The first live-action cinematic adaptation of Marvel’s most beloved comic superhero was projected onto the big screens in Sony’s Spider-Man trilogy. Directed by horror enthusiast Sam Raimi and helmed by Tobey Maguire (the only American actor to portray the iconic superhero) and Kirsten Dunst, the Sony production instantly claimed a cult classic status even amid its mainstream media blockbuster success. And that was not the only reason the film became the legend that it is today.
Also read: “We were friends”: Spider-Man Actor Tobey Maguire “Lied” After Questions About Dating Life With Co-Star Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Dunst Gives a Divisive Opinion on Iconic Scene
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man marked the beginning of many iconic recreations. The Tobey Maguire–Kirsten Dunst upside-down kiss was one of them. The impressive feat was not merely a visually electric scene impressed upon the audience, but one that holds a certain status of iconography that is a unique signature to the Spider-Man IP. It is a symbol and imagery that is as famously recognizable in popular culture as it is inimitable across any other form of media.
The scene then immediately becomes a subject of discursive study. But to Kirsten Dunst, the hoopla surrounding the kiss is not all that exciting, and for good reason, too:
“I did not feel like it was a famous kiss because Tobey was… water was getting up his nose because of the rain, and then he couldn’t breathe in the Spider-Man suit. And it just felt very late at night […] But the way it was presented to me, Sam [Raimi] gave me this book of famous kisses, so that made me realize how romantic and special Sam wanted this to be. Even though it wasn’t necessarily feeling that way with Tobey hanging upside down.”
Also read: “It wasn’t necessary”: Tobey Maguire Could Not Breathe While Kissing Kristen Dunst Hanging Upside Down in Spider-Man
In Dunst’s recollection, the enactment of the kiss sounds more trouble than it was worth. And it is apparent from the actress’ recollection of the event. How tedious the process must have been, especially as the scene was the first of its kind (and only one, to date) to be represented on the screen. So with no reference to fall back on, the scene could have been just as disastrous as it seemed to Dunst while acting it out.
The Reenactment of the Spider-Man Kiss in Popular Culture
The upside-down kiss – not very creatively named, but it serves the purpose – has been a thing of divinity from the moment it played out on theatre screens. To attempt to recreate it across other pop-culture media seemed an abhorrent idea, so much so that even Kirsten Dunst refused to re-enact the scene in the Spider-Man sequels. Recreating the kiss would simply mean undermining the iconic moment that reverberated across the fandom and in her words, “to outdo that kiss, we’re just setting ourselves up for a disaster anyway.”
Also read: “You should’ve shot that because I will never do it again”: Spider-Man Star Kirsten Dunst Refused Director Sam Raimi’s Request To Perform a Terrifying Scene
Other Spider-Man actors have spoken about the scene over the years – it would be remiss of them not to. But while Tom Holland expressly desired his wish to recreate the upside-down scene, for The Amazing Spider-Man cast, the decision was quite the opposite. The iconic status of the kiss was just too unique to Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst to be claimed and recreated by Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. The actors wanted to make a moment uniquely their own or in Emma Stone’s iconic words: “New girl. New kiss.”
Spider-Man is available for streaming on Disney+.
Source: W Magazine