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"At the beginning of Spider-Man™ 3, we find Peter Parker pretty much where we left him at the end of the second Spider-Man story,” says director Sam Raimi. "He is coming to terms with what it means to be a hero and the sacrifices he has to make to do the right thing. In terms of his relationship with Mary Jane, the two are closer than they've ever been – she has learned that he is Spider-Man by the end of the second film and she is trying to live up to the promise she made to share the responsibilities of Peter's superhero status.”

"We have watched Peter, Mary Jane, and Harry grow up over the course of the first two films, so we wanted to do something that was surprising but inevitable,” adds Laura Ziskin. "We wanted to take the characters on a journey which would satisfy the audience and ring true for the characters.”

Returning for that journey are Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco. "Peter is feeling pretty good—things are lining up in his life in ways they never have before,” says Maguire. "He is finally receiving recognition as Spider-Man, as someone who is helping his community, and he is in this great relationship with Mary Jane, who is also experiencing success of her own. He is beginning to feel the kind of confidence of becoming a man, mixed with the glowing attention he has begun to receive.”

Raimi notes, "Peter has never had anyone look up to him as someone they admire. Certainly, he's never had anyone cheer for him before. This has an unexpected effect on Peter: it stirs his prideful self. This is the beginning of a movement toward his dark side in this film.” That dark side is brought to the forefront when he comes into contact with a black substance that attaches itself to Peter's Spider-Man suit. When the substance turns his suit black, he finds he has greater strength and agility than ever before… but also that the substance brings out his pride and his vengefulness. "In the climax, Peter has to put aside his prideful self. He must put aside his desire for vengeance,” Raimi continues. "He has to learn that we are all sinners and that none of us can hold ourselves above another. In this story, he has to learn forgiveness.”

Maguire was thrilled to return again to the role of Peter Parker. "You always want to tread new ground and this was a chance to do that with familiar characters,” he notes. "The fresh take is a direct continuity – it comes out of Spider-Man™ and Spider-Man™ 2. As an actor, it's really exciting – there's a lot to play with.

"We were always looking for ways to take the mask off, so you can see what Peter is going through,” says Maguire. "When I see a movie, I get invested in the characters and I care about them. I've got to connect with them so I can feel what they're feeling.”

Peter's change in demeanor begins to take its toll on his relationship with Mary Jane. "Mary Jane is very confident in her career, even though there's still some insecurity there because of her family life growing up,” explains Dunst. "But when she loses her job just as Spider-Man is being heralded, Peter is not there for her as much as she'd like him to be. She is kind of pushed aside a little bit, and their relationship begins to fall apart.”

"Peter and M.J. are struggling with things everybody deals with in a relationship,” adds Ziskin. "They're both trying to figure it out, and they're not in sync with where they are in their lives – they're missing each other at a rather critical moment.”

"Now that Tobey and I have worked on three movies together, we know each other very well,” Dunst says. "I know which buttons to press in him, and he knows which to press in me. It makes for a more complicated, adult relationship, which is great for the film. Everything we feel about each other is all in the movie. Our relationship has matured.”


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