus. Raimi has spoken about the film being gradually taken from him. According to Raimi, Sony simply wanted to do something different, even at the expense of a successful franchise.

Raimi’s complete creative control over the first two films not only meant he could use whatever characters he wanted, but he could also utilize a darker, more serious tone. That changed with the third film, whose tone is less cohesive than the series’s first two installments. Raimi explained:

They really gave me a tremendous amount of control on the first two films, actually. But then there were different opinions on the third film and I didn’t really have creative control, so to speak.

6. Only Two Villains Were Meant To Be In The Film

Only Two Villains Were Meant To Be In The Film

Spider-Man 3 was meant to be similar to its predecessor in that it was supposed to have two villains. This is logical from a narrative standpoint. While Peter continues to work out his issues with Harry once Harry fully transforms into a supervillain, Peter also has to fend off a new foe who was responsible for Uncle Ben’s demise. 

While this plot sounds overstuffed, Raimi would have been able to make it work. By all accounts, this story was planned from the beginning, but at some point, everything changed. Raimi’s Sandman, Thomas Haden Church, told Joblo in 2018:

The studio felt like they had me, they had [James] Franco’s story continuing, and they were like, we need one more that’s more of a millennial. And that’s how Venom and Topher Grace came into the picture.

7. Vulture’s Set-Up For ‘Spider-Man 4’ Was Left Out

Vulture's Set-Up For ‘Spider-Man 4’ Was Left Out

Early on, Spider-Man 3 was meant to whet the audience’s appetite for Vulture, a character that Raimi planned to include in Spider-Man 4. Ben Kingsley and John Malkovich, among others, were rumored to have been slated for the role, but the plan was shut down when Venom was added to Spider-Man 3‘s roster. 

Since Peter Parker was tackling three different villains in the series’s third installment, there was simply no room to set up a character for a fourth film. In addition to Vulture rumors, Anne Hathaway may have been cast as Black Cat.

8. There Is So Much Fan-Service, The Story Is Incoherent

There Is So Much Fan-Service, The Story Is Incoherent

Raimi’s first two Spider-Man films are filled with Easter eggs for super-fans, such as the Ramones’ song “Spider-Man” and cameos from Bruce Campbell. For the third film, however, Sony insisted on a different type of fan service.

Raimi claimed the company only wanted faces the audience would recognize and get excited about. This is likely the only reason Venom appeared in the film. Raimi claims he already had a story ready, so adding a new character didn’t make sense. According to Raimi in 2009, he was simply doing what he was told:

I had worked on the story with my brother Ivan, and primarily it was a story that featured the Sandman. It was really about Peter, Mary Jane, Harry, and that new character. But when we were done, Avi Arad, my partner and the former president of Marvel at the time, said to me, Sam, you’re so, you’re not paying attention to the fans enough. You need to think about them. You’ve made two movies now with your favorite villains, and now you’re about to make another one with your favorite villains. The fans love Venom, he is the fan favorite.

9. The Physics Are Inaccurate And Unbelievable

The Physics Are Inaccurate And Unbelievable

Although Spider-Man 3 is a movie about a wall-crawling super-genius fighting a villain made of sand, fans believe its physics should still be logical. The first fight scene between the new Goblin and Spider-Man is widely considered the worst offender of the film’s implausible physics

Not only can Peter survive getting slammed into brick buildings and through large panes of glass without suffering so much as a cut, but Harry Osborne’s appearances throughout the fight seem completely disconnected from one another. While fans agree the fights don’t have to be perfect, a distinct lack of realism makes the action hard to follow.