Sam Raimi continues Marvel's web-slinger saga with SPIDER-MAN 2, adopting the iconic "Spider-Man No More!" comic storyline. There is little "comic" here, however; unlike the bright, four-colored counterpart, Raimi paints a tale of tragedy and sacrifice. The story finds Peter Parker struggling to balance "great power with great responsibility" by saving the city at his own expense. His relationship with Mary Jane Watson is in jeopardy, and others question his reliability. He fares no better as Spider-Man, as his reputation suffers the repeated slings and arrows of The Daily Bugle's J. Jonah Jameson. His best friend, Harry Osborne, heightens the tension of opposites by looking to Peter for support while blaming Spider-Man for the death of his father, aka, the Green Goblin.
Harry introduces Peter to the brilliant Dr. Otto Octavius, and the two bond over their shared scientific responsibilities. Unfortunately, Octavius's life falls apart as his public experiment goes awry. And while Spider-Man is able to prevent a major disaster, not only does the accident kill Octavius's wife, it bonds him to the mind-controlling "tentacles" used in the experiment, twisting his sanity, and earns him the moniker Dr. Octopus. In this schizophrenic state, Octavius seeks to continue his experiment at any cost, and makes a deal with Osborne to bring him Spider-Man in exchange for the rare material he needs.
Meanwhile, Peter is having his own identity crisis. Unable to balance his personal and heroic life, the crisis manifests in the psychosomatic loss of his powers. Seemingly freed from his responsibility, Peter attempts to mend his relationship with the now-engaged Mary Jane. But when Octavius kidnaps her to get at Spider-Man, Peter must make the choice between happiness and duty. Unlike Octavius, whose humanity suffers with the loss of his wife, Peter finds strength in the support of his Aunt May. Reminded of the failure to act that led to the death of his Uncle Ben, his powers return. Unfortunately, Octavius overpowers him, and brings him to Harry, who is consequently broken by learning that his best friend is the one he believes killed his father.
This leads to the climatic battle with Octavius, who has re-started his experiment which, again, goes out of control. Spider-Man reminds Octavius of his humanity, and he overcomes the robotic control of his tentacles. Refusing to die "a monster," he sacrifices himself in a tragic parallel to Peter's own struggle.
Peter, however, finds his virtue rewarded after revealing his secret to Mary Jane, and she leaves her fiance at the alter in order to be with her true love. For a time, anyway, theirs is a happy, if bittersweet, ending.