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Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" Turns 20 Years Old Today

Is this what it feels like to be old? I feel like a geezer who can't accept that one of their favorite songs is considered "classic rock." Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" is the movie equivalent, and it scares me. I was in kindergarten dressed up in my Spider-Man costume, so freaking amped to see this movie, and it lived up to the hype. 20 years later? It still slaps. Many people try to poo-poo this movie and say it's like the 70s Christopher Reeve Superman movies. It's campy and lame by today's standards, but it was suitable. No, it was awesome back in 2002, and it's fantastic today. This is a Spider-Man movie made by a director who adores Spider-Man. Raimi had an actual vision. It's pure Spidey through and through, and it stands on its own. Does it have flaws? Of course. There are specific problems that I can spot from a mile away with this movie, but it's classic, and I'm kind of tired of people saying that it isn't. 

We now exist in an age where there is a superhero movie every week. These films used to be a luxury, and "Spider-Man" was a luxury. This thing blew people away when it first came out, and you could make a strong argument that it changed the trajectory of big-budget films. The MCU might not exist if not for this movie. It wasn't like comic book movies hadn't been successful before. Richard Donner's "Superman" films, Tim Burton's "Batman" films, the "Blade" series, and the first two "X-Men" movies were well well-received, but I do feel like Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" was the first time that people realized that comic book movies can matter. They can make a cultural footprint and be the caliber of films that audiences and critics can fall in love with.

I alluded to this last week in the Star Wars blog that I wrote, but there was a time when movies, even the most imperfect, mattered. They weren't just giant corporate products connected to cartoons or TV series. The original 2002 "Spider-Man" was a massive film for its time that the studio pumped a lot of money into it, and it ultimately turned out to be a huge success, but when you watch it today, it oddly feels quaint. It's the origin story of a character that many people know and love. He fights one villain, and (spoiler alert for a 20-year-old movie) he defeats him, and then he lives to fight another day. It set up a substantially better sequel, in my opinion. No one held down Sam Raimi. He didn't adhere to the needs of a studio trying to connect his film to an already established 20 film universe. And don't get me wrong, I love the MCU. I think those movies are lovely, but I do believe that comic book films (really all films in general) are at their best when directors are allowed the ability to make a film that falls in line with their vision. That's the case with Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man." This movie has an undeniable charm because it feels stuck out of time even though it's 20 years old. While I believe that the sequel is better, the original film will always hold a special place in my heart. I'm sure people will find it dated, but it's dated in the same way that the original "Star Wars" movies are dated. It still paved the way for much bigger things that came after it. To me, it's timeless.