The Spider-Man character has seen 3 live-action interpretations put to the big screen, with each new actor having a few movies under their belt. Spider-Man is a beloved character and is easily one of my favourites. Spider-Man is also a very important character in the comic book movie genre as a whole. Sam Rami’s Spider-Man released in 2002 was the first movie ever to reach over 100 million in its opening weekend. A trend we find very common in today’s superhero movies. Spider-Man, very much like the X-Men, has some of the best comic book movies ever made in its franchise, but it also has some of the worst ever made as well. So right now I’ve ranked my least favourite to favourite Spider-Man movies along with its one spin-off, Venom. Here is my list.
9. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
What this movie fails to accomplish is juggling all of the storylines in this movie. Clearly, you can tell that director Marc Webb wanted to direct a different movie then what the studio was wanting. Webb wanted to make a movie about relationships and Sony wanted to set up a future Spider-Man cinematic universe. Wow, this movie is convoluted. All three villains are wasted and are some of the worst adaptations of any comic book characters. I mean seriously, Rhino in his heart pattern boxers and obnoxious yelling/noises that come out of his mouth (for a lack of a better term) is the best you can do with that character in the short 5 seconds he’s on-screen? Electro is essentially Jim Carrey’s Riddler from Batman Forever. I don’t even know what to say about Green Goblin and his goblin herpes. Andrew Garfield is a decent Spider-Man, you can tell he’s passionate about this character. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a mess. Too many things are introduced and then completely pushed to the side and in some cases, forgotten about entirely.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man
I find this “new, untold” Spider-Man story (or at least that’s what the marketing was selling) to be a boring rehash of a story we’ve seen so many times now. Marc Webb directs this movie as if it were an indie rock band music video. There are far too many odd and out of place montages of Peter Parker skateboarding that feels ripped right out of a music video. Webb also directs this movie with no style or anything visually interesting on screen. The movie is darkly lit, with a lot of grey tones as its colour palette. A very boring aesthetic. One of the biggest complaints about the Rami trilogy was Spider-Man wasn’t quippy enough. Everyone praises The Amazing Spider-Man for finally having a quippy Spider-Man, but in reality, there’s one scene with Spider-Man cracking quips. That’s it. Andrew Garfield is a pretty good Spider-Man, he physically captures that role. As Peter Parker, however, the movie is unable to capture that character. Instead of being the nerdy kid in high school who gets picked on, he’s a cool hipster-looking kid who is somewhat of a loner. What does work for me is the relationship between Gwen Stacey and Peter. Marc Webb comes from an indie romance genre with 500 Days of Summer. This aspect of the movie is the best part. The relationship feels believable and organic. What doesn’t work for me is this movies villain, The Lizard. Seriously, what was his plan? To turn everyone into lizard people? So stupid. The Amazing Spider-Man for me is a hard movie to rewatch that offers absolutely nothing new to the Spider-Man character.
7. Spider-Man 3
Ya, this movie derails itself a lot and has no one to blame but itself. But beneath emo Peter Parker and jazz dancer Peter, there’s some gold. Let’s just get the negatives out of the way first. Emo Peter Parker and Venom suck. They are bad representations of those characters that don’t work in this movie. Peter Parker is embarrassing to watch in half of this movie. Venom feels like a shoehorned afterthought that the studio wanted to be added in. Topher Grace is horribly miscast as Eddie Brock. I love the guy in That ‘70’s Show, but his movie career hasn’t been so hot. The movie also retcons Uncle Ben’s killer and makes the killer Sandman so he would have some sort of relevance to the main characters. This movie should have been focused on Peter and Harry. That’s what the first two movies were leading up. Aside from those glaring flaws, Spider-Man 3 carries over the awe and wonder that Sam Rami was able to capture with the first two movies. Rami’s visual style cuts through and gives the audience something interesting to look at and a style to view the world of New York through. I really like Thomas Hayden Church as Sandman in this movie. He plays the role with a sympathetic demeanor that provides a great internal conflict within himself. Despite the horrible direction they go with Peter Parker, Tobey Maguire commits to this role and goes for it. When the movie focuses on Harry and Peter it’s at its best. Their dynamic and chemistry shines and makes me upset that the rest of the movie didn’t decide to focus on it. Very much like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3 tries cramming way too much into one movie. It’s no longer a flowing story but an incoherent mess in a lot of ways. Spider-Man 3 has it’s redeeming qualities that I do enjoy watching it from time to time, but overall this movie is a mess.
Venom by all standards is a safe, conventional, run of the mill superhero movie that should have been a boring hot mess. However, for whatever reason, Venom accidentally turns into a dark comedy romance story between Eddie and Venom and becomes a really entertaining and fun movie. Now I’m not saying this a good movie whatsoever, because it’s not. By all means, this movie should have been a mess, but Tom Hardy and his relationship with Venom saves this film. Hardy commits 100% to this role and the material he was given. He honestly single-handedly saves this film. He is so much fun and entertaining to watch. His dynamic with Venom is never dull and is quite funny. Other then that and a few well-directed action scenes, Venom is a bland movie. I do not care for a single character other than Venom and Eddie. The relationship set up with Michele Williams is forgettable. The main villain of the movie is the definition of a mustache-twirling villain. He has no layers to him, he’s straight forward just a bad guy. Nothing special or unique about him. A trend that we see in a lot of in superhero movies is the hero’s antagonist is just an evil version of what they are. Examples, in the first Iron Man, Iron Man fights Iron Monger. Man of Steel, Superman fights another Kryptonian, General Zod. Doctor Strange, Doctor Strange fights another sorcerer. Here Venom fights another symbiote that looks identical to him. In their final fight sequence together, it’s very difficult to tell who’s who in the battle. It just looks like a gooey mess. Venom is saved accidentally by turning into a comedy and by its charismatic lead in Tom Hardy. Everything else about Venom we have seen numerous times before in much better superhero movies.
5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Homecoming finally is able to capture the essence of what a teenage Spider-Man would be like. Marvel and Sony have cast Tom Holland who actually looks like a kid and not a 30 year old trying to act like he’s in high school. Tom Holland is the best live-action interpretation of Spider-Man yet. Also excellently well cast is the great Michael Keaton as The Vulture. His addition to the MCU is one of the best villains we’ve seen from that universe. He was a normal guy who got screwed over and decided to break bad. I love the scene when it is revealed that The Vulture is the father of the girl Peter is taking out to homecoming. What a great scene of tension and humour played so well by both actors. And that’s what I love about The Vulture, he’s just an everyday normal guy that he could be anyone. He doesn’t have to be a mad titan or a god of mischief to be an effective villain. As much as I love Ned and his friendship with Peter, I really miss the classic Gwen Stacey, Mary-Jane Watson, and Harry Osborne characters and story in this movie. I understand Marvel wants to give the audience something new with Spider-Man we haven’t seen done hundreds of times before. But for me, I just wish those characters were a little bit truer to their comic book counterparts. Spider-Man: Homecoming for me doesn’t have that wow or awe factor that the Rami trilogy so perfectly captured (or at least the first two of that trilogy). Spider-Man is set in really odd settings considering this character is known for swinging around off of skyscrapers in New York. We get to see a little bit of that, but most of the time is spent in the suburbs or Washington or secret government facilities. That missing aspect for me lowers my appreciation for this movie a little bit every time I watch it. Overall Spider-Man: Homecoming is a great representation of who Peter Parker is and how much fun Spider-Man can be.
4. Spider-Man: Far From Home
Having only seen this movie the one time, at the time that I am writing this, made it hard to find a spot to put it on this list. I’m not sure if I like this movie or Homecoming better, but for now, I’ll say this one. What this movie gets right is Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. This movie has a youthful spirit to it that makes it feel very lighthearted and fun. Even when the dramatic weight of the movie starts to weigh-in, the film still finds a way for the audience to be entertained and still have fun with those moments. Far From Home has a great way of explaining the events of Endgame and how the world has adapted to it. The character of Mysterio is well represented and expertly played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Mysterio provides for creative and visually interesting action sequences. A lot of the same problems I had with Homecoming are present here. As much as I love Tom Holland, his Spider-Man just never feels like he’s in his proper environment. Which I get is the point of this movie as it is called Far From Home, but he’s never been in his environment for more than a few minutes in Homecoming or even Infinity War. Zendaya’s MJ was very one-note for me in Homecoming, so I was glad to see her be given a much stronger and prominent role here. Her chemistry works really well with Holland and I really liked where they went with their relationship. Not to give anything away here, but I will say Michael Keaton’s Vulture was much more of a compelling character in Homecoming, then anyone in this movie. Check out my full review for this movie if you want to see my full thoughts on Far From Home. This was a hard movie to place, I’m going to have to think about it for a while as there were things I really enjoyed and had fun with, but also some things that have been glaring problems for me with this take on the Spider-Man character. But for now and for the sake of getting this list out, this is where I will place it.
Sam Rami is one of my personal favourite filmmakers of all time. He comes from a background of making films with his friends with essentially no budget. The Evil Dead franchise is so creative and so much fun, and Rami brings all of that energy into this movie. This time, however, Rami has one of the biggest budgets for the time and a full cast and crew to play with. He directs this film with so much flair and style to it. Danny Elfman’s score is awe-inspiring. The action scenes work hand in hand with the soaring music. Tobey Maguire is an excellent Spider-Man and an even better Peter Parker. His doopy eyed stare and nerdy demeanor remind me so much of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man from the ’60s. Willem Dafoe’s passion for the source material shows in his incredible performance as the Green Goblin. He does most of his own stunts and gets lost in the duality of the character. The only thing that sucks about that character is the awful costume. Too many times and especially in the fight scene, Green Goblin looks like a Power Ranger. They wasted an actor who has a face that looks like a goblin and decided to put a motorcycle helmet on him instead. I’ve mentioned in previous ranking posts before, actors who I think have perfectly embodied their characters, but this actor takes the cake. No actor in a comic book role has captured the essence of a character as well as J.K. Simons as J. Jonah Jameson has. This is the definition of perfect casting. Simons steals every frame he’s in with his hilarious and quotable remarks and quick banter. Spider-Man is a fantastic and unique superhero movie with a lot of heart and incredible performances all around. Sam Rami took the Spider-Man story and made it a household tale to be enjoyed by generations to come.
2. Spider-Man 2
This was tough not putting this movie at number one. Spider-Man 2 for me is the quintessential solo superhero movie. This is the gold standard on how to do a sequel properly. It builds upon the characters and the dynamics between them that were set up in the first. There’s no need for the origin story here, Spider-Man can swing straight into action. Spider-Man 2 nails the character of Peter Parker and his struggle being an everyday person and keeping his superhero life a secret. This movie really knows to just keep putting this guy down and to beat him up. Essentially Peter struggles this entire movie. He can’t make class on time, he misses MJ’s play, he’s behind on rent, he loses his job at the pizza place. This movie continues to build upon the “with great power comes great responsibility” theme of the first. Here we feel for Peter Parker because we know he’s only trying to do the right thing. Doctor Otto Octavius just might be my favourite villain in any comic book movie ever (actually Heath Ledger’s Joker is my favourite come to think of it, but this is a close second). The scene in the operating room was straight up Evil Dead. Sam Rami uses so much of his own personal style in this horror sequence. Alfred Molina is brilliant in this role, he’s so complex and menacing and yet heartfelt and compassionate. The confrontation between Doc Ock and Spider-Man leads to one of the greatest action scenes put screen, the train battle. This scene is filled with jaw-dropping spectacle, incredible camera movement as Spider-man zips in and out of the train, and heart-pounding emotional steaks. I love the moment afterward when the people on the train carry Spider-Man through the train and the one guy says, “He’s just a kid, no older than my son”. Spider-Man 2 has the biggest heart out the original trilogy and that’s because this movie respects its character and gives us time to see them grow and evolve. Even the characters that are only in one scene stand out, like Peter’s boss at Joe’s Pizza, or the kids that witness Peter doing a flip off his moped, and of course the best Bruce Campell cameo of the series. Spider-Man 2 packs a great story of what is the cost of responsibility, with great and intense action, and some of the best characters put to screen in a comic book movie.Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
1.Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I never thought that a movie could dethrone the great Spider-Man 2 as my new favourite Spider-Man movie, let alone an animated one. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a work of art. This is, in every sense of the word, a masterpiece. This is one of the most creative and awe-inspiring films ever put to screen, not just in animation, and not just the superhero genre. I mean of all time. The visual style and animation is mesmerizing. I guarantee you that if you were to pause this movie at any point, it would be an image worth framing. I love that the creators were able to integrate comic book styles into the movie seamlessly and have it pop with an explosion. Spider-Verse is not just a visual feast, but the characters and the story fire on all levels as well. The story of Miles Morales learning and being thrown into this adventure that he is not prepared for at all instantly is able to connect with audiences as we all feel inadequate sometimes. Miles has to decide for himself who he wants to be, no one else can make that decision for him. It’s a very human story that all of us have to face at some point in our lives. Not only Miles, but Peter B. Parker played expertly by Jake Johnson, is also a character with a very relatable journey. That’s what makes this movie so great, it understands that to have all these fantastical characters and wildly entertaining scenery, none of it matters if we don’t have characters we care about. Yes Nicolas Cage is everything you wanted him to be if he played Spider-Man, Peter Porky, the spider bitten by a radioactive pig is genius, but this movie does not work if we don’t relate to these characters and thankfully for the movie and the audience, these filmmakers have made a movie that is entertaining and engaging with beautiful animation, but most importantly very human characters that can act as a vessel for us to see ourselves on the screen.