Spider-Man certainly is an interesting Marvel superhero in that he’s had three incarnations in live action (and one full-fledged animated movie) that have all brought something of value and have caused a lot of discussion among fans even to this day. This list ranks all eight Spider-Man movies from worst to best.
7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
This movie is riddled with so many problems in cramming in so many plotlines involving the past of Peter’s dad, the birth of Electro, and Harry Osborn facing the same disease as his father that it feels so lost and needlessly complicated within its own narrative. With that being said, it’s got some good action sequences and at its core is once again the Peter and Gwen romance, which plays a key part in defining Spider-Man as she plays an important role in helping Peter out in his endeavors as the web slinger particularly with her going to Oxford and Peter making a decision. And the two actors have amazing chemistry that allows even the most awkward of moments to flow. Because of this Gwen’s demise really hits a hard note even though this saga didn’t get off the ground. But its story just tries to throw so much complications at us that aside from the romance between Peter and Gwen, nothing can fully be fully fleshed out or explored.
6. Spider-Man 3
From a technical and production standpoint, this is not a bad movie. The action is well choreographed and the effects have come a long way from the first movie. But its characters are heavily flawed. None of the three villains are given much time to develop and their execution in their writing is rather poor. From Eddie Brock’s last minute transformation to Venom without anything making him a remotely convincing super villain, the pointless recon of Flint Marko/Sand man becoming Uncle Ben’s killer, and Harry Osborn’s motivation being completely solved within minutes after spending virtually the entire film on it, none of these motivations feel remotely fleshed out. And the same can be said about the romance aspect as well. Gwen Stacy serves no purpose other than to once again manufacture tension between Peter and Mary Jane. Mary Jane also dumps Peter midway through the movie on Harry’s orders (even though she just could have easily warned her boyfriend that Harry threatened her). Peter also goes all emo halfway through the movie resulting in some over-the-top cringe worthy dancing. Campiness has always been a part of the charm of the Rami movies but this really felt like jumping the shark for what is supposed to be a dark narrative of torment, meanness, and craziness. When Peter acted crazy or brutal it didn’t feel believable. And none of this did anything to bring them any closer together. While a smart narrative on paper, its execution in its characters really suffers all throughout.
5. The Amazing Spider-Man
While Uncle Ben’s death admittedly was handled rather poorly and neither him nor Aunt May get much screen time to leave an accurate impression, this movie showed some decent promise. Andrew Garfield gave a strong performance as Spider-Man, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, without a doubt proves to be hands down the best female lead of any Spider-Man movie and the two actors have amazing chemistry and they prove to make a great duo when it comes to their relationship and fighting crime as Gwen often applies her science smarts to take on the villains. At times the CGI on the Lizard looked spotty and at times it looked great. The Spider effects were done perfectly. The rest of the cast and characters like Dr. Conners and Captain Stacy are in no way terrible and you can definitely tell the attempt to do something different with them but they don’t manage to leave as big of an impression and doesn’t have nearly the same heart. There’s also some drama involving a backstory with Peter’s parents, which felt really confusing, and the sequel did nothing to improve on that. All in all, this movie definitely had promise but didn’t really capitalize on any of it and it’s rather disappointing.
4. Spider-Man (2002)
Ah our first introduction to Spidey. Every kid who loved Marvel fell for this movie when it first came out and it was a huge hit at the time. It had a great Aunt May and Uncle Ben whose ideals shaped the titular hero, J.K. Simmons stealing the show as J. Jonah Jameson, and a cameo by the Macho Man himself Randy Savage. There are a couple of problems to the movie: The special effects do not hold up (though they would get a lot better in the sequels), there are multiple continuity errors, the Peter and Mary Jane romance doesn’t lend its way to much chemistry in either the performances or dialogue, and the there’s a lot of corny dialogue that flies high all throughout the film. William Dafoe definitely proved to be quite the menacing and chilling villain when it came to portraying Norman Osborn but felt a tad too comical once he became the Green Goblin. That being said, even its flaws do have a campy charm to it and the movie definitely has a lot of heart in it. It may not succeed in every aspect but definitely has good intentions to the end.
3. Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man Homecoming (Tie)
This one is a tie because up until the last two came out, these two were the best Spider-Man films out there. Both have some major flaws but have some rock solid assets to fall back on. Let’s start with Spider-Man 2: It’s a definitive improvement over the first in its effects, Alfred Molina’s performance as Doc Ock carries enough insanity without going to over-the-top which is what the William Dafoe as the Green Goblin ought to have been. The train scene is an amazing sequence from start to finish that can be held up next to the best action sequences of MCU movies and its narrative greatly expands upon Peter’s struggle of being Spider-Man and with great power comes great responsibility in being there for Aunt May, managing life as Peter, and screwing up as Spider-Man. However some of the silliness from the first movie is still there with hokey dialogue and acting, Mary Jane being engaged to John Jameson served no purpose whatsoever, there are still inconsistencies in the direction, and Peter losing his powers. While remnants of the first movie’s flaws are still in this one, it not only means a lot better but also succeeds a lot better.
Homecoming on the other hand was an interesting surprise. Let’s start with the flaws: In trying to earn Stark’s approval to be an Avenger his core motive of “doing what he does because given the power he has if he doesn’t they happen because of him” gets lost in the process up until the climax. The action looked smaller and noticeably fake at times. And the hi-tech suit and him relying on all the various gadgetry, while it supplied a great deal of comedy, really make it distant of what Spider-Man ought to be about. But its greatest parts more than prove to make up for it. The first third gave a nice slice of life into Peter’s life in being Peter and being a superhero and shows the little things he does that define him. Tom Holland gave an earnest and honest performance in portraying Peter Parker and Spider-Man that makes us root for his aspirations, gives outstanding chemistry with all his fellow co-stars in the movie, and in crafting the layers of how Peter still has a lot to learn even with what he has learned by the end. It does well in subtly showing “great power with great responsibility” as a coming of age story. Then there’s the villain: This is hands down the best Spider-Man villain period. His greatest aspect of him comes from his humanity rather than fancy gadgets or experiments or powers and the movie utilizes that in crafting him from beginning to end. And Michael Keaton was capable of bringing chills on performance alone. This movie not only gave us a lot but also left audiences raring for more of a journey. While the romance with Liz predictably ends on a tearful note and isn’t all that explored it’s a believable high school romance that isn’t too cheesy or awkward nor is it too dramatic and it plays into crafting the aforementioned coming of age story in that he’s come a long way by the end but has a longer way to go before he can become truly become a man. While it has flaws like any good Spider-Man movie, it provides a narrative worth rooting for and getting invested in from beginning to end.
2. Spider-Man Far From Home
This movie did well in improving upon its predecessor. While Peter still uses Stark technology, he’s a lot less reliant on the gadgets and this time uses his own wits and natural abilities in battle. Its non New-York setting really expanded upon Spider-Man’s evolution in his own way. It really felt like Peter was under immense pressure on all fronts in this movie and it does well in mounting as the movie progresses all leading up to some horrifying stakes towards the end. The action, did well, particularly with Mysterio’s illusions giving the action scenes a much bigger scale and intensity. When fighting Peter very much felt like he’s someone looking out for the little guy fighting these giant threats. While Vulture is a better villain, Jake Gyllenhall did well in bringing Mysterio to life as a person. Holland once again portrayed the best aspects of Peter Parker in being a nice but naïve and geeky guy without overselling it. He has a good nature to a fault, which ties in well to the message of “great power comes great responsibility” in an expanding way. It really felt like this movie was moving forward with Spider-Man being his own person in the MCU. This is a Spider-Man movie that not only worked in itself but also felt like it could be pushed forward in terms of the concept of Spider-Man in its own way. The prime factor that puts this above Rami’s second movie is that while both movies went out with a bang, this movie felt like it was the end for Peter’s beginning going into deeper waters than usual. For all the good the second movie did, its ending felt like a definitive ending for Peter’s journeys altogether.
1.Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
Yeah I’m sure none of you are surprised but this is one heck of a different and innovative take on the classic web slinger that did so in ways none of us thought possible. In introducing the idea of parallel realities, it crafts a very self-aware Spider-Man movie in knowing Spider-Man’s place in pop culture and entertainment. Not only is it amazingly funny but it also has an outstanding variety in animation detail and style bringing the comic book world to life. It has so much energy and wit from start to finish and opened up so many possibilities that no Spider-Man movie ever did. Time will tell what this movie’s legacy will be but for now this is definitely a Spider-Man movie that is filled with awe all the way through and will no doubt kick off an amazing wave of animated superhero movies in the future.
How do you rank the Spider-Man movies? Any rankings you disagree with? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!