Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Is a Perfect Thanksgiving Movie


Indeed, for as much as we can look back nostalgically on the bold colors and sunny disposition of Spider-Man and its two sequels, Raimi also (perhaps better than any filmmaker since) zeroed in on Spider-Man comics’ ultimately melodramatic core. Artist John Romita Sr. once mused Spider-Man comics are soap operas where a fight breaks out every once in a while, and what can be more soapy than Thanksgiving dinner?

A Date on Thanksgiving

Ever since David Koepp turned in his first draft for the Spider-Man screenplay, the plan was to center the second and third acts of a Spider-Man movie around the Thanksgiving holiday. In Koepp’s earlier versions, in fact, both the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus characters battle the web-head at the famed Macy’s Day Parade, complete with snow and the inclement weather we tend to associate with it.

It is not clear when or why the Macy’s Day Parade was changed into the World Unity Festival in the film—other than perhaps legal necessities which made a nondescript Times Square celebration cheaper to create than Macy’s patented parade—but it still serves the same narrative function. A major Midtown event has caused all the characters to gather around an NYC landmark covered in decorations and giant balloons—which prove perfect trampolines for Maguire’s Spidey and Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin to bounce from.

Additionally, the film even includes a musical number from Macy Gray, raising the question if one enterprising Sony executive really thought “Macy Gray” was close enough to “Macy’s department store?” No matter the reason the parade might have had its name changed, there is still Thanksgiving itself—a brand which can never be copyrighted. Hence one of the best scenes in the movie where a few days later, all the major surviving characters gather for Thanksgiving dinner: Peter Parker, Mary Jane, Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), Norman Osborn, and his son Harry (James Franco).

In the film, the scene occurs directly after Spider-Man and the Green Goblin’s second duel, this time in a burning building where the wall-crawler had his arm slashed by a flying buzzsaw. As a consequence, Peter is bleeding deeply from the arm when he arrives at his apartment late, and with the entire cast of supporting characters gathered in the room below.

There’s a moment of tension where it seems like Norman—who Peter is unaware is the Goblin—is about to figure out his son’s best friend is an enemy, but Spidey’s quick evasion of Norman’s suspicions turn out to be moot. The dinner they’re attending will soon make feast enough out of its characters’ secret identities.

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