It’s one of the most iconic images in superhero cinema, Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) hanging upside-down kissing the girl of his dreams Mary-Jane (Kirsten Dunst) as rain falls around them. It could have been torn from the pages of a comic drawn by John Romita himself. Yet like all great art, those bringing it to life had to suffer for their craft, or at least Maguire did.
Yes, the first big-screen Spider-Man probably didn’t have much fun filming the scene in question. The biggest problem wasn’t the blood rushing to his head, although that wasn’t pleasant either, director Sam Raimi has said it was the fake heavy rain that caused the most misery on the action movie set.
“He had to hang upside down for this whole scene,” Raimi told Rotten Tomatoes. “It’s hard to hang upside down unless you’re trained to do it – your blood rushes to your head very quickly, you get a headache. Also what was difficult for him was that he was in a harness that was cutting into his shoulders, because they’re not really made to hang upside down in, specifically.”
“In the rain, while he was doing the scene, I remember, he was slightly drowning because he couldn’t wipe his nose and the water was falling down into his upside-down nose, into his nostrils,” the horror movie legend continued. “So he was kinda drowning, and the only way he could breathe was through his mouth. It doesn’t look un-pleasurable, but I think it must’ve been.”
Despite the discomfort caused by the rain Raimi says neither Maguire nor his Dunst ever complained. “They had to endure [the rain] the whole night, I remember,” he explained. “Kirsten Dunst never said anything, but she was always shivering when we were discussing the scene. And so was Tobey, but they never complained about it.”
Dunst certainly has no regrets about the scene telling W magazine in a recent interview that she’s “proud” whenever she sees the scene in montages of best romance movie moments, not that she thought it would be famous at the time.
“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 then… And it just felt very late at night,” Dunst said. “I didn’t think about it that way. But the way it was presented to me, Sam 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.”