With the powers given by the bite of a radioactive spider, a young man fights crime as a wall-crawling superhero.
At the stroke of 10:45:00am, a doctor examining a patient suddenly walks out. Then a business man giving a presentation walks out. We see them in a car, and the business man takes out a gas mask and smoke grenade. He deliberately handles both of them in a way to make sure the audience sees exactly what he is doing. he places them in a briefcase. Then the camera zooms in on a jacket pin of a circle with two lines in it. These guys are being mind controlled in to robbing a bank, then as soon as the heist is done, they forget everything.
Now we’re in J. Jonah Jameson’s (David White) office, he is turning down Peter Parker’s (Nicholas Hammond) random photos. Probably a good call, as they are just random pictures with no stories connected to them. Jameson suspects something is up with the recent bank-robbery. And then the radio announces there is a bad guy holding the city ransom to the tune of $50 million dollars. That guy takes responsibility for the robbery. Peter says he doesn’t know anything about mind control, but he knows it is real and that it works.
Peter Parker is apparently a PhD graduate student, he and his colleague are doing some kind of experiment, and they inadvertently irradiate a spider. I’ve never heard of any case of a radioactive spider doing much of anything for anyone, so I suspect this is just movie fluff. I do wonder how they got the spider to crawl across the desk in a way they wanted, how many shots did that take? Are there spider trainers? Anyways, against all odds, Peter is bitten by this glowy spider. Oh, and Parker doesn’t have $42 to his name, which becomes a side plot for most of the movie that never pays out (pun intended).
More mind control robberies as Parker is leaving the school, and then you hear this static warning (presumably Spider-Sense). The mind controlled guy is driving a car and then seems to follow Peter slowly down an alley, as if to run into him. Parker climbs up a building to escape. It 100 percent looks like he is being pulled up from a rope, as his hands and feet have basically zero contact with the wall. Parker reports the incident to an angry cop, and then leaves. Also Parker could have easily just stepped to the side and not been hit by the car, because the guy was never actually targeting him.
Back in Queens, Parker is sleeping in his attic. The camera man tries to be creative and pans to a mirror to then zoom in on Parker’s sleeping face. Parker dreams about all the things we’ve already seen in this movie, clearly the 1 hour 30 minute target length was difficult to reach.
The next morning, Parker awakens fully clothed, and I mean like in a button-down shirt and pull over sweater. He immediately climbs out of his attic window and starts crawling up and down the house, in broad daylight. No one seems to care, or be concerned with how unrealistic it looks. Then he goes into the city, climbs a big wall, sees a crook steal a pursue, and then slowly crawls down towards the crook. He doesn’t even have to fight him, the guy is so astounded at how bad the special effect is he stares there dumbfounded until a cop gets him.
Back at the Daily Bugle, Parker tries to sell photos of the car wreck that almost hit him, and Jameson won’t buy them. He says he will buy pictures of the urban legend “Spider-Man.” Literally “Spider-Man” came on the scene yesterday, but already there is an urban legend and Jameson is willing to pay money for it? Parker says the guy exists and can spin webs, climb walls, and is thousands of times stronger than a normal man. So far only one of these things is true that’s we’ve seen (climb walls). The rest is just hullabaloo. Jameson gets a call about another robbery and so with no other options, they send Parker. At the wreck, Parker reclines a seat to let the crashed guy out. I guess this is a demonstration of his super strength. The latest hyno-victim is taken to the hospital, where a familiar looking henchman places another one of those jacket pins in his room.
Now we are taken to a secret layer, where a computer is seen with a screen horribly out of sync with the film camera. On it the screen says “Noah Tyler (DESTROY)” and it activates the pin in the hospital room. Noah Tyler awakens and climbs out the window, and then stops to sit to make sure people can see him. Parker is walking his daughter to her car, just before getting in, she happens to spin around and see her father up high in the hospital and screams. The inspiring disco music suggests that something amazing is about to happen. Instead we see Spider-Man pretend to climb up and down a building. And then, instead of pulling the guy back into the open window, Spider-Man grabs the man and climbs up and places him on the roof, which seems unnecessary and more dangerous.
Back at the Bugle, Parker is fired because he lost the pictures of the car crash and so he doesn’t get paid the $42 he has needed most of the movie. Tyler’s daughter, Judy (Lisa Eilbacher), comes to see Parker and she proclaims his innocence. She says they need to see a motivational speaker named Byron (Thayer David) that her father was seeing. He is not good at his job, extolling people that happiness is unreachable and dreams are stupid. Judy likes his style, but Parker doesn’t. Parker is sweet on Judy, but she drops him at the college and drives away.
Back at the lab, Parker builds some web-slingers, and then there is a disco montage of his swinging, the line stretching, and him hitting the ground. Parker seems to be getting random feedback on his oscilloscope and calls someone to ask, but they blow him off. Parker then gets visions of the Judy being brainwashed and races upstairs to change outfits. Then he starts climbing buildings in New York, and then is using a device to find the signal. Because they spent a lot of time previously establishing that Parker suffers from allergies, and frequently forgets to take his pills for it (is it possible this show is sponsored by Allegra?), Parker sneezes and breaks his signal tracker.
Spider-Man enters a building, and is immediately confronted by a man with a shinai (a Japanese bamboo training sword). Then another one, their gi tops have the same symbol as the jacket pins we’ve been seeing this whole movie. Byron, watching on a monitor orders them to kill Spider-Man (with fake swords?). They back Spider-Man into a corner, he jumps to the ceiling and climbs over them. You can clearly see the seam in the ceiling where the support cable is. According to Wikipedia, this was quite the stunt back in the day. Spider-Man is a terrible fighter, but somehow the guys he is fighting are even worse. Spider-Man takes out one with a double-fisted Picard Maneuver, and then throws some stretched out cotton balls on the other two. Presumably this is webbing to keep them down. He then runs away and climbs outside the building. Now on the roof, the same guys confront him again, and the comically bad fighting continues. They must have broken the bank doing all that wall climbing, because they couldn’t hire someone to teach these knuckleheads how to fight. Spider-Man then web-slings across the street.
Back at the police station, the angry gruff speaking cop is angry, and speaking gruff. “What am I going to do about Spider-Man? I don’t know! I’m a cop, not an exterminator!” He calls Parker into his office. At first I thought he was going to make the connection that Parker is Spider-Man, but then the cop just wants him to give Spider-Man a message if he sees him. Parker calls Judy to warn her about Byron, but she isn’t in. So instead Parker goes to Byron and allows himself to be brainwashed to epilepsy inducing flashes.
Back at his home, Parker is eating soup and talking to Aunt May, he has Spider-sense “flashes” of his visit to Byron. He goes back to the building as Spider-Man and confronts the same three henchmen, but this time he runs and tries to websling away. Only the henchmen are prepared with a flamethrower, and they drop him like a bad habit. Meaning they flamed his webbing and he falls to the ground. Somber music plays as he is injured and crawls back to the shadows from whence he came. He tries to hail a cab, but the cabbie wisely determines he has no money. He also lies to the cabbie and says he was attending a masquerade party. Shame on you and your lies Spider-Man.
Now we are really down to the wire, it is almost noon on Friday, the deadline for the ransom, and also there are only 12 minutes left and Spider-Man is injured and has basically no idea how to fix this. He can do whatever a spider can, but spiders are not known to be great detectives or crime fighters. I feel like the villain is a little shortsighted. He can mind control people, but all he wants is $50 million. To what end? Why doesn’t he use his incredible power for something more?
Back at the lab Parker is doing something technical (soldiering wires or something), and then has a breakthrough. He’s figured out how the mind control works. It is via microwaves! They aren’t just for eating Hot Pockets. But alas it is too late, because that idiot Parker allowed himself to be brainwashed, and he starts heading to the Empire State Building to jump off (per his previous instructions). All the while Byron is watching his ransom be delivered to his boat in the harbor. The police double cross the drop, and seize the two goons waiting, but boss man Byron is safely on the shore watching.
With the ransom denied, all of the victims are waiting to commit suicide at precisely 12:00pm. Byron types in the instruction PETER PARKER (DESTROY) into the computer. As Parker climbs over the railing, the mind control pin is knocked off his jacket. He is instantly free from the influence. In what might be mere seconds, he is then at Byron’s building in his Spider-Man costume and pulls down the mind control transmitter from the roof. All the victims wake from their trances and move away from sudden death. Spider-Man enters the building to find the three goons, but he talks them down, and then tries to open a door, which is locked, and one of the goons unlocks it for him. The implication here is the goons were only working for Byron because they were hypnotized.
Spider-Man enters the computer room to find that Byron is inexplicably in a trance, Spider-Man suggests to him that he go to the police and turn himself in. At the police station, the detective says he got help from Spider-Man, but Jameson says the police deserve all the credit, and that is what is going to be told in the papers. The cop asks Parker why Spider-Man had to do all the heavy lifting, and then Parker gives Jameson pictures of Spider-Man posing with the three goons, and Jameson says “Amazing, how come you are the only one who can get pictures of Spider-Man?” To which Parker replies “because I believe.” And neither of them can make the intuitive leap that it is because Parker is Spider-Man, because they are idiots. Roll credits.
Looking at IMDB’s information, the person playing Jameson in this movie (David White) is not the same person who played it in the 13 episodes that followed in the series. Aunt May, who had a very small role, is not seen in any additional episodes.
Just to recap. Peter Parker gets his powers while attending university as a PhD candidate and working as a freelance photographer for the Bugle (a place where he is basically hated by the Editor in Chief, J Jonah Jameson). Everyone Parker associates with is an idiot who can’t connect two dots and figure out that Parker is Spider-Man. Uncle Ben apparently doesn’t exist, and because of that, there is no great responsibility tied to Peter’s “great” powers. Spider-Mans powers are wall-crawling, slightly above average strength (the only thing we see him do that might be difficult is carry an elderly man), and bizarre moments of hearing static and seeing past images. The wall-crawling is comically bad and unconvincing. Parker only survived because he lucked out and the pin fell off his jacket, otherwise he and the other people would have all committed suicide. And the worst of it is, Peter never gets the $42 he needs for whatever the crap thing he was having delivered at the beginning of the movie.
Here it is in its entirety on YouTube.