Every Spider-Man Movie Ranked
June 2, 2023
With Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse swinging into theaters this weekend, now is a perfect time to revisit and recap every movie from our friendly neighborhood superhero. Since the character’s big screen inception in 2002, Spider-Man has had many faces, friends, foes, and bosses thanks to a civil feud between Sony and Marvel.
Between the Spider-Man actors - Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Tom Holland, and Shameik Moore - many generations of fans have debated over who is the best Spider-Man. However, that thorny question will be left for another day. Instead, we’ll embark on the equally difficult and exciting task of ranking all nine Spider-Man movies (Raimi trilogy, Amazing Spider-Man franchise, MCU trilogy, Into the Spider-Verse) from worst to best.
9. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Yes, I admit that having Homecoming at the bottom of this list is an unpopular opinion. Tom Holland debuted as the MCU’s Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War one year prior, with Homecoming being his first solo trip around the block. Homecoming is borderline okay, often pushing good. Indecisive on whether or not it wants to be a superhero movie or a John Hughes-inspired coming-of-age flick (i.e., The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles), Homecoming struggles with its story and leaves audiences underwhelmed. Performance-wise, Holland and the supporting actors are finding their footing with mixed results. It does help that Robert Downey Jr. brings his usual veteran charm in his seventh outing Tony Stark. The other standout in the movie’s strongest suit is Michael Keaton’s Vulture, who packs both a threatening presence and justifiable motives. His turning out to be Liz’s dad was a surprise and one of the most shocking plot twists in the MCU. Thankfully, the fact that Homecoming isn’t as strong as the other Spider-Man movies isn’t a total hindrance, as its direct MCU sequels build upon it and eventually make Holland’s run better by progression.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Before a recent rewatch, I always had a soft spot for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Although it wasn’t the best Spider-Man movie, I still found a lot to enjoy. However, the nostalgia has worn off, with the flaws being glaringly obvious. These big problems stem from the overcrowded writer’s room, with three new pens joining the only returning writer James Vanderbilt. The plot is overstuffed and the handling of the villains could’ve been better. The tone has also been drastically changed, although that change works out in the movie’s favor. Dane DeHaan could’ve been a solid Harry Osborn/Green Goblin, but he comes off as one-dimensional and his subplot is rushed.
The same can be said for Jamie Foxx’s Electro, as it seems like he had to battle with the filmmakers/producers on how to pursue the character. These notes aside, TASM 2 still had some strong aspects to it. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have stellar chemistry, the ever-impressive Hans Zimmer delivers an excellent score, and the action sequences are incredibly staged, with the Times Square battle being the coolest moment in Garfield’s brief saga.
7. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
If Garfield’s Spider-Man movies took any lessons from Raimi’s trilogy, it’s the unfortunate ability to mishandle a trio of villains. Harry’s long-gestating transformation into Goblin doesn’t bear the expected fruit as his final form only appears in two scenes, one of which is the final battle where he’s fighting Venom and Sandman alongside Spider-Man. Venom is introduced too late, with Topher Grace (poorly) replicating his hit character of Eric Forman from That 70s Show. Sandman is the only villain ingrained with a meaningful backstory and motives, both aided by Thomas Haden Church’s performance.
I know it’s an unpopular opinion considering the memes that it spawned, but one of the best aspects of Spider-Man 3 is how it gives Peter an edgy side. Whether ironically or unironically, I think those misunderstood elements will become more appreciated as time goes on. Tobey Maguire still holds up as a more adult Peter/Spider-Man, with James Franco and Kirsten Dunst complimenting him as Harry Osborn and M.J., respectively.
6. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
For the longest time, I thought Spider-Man 2 was the most overrated superhero movie ever. Don’t let your immediate anger cloud your judgment, as being overrated does not mean it’s bad. There’s a lot to love: Maguire and Dunst bring back their excellent chemistry, Alfred Molina’s menacing Doc Ock, Danny Elfman’s energetic score, and the Oscar-winning special effects. Raimi is also allowed to bring out his darker side by raising the stakes for Peter. He even creates one of the most horrifying scenes in a superhero movie, with the hospital scene still sending a tingle down my spine today. And then there’s the train sequence, which still holds up as one of the best cinematic Spider-Man set pieces.
So why do I think this movie is overrated? Well, it’s because this sequel often feels like it’s trying too hard to replicate exactly what made its predecessor a huge success. If you think about it, Doc Ock has the same internal struggle as Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. And when Peter returns to being Spider-Man, he simply does it because MJ got kidnapped. There’s also the underdeveloped subplot of Aunt May's financial struggles and Peter’s academic decline. But for all my gripes, Spider-Man 2 is still a genuinely fun time.
5. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Andrew Garfield’s first outing might be a little too familiar to Maguire’s, but it still has enough unique identifiers, such as the exploration of Peter’s parents and the handling of Peter as more of an outcast instead of a nerd, to justify its existence. This reboot still had its struggles with an inconsistent tone that goes from lighthearted fun to ominous at the flip of a switch. And it often becomes distracting as Garfield tries to replicate Maguire's humor while trying to be his version of the character. However, he does showcase great chemistry with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy, almost giving Maguire and Dunst a run for their money. Denis Leary stands out as Captain Stacy and Rhys Ifans’ Dr. Curt Connors/Lizard is an intimidating villain, even if he’s nowhere near the level of Dafoe's Goblin or Molina’s Doc Ock. His desire to create a world without weakness makes sense based on his situation, but his ends don’t justify the means.
4. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Far From Home feels like your typical Spider-Man movie, which makes it serve as the perfect epilogue to the Earth-shattering events of Avengers: Endgame. Peter faces a great threat in Quentin Beck/Mysterio, with Jake Gyllenhaal being fantastic in the role as he finds room to make the character simultaneously understandable and egotistical. The chemistry between Holland and Zendaya continues to grow, with Jacob Batalon supplying the comic relief. It also never hurts to have Samuel L. Jackson appear as Nick Fury. FFH also has heaviness throughout as Peter still grieves over Tony’s death while struggling to live up to the status he expects of himself.
The scene where Mysterio messes with Peter’s head through illusions is the perfect illustration of the character at his most frightening. Not once does it feel cheesy; it’s unnerving as we see a figure Peter trusted unleash his true colors. Had Peter’s story ended here, it would’ve been neat, but it ultimately sets the stage for a third chapter that will go down as the most iconic for Holland’s run thus far (hint, hint).
3. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
No Way Home is the pinnacle testament to Spider-Man as it honors the cinematic legacy that was created back in 2002. We find Holland’s Spider-Man still processing the weight of Tony’s death and developing an understanding of what it means to be a superhero. Fortunately, he finds two excellent teachers in those that have come before him as Maguire and Garfield return, along with their familiar foes. Their chemistry with Holland is undeniable, and it’s so satisfying to see the three of them interacting with each other.
Bringing the first two Spider-Men back felt like a wave of nostalgia for lifelong fans of the character. But it’s not a simple cash grab as it works well with the grand scope of the narrative. Seeing Dafoe’s Goblin and Molina’s Doc Ock return is bittersweet as they act like not a day has passed since they last played their parts. Foxx’s Electro is given room to be the formidable opponent he wanted to be in TASM 2. NWH would easily be in the top two, but the only thing holding it back is the heavy reliance on fan service, which doesn’t translate as well outside of the theater. Otherwise, it’s a perfect Spider-Man movie that encapsulates everything it means to be the character.
2. Spider-Man (2002)
Spider-Man is a classic superhero movie with the right amount of stakes for the character both internally and externally. It laid the groundwork of what a Spider-Man movie could be so effortlessly, something that almost every other entry has been chasing. Maguire fits the bill as a nerdy Peter Parker grappling with his newly given powers to become the hero we know and love. Of course, I may be biased toward this movie since it is the original. But upon revisiting it recently, it’s still as flawless as when I first watched it. Sam Raimi always stood for changing the game just as he did for the horror genre with the Evil Dead trilogy, so there’s no surprise that he reapplies his methods to the still burgeoning superhero genre.
Willem Dafoe is incredible as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, nailing the two-face aspect of the character. James Franco and Kirsten Dunst deliver excellent turns as Peter’s friend Harry and love interest M.J., respectively, as does Rosemary Harris as Aunt May and J.K. Simmons as the wisecracking J. Jonah Jameson. The finale is also one of the best moments of any superhero movie, as we see Spidey flawlessly save M.J. and the Roosevelt Island tram.
1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Into the Spider-Verse is not only one of the best superhero movies ever made, but it’s also one of the best-animated movies of the 21st Century. Here, we are introduced to Miles Morales, a middle schooler who is dealt the same fate as Peter and learns to become a hero. Only this time, he gets some help from other variations of the character spread across countless dimensions. Shameik Moore voices the role of Miles well, while Hailee Steinfeld and Jake Johnson counter him as Spider-Gwen and Peter B. Parker/Spider-Man. Daniel Pemberton’s score and the soundtrack bring their unique flare, matching well with the out-of-this-world animation. The utilization of different animation styles left no doubt as to why this won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, or why it will continue to be the model for animation excellence for years to come.
Whichever Spider-Man movie audiences prefer, there is no denying that all nine of them offer something different. No matter if they work or not, the movies made a statement about the character and illustrated where the superhero genre was at a moment in time. Tobey Maguire laid the groundwork; Andrew Garfield proved that you should never stand down even if the cards aren’t in your favor; Tom Holland captured the youthfulness and understood the duties of Spider-Man; and Shameik Moore proved that no one fights alone and anyone can wear the mask. But what do all four of these Spider-Men have in common? They have the understanding that with great power comes great responsibility.
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