With Spider-Man: No Way Home coming out, the internet has been debating the definitive ranking of the Spider-Man films. Everyone has a favorite actor for the part, or a vision for their ideal Spider-Man interpretation. Well here at What To Watch, our Spidey-senses have been tingling with anticipation for the new film as well. And as hardcore fans of the web-slinging wallcrawler, we couldn’t wait to throw our list into the mix.
NOTE: For this list, we only consider solo Spider-Man films where Spider-Man is the protagonist. This means crossover films like Captain America: Civil War, Avengers Infinity War, or Avengers Endgame, or spin-offs like Venom have not been considered. **ALSO THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD**
Without further ado, here is our list, ranked from worst to best!
8. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2' (2014)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a bit of a mess. It dives back into the cheesiness of Batman and Robin (1997) — that almost killed comic book movies. From Jamie Foxx’s over-the-top “I’m a nerd!” interpretation of Max Dillon, to Paul Giamatti’s cartoony Russian accent as the Rhino — webbed up in his boxers — the movie is a trainwreck of outdated choices that have no business being in post-Dark Knight era comic book films. Add the bloated attempts to set up a Sinister Six movie and an odd interpretation of the Death of Gwen Stacy storyline and you have a tonally confused movie.
7. ‘Spider-Man 3' (2007)
Speaking of over-the-top, overstuffed cheese, Spider-Man 3 suffers from squirm-inducing scenes — like Peter Parker’s infamous strut down the street, and his jazz club dance sequence — that would fit more comfortably in The Mask than with Raimi’s first two Spidey films.
It also features a completely over-the-top amnesia storyline for James Franco’s Harry, an unnecessary backstory for Uncle Ben's murder and the misguided first attempt at bringing Venom to the big screen via Topher Grace, of all actors. Maguire’s performance is hammy. Dunst’s and Franco’s performances are seemingly phoned in. And, though the highlight is supposed to be Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman, the film never gives him anything more to do than mope about.
6. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man' (2012)
The first Andrew Garfield outing wasn’t terrible. Billed as “the untold story,” it was, in fact, just a retread of the same story with slightly different beats. The only difference was presenting Peter Parker as an emo-ish skater. Garfield is slightly miscast as Peter Parker — we expect less cool skater boy, more dweeb for Parker. His Spider-Man yells at his Uncle Ben and rips shirts off women on the subway while beating up guys who try to defend her.
5. ‘Spider-Man' (2002)
There’s a gap between subpar Spider-Man films and good ones. And, to kick off the “good half" is the iconic film that started it all — Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002).
Tobey Maguire was the perfect choice to pull off the good-boy, science nerd — as per the early days of the Lee/Ditko comics — even if his turn as Spider-Man wasn’t as snappy as we'd hoped for. Watching him do battle with Willem Dafoe’s outstanding Norman Osbourne was thrilling. J.K. Simmons’ Jameson was pitch-perfect. And, organic web-shooters aside, it was one of the more faithful superhero films put to screen. Let’s also not forget that it pulled off one of the most iconic kisses in superhero cinematic history.
4. ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home' (2019)
Spider-Man: Far From Home, is a well-made film. Firmly taking root in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Far From Home explores the themes of legacy and, as all Spider-Man films do, responsibility. Holland’s consistently charming, as always. Jake Gyllenhaal is masterful as smarmy con artist Quentin Beck and the twist midway through the film was inspired. Watching Holland go through the trippy, bizarre and terrifying illusion sequences was thrilling. It’s at least on par with its predecessor, which…
3. ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming' (2017)
While Garfield was a good Spider-Man/lousy Peter Parker and Maguire was an excellent Peter Parker/average Spider-Man — Tom Holland is the pitch-perfect balance of both roles!
There’s an infectious Michael J. Fox charm that makes him the perfect everyman — exactly what Peter Parker/Spider-Man was meant to be! Holland’s first solo outing in the MCU captures that spirit way more than his predecessors. In fact, the struggles of being an everyman is exactly what this film is about. Holland’s Spidey is matched by a stellar Michael Keaton — also playing an everyman in Adrian Toomes/Vulture. And Peter’s decision at the end to stay grounded and help the little guy is precisely the kind of message Stan Lee would have applauded.
2. ‘Spider-Man 2’ (2004)
However, if there’s one live-action Spidey film that encapsulates the struggles of being an everyman AND a superhero, it’s Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.
Peter’s appeal as a character is that when he takes off the mask he isn’t some billionaire. In this, he's a poor student/photographer who has trouble keeping the lights on. We feel for Peter because we know and see how difficult it is to be Spider-Man — and to be human. We also get Alfred Molina’s brilliant Doc Ock — perhaps the most sympathetic comic book villain put to screen. But the real prize is always the phenomenal action, from the bank fight to the train sequence — one of the best action scenes in a comic book film ever.
1. ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ (2018)
While Far From Home touched upon the idea of legacy, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse blew that idea out of the water in a beautiful way. This is a gorgeous spectacle.
However, the real draw is its endearing characters — pure-hearted, but flawed Miles Morales and disillusioned Peter B. Parker. Miles’s journey from being a kid forced to become a hero he's not ready to be, to becoming the best successor for the job of Spider-Man, is one of the best arcs in superhero cinema to date. And the relationships he has with his uncle, Aaron Davis, and his own father are beautifully portrayed. A near-flawless film and a classic in both the superhero and animation genres.
Mike is a proud, sarcastic nerd with a penchant for comic books, comic book movies, and movies in general, and occasional delusions of grandeur. He's also a UC Berkeley graduate who decided to go into writing over pre-med because he figured he'd ultimately save more lives by not being a doctor. He's a Slytherin and a Pisces, so he's very emotionally sensitive, yet also evil, but can be defeated by exploiting his insecurities. His goal is to live one hell of a unique life, and it's been working so far! His proudest moments are being retweeted by James Gunn and Ryan Reynolds in the same week, and getting 999,999 points on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters at Disneyland.
You can find Mike's writing around the web at publications like The Nerds of Color, What to Watch, Spoiler Free Reviews, and That's It LA.
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