CULVER CITY, California — We’ve watched him battle the Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus while living by the creed “With great power comes great responsibility.” Now, with a new seven-and-a-half-minute clip of “Spider-Man 3,” director Sam Raimi and series producer Avi Arad are ready to show the world just how much responsibility is coming Tobey Maguire’s way in two months.
“Welcome to this secret sneak preview, scene-let,” Raimi said over the weekend as he introduced the footage, some of which will be unleashed during a commercial break during the Monday (March 5) airing of “Heroes.” “Sony wanted to take the unusual step of sharing the movie as a preview … eventually, this will be seen by a lot of people, but I wanted someone to see it on the big screen.”
As the lights went down in Sony’s plush Cary Grant Theatre, the screen lit up with the nighttime shot of an enormous spider web, acting as a hammock for star-crossed lovers Peter Parker (Maguire) and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) (see “Tangled Web: ’Spider-Man 3′ Re-Shoots Planned, James Franco Reveals” ). “You know what? I’d like to sing onstage for the rest of my life — with you in the front row,” MJ tells Peter after stealing a smooch. “I love you,” Peter responds.
In the second sequence, Peter tells his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) that he intends to propose to MJ — and she responds with the story of how Uncle Ben popped the question. “I hope you’ve considered a proper proposal. Your uncle had it all planned,” she remembers, brandishing her ring. She then takes the sparkling band off her finger and hands it over to a surprised Peter, along with some advice: “Do something she’ll never forget.”
That probably won’t be a problem for our friendly neighborhood web-slinger, as we see him, in the third sequence, being snatched off his scooter by an angry Harry Osborn (James Franco). Still holding a grudge over the death of his dad, Harry has now donned a black-and-green get-up similar to the classic Goblin outfit and can cruise hundreds of feet above ground on a sleek hover board.
What follows is a fast-moving action sequence with a uniform-less Peter shooting web chunks at Harry. With blades on his arms and a sword in his hands, Franco’s character scrapes Peter against the side of several buildings, eventually knocking Aunt May’s ring loose. As the two battle in a small alley, Peter must retrieve the ring, dodge Harry’s projectiles — “I hate those things,” Peter winces — and attempt to bring his former friend around. “Listen to me, I didn’t kill your father,” Peter pleads. “He was trying to kill me, and he killed himself.”
Moments later appeared a rapid succession of images: a huge Sandman; Thomas Haden Church drowning in a sewer drain; the Venom suit consuming Peter; Mary Jane breaking down in tears; an angry Spidey with no mask; Venom growling at the camera.
“As we say,” Arad grinned, the lights coming up, “the saga continues … .”
“There’s an action scene with Peter Parker and Harry Osborn,” Raimi said, reflecting on one of three villains the webhead will battle May 4. “There’s plenty of characters and plenty of surprises in the picture.”
Although the son of Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn has clearly taken on his dad’s persona in the flick, Arad refused to call the character Green Goblin or even Hobgoblin, the villain who followed in Osborn’s footsteps in the comics. “Just call him Harry,” Arad said evasively, adding that they might name the character at a later date.
Revealing that “Spider-Man 3″ will be “over two hours,” Arad addressed suspicions that Church’s Flint Marko will be revealed as Uncle Ben’s true killer. “If you look at movie one and two, you’ll see that the thing that defines [Peter] is the death of Uncle Ben. … Sandman is a fascinating villain for us, and Sam has made him far more fascinating than the comic books,” he added, acknowledging that Marko committed no such homicide in print. “Without going too far into it, we gave Sandman a real good story. … If this movie has a theme, it’s Peter dealing with the dark side, and the dark side comes from these issues.”
This dark side will tie in with the rise of the parasite-like Venom suit, as well as Peter and MJ’s difficult walk down the aisle. “This movie is the most complex … what you see [in this footage] gives you the issues in the movie,” Arad said. “When you have the same team, same cast, same producers and same writers, it gives you the opportunity to dig deeper.”
Saying, “At the end of every movie, we sit and think, ’What can we do better?,’ ” Arad insisted that much of that next-step mentality manifests itself in Church’s beach-flavored baddie. “Sand is a brand-new effect … designing Sandman was very complicated … we had to design the algorithm of a grain of sand and then manipulate it.”
Questioned about rumors that Maguire and Dunst plan to flee the comic-book franchise after this third adventure (see ” ’Spider-Man 3′ Cast Confirms Love Triangle, Death, Soul-Sucking Costume” ), Arad would only say that there will be more Spider-Man movies in the years to come. “There are never conclusions … there are some [small plot] issues that will be concluded,” he said. “[This is not the end], this is just #3.”
Arad also addressed recent buzz that the screenwriter behind the original movie had been hired to write the next Spidey script. “I think it would be great if [David Koepp] does [write ’Spider-Man 4′],” he admitted. “But we’re not ready to announce anything yet.”
Raimi excused himself after the brief chat, explaining that he had to oversee a voiceover session with the legendary Stan Lee — who’ll cameo again, as he does in most Marvel films. Explaining that he expects to be working around the clock in the weeks to come, the director was eager to return to the editing room. “It’s on its way to being done,” he grinned. “But I’d better hurry, because it’s supposed to open in eight weeks.”
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