This ‘Spider-Man’ Scene Took 156 Takes To Get Right


The big picture

  • Tobey Maguire's ability to catch food that falls on the
    spider man spiderman
    The cafe scene took 156 real shots to get right.
  • Sam Raimi's commitment to practical effects over CGI led to a 16-hour shoot for the iconic
    spider man spiderman
  • Despite the grueling 16-hour shoot, Spider-Man's tray scene remains a memorable moment that showcases Peter's powers and Raimi's creative vision.

Although his fellow Marvel X-Men beat the web-slinger to the silver screen by two years, in 2002, Sam Raimi's spider man spider man finally brought the popular Marvel character to life on the big screen. Raimi's epic film remains a cornerstone of superhero cinema and truly launched the current Golden Age of superhero movies. One of the film's many memorable scenes occurs shortly after Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) gets his powers. Go to the school cafeteria and start with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) slipping on some spilled juice. Not only does Peter stop Mary Jane from hitting the floor, he catches all the food that was flying into the tray as they fall again. One might assume that the incredible feat was the result of impressive CGI, only it wasn't. That was all Tobey Maguire! And it only took 156 shots.

Spider-Man (2002)

After being bitten by a genetically modified spider, a shy teenager gains spider-like abilities that he uses to fight injustice as a masked superhero and face a vengeful enemy.

Publication date
May 3, 2002

Execution time
121 minutes

Main genre

Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, David Koepp

Sam Raimi Argued With Sony Over 'Spider-Man' Scene

Unconfirmed reports indicate that they were going to create the spider man spiderman scene digitally, until someone came up with the idea to stand on top of the camera and drop all this stuff, hoping it would turn out well. It may have been Raimi, or another member of the crew, but regardless, Raimi needed no convincing, insisting on performing the feat naturally. The studio, Sony, was much less enamored of the idea. Nevertheless, Raimi and company accepted the challenge. On the film's DVD commentary, Kirsten Dunst went on record about the only “cheating” involved in the shot, commenting, “No CGI, by the way, that's all Tobey, which is pretty awesome. They used sticky glue. stuff to stick your hand in the tray.” There is no record of how close they came to success for any of the first 155, or whether there was a shot at success that was ruined by the sheer hype and retirement of the moment. It would take an agony 16 hours before finally achieving his goal during take #156.


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During those 16 hours, Raimi fought with Sony about whether to even keep the scene in the film. supposedly, Sony felt that the scene consumed too much time, and it required too many resources to do well. But Raimi stuck to his guns, unwilling to let that painstaking 16-hour marathon session be for naught. Watching the film now, it's definitely hard to argue with Raimi's choice. CGI wouldn't have done the scene justice, and while the CGI effects used were great for the time, there are a few splashy visual effects scattered throughout the film that haven't aged well. However, it is unlikely that Sony would admit that they were wrong.

Sam Raimi's Multiple Takes for 'Spider-Man' Tray Scene Was Worth It

Sam Raimi, Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire on the set of Spider-Man
Image via Sony

Sam Raimi getting the cast and crew to spend 16 hours straight for one scene is incredible, but the most amazing part is that there doesn't seem to be many (if any) complaints from the cast and crew. Glad they made it, yes. Were they surprised? Absolutely. But angry? Not so much. And why is that? Because Sam Raimi has proven time and time again that his faith in practical effects pays off.

It elevated his iconic 1981 horror The Evil Dead on a shoestring budget simply by using these effects creatively. For example, his famous “Raimi Zoom,” achieved by running a camera attached to a two-by-four through the woods, and the makeup and prosthetics that brought the film's Deadites to life. In doing so, he revolutionized the horror genre, bringing a wealth of camera trickery and a visceral quality that is absent from today's CGI-heavy features. It is the same tangible quality that makes the spider man spider man so memorable tray scene. Each item that falls into the tray is given proper balance and weight, not something that can be easily captured, especially not in 2002. Just look at the 2002 movie. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones for comparison. When CGI is used to make the characters jump from bucket to bucket in the Geonosian droid factory, there's nothing to make it look real. Nothing that gives the impression of weight, weight that would swing or tilt the buckets in a realistic way. As a result, the CGI looks hopelessly dated in retrospect.

This “Spider-Man” tray scene was key for Peter and Mary Jane

Tray scene enters spider man spiderman, even aside from the surprising number of takes to get it right, it's a memorable moment in a game-changing film. However, his importance to the film and the franchise as a whole runs much deeper than meets the eye. The scene is the first time that Mary Jane really voice Peter Parker, and realizes that there is more to him than meets the eye. It's almost like Mary Jane is being introduced to a whole new Peter, prompting this connection that grows throughout Raimi's trilogy. The scene shows that Raimi has exceptional creative vision and leaves no doubt as to why he would be so adamant about getting it right.

spider man spiderman is available to watch on Disney+ in the US

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