Australian Council on Children and the Media

Spider-Man 3

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Spider-man 3(M) not recommended under 13, PG to 15 (Violence, Disturbing scenes, Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Spider-Man 3
  • a review of Spider-Man 3 completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 May 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 13 - 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Spider-Man 3
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate action violence
Length 139 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Spider-man 3 begins with Peter Parker/Spiderman (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) happy together. However, a small meteor crashes to Earth bringing a sinister black oily creature, which attaches itself to the back of Peter’s motorbike and ends up in his apartment.
Soon Harry Osborn (James Franco) as Green Goblin junior attacks Spider-man. The battle results in Harry being knocked senseless and losing his memory. Peter and Harry resume their old friendship with Harry having no memory of his Green Goblin alter ego.
The next nemesis Spider-man 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 attempting to evade capture, Flint stumbles into a particle physics test site and is transformed into the giant Sandman. Flint then embarks on a crime spree stealing money to buy his dying daughter medicine, with Spider-man thwarting his efforts at every turn.
Meanwhile the sinister black creature attaches itself to Spider-Man to exaggerate his worst characteristics. After alienating himself from everyone he cares about, Spider-man finally realises that he is in the grip of an alien entity and rips it from his body. Unfortunately for Spider-man, the creature lands on, and joins with, a disgruntled photographer named Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), to become arch-nemesis, Venom.
In an effort to destroy Spider-man, Venom teams up with Sandman and they kidnap Mary Jane. With Harry’s help Spiderman is able to overpower the Sandman, destroy Venom and save Mary Jane.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Revenge, alter ego, identity crisis

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

While Spider-Man 3 features a large amount of stylised comic book violence but some of this violence is extremely brutal in nature. Examples included:

  • Spider-Man and the Green Goblin Junior engage in a fight involving the Green Goblin slashing Spiderman with knife blades attached to the his arms. There are also punches to the face and head butting. Spider-Man is run down by the Goblin’s jet powered hover board. The 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 knocks the Goblin off his hover board with a trip wire and the Goblin is knocked unconscious when he hits his head against a steel post.
  • The Sandman attacks an armoured van punching a hole through the roof, and then throws a guard out onto the windscreen of a passing car. The Sandman then throws police and guards around like toys. 
  • The 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.
  • The Sandman throws Spider-Man against a speeding train several times.
  • The Sandman repeatedly punches Spiderman 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 fistfight 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 the 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 snared in a web hundreds of metres above the ground. She falls out of the car and is left dangling from the web.
  • The Green Goblin fire 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 impales Harry through the chest with two steel spikes. 
  • Spider-Man traps Venom in a cage made of steel poles and then uses a grenade the blow up Venom and Eddie Brock.  

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • The Green Goblins may scare/disturb younger children. He has a dark menacing appearance with knife blades that pop out from his arms. The Green Goblin’s helmet from Spider-man 1 is also shown in Spider-man 3 with the helmet having a demonic appearance.   
  • Flint Marko is chased and attacked by guard dogs that jump up on him. They have large snapping mouths full of sharp teeth.
  • When Flint Marko transforms into the giant Sandman, his body slowly disintegrates as though turning to sand and then being blown away in the wind. Later Flint forms into a giant sand monster with fists several stories tall, then transforms into a sandstorm and flies away.
  • After Harry survives an explosion the right side of his face is horribly scarred and deformed. 
  • After Spiderman rips the alien black creature from his body it engulfs Eddie Brock. Brock immediately transforms into Venom, a sinister black oily spider-like demon with vampire-like teeth and reptilian tongue.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the scenes described above. .

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

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

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

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

Product placement

None

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Peter Parker flirts with his boss’s secretary with this 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, the Venom states to Spiderman, “…spider sense is tingling - you know what I’m talking about.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • 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 1970’s sex symbol image, dancing with pelvic thrusts and nodding and winking to unknown women on the street.   
  • While attempting to make Mary Jane jealous, Peter dances in a sensuous manner with an attractive blond woman. At one point during the dance Peter grabs the woman’s leg wraps it around his body and lifts it higher to almost around his waist. 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • People drink champagne and cocktails at a night club but no one appears intoxicated.
  • In one scene Harry grabs a decanter of scotch and skulls a large mouthful from the decanter. He does not appear intoxicated as a result.  

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • What the hell
  • Who the hell are you?
  • Fix this damn door

In a nutshell

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

The main messages in Spider-Man 3 relate to Spider-Man’s identity crisis. It is from Peter’s self-doubts and insecurities that his darker side arises when the alien black creature becomes attached to him, and he must overcome self doubt to defeat Venom.  Younger children may need explanation of the uncharacteristic behaviour of the superhero while he is in the creature’s clutches. 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include forgiveness.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the manner in which the film represents women as helpless victims in need of rescue by male heroes, and the film’s representation of unequal gender roles. Parents may also wish to discuss the manner in which all conflict depicted in the film was resolved through the use of violence.

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