It's here! It's finally here! The cinematic adventure many Marvel fans have been dying to see ever since it was first announced. Spider-Man: No Way Home has dropped into theaters and taken the box office by storm! Not only is this the third film for Tom Holland's Peter Parker, but it brought back all our past live action Peter Parkers to join in on the fun as well! Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and all the villains they faced ARE BACK! Spider-Man: No Way Home was a triumphant ending to Holland's (apparently first) trilogy, and an extremely exciting addition to the MCU. So to celebrate Spidey's NINTH feature film, I have ranked each of the Spider-Man films from WORST to BEST. (For the sake of this artcile, I chose to focus on Spider-Man's solo outings and did not include ensemble films in which he appears like Captain America: Civil War or the Avengers films). Enjoy!
(WARNING: There may be what some consider mild SPOILERS for No Way Home)
"With great power, comes great responsibility."
09. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
It's actually incredible how much this film pissed me off. It pretty much did everything wrong; from the story, to the filmmaking techniques themselves. You can tell director Marc Webb was getting tired. There is literally a three minute scene with Peter talking to Aunt May and Gwen Stacey where the camera looks at the back of his head the entire time he's talking! WTF? Dane DeHaan gives a great performance as Harry Osborn, but it's almost like he's acting in a complete different film. There's also the groan inducing moment when Spider-Man stops chasing Rhino to give pre-Electro Jamie Foxx a pep talk. Hey Spidey! Rhino has probably run over a dozen people in the amount of time it took you to tell Jamie to be more confident. Get moving! The film is also overstuffed with villains. You would think Sony would have learned their lesson from Spider-Man 3. Speaking of Rhino, remember how that mechanical suit was a huge part of the marketing? It's right there in the banner above. Well that suit shows up for a grand total of 45 seconds at the end of the film to tease an epic clash that we never actually got to witness. FUCK YOU! Add to that an opening action sequence featuring Peter's parents that feels more at home in a James Bond film than a Spider-Man film, and you can clearly see that this entry to Spidey's filmography really just has way too much stuffed into it.
08. The Amazing Spider-Man
Imagine a remake of the 2002 Spider-Man film in which everyone is a jerk. Peter? Kind of a skateboarding dick. Uncle Ben? Unlikable. Captain Stacy? Hardass. Seriously, why is everyone in this film so salty? Honestly, it's not even the words being said, it's HOW the actors say it. I know Spider-Man is sarcastic and sardonic in battle, but here Andrew doesn't seem to get the tone right. They softened him up in the sequel, but in this first film, his Spider-Man's one-liners make him come across as more of a smart-alecky dick than a jokey kid. They even end the film with Spider-Man going back on his word, WHICH HE GAVE TO A DYING MAN! How in the hell does that make Peter likable?? This 2012 film also follows the EXACT same structural beats as its 2002 predecessor. It's like the screenwriters had the 2002 script and did a "find, replace" on Green Goblin and made it Lizard. Then they took all of the good dialogue like "With great power comes great responsibility", and replaced it with weaker versions of the same exact statements, like "If you could do good things for other people, you had a moral obligation to do those things". What a mouthful! And to top it all off, they took Lizard (one of my all time favorite Spider-Man villains) and made him look like a damn Goomba from the live action Super Mario Bros. Movie!! They did my boy so dirty.
07. Spider-Man 3
You'd think this film would be on the bottom of the list. And it certainly does have a ton of problems: the dialogue is cheesy at times, there are far too many villains, some odd casting choices, and the character of Venom is wasted. Director Sam Raimi was notoriously forced to use the character at the request of producer Avi Arad. (Although oddly enough, the special effects for Venom are to-this-day, better than the effects in the Tom Hardy films based on the character. And this film came out nearly 15 years ago!) Raimi's original script featured Sandman and Vulture (who was to be played by John Maclkovich which would have been fantastic). In addition, we have Harry's Green Goblin, who looks less like a Goblin and more like a snowboarder. Which was an... interesting choice. Spider-Man 3 also features the most infamous scene in any of these films: the DANCING SCENE! Which, as ridiculous as it is, I can't fully hate because it's 100% Sam Raimi. And I'm almost certain that scene was a purposeful middle finger to the studio for forcing him to use Venom. That being said, there are positives here. Not only does it have some of the most intense action in Raimi's trilogy, but it also features some fantastic thematic writing. Every single scene in this film explores the theme of forgiveness in some way shape or form which gives Peter a very strong emotional arc. And although it may feature arguably the worst scene in the Spider-Man franchise, it also features two of it's most cinematic and emotional sequences: the church scene, and the birth of Sandman. That second scene in particular is cinema incarnate.
06. Spider-Man: Homecoming
In 2017, Spider-Man finally returned to the hands of Marvel. Well, sort of. Sony and Disney now have a deal that lets Sony put up some of the budget and distribute; while Disney put up the rest of the cash, and let their writers take over with the freedom to introduce Spider-Man to the MCU. Anyway, Homecoming was a smashing success! Tom Holland nailed the part while Michael Keaton gave us one of the best villains of the MCU with his interpretation of Vulture. This film does a great job of showcasing a younger Spider-Man near the beginning of his career. Only two things keep this film from being even better. One is the fact that Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark does steal every scene he's in, inadvertently making Spider-Man feel less like his own independent hero. The other is the emotional through-line, which could have been stronger. Peter doesn't have much of an emotional arc here other than learning what it takes to be Spider-Man. Which is perfectly fine, but I think connecting those hardships to wanting to protect Aunt May would have made this film even stronger.
05. Spider-Man: Far from Home
THIS film gets that emotional connection right! The one thing I wanted that I did not get in Homecoming was a stronger emotional arc for Peter and it seems the writers listened. This time we have Peter dealing with the recent death of Tony Stark. This guilt and pain he feels permeates the film and is a major influence on all of his decisions. We even have a terrifying scene where Peter's fears are manifested. That's good writing. The cast is having a ton of fun here, too. But the standout is the wonderfully carefree performance of Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, who is a ton of fun to watch. So with yet another wonderful villain, an actual emotional core, and of course all the action you can stand, this is the rare sequel that surpasses the first.
04. Spider-Man: No Way Home
The newest film is certainly the most spectacular of Spidey's films to date! But it doubles as a wonderful and loving "thank you" to all the fans of ALL of Spider-Man's live action film adaptations. The nostalgic feels are there. Trust me, it does not disappoint. But with triple the Spider-Men, we need triple the villains! And it seems that Sony finally learned how to make this many villains work fairly well within live action. Lizard and Sandman don't get a whole lot to do, but Jamie Foxx has more fun as Electro, and Willem DaFoe and Alfred Molina really shine in their returning roles as Green Goblin and Doc Ock. With a well done emotional arc, plenty of humor, and all the spectacular action you could ask for, this film really packs a punch! Combined, it all makes this the rare third film that happens to be the best of the trilogy! When was the last time you saw that?! That means that the MCU Spider-Man trilogy is the only Spider-Man trilogy (and honestly one of the few franchises ever) to have a perfect trilogy: where each film is as good or better than the film that preceded it. Congratulations Tom Holland and Marvel!
20 years later and the original Spider-Man film is still top tier superhero filmmaking. Enough cannot be said about how influential this film was to cinema. Every element has been lovingly crafted to showcase the fun and exciting feeling of reading the Spider-Man comics as a child. Sam Raimi is a master director who infuses his film with genuine heart and humanity. Raimi and screenwriter David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible) understand that to truly care about the story we need to start by caring about our characters. Focusing on Peter rather than Spider-Man was the right move. Tobey Maguire is pitch perfect as the nerdy, awkward Peter Parker. And while his Spider-Man may not make quips at the mile-a-minute rate of his other fellow Spideys, each quip feels perfect for the character in the moment. The casting here is perfection. Rosemary Harris will always be MY Aunt May. But the real standout here is Willem DaFoe, who was so good as Green Goblin, Marvel and Sony brought him back for the newest film. That laugh of his has haunted my dreams ever since I was a child. This first Spider-Man film also features dialogue so iconic that it was either poorly imitated (Amazing) or straight up copied (No Way Home) in later films. Not to mention the incredible musical score by Danny Elfman, which not only features THE iconic cinematic Spider-Man theme song, but has gone on to become one of the strongest superhero film scores to this day. But most importantly, it's this first films simplicity that is its biggest strength. It lets the audience really dig into Peter as a character and grow to love him far more than any of the other films allow. Bottom line: the dialogue is crisp, the directing is impeccable, the performances are grand, and the heart is pure. This is a superhero film to emulate.
02. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Ummmm WOW. This film is pretty much perfect. You could absolutely make the argument that this Spider-Man film is the best one made yet. And you might even be correct. This film has it all! It's the funniest of the group, has some stellar action scenes, impeccable voice casting, a fantastic score, and a wonderful emotional through-line for Miles Morales. This was also the first Spider-Man film to feature multiple villains and actually get it right (maybe even better than No Way Home). Prowler, Doc Ock, Kingpin... they're all so perfect. And they aren't just accurate interpretations, but they're also so personal to the story being told. Not to mention the genius that is giving each of the characters a slightly different animation style to exemplify the idea that all of them come from a different universe. But wait! Did I mention Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir? Or Kathryn Hahn as Doc Ock? Oh, and John Mulaney as Spider-Ham! There is too much here to like. Personally, the only thing for me that keeps this from being the BEST, is that I think there could have been an even stronger moment at the end with Spider-Man actually rescuing his father instead of them both just simply surviving the explosion. That would have really nailed that emotional arc in the best possible way. But that is a very nip-picky thing because everything else here is just so damn good. It's second, but only by a hair.
01. Spider-Man 2
Here it is. Not only the best Spider-Man film to date, but one of the best superhero films ever made and one of the few sequels that is a triumph over the original (and that's saying something). Why? Well to start off we have Alfred Molina as Doc Ock, in yet another casting choice so utterly perfect that you simply HAD to bring him back for No Way Home. But far beyond that, this film has the strongest script of the Spider-Man films. The drama of watching Peter struggle with being Spider-Man is palpable. You really root for Peter and completely understand his point of view. The emotions run high in this sequel, which makes each character's decisions all the more relatable. Harry's quest to find his father's killer, Doc Ock's quest to finish his machine, and Peter's quest to finally be seen by Mary Jane... each of these storylines have such humanity behind them. This film features excellent dialogue and stellar performances as well. And that's before we even get to the incredible action sequences. The train scene alone still ranks as one of the greatest action scenes ever put on film. And all of this wouldn't have been possible without Sam Raimi's masterful directing. Spider-Man's second theatrical outing has action, it has character, and it has so, so much heart. This is cinematic perfection. Congratulations Spider-Man 2, you win money.