Ten years ago today, Spider-Man 3 debuted in wide release. Some would say 2007 was the year of the iPhone or Kid Nation. I argue it is — and will always be — the year of Emo Spider-Man.
The third installment in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy went off the rails in a variety of ways, the most obvious being that the motivations of its two central characters, Peter Parker (Tobey MaGuire) and Harry Osbourne (James Franco), did not make one iota of sense. The whole movie is about Harry wanting to kill Peter for killing his dad, a guy who was super crazy and a terrorist. In my opinion, friends should let their friends protect themselves and others from murderers. Also don’t talk to ghosts!
But the best way that it went hog wild was introducing the pick-up-artist version of Peter Parker. When Spider-Man goes a little bit evil, thanks to a weird alien that embeds itself in the fibers of his suit, he stops caring about altruism and starts caring about the cool stuff: snapping fingers, boogying, popping collars, hitting on co-workers, sitting in someone else’s chair, side-swooped bangs. This is all revealed in a montage. The choice is deranged, but so fun.
Please note the cameo from Elizabeth Banks and a wig cut into a bob and please also note Academy Award-winner J.K. Simmons keeping a straight face. Here, I’ll embed it again, it’s been uploaded to YouTube by dozens of different people:
For years, studios seemed to overcompensate for Spider-Man 3’s goofiness, producing a flood of moody superhero films. But Marvel’s been liberally sprinkling comedy over its recent batch of films — particularly Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man — and based on what little we’ve seen of Spider-Man: Homecoming, that trend will continue.
Maybe Marvel realized that being a superhero is fun and cool and costumes are goofy and that’s okay. Or maybe they simply saw DC’s take on Superman but grim, and decided, you know, maybe we’ll stick with joy.
Either way, happy birthday to the sequence that briefly convinced every 13-year-old in America to study film.
Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified Elizabeth Banks.