Spider-Man is a 2002 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Directed by Sam Raimi from a screenplay by David Koepp, it is the first installment in the Spider-Man trilogy, and stars Tobey Maguire as the title character, alongside Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, and Rosemary Harris. The film centers on an outcast teen genius named Peter Parker, who develops spider-like superhuman abilities after being bitten by a genetically-altered spider.
After his foster father/uncle is murdered by an armed felon, something of which he felt partially responsible, a guilt-ridden Parker is later driven to use his new abilities for a nobler purpose, as the hero/vigilante Spider-Man, to atone for his uncle’s murder. The rest of the film focuses on Parker’s efforts to balance his personal life as he graduates from high school and becomes a freelance photographer, while also struggling with his studies, his friendship with his childhood best friend Harry Osborn, his growing feelings for his former high school crush Mary Jane Watson, and his dual life as Spider-Man.
After progress on the film stalled for nearly 25 years, it was licensed for a worldwide release by Columbia Pictures in 1999 after it acquired options from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on all previous scripts developed by Cannon Films, Carolco, and New Cannon. Exercising its option on just two elements from the multi-script acquisition (a different screenplay was written by James Cameron, Ted Newsom, John Brancato, Barney Cohen, and Joseph Goldman),
Sony hired Koepp to create a working screenplay (credited as Cameron’s), and Koepp received sole credit in final billing. Directors Roland Emmerich, Ang Lee, Chris Columbus, Jan de Bont, M. Night Shyamalan, Tony Scott, and David Fincher were considered to direct the project before Raimi was hired as director in 2000. The Koepp script was rewritten by Scott Rosenberg during pre-production and received a dialogue polish from Alvin Sargent during production. Filming took place in Los Angeles and New York City from January 8 to June 30, 2001. Sony Pictures Imageworks handled the film’s visual effects.
Spider-Man premiered at the Mann Village Theater on April 29, 2002, and was released in the United States four days later on May 3. The film received positive reviews from audiences and critics, who praised Raimi’s direction and tone, the faithfulness and fidelity to the Spider-Man mythos, the action sequences, visual effects, Danny Elfman’s musical score, and the performances of the cast, particularly Dafoe and Maguire.
The film became a financial success: it was the first film to reach $100 million in a single weekend, and became the most successful film based on a comic book. With a box office gross of over $821.7 million worldwide, it was the third highest-grossing film of 2002. Spider-Man is credited for redefining the modern superhero genre, as well as the summer blockbuster. Its success led to Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 in 2004 and 2007, respectively.