Spider-Man 3 could have been a really good superhero movie.
Parker’s emo bangs and evil dance moves were laughable, but they weren’t what ultimately destroyed the film. The problem is that there are one and a half good movies crammed into Spider-Man 3.
Writing a movie script is a huge undertaking, and it’s arrogant to pretend, after the fact, that I could have singlehandedly written a better version of Spider-Man 3 if I had been in charge. But, with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, if I had magical go-back-in-time-and-change-movie-script powers, this is how I would tweak the story of the film as it was presented to us.
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The movie opens similarly, with Peter’s life looking up for once, but we don’t see him eyeing an engagement ring in the pawnshop. We see just a twinge more interest between him and Gwen in the classroom.
Next, we see Peter on his way to MJ’s broadway show. But this time, it’s not her debut; she’s been doing shows for a while now. “Miss Watson left a ticket for me,” he tells the ticket clerk, but she can’t find one. “But she always leaves a ticket for me,” he says, confused. He manages to find a seat a few rows back, and he sees Harry, sitting in his usual front-row seat.
Peter and Harry both meet MJ in her dressing room after the show. Harry has been withdrawn since the events of Spider-Man 2, and MJ is glad to see him, giving him a big hug, before giving a somewhat smaller hug to Peter. MJ says she gave Harry the front-row ticket because it’s been so long since they’ve seen him. Peter nods, understanding, but it still clearly hurts.
After leaving the theater, Harry is cordial, not hostile. He tells Peter that he has nothing to worry about, that his secret is safe with him. Peter says he’s sorry about the Norman Osborn’s death. Harry gives a wry smile. “Death? It takes a lot more than death to keep an Osborn down.” He walks away, Peter watching him, wondering.
We don’t see Harry becoming the new Goblin. Instead, we move up Marko’s first scene, to introduce him earlier.
Peter and MJ go on a web date. But things are not quite as happy in this version. Peter is still a little miffed about having his seat given away. MJ says that he’s missed some of her shows because of being Spider-Man. “Spider-Man is important,” he says. “So am I,” she says. The argument never really becomes a fight, but they have unresolved frustrations at the end. The meteorite lands, and the symbiote attaches to his bike.
Peter talks to Aunt May. Instead of being ready to marry MJ, he expresses his doubts about their relationship. Aunt May says that she and Uncle Ben used to have fights, too, and that they had to be committed to each other to get through them. She still gives Peter her ring, for when he’s ready for that sort of commitment.
This time, when Peter gets snatched off his bike, the New Goblin is wearing the old Green Goblin mask, and sounds like Norman Osborn. “You were dead!” says Peter. “I’m not that easy to kill,” says the Goblin.
The fight continues until Peter removes his mask, revealing Harry. It’s no big shocker for the audience, but it gives Peter at least a little reason to be surprised. The fight continues as scripted. This time, Harry fakes amnesia in the hospital.
Marko becomes Sandman.
Peter’s argument with MJ is more heated. The critics don’t hate MJ…they love her. She things Peter is threatened by her success, and to be honest, he probably is. When he leaves to go do Spidey-things, they are much angrier at each other.
Gwen seems like less of a ditz this time around. Eddie is present at the scene of the crane accident. He isn’t dating Gwen, but he wants to be–he’s much more clearly in the friendzone. He’s also only an intern at the Daily Bugle. He’s less cocky and sure of himself–essentially, he’s Peter Parker before spider-powers.
When Spidey saves Gwen, she spontaneously kisses him. Peter doesn’t stop her.
Since just using the Goblin armor and glider didn’t give Harry enough of an advantage, he now undergoes the gas treatment as well.
Peter and Aunt May find out that Flint Marko killed Uncle Ben. Peter gets mad. The symbiote bonds with him in his sleep.
Blacksuit-Spidey listens to the police radio, waiting for news of Flint Marko. When he finds him, Marko surprises him with his sand-powers. This turns into the sand-dump truck fight scene. Sandman gets away because Peter wasn’t prepared.
MJ and Peter fight again. Pete is even more hostile, due to the effects of the symbiote. They break up.
The key to the city scene happens. Harry consoles MJ after hearing about her break-up. Gwen and Spidey kiss, and in this version, it seems more spiteful toward MJ. Harry has been trying to figure out how to get back at Peter, and now he sees that he can use Gwen.
As the Goblin, Harry kidnaps Gwen and takes her to the top of a bridge. When Peter arrives, he even remarks on the similarity to the events from the first movie. “Whatever else you can say about my father, he sure knew how to get your attention.” He tells Peter to tell the police that he is Spider-Man and confess to the murder of Norman Osborn, or else Gwen dies.
Instead, Peter suckerpunches him with a melon-sized ball of webbing, flinging him off of his glider and dropping Gwen. He watches Harry fall, and then shoots a web to catch the falling, screaming Gwen, almost as an afterthought. Her scream cuts short as the web catches her.
Horrified, Peter pulls her up to find her dead of a broken neck. Then Harry comes back and they have a full rock-em sock-em fight scene, ending with Harry’s disfigurement.
The next day, at the Bugle, JJ is giving Parker the usual crap, and Peter stands up to him, outyelling Jonah, and walking out. On the way out, Brock stops him. He looks emotionally distraught. He asks Peter for his opinion on some photos he’s taken. Peter keeps walking. “It’s the story Jonah’s been waiting for,” Brock says. “Spider-Man: Murderer!” Peter stops, and looks at Brock’s photos. He has telephoto shots of the previous night’s events, ending with Spider-Man holding Gwen’s dead body.
Peter crushes the camera in his hand, and slams Eddie against the wall. “Is that all Gwen is to you now?” Pete asks, “Just another way to climb up the ladder?” “I loved her,” says Brock, in tears. “Well, you sure know how to show it,” says Peter.
He goes to MJ, but she doesn’t want to talk to him. She tells him that he’s changed, and she’s afraid of what he’s turning into.
He returns home and hears the police report about Marko robbing a bank. He gets to the scene, and then the subway fight scene happens. “You killed my Uncle Ben! Murderer!”In the course of a scene, Spider-Man loses his mask, and they come to an area filled with hot steam pipes. Peter presses Sandman’s face against a steam pipe, the heat turning his face to glass. “Murderer! You killed her! You…” He turns Marko around to see his own face reflected in the glass. He screams and smashes the glass. Marko disintegrates into formless sand, seemingly dead. “I killed her,” says Peter, crying. “I killed her.”
Filled with remorse, he swings his way to the church and has his symbiote-exorcism scene. Eddie is not in the church in this scene, and after removing the suit, the symbiote just slinks off into a corner.
After his oh-so-symbolic shower, Aunt May comes by. Their talk is mostly the same, changed just enough to conform to the other changes made to the story.
Marko recollects himself. Having seen Spider-Man’s face and knowing his relation to Ben Parker, he uses The Power of The Internet to figure out who Spider-Man really is. This leads him to an article that mentions Peter Parker is in a relationship with new Broadway sensation Mary Jane Watson.
Peter meets with Harry, tries to make amends. This scene remains essentially the same. Peter sees on the news that Sandman has kidnapped MJ. Peter swings into action.
Peter swings to the scene. MJ is trapped high up on the construction site, with Sandman being all menacing on the ground. Spider-Man swoops in and rescues her, swinging her out of danger. “Oh, Spider-Man,” she says, her voice suddenly deepening. “I didn’t know you cared.” Her face dissolves into sand, and Marko punches Spider-Man to the ground in the midst of a giant living sandstorm. And then the real fight begins.
Sandman doesn’t need Venom as a sidekick to be an imposing threat. In fact, why should he need allies at all? He can become an army all by himself, spawning dozens of Marko-copies or sandy Spidey-clones from the swirling sand to attack Peter all at once, allowing for some fun crowd fight sequences.
And of course, he can still turn into a giant sand golem, but lets give the guy a few lines when he does so, besides “AAARGGH!”
Then just when all seems lost, Harry comes in for happy fun reconciliation/team-up time. And they fight Sandman and stuff. Fun times.
But this time, Harry doesn’t die heroically. Together, they battle the Sandman until Peter manages to capture Flint Marko in a vacuum cleaner, because its important to be faithful to the source material.
Together, through various rockets and pumpkin bombs and various other fightings, they wear Sandman down to a tired, battered shell of himself. Peter keeps hitting him, knocking away chunks of sand. Marko doesn’t even try to fill in the holes.
Their conversation follows the same pattern as in the current movie, but with more punching. Marko apologizes for killing his uncle, and says that it was all a mistake, that all he’d wanted was to help his daughter. “Haven’t you ever made a mistake?” he asks. Peter sees Harry, who has somehow been able to forgive him. He manages to do the same for Marko.
Thanks to all the points he put into Paragon, Spider-Man passes a speech-check and convinces Marko to turn himself in.
We see Flint’s wife and daughter in a hospital. A staffer informs the wife that an mysterious benefactor has made a generous donation to pay for Penny’s treatment. As she cries with relief, we see Harry walk away, hiding a smile.
Peter and MJ make up. Credits roll.
And then, after the credits…
Eddie Brock walks into a now-empty church. He kneels at the altar. But instead of praying for Peter’s death, he’s praying for his anger to be taken away. “God, I’m so angry. At Peter Parker…at Spider-Man…at everything.” The symbiote appears, creeping along the floor behind him. “I know you say we should forgive our enemies, but this rage…it just seems to…” The symbiote rises behind him, ready to pounce. “…consume me.”
The symbiote covers Brock, and he rises as Venom, his toothy mouth leaping at the camera.
And then Venom gets the next Spider-Man movie all to himself, just like he should.