The most controversial moment in all of Spider-Man moviedom has to be the sequence in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 where Peter Parker, consumed with the evil energy of his new alien costume, turns bad and ... performs a big dance number on the street. For many fans, this was the moment Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise jumped the shark, and in the years since the movie premiered, it’s been parodied endlessly, including in other Spider-Man movies like Into the Spider-Verse.

Raimi is doing press for his new movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and was asked by Fandom about his intentions with the scene, and the intense reactions to it. He noted that people laughing at the scene were ... having exactly the reaction these were supposed to. As Raimi explained:

Well, we meant it to be funny, actually. It was Peter Parker’s version — this lame kid — of what it must be like to be his evil self. But he’s so whipped. He’s so out of it that that’s his take on it. And that didn’t go over well with the audience. But that’s what we were trying to do. So I’m not surprised that people… I’m glad people find it funny! We we wanted it to be fun.

As an on-the-record fan of Spider-Man 3, this is what I’ve never understood about the response to the scene. People who complain that it’s so silly ... it’s supposed to be silly! The whole notion of Peter Parker having a dark side is absurd. He’s Peter Parker! So of course his dark side is goofy and innocent and bizarre.

Sam Raimi is a wonderful director, but he doesn’t do dark, gritty superheroes. And Spider-Man 3 came at a time when dark, gritty superheroes were coming into fashion in movies like Batman Begins. Spider-Man 3 uses Venom to essentially poke fun at the idea of tortured superheroes — and when you view the sequence that way, it totally works.

Of course, comic book fans are not always known for their sense of humor or their willingness to joke about their favorite characters. Some fans hated the very idea that someone would poke fun at Venom, and it’s undeniable that Spider-Man 3 and Raimi were way out of touch with the zeitgeist in that moment. But Raimi’s correct; on its own terms, for what it is trying to do, the scene is intentionally funny.

Raimi’s new movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, opens in theaters tonight.

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