For a lot of comic book fans, Spider-Man 2 is considered the holy grail of superhero movies. That was especially true when the film was originally released in 2004. At that point, we only had a handful of good movies featuring Superman, Batman, and X-Men, so Spider-Man 2 felt like a revelation when it arrived.
Since then, two other actors have taken on the mantle of playing the live-action version of Spider-Man and the superhero genre has reached new heights in terms of box office and critical success. Looking back, Spider-Man 2 is still a very good movie, but it doesn't quite hold up as well. Here are ten things that haven't aged well from the film.
One of the biggest criticisms launched at the Sam Raimi trilogy and Spider-Man 2, in general, is that Spider-Man isn't funny. The character is portrayed to be much more of a mopey guy who never feels confident as a superhero. Anyone who reads the Spider-Man comics knows that he's a witty guy.
The Spidey zingers are something that is a staple for the character and an aspect that the Tom Holland MCU version has nailed. Watching this movie back really shines a light on how much it misses the boat in this area. Without all the quips, it doesn't really feel like Spider-Man.
A major thread throughout Spider-Man 2 focused on Peter Parker having trouble with his powers and ultimately giving up being a superhero. He even throws away his suit in a nod to an iconic comic book issue. It's a strong idea to play with, but one that doesn't exactly work in retrospect.
For starters, it's hard to buy into this idea because we know he can't end the movie as Peter. Other superhero movies have toyed with the concept and made it work for different reasons. Also, it's not exactly the best message to send. Most heroes struggle to balance their duties and their lives, so Peter simply giving up makes him out to be a quitter.
With each new Spider-Man iteration, we also get a new Aunt May. The rapport between Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei has set a new standard for the Peter/May combo. In 2002's Spider-Man, Rosemary Harris does a good job and the character serves her purpose. But by the sequel, she becomes unbearable.
Aunt May in kind of mean to everyone she encounters in Spider-Man 2. Even when Spider-Man saves her from Doc Ock, she's ungrateful and pretty rude. Worst of all, when Peter confesses to her about Uncle Ben's death, she just walks off. It may be hard for her to hear, but she needs to be a guiding light for Peter and she isn't that in this film.
For some reason, Sam Raimi chose to have his Spider-Man movies kick off with some narration from Peter Parker. Looking back, that wasn't a good idea. Tobey Maguire doesn't exactly have a commanding or soothing voice. It's kind of whiny and that comes through clearly in the narration.
More importantly, these narrations don't add anything to the experience of watching this movie. You could completely wipe it from Spider-Man 2 and you wouldn't miss a single thing of importance. Consider that this doesn't happen outside of this series and you'll understand that it isn't needed.
In this movie, Otto Octavius is a scientist who sets out to create a self-sustaining fusion reactor. When that fails, he goes mad and we're told that it's because the artificial intelligence in the mechanical arms connected to him is causing it. That sounds awfully similar to the Green Goblin in the first film.
Watching the trilogy together makes Doc Ock seem repetitive. But what doesn't make sense is that the villainous Doc Ock is still out to create that self-sustaining machine. If the arms are polluting his mind and controlling him, why would they care about self-sustaining energy? It doesn't make sense and lessens the character when you realize it.
Sam Raimi is one of the most acclaimed horror directors of our time. His work is legendary in the eyes of many people. That made him an odd choice to helm Spider-Man movies. While he mostly nailed it, there are a ton of horror elements in this movie and they don't hold up.
The scene where Doc Ock's mechanical arms come to life is straight out of Evil Dead. You can see the influence clearly. There's also when Doc Ock climbs a building and the camera zooms in on a random woman screaming several times. For no reason. Things like that are slipped in here and it feels out of place.
People being mean to Peter Parker isn't something new in the world of Spider-Man. The idea is that folks walk all over Peter, yet Spider-Man is someone who can stand up for himself. But this movie just beats you over the head with it. From the very first scene until the end, everyone is mean to Peter.
The lady who Peter delivers pizza to. Peter's boss at the pizza place. J. Jonah Jameson. As noted earlier, Aunt May isn't even nice to him. Harry Osborn is supposed to be Peter's best friend and yet he spends the whole movie being an ass to him. And we'll save Mary Jane for later. It's an idea that works on a smaller scale but this movie goes overboard.
The writers of Spider-Man 2 got a lot right. But they also missed the boat on some aspects. A major problem was the dialogue. There are so many times when these characters say things that don't feel natural. Their lines are things that you would never hear a real person say.
There's Doc Ock dropping a few jokey lines that don't fit. There's Harry dumping exposition awkwardly. And of course, there's almost anything that Peter and Mary Jane say to each other. Hearing these things takes you out of the movie world and hurts the experience.
Even if the writers were penning incredible dialogue, the acting wouldn't convincingly deliver them. The acting up and down this film really doesn't hold up. Tobey Maguire is mostly fine as Peter, but his Spider-Man doesn't click. He also lacks chemistry with a lot of the main cast.
James Franco misses the mark with some of his deliveries, while Kirsten Dunst hams it up during some cheesy scenes. Even the talented Alfred Molina isn't all that impressive. At the time it was fine, but with some truly stellar performances in superhero movies since 2004, these actors stand out for the wrong reasons.
Mary Jane is easily the worst character in this entire series. She is catty, manipulative, and all-around terrible. Peter tells her that he can't be with her at the end of the first movie. It's an honest moment. Mary Jane responds in this film by flirting with him, making him feel bad at every turn, and getting engaged to another guy out of spite.
For a long time, the female love interest in this kind of movie was kind of just there for a B plot. But they also were usually likable and that's not a quality Mary Jane has in Spider-Man 2. It also looks worse when you realize how well so many women have been written in superhero movies since then.