Story

Spider-Man 3 begins with Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) happy together. A small meteor crashes to Earth, bringing a sinister black oily creature, which attaches itself to the back of Peter’s motorbike and lurks in his apartment.

Continuing an ongoing rivalry, Harry Osborn (James Franco) assumes his evil Green Goblin Jr persona and attacks Spider-Man. In the final thoes of the battle, Harry is knocked unconscious and loses his memory. Peter and Harry resume their old friendship with Harry having no memory of his Green Goblin alter ego.

The next nemesis Spiderman encounters is Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), an escaped convict, who turns out to be the real killer of Peter Parker’s uncle Ben. While running away from the police, Flint stumbles into a particle physics test site and is transformed into the giant Sandman. He then embarks on a crime spree, stealing money to buy his dying daughter life-saving medicine, with Spider-Man thwarting his efforts at every turn.

Meanwhile the sinister oily black creature attaches itself to Spider-Man. It has the effect of exaggerating his worst characteristics. After alienating himself from everyone he cares about, Spiderman finally realises that he is in the grip of an alien entity and rips it from his body. Unfortunately for Spiderman, the creature attaches itself to disgruntled photographer Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), who transforms into Spider-Man's arch-nemesis, Venom.

In an effort to destroy Spider-Man, Venom teams up with Sandman and they kidnap Mary Jane. With Harry’s help, now using his Green Goblin powers for good, Spider-Man overpowers the Sandman, destroys Venom and saves Mary Jane.

Themes

Revenge; alter ego; identity crisis

Violence

Spider-Man 3 features numerous examples of stylised comic book violence, but some of this violence is extremely brutal in nature. For example:

  • Spider-Man and Green Goblin Jr fight viciously together. Green Goblin slashes Spider-Man with the knife blades attached to his arms. There is also face-punching and head-butting. Spider-Man is run down by Goblin’s jet-powered hover board. Goblin holds Spider-Man by the feet and smashes his head against a brick wall and also attacks him with a large sword. Spider-Man uses a trip wire to knock Goblin off his hover board, which results in him hitting his head against a steel post and being knocked unconscious.
  • Sandman attacks an armoured van, punching a hole through the roof, and then throwing a guard out onto the windscreen of a passing car. Sandman then throws police and guards around as if they were toys. 
  • Sandman repeatedly punches Spider-Man with his giant fists.
  • Peter relives the scene of his uncle being shot in cold blood by Flint Marko.
  • Spider-Man holds the Sandman’s head against a speeding train, grinding off half of the Sandman’s face.
  • Sandman throws Spider-Man against a speeding train several times.
  • Sandman repeatedly punches Spider-Man with his giant fists.
  • The Green Goblin grabs Mary Jane by the throat and slams her against a wall.  
  • Harry and Peter Parker have a fist fight involving lots of punches to the face.  Harry then stabs Peter in the thigh with a sword and Peter throws Harry through a window. The fight ends with Peter hurling Harry against a wall and then throwing a grenade at him. It explodes in a ball of flames.  
  • While in a Jazz club, Peter Parker throws a couple of security guards to the ground when asked to leave and then accidentally hits Mary Jane, knocking her to the floor.
  • Mary Jane is attacked by Venom, who wraps his hand around her mouth.
  • Mary Jane is trapped in a car, which is snared in a web hundreds of metres above the ground. She falls out of the car and is left dangling from the web.
  • Green Goblin fires rockets into the Sandman blowing half of his head away.
  • Venom bashes Spider-Man across the head with a large steel pole, and then holds a sharp, jagged steel bar to Spider-Man’s throat.
  • Venom pushes two steel spikes through Harry’s chest.
  • Spider-Man traps Venom in a cage made of steel poles, then uses a grenade to blow up Venom and photographer Eddie Brock.  

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes described above, there are other scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:

  • The Green Goblin has a dark menacing appearance with knife blades that pop out from his arms. The demonic helmet that Green Goblin used in Spider-Man 1 is shown in this movie. 
  • Flint Marko is chased and attacked by guard dogs. Their large snapping mouths full of sharp teeth are shown as they jump on him.
  • When Flint Marko transforms into the giant Sandman, his body slowly disintegrates as though turning to sand and then blows away in the wind. Later Flint re-forms into a giant sand monster with fists several stories tall, then transforms into a sandstorm and flies away.
  • Harry survives an explosion but the right side of his face is horribly scarred and deformed. 
  • Spiderman rips the alien black creature from his body. It then engulfs photographer Eddie Brock. Brock immediately transforms into Venom, a sinister black oily spider-like demon with vampire-like teeth and reptilian tongue.

From 8-13

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by a number of the scenes described above, particularly those involving the character Venom.

Over 13

Most children over 13 are unlikely to be disturbed by the images described above, but parental guidance is recommended.

Sexual references

  • Peter Parker flirts with his boss’s secretary, his body touching hers and the couple almost touching lips. Peter’s boss comes out of his office and shouts to his secretary, ‘That’s not the position I hired you for’.
  • While holding Mary Jane captive, Venom taunts Spider-Man, ‘Spider sense is tingling - you know what I’m talking about’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

In a night club scene, people drink champagne and cocktails but no-one appears intoxicated. In another scene, Harry grabs a decanter of scotch and sculls a large mouthful from the decanter. He does not appear intoxicated as a result.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • Peter and Mary Jane hug several times and also kiss each other on the mouth. One scene shows them lying next to each other in a giant spider web.
  • When possessed by Venom, Peter Parker takes on a 1970s sex symbol image, dancing with pelvic thrusts and nodding and winking to unknown women on the street.   
  • Peter dances in a sensuous manner with an attractive blond woman, trying to make Mary Jane jealous. During the dance Peter grabs the woman’s leg, wraps it around his body and lifts it higher to almost around his waist.

Product placement

None

Coarse language 

This movie contains some mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Spider-Man 3 is a comic-book style superhero movie with spectacular special effects. It will appeal especially to a teenage male audience.

The key theme in this movie is Spider-Man's identity crisis. From the depths of Peter’s self-doubt and insecurity, his darker side arises. It is spurred on by the alien black creature that attaches itself to him. Peter must overcome his self-doubt to defeat this black Venom. You might need to explain to younger children that Spider-Man is behaving uncharacteristically because he is in the clutches of a powerful creature. The value of forgiveness is also a strong theme in the movie. 

You might also wish to discuss with your child how the film unfairly represents women as helpless victims who need to be rescued by male heroes, and how the film represents the genders in unequal roles. Another important point is how all conflict depicted in the film is resolved through the use of violence, with little exploration of other ways of resolving differences.