Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Changed My Life
This is how the original Spider-Man trilogy taught me morals and helped me choose my career path.
In kindergarten, I was somewhat of a problem child, if only in the way that everyone is when they’re five years old. I had already had several confrontations with a particular student due to my hyperactive imagination when, one day, I decided to follow this certain troublemaker around the playground and investigate. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Obviously, at the end of recess, like any normal person would, this student told the teacher that I was stalking them. When the teacher asked me why I was following around this poor girl the entire time we were supposed to be playing, I broke down into tears. I explained it in the simplest way I knew how: one day, I was going to grow up to be a superhero, and she would be the supervillain, and I was going to kill her.
Needless to say, I probably freaked out more than a few classmates that day. That was one of the downsides of watching superhero movies, such as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, at such a young age. But, to the younger me, it wasn’t a downside, it was a blessing. Spider-Man had taught me everything I knew. I understood the difference between good and evil better than I thought anyone did, I knew exactly what made a jump-scare and an action scene in a movie good, and I knew that girls must really like getting kissed upside down in the rain.
Of course, as soon as I got home that day, my parents explained to me that no one really deserved to be killed by another person, even Ebony, who had pulled the fire alarm and gotten my color changed on the behavior chart. They also explained the true nature of the deaths of Spider-Man’s villains. He didn’t kill them. It was always their own personal actions that resulted in the ends of their lives. Pretty morbid, now that I think about it. But, regardless, it was a lesson I needed to learn.
Even after this early childhood experience, my life choices and preferences continued to be affected by the movies I watched as a child, especially Spider-Man. It taught me that no matter how insignificant you may feel, if you keep true to your ideals, you may become bigger than you ever thought imaginable. It taught me that life, however unfair, can still bring you great joy, excitement, and adventure. And, of course, it taught me that, with great power, comes great responsibility.
These are some of the fundamental principles I live by to this day, and I am well aware that I was introduced to these morals and others through the persuasive art form that is film. Movies and television shows have this effect on me, on everyone really, that changes or alters the traditional point of view. You may like books or paintings better, but to me, the fact that film has the ability to show and speak and pulsate with the life it was given without even trying astonishes me.
You might think I enjoy movies more because of how lazy I am: I don’t want to have to imagine situations, or think about what something is trying to say in other art mediums, so one of the reasons I might like watching movies is just because the message or theme can be spelled out for me right there, plain and simple. However, it is my belief that the best films have creators behind them that, despite the convenience of the medium, make the viewer imagine and think and contemplate just as you would have to when reading a novel or admiring a classic painting.
Now, Spider-Man may not be the best example of this, but it tackles real world dilemmas about choices that we have to make in our lives. The more I rewatch Raimi’s original trilogy, the more I notice that the main conflict is always an internal one. Sure, Spider-Man battles an egotistical madman in the climax of every movie, but the plot is always truly driven by Peter’s own personal crisis of ideals and identity. He is constantly having to choose between self-interest and self-sacrifice, and Sam Raimi makes abundantly clear in all three movies which choice pays off in the long run.
Because of the message that Raimi pushes here, that, may I state for the record, is the closest to Stan Lee’s original vision for the character, Spider-Man has not only become iconic in my eyes, but in the world at large. The reason Peter Parker continues to bring in so much box office cash is because of the stylistic approach the creative team took with these three movies. In fact, Sam Raimi is the reason that comic book movies took off at all. Out of all those very early-days superhero Marvel flicks, Spider-Man is the only one that truly stands the test of time for me. Raimi took his experience in the horror genre and made one of the most recognizable franchises to date. The craft he puts into the first two movies, and an argument could be made for the third one, exceeds a lot of the stuff Warner Bros. and even Marvel Studios put out today. I’m a huge advocate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I can truly only think of about three movies in their entire 22 movie slate that have made as big of an impression on me as the Spider-Man trilogy has.
That’s why I want a career in film. Whether it be acting or screenwriting or directing, I want to be in the thick of that creative process. I want to be the reason a kid misunderstands a schoolyard confrontation and yet is still able to learn valuable lessons that they’ll carry on throughout their life. I want to be the next Sam Raimi, or Kevin Feige, or Ryan Murphy, or Mike Schur, or maybe none of those people. Maybe I want to be the first Dalton Swink. And yeah, maybe that was a ripoff of a Jackie Chan quote. The point is, I know that films can make the world because they made mine, and all I want to do is make a film.
About the author
Dalton likes long walks in Half Price Books and the movie section at Best Buy.
Searching for: a career in film.
Has obtained: a mediocre movie collection and the most basic understanding of how cinema can change the world.