The very thought of Spider-Man brings a certain nostalgia to my heart (a wistfulness, if you will), a nostalgia for a time when superhero movies were not dime-a-dozen and it felt like directors actually put heart and soul into their creative endeavors.

A time when everything wasn’t just about the money, man.

To give a little background, this movie released during a time when superhero movies weren’t really a “thing.” Obviously this wasn’t the first superhero movie ever made, but this is the one that really set the stage for (better or worse) the system we have now.

Think of it like this: Nirvana is to music, what Spider-Man is to cinema — they both pushed their respective genres out into the mainstream.

I could go on, but there are plenty of articles out there that were written by more articulate people than I that could give greater insight as to how Spider-Man affected the film industry.

But point being, it was a game changer.

It didn’t just ride the wave, man, it was the wave.

Okay, jaded hippie impressions aside, Spider-Man was a pretty big deal when it released on May 3rd, 2002… 18 years ago. (Oh, my, where has the time gone?)

It grossed over $100 Million in a single weekend, and has quite a few achievements attached to its name, such as: being the 32nd highest grossing film of all time and being the 5th highest grossing comic book movie of all time.

Seriously, the Wikipedia page has accolades left and right for it.

Spider-Man’s cast is helmed by talents such as:

Tobey Maguire, who plays Peter Parker — the titular friendly neighborhood vigilante, Willem Dafoe plays Norman Osborn, who becomes the lean and mean Green Goblin, and Kirsten Dunst plays the (literal) girl-next-door — Mary Jane “MJ” Watson.

And while not in the main spotlight, who could forget J.K Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, a man with a temper shorter than the centimeter marks on a ruler?

While I’m talking about Jameson, there’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment I always liked with him.

In defense of Parker claiming Jameson’s headline is “Slander,” Jameson responds with:

“It is not. I resent that. Slander is spoken. In print, it’s libel.”

It’s a short “one-off” line, but it shows that Jameson knows his journalism.

And a little after that, the Green Goblin bursts in demanding to know who Spider-Man’s photographer is. Jameson refuses to sell out Parker, showing that beneath that gruffness is a good man after all.

It shows depth, and it’s good stuff.

Back on topic, James Franco plays Harry Osborn. I honestly forgot he was in the movie while writing this, so I think that speaks for itself in regards to his character.

Okay, to get the acting out of the way, everyone sells it.

The cast really made their characters come to life, thanks in part to the talent of the actors, and also to the production team being super careful about who was playing who.

Either way, everyone did a great job in my opinion.

The story is sort of a classic “hero’s journey” type, but there are enough changes and subversions that keep it interesting, especially as the movie shows restraint in regards to the “superhero” angle.

And by that, I mean that a good portion of the movie is dedicated to getting the reader invested into not just the character of Spider-Man, but the man who wears the costume: Peter Parker.

Yeah, it’s always awesome watching Spider-Man curb-stomp a group of two-bit thugs, but what’s also awesome is that the moments where Parker is simply living life and being himself is just as interesting.

As for the main villain, the Green Goblin is okay.

They did great at humanizing him, showing us that Osborn didn’t wake up and decide to become evil. No, out of his own hubris, he tested is own rushed product and it basically gave him a “Mr. Hyde” to his Dr. Jekyll.

Bottom line, we can sympathize with him, although that sympathy quickly runs out as Osborn becomes progressively more unhinged as the movie goes on.

The Green Goblin is also a bit of a mustache twirler, but it’s made clear that he has more going on in his mind than base psychotic urges, as after he kidnaps Spider-Man, he has a bit of a heart to heart with him.

He tells him that they’re basically cut from the same cloth, outcasts shunned for being different and that they should team up.

Spidey obviously refuses, but it shows depth, which is always appreciated.

What’s also nice about the Goblin is how much of a foil he is to Spider-Man.

Osborn is the cold and distant business executive while Parker is the down-to-earth nice guy, and these traits reflect in their alter-egos as well — such as how Parker makes a witty quip to Watson to break the ice after saving her, or how Osborn writes off Parker as an enemy when he refuses his “business” deal.

And that’s cool because we can see just how easy it could be for Spider-Man to walk down the same road as the Goblin, with the arc words “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Parker is careful with his powers after nearly killing the man who shot his uncle, while Osborn is careless and uses his power to take life rather than save it.

Isn’t character analysis great?

Moving on to the scenes and things like that — now, I don’t use this word lightly — but there are so many scenes that are just iconic.

From Uncle Ben’s “with great power comes great responsibility” talk, to Parker figuring out how to shoot webs (featuring the many ad-libbed phrases from Maguire), to the wrestling match with “Macho Man” Randy Savage, to the upside-down smooch with Watson…

There’s just so many scenes I could list.

The score is also great too, compliments to Danny Elfman.

A scene in particular being when Parker figures out how to climb walls, we are treated to a short burst of horns every time one of Parker’s hands makes contact with the wall, gradually increasing in tempo as he realizes that he can indeed climb walls.

It truly is the little things that make me smile.

As far as criticisms go, I actually don’t have any. Surprising, I know, but there’s a whole lot to love, and not a whole lot to hate in my opinion.

Although, some of the special effects don’t quite hold up considering the technology we have now, but there’s only a handful of moments where it’s super obvious and it doesn’t take you out of the experience in my opinion.

Final Rating: A

Okay, for the sake of brevity I’m going to wrap this up because no one wants to read three pages of “College Kid geeks out over Spider-Man” so I will highly recommend giving it a watch, whether it’s the first time, or the hundredth, there’s a lot to enjoy here.

At least to me. Your mileage may vary, but you know I’d never recommend something I did not think was up to snuff.

Final thoughts — I don’t know how long something has to exist to certify it as a “classic,” but I’m doing it right here, right now — Spider-Man is a classic.

Cut. End scene. That’s a wrap.