Spider-Man turns 20: Why it’s the best superhero movie of all time

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Spider-Man, a throwback to this 2002 memorial to the superhero film signed by Sam Raimi.

A delicious shiver down the spine as the first notes of the opening credits begin to ring out, a surge of goosebumps as Peter Parker begins to scale the walls, an irrepressible smile on the corners of his lips as he teaches Flash Thompson a lesson in the halls of high school , an adrenaline rush as he races through the streets of New York to catch up with his uncle’s killer…

Even 20 years later, if one saw Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man through the eyes of a child or teenager when it hit theaters in 2002, one could not forget the avalanche of sensations and emotions that descended on a film like no other before that .

This first feature film dedicated to Spider-Man was a real event when it landed in cinemas and represents for many an unforgettable memory of a viewer. And so many are that, two decades later, evoke an essential monument of the genre, some even go so far as to call it the greatest superhero movie of all time.

But how can this almost uniform opinion on Sam Raimi’s film be explained? What is more than the others? What are the secret ingredients that made it so successful at the box office after its release? And win the hearts of all fans practically unreservedly?

Celebrating Spider-Man’s 20th anniversary, a look back at the diamond in the rough that wowed darkrooms, viewers and the cinema industry…

Sony images


Peter Parker is an ordinary young high school student who has to chase his bus every morning to get there on time, who is often pushed around by thugs in his class and who has always dreamed of dating his neighbor, the beautiful Mary -Jane Watson. On the day he is bitten by a genetically engineered spider, his body suddenly begins to change and he suddenly finds that he is endowed with Herculean strength and incredible powers.

What if it was its simplicity that made Spider-Man such an effective film? Born from the imagination of Stan Lee and magnified by the staging of a Sam Raimi Particularly inspired, the story of Peter Parker is ultimately very classic. Sober, simple, refined, almost rudimentary compared to the scenarios of recent blockbusters.

No multiverse, parallel dimensions, or intergalactic travel here. The entire film takes place in New York, between Queens and Times Square.

Sony images

There’s no mad titan trying to wipe out half the universe, no artificial intelligence launched to take over the world, or a Norse god from the depths of the cosmos. Just a student in love with a girl. A human-sized hero. A teenager living a normal life, thinking like a teenager, has teenage problems and teenage dreams.

Difficult not to worry when you lead a lifestyle roughly similar to Peter Parker’s sitting in the room. It’s hard not to relate to this familiar character, especially given the humanity that a Tobey Maguire in very good shape breathes into him. It’s therefore difficult not to feel swept up at the same time as him when, later in the film, the supernatural suddenly bursts into his daily life.

But even in its spectacular dimension, Peter Parker’s adventure remains metaphorically completely universal and quite simply evokes puberty, the transition to adulthood.

The physical and mental changes the character is going through, her physical upheavals, her new “great powers” that come with “great responsibilities” are thus realities that any young viewer can easily cling to.

Sony images


Inevitably, once we’re emotionally struck by the character, efficiency, and sincerity of an unforgiving scenario, we’re in an excellent position to follow Peter Parker in each of his adventures.

This is where one of the film’s main strengths comes into play: the virtuoso staging of a Sam Raimi at the top of its form. Dizzying and ethereal as Spider-Man swings from screen to screen through the streets of New York, the production is also very organic, especially in action or suspense scenes.

Physical, epidermal, almost visceral, it consists of simple shots (no pun intended compared to the filmmaker’s other film), concrete, without artifice or embellishment, clearer and sharper, therefore necessarily more effective.

Sony images

Whether it’s the slow movements in the sequences where Peter uses his “spider sense”, the particularly successful editing scenes when he draws a costume, or the fight choreographies opposite the Green Goblin, absolutely fluid and perfectly readable, the efficiency is constantly at the height of Rendezvous .

Spiderman is therefore a visual spectacle and a true sensory experience from start to finish, allowing us (of our magnitude as viewers) to share in the thrill of a Peter Parker scaling walls, fluttering between buildings or throwing himself from the top of a building can tower.


It’s impossible to enumerate Spider-Man’s strengths without dwelling a little (and even a lot) on one of the most fundamental of them: the masterful score of a Danny Elfman at his finest.

Accustomed to composing all the soundtracks of Sam Raimi’s films, the maestro draws an utterly unforgettable main theme from the get-go that no other superhero film since has quite matched (except maybe Hans Zimmer with The Dark Knight or Alan Silvestri with Avengers).

Gradually woven – like a spider’s web – by the archers of the many fiddles, by the drums, then by the choirs, Elfman’s music embodies the film’s theme to perfection. Entangled with adrenaline, emotion, heroism and a sense of urgency, it is nothing but a dizzying surge of power, akin to the rise of a new skyscraper.

From the first seconds of the credits, even before Sam Raimi starts telling us the story of Peter Parker, the journey has already begun thanks to the inhabited score of a giant Danny Elfman.


When it was released in June 2002, due to the many benefits we mentioned and the tremendous anticipation of the fans surrounding the film, Spiderman rakes in $821 million in worldwide earnings, making it as essential as the 7th biggest hit of all time (back then).

It must be said that the territory explored by Sam Raimi is still almost virgin at the beginning of the 21st century. At a time when most superheroes still roam the comic boards and only a few of them have ventured onto the big screen, everything remains to be recreated. The foundations for a new genre have yet to be laid.

Sony images

The audience, curious if the coexistence of comics and dark rooms will bode well, is impatiently awaiting the film that will manage to create the event. And what’s better than a Spider-Man adventure to get a web?

By landing in dark spaces, Spider-Man reshuffles the deck and quite literally smashes the box office record for a superhero film previously held by Tim Burton’s first Batman and his 411 million (followed by Richard Donner’s Superman and his 300 million). ).

In the middle of a landscape hitherto occupied almost exclusively by DC Comics adaptations, and after a few tentative starts alongside Marvel (Blade 1998 or X-Men 2000), the Man-Spider shakes up the table and proves that the Maison des Idées also has something under its feet.

Sony images

Champion in his category for the next 6 years (before being finally dethroned by The dark knight in 2008), Spider-Man undoubtedly marked a turning point in the Hollywood industry and undeniably helped start the superhero movie gold rush.

Two decades later, the world has changed. More than 20 superhero films have already surpassed the score of 2002’s Spider-Man. Comic characters are now permanent residents of cinemas. And Peter Parker now has three different faces in the same feature film.

And yet… Every time we hear the subject of the Marvel logo in cinemas, how can we forget that the first time was in the company of Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, Danny Elfman and Sam Raimi?

(Re)discover our video dedicated to Spider-Man…

Leave a Comment