Did Sandman die at the end of ‘Spider-Man 3?’

By Keane Eacobellis

The latest trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home dropped yesterday evening, sending fans of the wall crawler down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and dream scenarios.

The hubbub around the new trailer has also prompted a slew of questions about the previous Spider-Man films thanks to the clear overlap between old entries into the wealth of Spider-Man films and the current iteration of Peter Parker. The new trailer confirmed that several villains from the early 2000s’ Spider-Man films and the Amazing Spider-Man films of the early 2010s will appear in the upcoming MCU movie. 

Many fans haven’t seen Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield don the webslinger’s suit in years and thus they had a few gaps in memory when it comes to some of their on-screen villains. Mainly people are struggling to remember the fate of some of the early films’ villains, like Sandman, who appears in Spider-Man 3 as one of the film’s three⏤yes, three⏤villains.

The end of Spider-Man 3 is a bit of a clusterf**k, between three separate villains, the chaos of all those tumbling cars, and the bungled emotional moments between Peter and Harry. More than 15 years after the film was released in theaters, a number of fans are struggling to remember whether or not Sandman was killed off in the film’s final fight.

In the final scenes of Spider-Man 3, Peter stands off against a team composed of Venom and Sandman. Venom is very much the primary antagonist here, dragging Sandman along in his quest to destroy everything Peter holds dear. Sandman is a far more reluctant villain in the movie, joining Venom more out of necessity than out of genuine malice. 

After providing Spider-Man with the beatdown of his life, Sandman finds himself facing off against Harry in all his butchered Hobgoblin glory. His final defeat comes after Harry hits him with a few missiles, which⏤as everyone knows⏤are sand’s ultimate nemesis.

Once Peter is done obliterating Venom, Sandman slinks back onto the screen. Informing Peter that he “didn’t want this,” the former thief apologizes for his role in Uncle Ben’s death. After Peter forgives Sandman for both his uncle’s murder and, seemingly, all the destruction he’s caused throughout the film, the former villain simply fades away⏤not into death, however. Just into sand.

The ability to completely break his body down into a piles of sand is one of Sandman’s most prevalent powers, after all, and Sandman takes Spider-Man’s forgiveness as permission to return to his former life and reunite with his daughter. His final scene indicates that, thanks to Peter’s forgiveness, Sandman can finally go back to the life he lost on the day Uncle Ben died. A swarm of sand is seen drifting away from a teary-eyed Peter in one of the film’s final scenes, making its way back across the city and out of sight.

All of this indicates, quite clearly, that Sandman is still very much alive at the end of the film. He hasn’t appeared in another Spider-Man film since, which likely means that his character will retain the same storyline he had in Spider-Man 3. The resolution we saw at the end of the film must have fallen apart somewhat, however, as he appears to show up as a villain yet again in No Way Home.

There are so many questions swirling around No Way Home that, ultimately, we’ll just have to watch the movie and find out what happens when it swings into theaters on Dec. 17, 2021.