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Peter Parker
Spider-Man character
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First appearance Spider-Man (2002)
Last appearance Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Created by David Koepp
Portrayed by Tobey Maguire
Information
Aliases Spider-Man
Species Human mutate
Nationality New Yorker

Peter Parker (Spider-Man) is a fictional character from the Spider-Man film franchise, adapted from the comic-book character of the same name created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko; portrayed by Tobey Maguire and films created by screenwriter David Koepp. This rendition of Spider-Man follows the Sam Raimi trilogy of Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man 3.

Peter is depicted as an intellectually-gifted and bright. However, his introverted nature and lack of social skills force him to isolate himself from his high school peers. After being bitten by a genetically-modified spider in a school field trip, Peter decides to use his new-found powers for the good of others. Once realising his identity as a masked vigilante, he is driven by the principle of "with great power comes great responsibility"; a mantra that is presented by his uncle Benjamin Parker, during their final conversation before his subsequent murder. Peter is guilt-ridden, and blames himself for the murder of his uncle, as he was indeed partially responsible. In doing so, Peter forfeits his right to a normal life, instead opting to help others under the guise of his new masked identity.

The narrative of Raimi's trilogy focuses on Peter Parker's growth from high school to college, and his management of the turbulent relationship with his best friend Harry Osborn, as well as his relationship with Mary Jane Watson, Peter's childhood crush and future love interest. The narrative follows his struggles with his dual life as a college student, often at the disappointment of Dr Curt Conners, as well as his job as a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle, under the iron fist of the editor-in-chief, in the form of the demanding J. Jonah Jameson. Parker's secret life as a vigilante would lead to many clashes with criminals, along with his battles with various super-human criminals who looked to threaten the peace and lives of civilians in Parker's home of New York City. These include the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, New Goblin, Sandman and Venom; all of whom Peter would discover are linked to his civilian life in some shape or form.

Maguire was chosen by Raimi, although receiving doubts from several executives. Maguire was cast as the eponymous lead following his screen test, as well as acknowledging performances from his previous films. Maguire began his physical training for the role of Spider-Man, and even sought to learn the typical movements of spiders in his spare time. Costume designer James Acheson began forming several concepts for Spider-Man's suit designs, but decided on a final version soon after. Acheson claimed that the suit left Maguire feeling claustrophobic, preferring only to wear the suit if a scene did not require him to put on the mask. Maguire's portrayal of the character was met with largely positive responses from critics and fans alike, with many even claiming him to be the best theatrical/live-action adaptation of Stan Lee's original comic character (relevant at the time, not including future reboots/adaptations of the character starring Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland). A number of video game adaptations were attributed to the character from Raimi's movies, alongside an animated series that would act, on the surface, as a nominal sequel to the trilogy of films.

Creation and conception

Execution

One of the first screenwriters to be appointed was David Koepp, who began his task of assuming his screenwriting duties on the Spider-Man film, it would be much later on that other screenwriters would begin their own work on the script. Though the general consensus of the final script is accredited to Koepp, the film's director, Sam Raimi, was closely involved in the creation of this adaptation of Peter Parker. Raimi served as a special consultant on the script, working with Koepp and the other scriptwriters, to ensure of mutual satisfaction once the final script had been completed. Maguire was cast as Peter in July 2000, having been Raimi's primary choice for the role after he saw The Cider House Rules. The studio was initially hesitant to cast someone who did not seem to fit the ranks of "adrenaline-pumping, tail-kicking titans," but Maguire managed to impress studio executives with his audition. The actor was signed for a deal in the range of $3 to $4 million with higher salary options for two sequels. Maguire was trained by a physical trainer, a yoga instructor, a martial arts expert, and a climbing expert, taking several months to improve his physique.

Following the success of the first film, 2003 saw disparaging scenes between lead actor Tobey Maguire and the executives of distributor company Sony, as Maguire was close to being released from his contract following a dispute between the pair. Maguire had finished filming a now multi nominated Oscar production in the form of Seabiscuit, and had complained of the physical strain during his last two films. Sony executives believed that this was merely "part of Maguire's negotiating tactics", as a last attempt to bargain for a more lucrative paycheck; a statement quickly dismissed by Maguire's publicist.

Remaining a constant in all the rewrites was the "organic web shooter" idea from the Cameron "scriptment." Raimi felt he would stretch the audience's suspension of disbelief too far to have Peter invent mechanical web shooters.

Costume design

Although Spider-Man's suit wound up being faithful to the Spider-Man comics, many designs were made. One concept that costume designer James Acheson became fond of was the idea of having a red emblem over a black costume. Another, which would eventually lead to the final product, featured an enlarged logo on the chest and red stripes going down the sides of the legs. To create Spider-Man's costume, Maguire was fitted for the skintight suit, being covered with layers of substance to create the suit's shape. It was designed as a single piece, including the mask. A hard shell was worn underneath the mask to make the shape of the head look better and to keep the mask tight while keeping the wearer comfortable. For scenes where he would take off his mask, alternate suit where the mask was a separate piece. The webbing, which accented the costume, was cut by computer. The mask's eye-lenses were designed to have a mirror look. Dykstra said the biggest difficulty of creating Spider-Man was that as the character was masked, it immediately lost a lot of characterization. Without the context of eyes or mouth, a lot of body language had to be put in so that there would be emotional content. Raimi wanted to convey the essence of Spider-Man as being "the transition that occurs between him being a young man going through puberty and being a superhero." Dykstra said his crew of animators had never reached such a level of sophistication until giving subtle hints of making Spider-Man feel like a human being. When two studio executives were shown shots of the computer-generated character, they believed it was actually Maguire performing stunts.

Costume designer James Acheson made numerous subtle changes to Spider-Man's costume in Spider-Man 2, although keeping the design relatively the same. The colors were made richer and bolder. The spider emblem was given more elegant lines and enlarged, the eye-lenses were somewhat smaller, and the muscle suit underneath was made into pieces, to give a better sense of movement. The helmet Maguire wore under his mask was also improved, with better movement for the false jaw and magnetic eyepieces, which were easier to remove.

Themes and analysis

The first film characterised Peter Parker as an intelligent, bookish, and level-headed yet lonely, teenager; focusing on his personality as a shy and bashful outsider; before he gained his powers and subsequent struggles of accepting his new-found abilities. From overcoming these struggles, Peter eventually utilises his abilities to help people, after his uncle was murdered by a car-jacker during a grand theft auto, for which he was partially responsible. Peter is constantly tormented by this event, after initially attempting to use them for personal gain. As a result, he is motivated to use his super-human abilities for a more noble cause, under the persona of a masked vigilante: "Spider-Man", in order to atone for his uncle's death. However, even after taking up the persona of Spider-Man, Peter still retains his socially-inept, awkward and dorky, yet endearingly good-hearted nature, and develops a sarcastic and witty sense of humour in his Spider-Man guise. Peter deals with all his personal struggles, all while wrestling with his feelings for his childhood crush and close friend Mary Jane-Watson and handling his close relationship with his best friend Harry Osborn. In Spider-Man 2, director Sam Raimi felt that the film had to thematically explore Peter's internal conflict with his personal wants against his responsibility, the positive and negatives of his chosen path, and how he ultimately decides that he can be happy as a heroic figure. Raimi stated the story was partly influenced by Superman II, which also explored the titular hero giving up his responsibilities. The sequel's story is mainly taken from the comic book series The Amazing Spider-Man No. 50, "Spider-Man No More!" According to Raimi, Peter Parker's story is about "a life out of balance". Peter is caught between a life where he tries to help people and atone for his uncle's death with his Spider-Man alter-ego and another where he tries to balance his studies, occupation as a photographer and his relationship with his family and friends. Peter acknowledges that he cannot be with Mary Jane Watson without endangering her, due to his Spider-Man alter-ego; fearing that if his enemies would ever find out about his true identity, they would target his loved ones. As a result, Peter distances himself from Mary Jane, but eventually rekindles his relationship with her after she finds out about his dual life, and struggles he has faced.

In Spider-Man 3, Raimi intended to further develop Peter's character with the planned film focusing on Peter learning that he is not a sinless vigilante and that there can also be humanity in those he considers criminals. Raimi himself quoted: "The most important thing Peter right now has to learn is that this whole concept of him as the avenger or him as the hero, he wears this red and blue outfit, with each criminal he brings to justice he's trying to pay down this debt of guilt he feels about the death of Uncle Ben. He considers himself a hero and a sinless person versus these villains that he nabs. We felt it would be a great thing for him to learn a little less black and white view of life and that he's not above these people."

Raimi based this idea out of the original comic book series from Stan Lee.

Following the release of the third instalment of the series, and its subsequent success at the box office, the now billion dollar franchise had been put into disarray, after director Sam Raimi had become unhappy with the script, leaving the movie to fall past its projected May 2011 release date. Further details were released after a statement made by Raimi explaining "the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job". Later reports surrounding screenwriter James Vanderbilt's new role put the rumours to rest. It was confirmed that both Maguire and Raimi had left their respective roles, leaving Marvel and Sony to begin planning for a reboot of the Spider-Man franchise.The Maguire and Raimi's departures marked the end of an era for the trilogy. Vanderbilt's appointment as a new screenwriter has set off a new franchise in and of itself. Quickly, studio executives at Sony caught wind of the rumours that circulated, with information being released on the reboot being sparse at the time. With press releases being rare, it would take a considerable amount of time before fans would discover "The Amazing Spider-Man", starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans. the reboot would be set for release in the United States on July 3rd, 2012.

Enemies

Just like his depiction in the comic books, Spider-Man has a wide array of supervillains to battle in his films. The antagonists include Green Goblin (portrayed by William Dafoe), Doctor Octopus (portrayed by Alfred Molina), New Goblin (portrayed by James Franco), Sandman (portrayed by Thomas Haden Church), and Venom (portrayed by Topher Grace).

Originally, in Spider-Man, David Koepp planned to include both comic book supervillains and Spider-Man enemies the Green Goblin (as the main antagonist) and Doctor Octopus (as a secondary villain). However, Sam Raimi felt the Green Goblin and the surrogate father-son theme between Norman Osborn and Peter Parker would be more interesting, so he dropped Doctor Octopus from the first film.

Sam Raimi then decided that Doctor Octopus would be kept as the antagonist for Spider-Man 2, as he was both a visually interesting villain who was a physical match for Spider-Man and a sympathetic figure with humanity. Raimi then changed much of the character's backstory, like adding the idea of Otto Octavius being a hero of Peter's and how their conflict was about trying to rescue Octavius from his demons rather than kill him.

In Spider-Man 3, Raimi's intention was to introduce Sandman as an antagonist, as Raimi found him a visually fascinating character. The screenwriters revitalised the originally depicted petty villain in the comics as a background of the character being Uncle Ben's killer to increase Peter's guilt over his death and challenge his simplistic perception of the event. Originally Raimi's intention was to do two antagonists for Spider-Man in the third film with the Vulture originally as the villain before Venom was chosen. Eddie Brock, Jr., the human part of Venom, serves as a mirror to Peter Parker, with both characters having similar jobs and romantic interests.

Had it not been cancelled following the departure of Maguire and Raimi, Spider-Man 4 would have gathered a star-studded cast for the film's choice of villains. Raimi had intended to introduce at least two new villains for the now-cancelled sequel; these being Adrian Toomes/Vulture and Felicia Hardy/Black Cat. Raimi originally had considered casting Sir Ben Kingsley as the Vulture, but John Malkovich became a much preferred option over time. Raimi had also courted with the idea of appointing Anne Hathaway as his Black Cat for the fourth film of the series. Another villain that received less traction from Raimi, was that of Mysterio, who would be played by Bruce Campbell, a recurring figure throughout the previous three films, in brief cameo roles. Campbell also contributed to voice work in video games, performing as the tutorial narrator on Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3; adapted from Raimi's trilogy of films.

When conducting an interview following the first film, Raimi had explained an array of early ideas that were circulating during the writing process. In the creative process between himself and screenwriter David Koepp, Raimi revealed to the press that the first Spider-Man film would have included such villains as Electro and Sandman, rather than the Raimi's future choice of the Green Goblin. Koepp had also proposed the inclusion of Gwen Stacy as Peter Parker's main love interest. Raimi was opposed to her inclusion, stating that "I didn’t particularly like the Gwen Stacey character", preferring to include the character of Mary Jane Watson, who would end up featuring in the final version of the film. Raimi opted for a single villain story line, believing it would enrich the character development between (in this case) Norman Osborn/Green Goblin and Peter Parker/Spider-Man himself.

In other media

Other adaptations

The video games Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man 3 are based on the film series that they are named after. The trilogy of video game adaptations found their existence through a collaborative effort between (at the time) small-time video game publisher Activision and video game developers Treyarch. The first and second instalments were met with favourable reviews by a large consumer base, earned upon each of their respective releases, with the 2004's "Spider-Man 2" garnering great success upon its arrival "with the PS2 edition becoming the seventh-best-selling title of the year in the U.S." The third instalment of the video game trilogy did not live to the expectations of its predecessors, much like its film counterpart, as the video game was met with lacklustre reviews, leaving much to be desired about the title. Tobey Maguire also returned (being the only cast member to reprise their role apart from Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin) to provide voice work for the character of Peter Parker / Spider-Man.

Although he does not physically appear, this version of Parker is referenced in the Marvel Comics event Spider-Verse which featured many interpretations of the character from many different media.

On 20th December 2018, Insomniac Games' Spider-Man PlayStation 4 exclusive title released a free piece of DLC (downloadable content), based on Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man suit design in Sam Raimi's trilogy. Though Maguire's likeness itself never made an appearance in the 2018 title, the addition was met with much eagerness and anticipation from consumers, and was seen as a subtle tribute towards a fan-favourite from the early 21st century.

The end of 2018 also oversaw the release of the animated production of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Though Maguire made no official appearance in the film, one of films' directors, Rodney Rothman had explained that "there were many thoughts about where we could put Tobey Maguire and others". Maguire made no appearance in the animated feature, Rothman expressed an eagerness to cast the former Spider-Man actor for a voice role as Peter B. Parker, a role that Jake Johnson would fill for the highly successful debut instalment.


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