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 an action movie 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 and narrative are heavily flawed. None of the three villains are given much time to develop and their execution in their writing is rather poor. From Topher Grace being badly miscast as Eddie Brock, his last minute transformation to Venom without anything making him a remotely convincing super villain, the pointless retcon of Flint Marko/Sand man becoming Uncle Ben’s killer and discarding him after one battle in the sewers, and Harry Osborn’s pointlessly getting parital amnesia for as long as the script requires and his motivation being completely solved within minutes thanks to discount Alfred finally telling him the truth having somehow known it since the night Norman died 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. His motivation however could have been more compelling and it comes off as silly more than anything. 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 in that regard.
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. And while I am definitely a sucker for old fashioned superheroes with cheesy dialogue (Superman 1978 ranks among one of my favorite superhero movies of all time) I just didn’t always find the cast having enough charm to carry that cheesy dialogue. 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 Homecoming
This movie was an interesting surprise in capturing the classic take on the web slinger. 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 a ground-level teenage superhero. Tom Holland gave an earnest and honest performance in portraying a humble 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 2 and Spider-Man: Far From Home (Tie)
This one is a tie because I feel both these movies within both their flaws do accomplish rock-solid things for a great Spider-Man movie. Spider-Man 2 was a definite improvement over the first in its effects. Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock carried enough insanity without going too over-the top but he’s also showed him at his core as a noble scientist who wants to use his gifts to help mankind at all costs and it makes for a genuinely compelling villain. The train scene is an amazing sequence on par with the best of the MCU. And its narrative greatly expands upon the famous saying of “with great power comes great responsibility” in the difficulty of being there for Aunt May and managing life as Peter, all while being Spider-Man. With all that being said some of the cheesiness from its predecessor is still there with the hokey dialogue and acting, I’m not the biggest Mary Jane Watson fan and this movie did nothing to change that, her engagement to John Jameson served no purpose, the tension with Peter was really irritating, and there are still inconsistencies with 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.
Whereas 2 placed our hero under pressure in his responsibilities as Peter, Far From Home did well in placing pressure on his responsiblities as Spider-Man and also placed Peter under pressure on all fronts all throughout the movie with him just wanting to be him but unable to break away fully. And that pressure mounts well leading to some horrifying stakes that I hope the next movie will be able to capitalize on. And while Peter does still use the Stark technology, he is a lot less reliant on all the gadgets and he does use his own abilities. The action did well, particularly with Mysterio’s illusions lifting his look and abilities out of the comics, and the final battle has a nice scale to it with Peter being the little guy fighting something far more gigantic than him. And While Vulture is the better villain (as is Doc Ock) Jake Gyllenhaal did well to bring both parts of Mysterio to life (outside of that goofy reveal scene) with an interesting motivation (no it’s not simply because Tony Stark named his tech BARF). Zendaya’s MJ proved to an enjoyable love interest and she and Peter do have some awkwardly adorable chemistry. And Tom Holland once again brought in all the best traits of Peter Parker of being a nice but naive and geeky guy without overdoing it as well as having a good nature to a fault. Both these movies ended with a bang and Far From Home, while smaller than most Spider-Man movies felt much more like the end of Peter’s beginning and him being his own man.
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.
At the end of the day no live-action Spider-Man is perfect. Yet I feel that if you combined the best elements of these movies you’d have that perfect Spider-Man movie. How do you rank the Spider-Man movies? Any rankings you disagree with? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!