Spider-Man 3: A Deconstruction of the Superhero Genre

By Michael Atkins

Scarface, Clyde Checks Out, Kazaam. What do these films have in common? They all take the magnificent form that challenges the cinematic world. Scarface revitalized the gangster genre alongside The Godfather. Clyde Checks Out allowed viewers to see that monkeys could be used in something other than space shuttles. And Kazaam is a film that attempts to replicate the horror of The Exorcist in a family-friendly manner. However, none can understand the genius of Sam Raimi in his last film of the Spider-Man trilogy, Spider-Man 3.

Despite the film being criticized for its plot, Spider-Man 3 sets out to challenge the superhero genre as a whole. Understandably, people are upset over how the characters are set up, but as a group of dudes once said, “Peter Parker’s life is so much darker than the book I read ’cause he was defenseless, so defenseless when he was a kid.” But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

To any casual cinema goer, it’s your typical superhero film from a dying franchise, but in reality, we see the layered, in-depth deconstruction of a superhero who struggles to keep up between his double life. For the past two films, we see the carefree life of Peter Parker turn upside down with one criminal psychopath after another. Unable to cope with the events of those past films, his relationships soon sicken with poison, Venom™ if you will, as the once cheery and hopeful atmosphere of Peter Parker’s life literally darken with heartbreaking scenes and emotional confrontations.

The older than 30 Tobey Maguire decides he’s having a midlife crisis, so he decides to enter an adult emo phase after finding some black hair dye. Upon deciding to play Casanova, he ends up losing the only girl who loved him (not really but let’s ignore that). His best friend Harry Truman is pretty much the Jason Vorhees of this franchise, somehow surviving the deadliest of threats like having a goddamn bomb blow up in right behind him. But he decides to date Kirsten Dunst, just to piss him off. Spider Man pretty much makes a heel-face turn and becomes Bat- I mean Edgy Peter Parker. Besides Old Lady May really doesn’t serve a purpose other than calling Maguire out on his pacifist hypocrisy.

Perhaps the more symbolic scene would be the dance scene. Maguire’s dance reflects not a goofy or wacky feel of Batman ‘66, but a metaphorical connection to his nature. In truth, he’s signaling to the ongoers and audience that he’s trapped by his emotions. He wants to break loose, FOOTLoose, desperately wanting out of his anti-heroic life. But this goes awry as it’s played off for laughs.

The usage of Mr. Sandman by The Chordettes is kinda weak, considering his only significance was stealing some Uncle Ben’s Rice during Maguire’s victory screech. Yet he’s capable of bringing Maguire a dream, the cutest he’s ever seen before turning on his magic beam. Then there was the 90’s Spawn thing that was supposed to be an alien, but was actually Maguire’s guilt and pain to abandon his red and blue underoos. As I said, this film is a very deep and philosophical film about the inner workings of man, possibly the modern Hamlet, but without most of the plot points and characters. Spider Man 3 is a Marvel masterpiece that rivals Infinity War and Gunga Din, ultimately creating the Spider Man that we needed, but also the one that we deserve.

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