The rights for Spider-Man were in limbo for years, switching between studios. In fact, in a 1987 issue of Variety there was an advertisement proclaiming that Cannon Films would begin principal photography for the film on Nov. 14, 1988.
The scene in which Peter Parker catches Mary Jane's lunch on the tray involved no CGI. With the help of a sticky substance to keep the tray planted on his hand, eventually, after 156 takes, he performed the stunt exactly as seen.
Hugh Jackman revealed that he was supposed to have a brief cameo as Wolverine. Jackman actually showed up in New York to film the scene, but the entire plan was scrapped when the crew couldn't get access to the Wolverine costume from X-Men (2000).
After the terrorist attacks on the USA of 11 September 2001, Sony recalled teaser posters which showed a close-up of Spider-Man's face with the New York skyline (including, prominently, the World Trade Center towers) reflected in his eyes. Not all the posters were recovered, however, and the ones still at large are now highly prized collector's items.
When Peter Parker is testing out his webbing for the first time, he says several classic DC Comics (archrival of Marvel Comics) catchphrases, most notably "Up, up and away, Web!" (Superman) and "Shazam!" (DC's Captain Marvel, not to be confused with a same named Marvel Comics character). Tobey Maguire ad-libbed these lines, which were not in the original script.
To acquire his bumped-up physique, Tobey Maguire went through a strict five-month regimen of exercise, weight training and martial arts six times a week, as well as eating a high protein meal four to six times a day.
When Sam Raimi first offered to cast Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, the studio was initially very reluctant. That was until they saw Maguire's test and they saw that the actor had clearly bulked up for the role.
Tobey Maguire had to have his Spider-Man outfit slightly remodeled as the original design had not made any allowances for when the actor needed a bathroom break. A vent was added to enable him to perform that function without having to take the entire costume off.
The Green Goblin's costume was originally designed to be more bulky and armoured, but Willem Dafoe, having decided to film his own stunts, rejected it in favour of a more streamlined and athletic costume. The final outfit was composed of 580 pieces and took Dafoe half an hour to put on.
James Franco's hair was dyed brown to give him some resemblance to Willem Dafoe, his screen father. This decision was only made after filming had begun. Indeed, in the scene where Harry visits Aunt May in hospital, you can see that Franco's hair is his usual black.
The original trailer for the movie depicted a theft of a bank, with the robbers making a getaway in a helicopter. A close-up of the helicopter was shown, until the helicopter stopped, apparently caught in mid-air. As the camera zoomed out, it was shown that the helicopter was caught in a spider web, suspended between the two towers of the World Trade Center. After the attacks on the towers on 11 September 2001, however, the trailer was changed.
In the comics, Peter Parker designed and made Spider-Man's synthetic spider web and the mechanical wrist guns that fire it. In the movie he shoots the web from his own body. Director Sam Raimi answered the protests of comic book fans saying that it was more credible to have Peter shoot web this way than for a high school boy to be able to produce a wonder adhesive in his spare time that 3M could not make.
When Jameson's subordinates are trying to tell him about Spider-Man, one of them says, "Eddie's been trying to get a picture of him for weeks." This is a reference to Eddie Brock, a comic book character featured in Spider-Man 3 (2007).
The smoke in the lab during Norman Osborn's transformation scene was originally white but was then digitally altered to green. Director Sam Raimi wanted to use real green smoke, but went with the CG effect when prop designers could not create a colored smoke that was non-toxic.
The genetically modified spider that bit Peter Parker was not a black widow spider but a Steatoda spider, which was chosen by Steven R. Kutcher and painted red and blue by Jens Schnabel while the spider was anesthetized.
This movie held the record for biggest opening day ever with $39.4 million. This record was broken by its sequel Spider-Man 2 (2004), and is now currently held by Spider-Man 3 (2007) with $59.8 million, though it made the least box office gross of the three.
The owners of the billboards that surround Times Square attempted to sue Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Marvel Enterprises, and the other companies involved with the production of Spider-Man (2002) for "digitally superimposing advertisements for other companies over their billboard space in the film." The suit was thrown out by a federal judge in New York.
In addition to both Peter Parker and Norman Osborn wearing their enemy's costume colors during the Thanksgiving dinner scene, Harry Osborn is seen wearing all of the colors. He's wearing a green shirt, red tie and blue coat.
One of Peter's sketches for possible costume ideas is nearly identical to the black-and-white suit Spider-Man wore in the comics during the early-to-mid-1980s (and was then adopted by his enemy Venom), except that the spider insignia is red, not white. Peter's note on this sketch: "Needs more color."
When James Franco joked about Tobey Maguire's 'frog-like' features on set, the latter was reportedly genuinely upset by Franco's comments. This created friction between the two actors, which led to the existing rivalry between them now - a rivalry that was admitted to by Maguire in interviews since the Spider-Man franchise.
The scene when Peter and Mary Jane talk outside at night was shot at 4 am, and had to be shot quickly due to sunrise approaching. Kirsten Dunst also commented that it was a very cool morning weather-wise, and points out that her thermal underwear pants can be briefly seen peeking out above her pants line.
In order to come up with the look of the high school kids, the costume department sent disposable cameras to schoolteachers in New York City and had them distribute them among their students to take pictures of each other.
Outside the library, Uncle Ben tells Peter the famous words, "With great power comes great responsibility." This well-quoted line came from a 1962 published issue, although it was part of a narrative caption. When Spider-man's origin was retold once every few years, it was reassigned to Ben.
According to visual effects supervisor John Dykstra, animating Spider-Man was the most sophisticated task he had accomplished at that time. Sam Raimi wanted to convey the essence of being Spider-Man ("the transition that occurs, between him being a young man going through puberty and being a superhero"); but the main difficulty was that as the character was masked, there was no context of eyes/mouth and it immediately lost a lot of characterization; thus the animators had to insert a lot of body language into his movements so that there would be some emotional content.
A camera system called the Spydercam was developed to express more of Spider-Man's world and point of view. It was able to drop 50 stories (over 600 ft) and with shot lengths of just over 2400 feet or 3200 feet (for shooting in New York City, or Los Angeles), and could shoot at six frames/second to convey a sense of speed. The Spydercam was only used in this film for the final sequence, but was brought into more use for the sequels.
In the final battle between Spider-Man and the Goblin, the CGI artists had to change the color of the blood pouring from Spider-Man's mouth to a clear liquid, indicating spit. This was to ensure a 12/PG-13 rating.
The title page of David Koepp's April 14, 2000, draft of the screenplay included the disclaimer: "This material is the exclusive property of Columbia Pictures Entertainment. Unauthorized transfer, photocopying, or reading of this material will result in the growth of large, yellowy pustules on your fingertips and hands which, given your habitual self-abuse (did you think we didn't know?) will soon spread to your genitalia. Also, posting, reading, or discussing this screenplay on the Internet is a sure sign that you have failed to fill your empty life with worthwhile activities of your own and it may be too late for you. Don't blame us, you were warned."
After the film's release, Marvel made a decision to have Peter Parker undergo a further mutation, which included having him shoot his own webbing, rather than use his artificial webbing from his webshooters which was met with some controversy. However, this was later undone in 2007 after the events of the One More Day storyline where Spider-Man would use his artificial webbing again.
Kirsten Dunst decided to audition for MJ after learning that Tobey Maguire had been cast, feeling the film would have a more independent feel. She earned the role a month before shooting in an audition in Berlin.
The scene at Columbia University was filmed on an unseasonably warm spring day. However, the costume department had provided the high school extras with cold-weather clothing. The real Columbia University students can be seen in the background wearing shorts and t-shirts by contrast.
The theatrical release of the movie ends with Aerosmith's cover of The Theme From Spider-Man (1967) that can be heard on the official soundtrack. For the DVD release it was changed to the original rendition of the theme.
Before Willem Dafoe received the role of the Green Goblin, Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, John Travolta, and Robert De Niro were offered the role. The role was originally intended to be played by Billy Crudup, who even dropped out of other projects to act in this film, but he was considered too young to play the part of Norman Osborn and was declined the role. Many other actors, including De Niro and Travolta, turned down the role. Robert De Niro was also considered for Otto Octavius/Dr. Octopus, (another villain), in the sequel. The final actor in line to play Norman was Bill Paxton, but Sam Raimi was finally convinced that Dafoe was right for the part after a few meetings. Paxton's father still appears in the film as Osborn's elderly housekeeper.
Sam Raimi hoped to use more traditional VFX (stuntwork and digital mattes) for the film, but John Dykstra explained to him that Spider-Man's flexibility and agility meant that such stunts would be near-impossible to physically enact and so Raimi decided to use computer-generated imagery. However, Raimi did not want it to be complete animation, so none of the VFX shots were 100% computer generated.
In real life, J.K. Simmons is bald and clean shaved, which resulted in his wearing a wig and false moustache for the part of J Jonah Jameson. Despite the differences in appearance, Simmons said that following the movie's release complete strangers on the street would immediately react by identifying him as J Johah Jameson.
Sam Raimi and John Dykstra worked hard to plan all the web-slinging sequences, which Raimi described as "ballet in the sky." The complexity of such sequences meant the film's budget rose from an initially planned $70 million to around $100 million.
The film is based on a combination of both the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series and the original Amazing Spider-Man series. For instance, this incarnation of Mary Jane Watson (the "girl next door" version) is from the Ultimates series, while this version of the Green Goblin is from the original Amazing Spider-Man universe.
To create Spider-Man's costume, Tobey Maguire was fitted for the skintight outfit, being covered with layers of substance to create the suit's shape. It was designed as a single piece, except for the mask. The webbing that accented the costume was cut by computer.
When Peter Parker tests out his webbing for the first time, among the notable catch phrases he says, he also uses the same gesture (middle and third fingers folded into the palm, the rest extended outward) he typically uses in the comic books to fire his mechanical webbing wrist guns.
The movie depicts Mary Jane as growing up next door to Peter and living with her parents. In the original story, Mary Jane was first introduced as the frequently visiting niece of the Parkers' neighbor Anna Watson, a best friend of Aunt May, but was never actually met by Peter until he was in college. However, in The Ultimate Spider Man, a comics reboot, Mary Jane was one of his neighbors earlier in life.
The film caused some controversy in England when the BBFC rated it 12, going on record to say it was the most violent movie they had seen that was aimed at younger viewers. The distributor had requested a PG rating, but this was denied due to the levels of "personal violence" and the prevalent revenge theme. Many parents complained about the decision, saying how disappointed their children were at not being able to legally see the film (the 12 at this time was a legal age limit). However, when the new 12A rating was introduced in August 2002, Spider-Man (2002) was re-released with this new advisory rating, along with a new marketing campaign stressing that children could now go and see the film.
Pre-production planning for Spider-Man actually began in 1986 by Cannon Films. Later, Cannon sold the production rights to Carolco Pictures. Carolco would later sell the production rights to Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. Sony and Marvel produced the Spider-Man film we see today, released through Sony's Columbia Pictures division.
Although it wound up being faithful to the comics, many designs were made for Spider-Man's costumes: one concept costume designer James Acheson became fond of the idea of having a red emblem over a black costume.
When James Cameron was developing Spider-Man in the early 1990s, Charlie Sheen actively campaigned for the role, apparently to Cameron's disinterest. After Titanic (1997), Cameron said his only choice was Leonardo DiCaprio before he eventually passed onto other projects.
Tobey Maguire was approached for the film largely as a result of his performance in The Cider House Rules (1999). Sam Raimi felt that Maguire's performance in the film embodied much of the character and personal traits he was looking for in Peter/Spider-Man.
When Uncle Ben drops Peter off to go to the library, a bus can be seen driving by with a promotional advertisement that reads, "The Producers," a Mel Brooks stage musical. Brooks later sued Sony Pictures Entertainment for unwanted advertisement in motion-picture space.
Not depicted in the movie, was that in the original comics series, Flash Thompson idolized Spider-Man, while tormenting Peter, naturally unaware that Peter was Spider-Man. In addition, Flash was shown out growing his bullying and actually becoming a close friend of Peter. No such development is depicted (or hinted at) in the movie or either of the sequels (neither in which Flash appears in).
At the time of its release, the movie passed the US$100 million mark faster than any other movie, in just three days. That record has since been broken by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006), which made the mark in just 2 days. Several other movies have also reached this record, including Spider-Man 3 (2007).
In an online interview with the Planet Origo website, director Albert Pyun said that he was hired to direct "Spider-Man" for Cannon Films back in 1988. He said that his movie would have featured the origin of Spider-Man, featured Dr. Curt Connors, a.k.a. the Lizard, as the film's main villain, and that most of the movie would have been featured in the sewers of Brooklyn, where Spider-Man would chase after, and fight with, the Lizard. His plans to direct "Spider-Man" fell through when Cannon Films went bankrupt. Oddly enough, his basic story line was used in 2012 in the reboot The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).
Norman Osborn's home is decorated with masks from around the world. The filmmakers did this to suggest that Norman is a collector of masks, thus offering an explanation for how he was able to provide a mask for his Green Goblin outfit.
In 1988, director Albert Pyun was hired to direct a "Spider-Man" movie for Cannon Films. Scott Leva was hired to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and filming was set to take place at De Laurentiis Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina. With a $6 million budget, the Brooklyn sets were built for "Spider-Man" on the Wilmington stages and Pyun would also film a sequel to Masters of the Universe (1987) during the same time as "Spider-Man". Pyun had originally planned to film two weeks worth of scenes for "Spider-Man" before Leva's nerdy Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider, then Leva would undergo a supervised eight week workout regimen to build muscle mass while director Pyun would film "Masters of the Universe Part 2", and filming for "Spider-Man" would resume for the scenes after Peter gets his spider powers. However, both projects were scrapped when Cannon Films eventually went out of business.
The film marked the first live action to depict many of Spider-Man's longtime regular supporting characters (Uncle Ben, Mary Jane Watson, Betty Brandt, Flash Thompson, Norman and Harry Osborn). The Amazing Spider-Man (1977) live action TV series, which Stan Lee found dissatisfying, had largely eschewed the comic book supporting characters in favor of ones created for the TV show.
The interior of the visit to Columbia University was actually filmed in the main rotunda of the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. The large electron microscope in the center of the set was actually made of plywood, plaster and fiberglass, concealing three 16-foot bronze centerpieces.
In the comics, Peter gets his powers from a radioactive spider. In real life this spider would die once it became radioactive. However, in this movie the spider that bites Peter is a genetically-designed "super-spider," one which has the best abilities of various types of spiders. Genetic engineering is a real area of scientific study, and there have been cross-breeding experiments to combine the DNA of animals. Therefore, it is at least theoretically possible that there could be a "spider man."
Cliff Robertson, who plays Uncle Ben, had previously appeared as Shame, a gunfighter villain on Batman (1966) show. This makes him a rare example of someone who has appeared on screen in both Marvel AND DC productions.
Steve Ditko fought for having his name as co-operative first the character of Spider-Man. His contributions to the character were the many body positions of Spidey including the trademark hand gestures. He also wrote the darker parts of his story including the murder of Uncle Ben by a criminal.
The film was supposed to feature Doctor Octopus and Green Goblin. However, Sam Raimi decided against using two villains, to focus on a more straight forward story. Doc Ock would later be used in the sequel.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Willem Dafoe was never an intended choice to play the Green Goblin. After the script fell into his possession, he began lobbying for the role and met with Sam Raimi, who had intended to cast Billy Crudup in the role. Sometime later, while filming a movie in Spain, Dafoe was approached and shot some test footage inside the hotel room he was staying. It led to his being cast. Once he received the role, Dafoe asked that he be allowed to perform his own stunts so that the character and movements would feel authentic, or else the audience would notice the difference. He performed about 95% of his own stunts, and unlike many of the stunt crew, learned how to handle the Goblin Glider after just 15 minutes. Having such a great time during filming, he offered to return for Spider-Man 2 (2004) and asked if they could write him in somewhere, his character having died in this movie. Sam Raimi took him up on the offer and both of them set aside a specific day of filming on Spider-Man 2 for Dafoe to shoot Norman Osborn's cameo in other characters' dreams and memories.
The film's climax is based on the infamous "The Amazing Spider-Man" # 121 comic, "The Night Gwen Stacy Died." In that comic, the Goblin captures Stacy and suspends her over a bridge, and Spider-Man attempts to save her, but fails. In near-insane anger and retaliation he beats the Goblin to near-unconsciousness, and when he tries to use his sled to impale the wall-crawler, it backfires and impales him instead. In the film, the main differences are that Mary-Jane is the one held over a bridge, and she survives. The Goblin's death is remarkably faithful to the story. At Osborn's funeral, a gravestone nearby says Stacy.
The World Trade Center Towers can be seen in the background of some scenes and once in the reflection of Spider-Man's eye. In addition, during the ending scene where he is swinging around the American trade building, you can see the towers in the far background slightly blurred. The makers of the film chose not to remove them digitally.
At the beginning of the movie when we first see Mary Jane on the school bus, she is dressed in the Green Goblin's (from the comic book, anyways) colors. Her top is purple and her coat is green. This outfit is also the uniform of Gwen Stacy from the comics, who was killed by the Green Goblin in a battle not unlike the bridge scene in the movie.
When Uncle Ben's killer crashes the car into the gate after Spider-Man leaps off, the police car that pulls into frame on the right side has a very obvious license plate with "1927" being the only markings. This is to honor Stan Lee's great friend, Marvel and DC veteran illustrator John Buscema who was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 11, 1927. He sadly passed away on January 10, 2002 shortly before the film came out.
In the World Unity Festival sequence, when MJ is falling Spider-Man catches her first, then shoots a web to swing her to safety. This adheres to the proper laws of physics, since shooting a webline directly at her to catch her would break her neck (this happened with Gwen Stacy in the comics).
In 1993, James Cameron was hired to rewrite an existing draft for "Spider-Man" for Carolco Pictures. The script was going to feature Liz Allen as Peter Parker's love interest instead of Mary Jane Watson, and the villain was Doctor Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus. Unlike the comics, Octavius was a professor who would be a mentor to college senior Peter Parker, and Otto called himself Professor Octopus after his four mechanical arms become accidentally fused to his body. During the accident that turns Octavius into Doc Ock, Otto is also bitten on the back of the neck by the same radioactive spider that turns Peter into Spider-Man. To make the film more kid-friendly, the company had Doc Ock constantly use the phrase "Okey! Dokey!" and Ock had an assistant named Weiner that later kills Peter's Uncle Ben Parker instead of a burglar that Spider-Man lets get away. Arnold Schwarzenegger was Cameron's first choice for Doctor Octopus and Edward Furlong was considered for Peter Parker. Cameron later wrote a new draft that featured Peter Parker as a high school senior in love with Mary Jane Watson and Spider-Man would fight two villains, Electro and Sandman. However, Electro was changed from electrical lineman Max Dillon to billionaire businessman Carlton Strand and Sandman was changed from crook Flint Marko to Strand's hired henchman, Boyd. Cameron had intended to cast Michael Biehn as Peter Parker. This is foreshadowed in earlier Cameron movies featuring Michael Biehn when his character gets bit on the hand in The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), and The Abyss (1989). This is a reference to the radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker's hand. However, the director couldn't make his Spider-Man movie when Carolco went bankrupt and soon after the movie rights to Spider-Man went into limbo for several years.