Is Spider-Man 2002 a Thanksgiving Movie?

By Jennifer McDonough Posted:
Spider-Man Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe

Can Sony’s original 2002 Spider-Man be counted among the all-time great Thanksgiving movies?

Back in the days before the MCU and Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, things were a bit simpler when it came to superhero flicks. There wasn’t any interconnected, multimedia storytelling, there weren’t any shared universes. 

These classics include Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, 20th Century Fox’s stabs at the X-Men and Fantastic Four, and a few attempts by DC to bring their characters from page to screen.

That very first Spider-Man film from 2002 remains incredibly iconic in its own right, even two decades after its debut. It got plenty of key elements right in an age when many others kept repeating the same mistakes, not to mention that Spider-Man also featured some wholesome family holiday moments.

Tobey Maguire’s Original Spider-Man: A Thanksgiving Film?

Peter Parker, Norman Osborn, MJ, and Harry sit down for Thanksgiving dinner
Sony Pictures

Roughly an hour and a half into the runtime of Spider-Man (2002), the main cast sits down to enjoy a nice Thanksgiving dinner at Harry Osborn’s apartment. 

MJ sets the table as Aunt May pulls a home-cooked turkey from the oven before Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker arrives late carrying a can of cranberry sauce, joking that he had to "beat an old lady with a stick" in order to get them:

"Sorry I'm late, it's a jungle out there. I had to beat an old lady with a stick to get these cranberries."

Aunt May and Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2002
Sony Pictures

Even Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) joins in on the festivities, apologizing for his tardiness ("Work was murder.") and bearing fruitcake.

It’s not all daises and roses for this Turkey Day meal, however, as Peter and Norman were fresh from a pitched battle in a burning building, where they fought as their alter-egos - Spider-Man and the Green Goblin.

Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn holding a knife
Sony Pictures

Nevertheless, the question remains: Can fans accurately call Spider-Man a Thanksgiving movie? 

The dinner sequence is really the only blatantly “Thanksgiving-y” part in the film. There's an earlier clash set among parade balloons though, with many Americans seeing that as being the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade due to those floats.

The short and sweet answer is that if someone wants to think of Spider-Man as a Thanksgiving movie, then it is indeed a Thanksgiving movie to them. The same principle applies to Die Hard’s status as a Christmas film. The meaning is in the eyes of those who watch these movies and hold them dear.

Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2002
Sony Pictures

Spider-Man 2002 Is Decidedly Quaint

Spider-Man is largely considered a fan-favorite due to its extremely earnest take on the web-slinger. The tone can occasionally border on schmaltzy, but by and large, many appreciate this comic-booky, action-packed entry into the Spider-Man film canon.

The movie did some things that might not be done today either, with the Thanksgiving scene possibly being as a prime example of this. Yes, there’s densely palpable tension present and it does move the plot forward, but a fairly slow-paced, intimate meal scene isn’t always the direction that modern hero flicks take, often favoring over-the-top action and more quickly-moving stories.

So, whether one happily sits down and watches Spider-Man each and every Thanksgiving Day, or they scoff at the notion entirely, it remains a definite gem in superhero movie history.

Spider-Man can be streamed on Disney+ and purchased wherever movies are sold.

- About The Author: Jennifer McDonough
Jennifer McDonough has been a writer at The Direct since its 2020 launch. She is responsible for the creation of news articles and features. She also has a particular affinity for action figures and merchandise, which she revels in discussing in the articles she writes, when the situation calls for it.