Spider-man 2: "Spider-Man 2," opening over Fourth of July weekend, reunites director Sam Raimi (news) with Marvel Comics' anxious-teen-turned-superhero Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire (news)), girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst (news)) and Peter's pal Harry Osborn (James Franco (news)). Now a college student, webmaster Peter battles new super-villain Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina (news)), who has been transformed into the tentacled "Doc Ock."
While most sequels ratchet up the action, Raimi chose to ratchet up the moral and personal dilemmas and private quandaries that set "Spider-Man" apart from many Hollywood franchises and helped turn it into a $400 million mega-hit.
"The next one is going to seem a little smaller and more intimate. I hope people are not hoping it's bigger and better. Hopefully, they'll think it's smaller and better," Raimi said. "I really turned the film inward on the characters, and it seems like that's what the audience responded to in the first film. So we focused on developing the characters to the next level, and the actors have taken the performances, all of them, up a notch."
The sequel picks up two years after "Spider-Man," which ended with Peter turning his back on his great love, Mary Jane, realizing it was a sacrifice he had to make to travel the high road with his superpowers.
"In those two years, we see the weight of this decision upon Peter Parker," Raimi said. "It's a much tougher road than he ever thought. And the sacrifices he makes here are much more extreme than he ever thought.
"It's about the growth of a boy into a man. Really, a simple coming-of-age story. This boy just happens to be one bitten by a radioactive spider."