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Pizza time! Every Spider-Man movie ranked, from worst to best
With No Way Home on the verge of bringing all the live-action Spidey movies together, here's a look back at all the wall-crawling antics to hit the big screen so far.
What is old is about to be new again as Spider-Man: No Way Home stands at the precipice of conjoining the webs of several different Marvel continuities.
While it has yet to be confirmed if Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are actually in the highly-anticipated MCU threequel, audiences can be rest assured that their favorite villains of bygone wall-crawling eras (Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Electro, and more) will be making their grand entrances into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Wanting to celebrate this impending collision of the multiverse, SYFY WIRE proudly presents a ranking of all the Spider-Man films to hit the big screen thus far. Of course, it should be noted that this article embodies our opinions. If your personal favorite movies among the bunch don't rank higher than you think they should, we apologize in advance.
9. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Much like Spider-Man 3, the first — and only — sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man suffers from a surplus of bad guys. It might have worked better, had their motivations been a little better defined. Electro (Jamie Foxx) goes rogue because Spider-Man doesn't remember him after he transforms into Doctor Manhattan — er, we mean a glowing blue current — and Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) shows up out of nowhere as the screenplay asks us to swallow the very large pill that he and Peter have been best friends since childhood.
The inclusion of a far-reaching Oscorp conspiracy involving Peter's father (Campbell Scott) and the cojones to actually kill off Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in a nod to the Conway/Kane story are highlights, but not enough to save this lukewarm follow-up. Oh, and how dare you not give us more of Paul Giamatti hamming it up as the Rhino. Shame on you, Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Fortunately, Electro will get a much-needed shot at redemption in No Way Home via a costume that sticks closer to the way the character looks in the comics.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
There's just no getting around the fact that the franchise was most likely rebooted less than a decade after the conclusion of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy because Sony wanted to prevent the screen rights from relapsing back to Marvel.
Hiring director Marc Webb (known at that point for indie gems like 500 Days of Summer) was certainly an interesting move on Sony's part. He brought a warm, down-to-earth sensibility to the project, which was only enhanced by Garfield's charming performance that made Peter Parker feel like an actual high schooler (Tom Holland, of course, would do it best five years later).
With all of that said, The Amazing Spider-Man's uninspired rehash of Uncle Ben's death and the infamous spider bite don't feel as fresh the second time around. Moreover, the inclusion of Rhys Ifans' as the Lizard only served as a crushing reminder of the movie we could have gotten in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 4, which would have seen — among other things — Dylan Baker's Curt Connors transforming into the reptilian baddie. Plus, Bruce Campbell would have made a cameo as Mysterio. We were robbed, peopled! Still, that library fight betwee with Stan Lee chilling in the foreground is pretty great.
7. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Give me rent! Meme-able moments aside, Spider-Man 3 is easily the worst of the Sam Raimi-directed trilogy. It tries to do too much and as a result, loses sight of the powerful themes and character moments that made the first two movies so great. The inclusion of three separate villains — New Goblin (James Franco), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), and Venom (Topher Grace) — was probably a byproduct of the "bigger is better" approach often taken by major Hollywood sequels, but it's just too unwieldy here.
And then you've got a number of eleventh-hour cop outs like Flint Marko being Uncle Ben's true killer and Harry's butler (John Paxton) not telling him about his father being the Green Goblin. You know, just some crucial knowledge that would have stopped Harry from trying to kill his best friend in the entire world.
The grand tradition of comic book retconning doesn't translate all that well to the big screen. We're not totally unreasonable, though. There are a few high points like the birth of Sandman, the whole "Bully Maguire" montage, and Harry's touching sacrifice.
6. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
An incredibly fitting bookend to Marvel Studios' "Infinity Saga," Far From Home offered fans a small exhale after the momentous stakes and losses of Avengers: Endgame several months before. The cathartic exploration of Peter's mentor/mentee relationship with the late Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is once again put to the test with the arrival of gifted inventor Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), another character who — like Adrien Toomes — felt slighted by Stark.
Beck's nefarious talent for crafting illusions meant to torment and mislead Peter (an ability ripped straight out of the comics) are perfectly translated to the big screen in a neat way that connects back to the events of Civil War. And how about that ending, huh? Not only is Peter's secret exposed to the entire world — effectively setting the stage for the events of No Way Home — but it's done so by J.K. Simmons back in the role of J. Jonah Jameson! Things don't get much better than that.
5. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Spider-Man's first solo foray into the MCU following his introduction in Captain America: Civil War is a cinematic reboot done right. Homecoming feels like...well, a homecoming — a return to the very basics. No Uncle Ben or radioactive spider bites here. We didn't need another origin story. It's just Peter being a young and naive kid filled with a dangerous sense of bravado after helping Tony fight Steve Rogers. He wants to be an Avenger so badly, that he lets everything else in his life fall to the wayside. It is, perhaps, the purest expression of Peter Parker we've seen thus far and none of it would have worked without Tom Holland's earnest interpretation that proved he was born to be an international movie star.
Of course, the addition of Michael Keaton as Adrien Toomes/Vulture was another stroke of genius casting. The menacing villain is a nice counterpoint to Peter, who thinks Tony can do no wrong. Toomes only turned to a life of crime because he was forced to do so when Tony took it upon himself to oversee the clean-up effort after the Battle of New York back in 2012. Stark's pattern of unintentionally hurting the blue collar crowd is a theme that would ultimately carry over into Far From Home. Push a loving family man to the edge of destitution and there's no telling what he might do. As such, Toomes ranks among the most menacing and relatable antagonists in the entire MCU.
4. Spider-Man (2002)
For many audience members (this writer included), Tobey Maguire is the definitive version of the friendly neighborhood crime-fighter. You can't really help it when you grew up watching a certain actor playing a specific character. It also gave us the definitive version of the gruff, cigar-chomping Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson as portrayed by the great J.K. Simmons.
While its campy tone and visual effects may feel a little outdated when compared to today's filmmaking standards, Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man proved the character could exist beyond the confines of comic books and television. It's just an all-around fun movie that isn't afraid to get a bit dark (after all, Raimi got his start in the horror genre) when Willem Dafoe's Norman Osborn turns into the Green Goblin.
Our only critique is that the production should have stuck with the original animatronic mask for the Goblin
3. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
Director Jon Watts delivers the best, and most emotionally compelling, of his MCU Spidey trilogy with the nostalgia-powered Spider-Man: No Way Home, a movie that reaches back into past live-action Spider-Man movies and plucks some of their iconic characters to play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The end result is one of the most crowd-pleasing blockbusters Marvel Studios has ever produced, a movie whose beating heart is less reliant on the show-stopping set pieces (though there are many) and more on the core relationship between Peter Parker (Tom Holland), MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon).
When the three wannabe MIT students are denied admission following their association with their friend and vigilante, Spider-Man, a somewhat selfless Peter tries to fix the situation for his friends by imploring Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to perform a spell that will erase certain peoples' knowledge that Peter is really Spider-Man.
That spell goes sideways and causes pockets of the multiverse to leak into the MCU timeline proper, where Holland's Peter Parker is forced to team up with other Peter Parkers (Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire) to battle a select group of foes from the previous Spidey's gallery of villains. The most effective and resonate of the bunch is Willem DeFoe's Norman Osborne, who once again flicks between tragic figure and demented Green Goblin as the former questions his place in a world where his son doesn't exist while the latter wants to drop pumpkin bombs and seize the power that allows for such multiverse tears to happen. No Way Home wisely wears its heart on its sleeve as the emotional stakes of all the Peter Parkers' worlds couldn't be higher. All three of them need each other's respective skillsets, and emotional baggage, to find both solace and success in using their worlds to save this one. In between fist-pumping set pieces and poignant (and hilarious) interactions between the Spideys, No Way Home delivers an Avengers: Endgame-level good time at the movies.
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
There's a very good reason this one took home an Oscar, folks. Visually stunning, perfectly cast, and bitingly aware of what came before it, Into the Spider-Verse proved that there were still new tricks to be wrung out of the animation format. Marvel fans couldn't have asked for a better way to introduce fan favorite Miles Morales (the first Spider-Man of color) to the big screen.
The design choice to lean into the dotted and expressive style of classic comic books gives the movie a unique aesthetic capable of supporting the immense weight of different universes and an all-star voice cast that includes Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, and Nicolas Cage. Funnily enough, several members of the movie's talented ensemble — Steinfeld, Ali, Kathryn Hahn, and Brian Tyree Henry — would go on to land roles in live-action MCU projects.
Across the Spider-Verse (Part One), here we come!
1. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Oft-considered to be one of the greatest superhero films ever made (if not the greatest), Spider-Man 2 perfectly builds on the themes of its predecessor, putting Uncle Ben's iconic line about "great power" to the ultimate test. Peter is forced to make the agonizing choice to either live a normal life and allow others to keep the bad guys at bay or keep his powers and isolate himself from the people he loves. His choice becomes obvious when Doctor Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) starts wreaking havoc all over town as Doctor Octopus. Spider-Man 2 is full of iconic moments — from the train battle to the horrific operating room sequence that continues to send shivers down our spines to this day.
It should come as no surprise why fans are most excited to see Raimi-era villains in No Way Home.
Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into theaters everywhere Friday, Dec. 17.