One of moviegoers’ favorite film characters returns in Columbia Pictures’ Spider-Man 3, continuing one of the biggest blockbuster franchises in film history. Together, Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 have grossed more than $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office.
As the continuing adventures of Peter Parker unfold, Spider-Man™ 3 wraps up some of the character arcs begun in the first two films. Sam Raimi, who has directed all three installments in the blockbuster franchise, says, “The heart of the Spider-Man films has always been the depth of the characters and their interconnected lives. Peter’s love of Mary Jane Watson and his friendship with Harry Osborn have always been the richest parts of our stories.
“When developing this third installment, we asked ourselves, ‘What does this young man still have to learn?’” says Raimi. “We placed him in situations where he’d be forced to confront his absences of character – obstacles that, in previous stories, he might not have been able to surmount. In this way, he would either be defeated or grow into the heroic person who might be capable of overcoming these obstacles. As the depth of our characters grow, they become richer human beings and can achieve more than in the previous films.”
“At the end of the second movie, for the first time, there’s reason for optimism in Peter’s life,” says producer Avi Arad, who until recently served as CEO of Marvel. “He’s won the girl – but when she says, ‘Go get ’em, tiger,’ you know that she is realistic and maybe uneasy about what life is going to be like. What Sam likes to do is test the hero– and that means that Spider-Man™ 3 will take us to a very different place in Peter’s life, in Mary Jane’s life, and in Harry’s life.”
In Spider-Man™ 3, Peter Parker faces his biggest challenge to date – and the greatest battle of all is the battle within himself. When the film opens, things are finally going so well for Peter that his success begins to go to his head a little bit … and when a black substance clings to Peter’s scooter, things take a turn. The substance attaches itself to Peter’s Spider-Man suit, changing it from the familiar red and blue to a deep black. The transformed suit also changes Peter, as he becomes stronger and quicker than ever before… but it also brings out the dark side of Peter’s personality that he is struggling to control.
“We wanted to explore the darker side of Peter’s character,” says producer Laura Ziskin. “When his suit turns black, it enhances and emphasizes characteristics that are already in the host. In this case, it makes him stronger and quicker, but also more prideful and aggressive.”
“When I read the script I was really excited about the different direction we were going with Peter Parker and the other characters and storylines,” says Tobey Maguire, who returns to the role of Peter Parker. “We are covering a lot of new ground here, with a fresh take on the story while maintaining the continuity of the characters from the previous two films.”
Kirsten Dunst returns to her role as Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man™ 3. “I think fans will love this movie, because we love this movie,” says Dunst. “It means so much to all of us, and we’ve really worked hard at making every scene the best it can be.”
Also reprising his role as Harry Osborn is James Franco. “Harry’s story picks up from the end of Spider-Man™ 2, when he learned the awful truth about his father and his friend – although he doesn’t have the full story. Harry is a troubled soul; he lived his whole life for his father, and when his father was taken from him, the only thing he had left in his life was to avenge his father’s death.”
Of course, Spider-Man™ 3 also features the incredible action sequences that Spider-Man fans have come to expect. In this film, Spider-Man takes on two classic villains: Sandman, who first made his appearance in the fourth issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, and Venom, one of the comic book’s most memorable villains.
“Marvel comic books – and especially the Spider-Man books – have always had a great bunch of villains to choose from,” notes Raimi. “So many great Marvel artists and writers developed these characters. It was a very easy task to pick up these wonderful tales and images and develop our story from them.”
Thomas Haden Church plays Flint Marko, a man haunted by the mistakes of his past, who is caught in a physics experiment gone wrong. His DNA becomes fused with sand… and he becomes Sandman, a villain who can change his shape, size, and form at will. “I consider it an honor, really,” says Church, an Academy Award nominee for his role in Sideways, on joining the franchise. “The Spider-Man™ films stand tall in the pantheon of superhero movies. Many are called, few are chosen, and I’m proud to be one of the few.
“Flint Marko becomes Sandman when he stumbles into a radioactive test site where they’re performing a molecular fusion experiment and he accidentally becomes fused with sand,” Church adds. “As a result, he can change his shape and adapt to his environment. He can be ten, 30, 80 feet tall. He can form giant sand fists, hammers, a mace. He can shift into a sand tornado, or sift into sand. He is as malevolent and menacing as any villain can be.”
Topher Grace joins the cast as Eddie Brock, a character in some ways similar to Peter Parker, who transforms into Venom – Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis. “When I was first talking about the movie, Sam asked me if I knew what ‘arch-nemesis’ meant. I thought it meant a huge villain, but Sam pointed out that it really means a villain who has the same powers and abilities as the hero, but uses them for evil,” says Grace. “Sam has gone to great lengths to make this character Spider-Man’s equal and opposite.”
Grace continues, “Eddie Brock, who becomes Venom, is very similar to Peter Parker. They both work at the same place, they’re both striving for the same job, they both have the same woman in their lives – the difference is that Eddie is very insecure. You might say that Eddie is the guy that Peter would have been if he didn’t have the good fortune of having Aunt May and Uncle Ben to bring him up.”
Once again putting the lift and swing into Spider-Man’s webs are the special effects stars at Sony Pictures Imageworks. The team was nominated for the Academy Award® for their work on the first Spider-Man™ film and took home the Oscar® for their visual effects work on Spider-Man™ 2. In continuing his work on Spider-Man™ 3, visual effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk was responsible for overseeing the efforts of more than 200 Imageworks animators and artists.
“My biggest challenge on Spider-Man™ 3 has been the necessity to turn on a dime and respond to the changes as they come,” says Stokdyk. “There’s so much more going on in this movie – more characters and more plotlines. Sam is working very hard to make sure all the pieces come together, and it was our responsibility to respond in the execution of his vision.”
Laura Ziskin says that as with the first two films, audiences can expect Spider-Man™ 3 to have a compelling story, exceptionally well-drawn characters with complex relationships, but even bigger and better: “We have more new characters, more villains and more struggle for Peter Parker – perhaps the biggest struggle of his life.”