Fans of the comic-book genre are in for a treat over the next couple of months, as not one but TWO Marvel Studios blockbusters are set to hit the silver screen. The latest film in the Thor franchise, Thor: Love and Thunder, will be arriving at Cineworld cinemas on 8 July. But before that, starting on 5 May, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to thrill audiences with its dazzling fusion of wizardry and wonder.
The sequel to 2016's Doctor Strange, this new film sees Sam Raimi take over directorial duties from Scott Derrickson – and we're excited about that because, while we loved what Derrickson did with the original movie, we're big fans of Raimi's work on the first three Spider-Man films, not to mention his lesser-known 1990 horror homage Darkman. Indeed, it's inspired us to pick our top five moments from the director's impressive comic-book repertoire. We think you'll agree that this lot pack a punch...
1. Darkman's crazy dancing (1990)
Unable to secure the rights to either The Shadow or Batman, Raimi set about creating a comic-book character of his own. Distributed by Universal Pictures and starring a young Liam Neeson, Darkman paid homage to that studio's classic horror films, focusing on a scientist who, after being left for dead by a gang of mobsters, undergoes radical surgery that gives him enhanced strength and turns him into a homicidal loon. Our favourite part is when our heavily bandaged anti-hero dances like a maniac around his burning laboratory, terrifying the cat with his crazed Tin-Man impersonations, before peeling off his facial wrappings to reveal his hideous disfiguration. At once funny, sad and grotesque, it's a scene that'll stay with you for a long time.
2. Peter Parker gets his powers in Spider-Man (2002)
It's said that one of the reasons Sam Raimi was chosen to direct Spider-Man was that he's an avid comic-book fan, with a collection of more than 25,000 tomes. His love of the genre certainly shows in the scene where Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) first transforms into the webbed crusader. As the bewildered student collapses on the floor in a sweating heap, Raimi ramps up the tension with scientific graphics, skeleton animations and harrowing sound effects, before lightening the mood with clips of the young man admiring his newly ripped body and arachnoid abilities. We really wouldn't fancy transitioning into a human spider, but if it ever happened, we'd sure as heck want Sam Raimi directing it.
3. Doc Ock kills the doctors in Spider-Man 2 (2004)
When there's a shortage of healthcare professionals, the last thing you need is for some deranged scientist dressed as a sea creature to open a can of whoop on the ones you do have. Saying that, the bit in Spider-Man 2 where Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) goes berserk and lays waste to a whole team of hospital workers is rather entertaining. Sam Raimi's love of the horror genre is clear to see during this set piece, the director employing shadows, screams and swinging tentacles to create a scene that's as intense as it is terrifying. If you find yourself cowering behind the sofa when you next watch it, keep in mind that Molina named his four mechanical tentacles Larry, Harry, Flo and Moe – which, we think you'll agree, makes them slightly less scary.
4. The train fight in Spider-Man 2 (2004)
A super-hero film just wouldn't be the same without a scene in which members of the public look like they're about to meet a sticky end. Raimi didn't disappoint in Spider-Man 2, thrusting a train full of passengers into the heart of an epic battle between our web-flinging hero and Doctor Octopus (him again). The director and his technical team performed movie miracles here, compounding the tension created by the doomed locomotive's high-speed advance with a series of spectacularly choreographed stunts. In case you haven't seen the film, we won't tell you how the scene ends. But the Academy Awards judging panel were obviously impressed, as they gave the movie a gong for Best Visual Effects – the only time a Spider-Man film has ever won an Oscar.
5. Evil Peter Parker in Spider-Man 3
The third of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films will forever be remembered as the one where Peter Parker turns evil. This occurs after the youthful crime stopper falls asleep in his Spider-Man suit, causing an extraterrestrial symbiote to infiltrate his body. Under its influence, Peter is uncharacteristically bad, getting into fights and saying unkind things to people. But he's also downright hilarious – especially in the scene where he struts down a busy street like Alan Partridge's long-lost brother, winking arrogantly at any unfortunate ladies that happen to cross his path. Spider-Man 3 may not be the best film in the franchise – even Raimi is said to have been disappointed with it – but these few minutes of mirth prove that the director is equally comfortable doing humour as he is horror and suspense.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be showing at Cineworld cinemas from 5 May. To book your tickets, click here. What's your favourite Sam Raimi comic-book moment? Let us know by sending us a tweet @cineworld.