Bruce Campbell, the mighty chin, has a long association with his friend, director Sam Raimi. Campbell is almost as regular a feature in Raimi’s films as his beloved Oldsmobile Delta 88, ‘The Classic’. This car from his college days has appeared in every film he has been involved in, most notably alongside Campbell as Ash’s car in the Evil Dead series, as Mrs. Ganush’s car in Drag Me To Hell, and as the vehicle of the doomed Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man series. Though he shares no screen time with the Olds in the Spidey films, Campbell appears in all three, playing a trio of different roles, and steals the show with each one.
In the first in the trilogy, Campbell plays the MC of the underground wrestling competition, pitting Peter Parker against the mighty Bone Saw (played by Macho Man Randy Savage) for a hefty cash prize of $3000. Decked out in a dazzling gold snakeskin jacket and awful Oakley sunglasses, Campbell wisely ignores Peter Parker’s original name for his superhero alias – The Human Spider – instead introducing him to the baying crowd as the much catchier Spider-Man, a name that doesn’t completely suck. Whilst many existing fans of Sam Raimi would have been anticipating a Bruce Campbell cameo somewhere in his directorial debut for Marvel Studios, his charm and arresting comedic presence on screen undoubtedly left an impression on viewers new to his work. Though he only pops in for a brief 30 seconds, his spot on ring announcer character stays firm on our memories of the film 13 (13!) years on.
In the sequel, Campbell has had a slightly more glamorous career change, this time round working as an usher at the theatre where Mary-Jane Watson is performing The Importance of Being Earnest. As Peter Parker arrives, he politely tells him to straighten his tie, and that his shoelace is untied, though most likely because he knows that Parker is soon to be walking home, as there is no way in hell Parker is getting past him into the theatre once the play has begun. As Peter takes a further step towards him, Campbell shows off his exemplary deadpan talents, maintaining a perfectly straight face as he asks if he can help, as if they didn’t speak to one another literally seconds beforehand.
Peter arrived late to the play, and as the signs clearly state, “no-one will be seated after the doors are closed”. Parker tries to play the ‘I’m with the band’ card by name-dropping Mary-Jane, but is scathingly cut down by Campbell; watch the video below to see him make it abundantly clear that Spidey is shit out of luck, in classic Bruce Campbell style. Once again, despite only appearing for a single minute, and with half of his lines being made up of shushing and hmming sounds, his short scene stands out as one of the most memorable in what still stands up as one of the strongest superhero films to this day.
His appearance in Spider-Man 3 may be the finest of the three, although it may just seem that much better as it’s one of very few decent moments in a cluttered, directionless mess of a film that should never have happened, making it stand out that little bit brighter against the drab surroundings. Whatever the case, Campbell has once again climbed the career ladder a little more, this time working as the maître d’ at a fancy French restaurant. Oh, he’s also French this time round, or at least pretending to be, with limited success (see the Parker/Pecker gag in the clip). As Peter arrives, Campbell calls him over to the desk to check his reservation. In French, of course. Deadpan Bruce blows a whistle on a chain around his neck and picks up a pen brought to him on a silver platter as if that were the most normal thing in the world; the man is a pro.
Our boy Peter Parker wants to propose to MJ, so hands over the ring to be brought in the bottom of a glass of champagne. Of course, Bruce already knows this cheesy old way of popping the question, but is professional enough to allow Pete to think it’s a uniquely romantic idea. He also sincerely swears to protect the ring with his life, monsieur, complete with an incredible air grab and bowed head combo, before leading him to his table, chin a-poppin’ as he goes. Truly, he serves as an inspiration to maître d’s the world over.
Which of Bruce Campbell’s scene stealing cameos do you enjoy the most? Let us know in the comments below.