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Sam Raimi Reflects On Spider-Man Backlash Over Peter’s Organic Webs

Tobey Maguire smiling in Spider-Man
(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Superhero movies are perhaps the most popular genre in the film world right now. But back when Sam Raimi directed the 2002 original Spider-Man movie, these projects were few and far between. And the visionary filmmaker recently reflected on the Spider-Man backlash over Peter’s organic webs.

In the comics, Peter Parker invents his own web cartridge fluid, which he uses to fight off Marvel villains. But in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man movie, Tobey Maguire was able to shoot webs out of his arms, rather than with said web fluid. As he recalled to Variety, there was a ton of backlash from comic book fans about this change to the teenage hero. In Raimi’s own words,

I don't think that the fans thought I was the right person to direct Spider-Man in general. And then the organic web shooters – when the fans found out I was going that way, they tried to have me removed from the picture.

Talk about a big reaction. Even before shared universes and the popularity of the MCU, comic book fans have had very strong feelings about any movie adaptations. Case in point: Spider-Man, with some moviegoers wanting Sam Raimi removed after changing how Peter Parker uses his signature webs. But in the end Raimi would stick around for two sequels to the massively popular blockbuster.

While backlash has certainly died down, there is still some talk about how Peter’s webs come from his arm in the 2002 Spider-Man. This was poked fun at recently during Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: No Way Home, with Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland’s version of Peter Parker utterly gobsmacked at what Tobey Maguire could do. It’s just one of the many funny scenes from the record-breaking movie that showed off the three Spider-Man actors’ chemistry.

In the same piece by Variety, Spider-Man screenwriter David Koepp also recalled the wild backlash that came to changing the hero’s method for web production. The movie hit in the early 2000’s, before there were social media platforms like Twitter for fans to make their voices heard. But that didn’t stop them from sharing outrage over Tobey Maguire’s webs. As Koepp shared,

There was an internet culture that was just starting to flex its ability to be ugly. That was probably my first experience with what we've come to deal with all the time now, which is the distraction of people telling you what they think your movie should be before, during and after you're making it, and doing it very publicly.

Even during it’s earliest stages, the internet was going to internet. This passion is part of what makes the comic book genre such a powerful force in the industry. But when liberal changes are made to the source material, sometimes the fandom gets fired up. Luckily Spider-Man ended up being a strong movie that audiences responded to.

Sam Raimi is returning to the comic book genre with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which hits theaters on May 6th. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Corey Chichizola

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.