Spider-Man: 24 Things You Missed In The Classic 2002 Superhero Movie
Did you catch these pre-MCU Marvel references in Tobey Maguire's first Spider-Man movie?
Ah, Spider-Man. While the MCU era may have bolstered the popularity of dozens upon dozens of Marvel heroes over the years, Peter Parker sits pretty as the most famous of them all--and for good reason. His story has been adapted over and over, his look is iconic, his powers are so deeply ingrained in pop culture they need no preamble or explanation--he's the poster boy for superhero comics, and likely always will be.
Of course, Peter Parker's popularity pre-dates the live action movie boom--but we can't discount just how much of an impact his movies have had over the years. 2002's Spider-Man may not have debuted Peter on the big screen (that was 1977's made-for-TV movie Spider-Man) but its record-breaking box office success solidified it forever in the pop culture pantheon. Tobey Maguire became a generation's ideal Peter Parker, despite being well into his 20s as he played the web-slinging teen.
Now, 18 years after its premiere and with a brand new Spider-Man game heading for the PS5 this holiday season, we were left wondering whether or not Tobey's Spider-Man debut actually holds up--and just how many Easter Eggs and references to Marvel we'd be able to spot now that the MCU has brought the Marvel Comics universe so heavily into the spotlight. The answer is pretty surprising--it turns out pre-MCU Marvel movies were a lot less interested in cramming comics references into every frame than we're used to now--but our quest to unearth the secrets of Spider-Man turned up plenty of weird, wonderful trivia nonetheless.
Does it actually hold up? That's for you to decide. Check out these 24 Spider-Man Easter eggs and let us know your favorites in the comments below.
1. Directed by Sam Raimi
According to the book Comic Book Movies by David Hughes, Sam Raimi was one name among many on MGM's short list of potential directors. With him were names you'll no doubt recognize like Ang Lee, M. Night Shyamalan, Roland Emmerich, and David Fincher. Fincher, reportedly, nearly did make the movie--but he wanted to focus on Gwen Stacey's death rather than an origin story, so the studio went a different direction.
2. The Opening Narration
By now, Peter Parker breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience with omniscient narration at the start of his movies is basically a tradition--look no further than Into The Spider-Verse for the trope carried out to maximum effect--but it all started here, with Tobey Maguire.
3. Midtown High
There are shockingly few Marvel deep cuts in this movie--at least by modern day MCU standards. Most background signs and place names are made up exclusively for this film. One of the major exceptions, however, is Peter's high school. Midtown High comes directly from comic book Peter's teenage years.
4. The Spider-Camo
This movie pre-dates the introduction of Miles Morales by 9 years but one of his most iconic and unique spider-abilities--the power to camouflage himself with his surroundings--is actually discussed at length here in the movie, despite Peter not winding up with that particular mutation this time around.
Oscorp is shown as a giant, smoke-spewing factory here in the movie, which is unique--in every other Spider-Man film, and typically in the comics, Oscorp is headquartered in a sleek skyscraper similar to Avengers Tower.
6. Green Goblin
Norman Osborn was almost not in the film. The original draft of the script made use of Electro and Sandman as the main villains. Sandman was eventually incorporated into Spider-Man 3 but Electro would have to wait until the second Andrew Garfield movie to make his big screen debut.
7. The Lunch Tray
The scene where Peter catches MJ and her lunch in the cafeteria is, shockingly, not CGI. John Dykstra, the head of the VFX team for the film, confirmed that it was done practically with only some adhesive to secure the tray to Tobey's hand. It took 156 takes.
8. Organic Web Shooters
The (pretty disgusting) concept for Peter's organic web shooters was actually James Cameron's idea, apparently. Thanks, Jim.
9. Flash Thompson
Flash Thompson is played by a virtually unrecognizable Joe Manganiello--a name you'll recognize from things like True Blood and Magic Mike. It's really no wonder why no one remembers him being in this movie.
10. Web slinging
Peter tries out a handful of familiar superhero catch phrases when trying to make his web shooting work on purpose for the first time--the gag being that the character catchphrases he uses are all from DC Comics, including Superman ("up, up, and away web!") and Captain Marvel ("Shazam!").
11. The Stingray
One of Peter's costume sketches is actually a reference to an obscure Marvel hero called The Stingray. Don't worry if you've never heard of him--there isn't much to know. He was introduced back in 1967. Sometimes he works with Namor. He wears an exo-suit that allows him to work underwater. That's pretty much it.
12. Bonesaw McGraw
Randy Savage's iconic character wrestler Bonesaw McGraw was invented for the movie. In the Spider-Man comics, Peter faces off against a wrestler named Crusher Hogan.
13. Bruce Campbell
Bruce Campbell has a cameo in every one of Raimi's Spider-Man movies. Here he can be seen as the ring announcer for Peter's match.
14. Octavia Spencer
A pre-breakout Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water, Hidden Figures) plays the woman who registers Peter for the wrestling competition.
15. Quest Aerospace
Oscorp's competition, Quest Aerospace, was invented for the fim and, strangely enough, never made the jump to Marvel Comics even after the movie broke box office records.
16. Lucy Lawless
Another big-name cult cameo--Xena herself, Lucy Lawless, shows up during the talking head interview segments as "punk girl," who thinks Spider-Man has 8 hands.
17. Eddie the Photographer
J. Jonah Jameson and the Bugle are introduced almost exactly halfway through the film where, mid-rant about what a menace to society Spider-Man is, one of JJJ's subordinates explains that "Eddie's been trying to get a picture of him for weeks." This is a reference to Eddie Brock, who wouldn't be properly introduced until Spider-Man 3.
18. Betsy Brant
Ned Leeds doesn't exist in these early Spider-Man movies but his wife, Betsy Brant, does, in her comic book accurate role as a Daily Bugle reporter played by a pre-breakout Elizabeth Banks.
19. SFX Goof
In the shot of Peter swinging away from Times Square with Mary Jane in his arms, he is shown swinging from left to right while Mary Jane's hair blows back from her face as if they're swinging from right to left. She's also very clearly holding on to a Spider-Man mannequin, but we'll forgive 2002 for that one.
20. Nearly Goblins
According to Amazon's X-Ray commentary feature, before Willem Dafoe was offered the role of Green Goblin, Bill Paxton, Mel Gibson, Nick Cage, Charlie Sheen, John Travolta, and John Malkovich were considered for the role.
21. The Spider-Kiss
Now considered one of Spider-Man's most iconic moments, the upside down kiss in the rain actually originated here in this movie. Apparently it was a nightmare to film and Tobey's nose kept getting flooded with water. Gross.
22. Fin Fang Foom?
One of the more eccentric masks in the Osborn household looks like a very oddly rendered model of Fin Fang Foom's head, one of Marvel's weirder villains: A giant, green dragon.
23. The Bridge Scene
The scene in which Spider-Man is forced to choose between saving MJ and saving a cable car full of children was adapted from one of Peter's most famous fights with Green Goblin in the comics. In the comics version, however, the scene on the bridge is done with Gwen Stacey and ultimately results in her death.
24. Norman's "death"
Norman being impaled by the spikes on his own glider is taken directly from Norman's first death in the comics in The Amazing Spider-Man 122. To be clear, Norman definitely did die for real here in the movie universe--but he was resurrected (several times over) in the comics. You know how these things tend to happen.
Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company