Spider-man is by far one of the most iconic and recognizable superheroes, alongside DC heavyweights Batman and Superman. Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born, Spider-man was Marvel’s flagship franchise. The Spider-man movie released back in 2002 was a trailblazer that set the standard for all the superhero films that came after it.
While it is pretty funny to me that we’ve had six different movies about Spider-man featuring three different actors as Peter Parker in the last fifteen years, such is the appeal of Marvel’s most popular hero. Even his least-liked and lowest-grossing movie managed to make as much as $700+ million in the box office worldwide.
In honor of the recently-released Spider-man: Homecoming movie, I thought I’d take a look back at all of Spidey’s previous live-action big screen adaptations just to see how well the new one stacks up.
#6: The Amazing Spider-man 2 (2014)
Despite being touted as the worst Spider-man film, there is still a lot to like about Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-man sequel. For one, Andrew Garfield is good as Spider-man (but arguably less effective as Peter Parker) and he’s got great chemistry with leading lady Emma Stone who portrays Gwen Stacy. Amazing Spider-man 2‘s two leads do well with what they’re given so it is a shame that the story surrounding them is as messy as it is.
The Amazing Spider-man 2‘s biggest offense is being overstuffed. There are just way too many plot threads and the movie just didn’t do a good job of balancing them out. Some plots were good (like the aforementioned love story between Peter and Gwen), some were fine (like Electro’s grudge against Spider-man, and Harry Osborn’s return), and some were just downright unnecessary (like the subplot about Peter’s parents, Harry’s transformation into the Green Goblin, and the subplot with The Rhino).
It is a shame because I felt like this could’ve been a good movie if they had just decided to leave off some of the unnecessary subplots. Oh well. It’s not like we don’t have other, better Spidey films to watch…
#5: Spider-man 3 (2007)
Spider-man 3 has a lot of the same problems that Amazing Spider-man 2 has. It is overstuffed and has too many main villains. It also has some pretty silly and cringe-worthy moments (Emo Peter, anyone?).
However, I still think that Spider-man 3 is a better movie than Amazing Spider-man 2 not just because it is somewhat more entertaining but also because, unlike the Marc Webb sequel, Spider-man 3 actually felt like it was about something.
Amazing Spider-man 2 felt less like a movie and more like a series of unrelated scenes while Spider-man 3 at least felt like it had some sort of unifying vision and theme–the idea that power without responsibility is a corrupting force. In this movie, we see Peter Parker starting to get consumed by his popularity and pride that he started forgetting why he became Spider-man in the first place–to help those in need. Sure, it was done in a ham-fisted way (his suit was literally consumed by black alien goo that makes him stronger but also makes him do bad things) but it was there.
#4: The Amazing Spider-man (2012)
Nowadays, every superhero movie needs a dark, gritty reboot…
I don’t dislike The Amazing Spider-man as much as most fans seem to but I do feel like we didn’t really need this movie. We’ve already seen Peter Parker’s origin story in the previous Spider-man films and shows. We already know about the radioactive spider that bit Peter and we know about how the death of his Uncle Ben motivated him to become a superhero. We really DID NOT need to see all that again.
That being said, Amazing is still a solid Spider-man film. It had a lot of great action and I feel like Andrew Garfield was great at portraying Spidey’s quippy, jokey side. Emma Stone was great as Gwen Stacy and Rhys Ifans was suitably sympathetic as the main villain Curt Connors/The Lizard.
#3: Spider-man (2002)
Ah, yes. The one that started it all.
Without the first Spider-man film, we wouldn’t have the surplus of superhero films we have today. Spider-man has great action, a solid story, and good performances from Tobey Maguire (Peter), Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane), James Franco (Harry Osborn), and Willem Dafoe (Norman Osborn/Green Goblin).
The only reason it isn’t higher up on the list is because I feel like the next two Spidey movies were able to improve on the standard set by this first movie.
#2: Spider-man: Homecoming (2017)
Marvel fans have waited so long for Spider-man to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and team up with The Avengers. Now that Homecoming is in theaters, it is safe to say that his solo MCU movie was worth the wait.
While Homecoming smartly decided not to retread Spidey’s origin story for a third time, Homecoming does feel like an origin story of sorts. In this movie, we meet a young, untested Spider-man who is eager to grow up and play ball with the big boys. Of course, his mentor Tony Stark won’t let him do anything too dangerous (it was even implied that the reason he brought Peter along to the Civil War fight was because he knew that Captain America wouldn’t really hurt the kid too much) and Peter’s eagerness to prove himself worthy of being an Avenger is a new side of Spidey we haven’t seen in previous films.
I don’t want to spoil too much about the movie since it’s still in the theaters right now so I’ll just say that Homecoming is one of the better solo Spider-man movies. Tom Holland is perfect as both Peter and Spider-man. His supporting cast has some of the most diverse and enjoyable MCU characters yet. Also, Michael Keaton is incredible as the Vulture.
#1: Spider-man 2 (2004)
Yes, that’s right. Spider-man 2 is still the best Spider-man movie. Not only does Spider-man 2 have the story that best exemplifies Spidey’s popular “With great power come great responsibility” ethos, it also has the best villain in Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus and perfectly blends the mature, serious tone of the Amazing Spider-man movies and the fun, entertaining nature of Homecoming.
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading my personal ranking of all 6 Spider-man movies! Did you agree or disagree with the way I ranked them? Feel free to let me know! Bye!