Spider-Man: Remember Ben Parker? The old man you shot down in cold blood? Sandman: What does it matter to you, anyway?! Spider-Man: EVERYTHING!!
~ Sandman and Spider-Man during their battle in the subway.
I didn't choose to be this. The only thing left of me now...is my daughter. (Peter Parker: I forgive you.)
~ Sandman's redemption after telling Peter the truth of Uncle Ben's murder.
Flint Marko, also known as the Sandman, is the secondary antagonist of the 2007 film Spider-Man 3. He is a professional criminal who inadvertently causes the death of Peter Parker's uncle, Benjamin "Ben" Parker. Sandman is seen as a tragic villain because he is portrayed as a decent man who only breaks the law in order to afford the care his cancer-stricken daughter desperately needs. However, his powers and methods in order to do so makes him one of Spider-Man's most dangerous foes.
Flint Marko's main weapon of choice was his own body, which he distorted to fit whatever purpose he wanted, although his main firearm was a Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver, which he used in his robberies prior to getting his powers.
Marko is introduced as a down-on-his-luck blue-collar worker whose young daughter, Penny, has cancer. In an effort to support her, the unemployed Marko turns to armed robbery to pay for her cancer treatments, at the same time becoming estranged from his wife. During one such robbery, Marko and his accomplice Dennis Carradine hold up a wrestling arena and flee the scene; while trying to escape, Marko accidentally kills Ben Parker, the uncle of Peter Parker, who will later become Spider-Man. Stricken with remorse, Marko surrenders to the police, and spends several years in prison.
After he is released, Marko is unable to find work, and reluctantly goes back to armed robbery in order to support his family. Despite his efforts, his wife refuses to have anything to do with him and goes out of her way to make sure he has no contact with their daughter. After a holdup goes wrong, Marko runs into a gigantic chamber filled with sand at a remote testing facility. Unbeknownst to Marko, the chamber is part of an experiment to test whether sand is an effective shield against radiation. Marko hides from the police in the pit, but is soon buried in the radioactive sand, causing Marko to be genetically blended together with the sediment. This transformation gives him the power to shapeshift at will, turn his hands into weapons, and grow hundreds of feet in size. Marko uses his new-found powers to rob numerous banks, but he is thwarted by Spider-Man, who is growing increasingly unstable as a result of the alien symbiote fused with his suit. When Spider-Man discovers that Marko killed his uncle, the enraged superhero chases him into a subway tunnel and opens a pipe, causing a massive flood of water that disintegrates Marko and washes him away. Unbeknownst to Spider-Man, however, Marko survives and regroups.
Venom later comes to Marko and forms an alliance with him in order to kill Spider-Man. After Spider-Man kills Venom with one of the New Goblin's pumpkin bombs, Marko finally learns Spider-Man's identity, apologizes to him and tells him the whole story of Ben's death. Marko states that he is not asking for forgiveness, but that he only wants Peter to understand what he has been going through. Peter forgives Marko and allows him to escape peacefully into the wind, having finally come to terms with what he has done. It is unkown what happened to Marko or his family since. However, it is possible that his daughter died of the disease.
Spider-Man tries to defeat Marko, but fails.
Sandman vs. black-suited Symbiote Spider-Man.
Sandman's giant form.
Flint looks at his daughter's necklace before Peter forgives him and disappears into the air after telling Peter the truth about Uncle Ben's murder.
He is the only villain in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy who doesn't die. He is also the third villain in the films to be redeemed.
Just like Eddie Brock/Venom, his alias "Sandman" was never mentioned in the film, however in the film when the news was broadcasted to the citizens of New York the news reporter called Flint "The Sandman". He was always known as Marko. Furthermore, Flint Marko is his actual name in the film, whereas in the comics it is an alias, and his real name is William Baker.
In the video game adaptation of Spider-Man 3, Sandman's fate is very different to his fate in the movie. At the end of the game, a cop appears with Sandman's daughter, and he is reunited with his daughter, and after that, he apologizes to Spider-Man by what happened. It was unknown if he was arrested by the cop after this. Also in the game he helped Eddie Brock to kill Spider-Man because Brock kidnapped his daughter, unlike the film where he was willing to help him.
On May 4, 2007, while promoting the film on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Thomas Haden Church revealed that he broke three knuckles during the subway scene where he swings to punch Spider-Man and ends up punching a chunk of the wall away. Church said that the effects crew had told him that the brick in the middle was fake while the upper and lower ones were real. Unfortunately, the foam brick had not actually been put in place yet, and when Sam Raimi yelled 'action', Church spun around and punched the real brick on the first take.
It took three years to create the visual effects required to portray the Sandman's powers. To understand the dynamics of sand, various experiments were conducted with sand (launching sand at stunt men, splashing the stuff around and pouring it over ledges). Sand sculptors were also consulted for advice.
Real sand was used for Sandman, except when characters were being buried or covered in sand. Since real sand would have been a possible hazard for such scenes, ground up corncobs were used instead.
The first shot of the Sandman forming took roughly 6 months to create.
Church was offered the role of Sandman on the strength of his performance in the film Sideways (2004). He accepted the part despite the fact that there was no script.
To prepare for his role as the Sandman, Thomas Haden Church worked out for 16 months, losing ten pounds of fat and gaining 28 pounds of muscle. He based his performance on misunderstood monsters, like the title character from The Golem (1920), Frankenstein's Monster (1931), and King Kong (1933).
According to composer Christopher Young, the Sandman's theme was composed with two contrabass saxophones, two contrabass clarinets, two contabrass bassoons and eight (very low) French horns to describe Sandman as "heavy and aggressive." Venom's theme was meant to make him sound "vicious and demonic" and used eight French horns.
A scene of Spider-Man battling a giant Sandman at a construction site was previously done in the cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends: Spider-Man: Unmasked! (1983).
The union between Venom and Sandman originally had Venom just offering the cash Sandman needs to save his daughter in exchange for helping him kill Spider-Man, but during the battle, Sandman's daughter would come and tell her father that she could not be cured and was going to die, and wanted to die with her father being a good man, not a criminal.
Thomas Haden Church was offered the role of Sandman on the strength of his performance in Sideways (2004). He accepted the part despite the fact that there was no script.
In other earlier scripts of the film, Lizard and Electro were planned to be the antagonists, rather than Venom and the Sandman. However, the Lizard appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) while Electro appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014).
Hulk Hogan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hardy and Christopher Meloni were all considered for the role of Sandman before Thomas Haden Church was cast.
It's currently being rumored that Thomas Haden Church reportedly will be portraying the Sandman again in the upcoming third Spider-Man film set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, much like Alfred Molina will be reprising his Spider-Man 2 role as Doctor Octopus. However, if that's the case, it's currently unknown whether Church will be reprising his role as this incarnation of the Sandman (especially because he didn't die) or play a different version original from the MCU (like the case of J. Jonah Jameson).