The 2002 film
was directed by Sam Raimi
and starred Tobey Maguire
as Spidey, Willem Dafoe
as The Green Goblin
and Kirsten Dunst
as Mary Jane Watson
This movie is a masterpiece. It tells the story of Spider-Man's origin and his battle against his first arch-nemesis, the Green Goblin. The story stays very true to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's original tale of Peter Parker's transformation into Spider-Man, with the exception of the addition of Mary Jane and the Green Goblin, who originally didn't show up until much later in the comic's timeline.
If the plot shines, then the direction shines even brighter. Sam Raimi was perfect for this project, and oh my Lord does it show. As soon as Tobey Maguire dons the Spidey costume, it's like the artwork from the comic is jumping onscreen and being transformed into full-color 3D reality. The camera angles, the lighting, Spidey's body language and movement, even the dialogue...everything is exactly as I remember it from the comic. It's obvious that Raimi knows this story and knows it well. Every little detail -- even the lighting and definition of the muscles in Spidey's legs as he perches on a wall -- is absolutely perfect.
It's been said in many reviews that Tobey Maguire is to Spider-Man what Christopher Reeve was to Superman. While I don't disagree that Chris Reeve was an amazing Superman, I don't feel the comparison does Tobey justice. His portrayal of the webslinger is dead-on accurate. The expressions on his face, the way his eyes widen, the way he moves and speaks...all of it conveys the same feelings I had when I read the Spider-Man comics and, later, the excellent novels by Diane Duane, et. al. Tobey knows this character. He is Peter Parker, and his Peter Parker is Spider-Man. As for the other characters, they're by no means outdone. Everyone in this movie is brilliantly-cast and every character is flawlessly-acted, as if they had been ripped right out of the comics.
The feeling I got when I saw Spidey swinging through Manhattan was incredible. It brought back the elation I felt as a kid when I imagined what it would be like to swing from building to building, dodging light-poles and cars and other obstacles. Once again, Raimi's direction shines, and his portrayal of Spider-Man webslinging through New York City is, again, true to the vivid artwork of the comic.
All controversy aside (who really cares if the web-shooters are organic or mechanical?), this is the best comic book movie ever to come out of Hollywood. I can't get enough of it. If you were ever a Spider-Man fan, you owe it to yourself to see this movie.