After watching the recent release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, I decided to revisit the Spider-Man films from Sam Raimi’s trilogy, to Marc Webb’s Amazing films, to Holland’s other solo outing Homecoming and even Sony animated Spider-Verse. So below I’ve ranked the films in order of least favourite to the one I enjoyed the most.
8. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
A strange black entity from another world bonds with Peter Parker and causes inner turmoil as he contends with new villains, temptations, and revenge.
After the sequel doing so well, the anticipation for Spider-Man 3 was ridiculous, especially given the fact they we knew that we’d see Peter Parker and Harry Osborn going head-to-head as their alter egos and the third film would introduce film audiences to one of Spider-Man more famous antagonists Venom. I can still remember how visibly disappointed the majority of people were coming out from the screening on opening weekend and it’s safe to say time hasn’t been kind to Spider-Man 3. The film is overstuffed in the villain category and you can feel the moments in which they get tagged in to takeover the other, with New Goblin starting, Sandman taking over and Venom arriving at the end. The Harry Osborn/New Goblin angle was the big setup from Spider-Man 2 and here its neutered with an amnesia plot to help give time to develop Flint Marko’s transformation in Sandman, which oddly enough is a under-utilised character in my opinion. As for Venom…well, Topher Grace gets some stick to this day still about it and it’s more of how unnecessary Venom’s inclusion is in this film. As limited as his screentime is, Thomas Haden Church’s performance as Sandman still gives the best impression of a sympathetic villain and the special effects of his powers still holds up in comparison to the other fight/flying sequences in the film, particularly the opening fight between Peter and Harry. Tobey Maguire can’s salvage the film here as his performance is remembered for that dance sequence as ‘bad’ Peter once he embraces the symbiote and the whole love triangle of Peter/Mary Jane/Harry is tiresome. Admittedly I’ve never been a fan of Kristen Dunst’s Mary Jane as a character and she’s given little to deal with here.
7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
When New York is put under siege by Oscorp, it is up to Spider-Man to save the city he swore to protect as well as his loved ones.
Seven years after the critical backlash Spider-Man 3 received, you’d think Sony would’ve learned its lesson with the less is more approach but no. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is just as overcrowded with villains and plots that are exhausting to think about. The film opens with the backstory of Peter’s parents, then Peter learns the truth about his father and his work at OsCorp in an abandoned subway station. There’s Harry Osborn learning that his father’s illness is genetic and he needs Spider-Man’s blood to live. Peter is haunted by Gwen’s father George they split up and Gwen plans to go to England. Harry learns about OsCorp experimenting on humans and there’s a power struggle against Vice-President Donald Menken going on, then you have Max Dillon’s backstory into how he becomes Electro and the main antagonist of the film. Paul Giamatti is driving/running around the streets of New York with the most cartoonish Russian ‘accent’ of all time…oh and we jumpstart the Green Goblin angle towards the end too. There’s a lot of darts thrown at the board here and the film is a hybrid of being a continuation of The Amazing Spider-Man story and also being a launchpad for expanding the Spider-Man universe. After all, Sony had three films in development (The Amazing Spider-Man 3, Sinister Six and Venom) upon this films release and eyed to make $1 billion at the box office with this installment. Well Amazing Spider-Man 2 not only didn’t make $1 billion, it actually made less than The Amazing Spider-Man, causing Sony to hit pause on the franchise. Jaime Foxx is overdoing it as Max Dillon in the first act, as he’s a hybrid of Jim Carrey’s The Riddle from Batman Forever and Chip from The Cable Guy, but I actually liked how his pent-up rage manifested and became his persona when he’s transformed into Electro. Dane DeHaan’s performance as Harry Osborn is so far removed from James Franco’s that I was kind of intrigued by it and had sympathy towards his character arc throughout the film. Garfield and Stone chemistry keep their scenes intact with the material they have to deal with and the only reason this ranks higher Spider-Man 3 is that the Gwen Stacy death is handled just right.
6. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
After Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically altered spider, he gains newfound, spider-like powers and ventures out to solve the mystery of his parent’s mysterious death.
After the disappointment of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 and departure over creative differences on Spider-Man 4, Sony decided to reboot the franchise and once again retell Peter Parker’s origin story…ten years after the original film. This time however, Peter seems socially awkward, filled with angst and yet once he gets his powers, there’s a certain cockiness to him. Creatively the film still feels too similar to the key beats of telling the comic origin of Spider-Man that the Sam Raimi done so well, right down to rewording key dialogue (Martin Sheen’s new dialogue delivery of ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ immediately comes to mind) though we’re given something new that the Raimi trilogy didn’t really tackle…Peter’s parents, though not as much as they should. The major fault of the film itself is that it just feels so pedestrian. It’s neither good nor bad, the main reason that you stick through with this retelling of the Spider-Man origin is the chemistry between its leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. For what its worth I believe they were a better foil in terms of chemistry and character than the original pairing of Maguire and Dunst. While I’m still not a fan of the design of Dr. Connors alter ego The Lizard, it does lead to a memorable showdown in the school (one of the most memorable Stan Lee cameos) and another scene that stood out for me was when Spider-Man saves a kid stuck in a car off a bridge (though they manage to bring that back in the final act in a way that borderlines the corny/ridiculous edge).
5. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.
Peter Parker arrives back from the snap in the pivotal moment of Avengers: Endgame along with the rest of those lost in the snap and loses in his mentor upon his return. With the world looking at Spider-Man to step up to fill Tony Stark’s shoes, Peter just can’t wait to take a breather from the superhero life and go on vacation with his classmates around Europe. Peter Parker’s more withdrawn and unsure of himself in this Holland-era as he’s suffering the loss of a key figure in his life and feels alone until he meets Quentin Beck via Nick Fury as they team up to take on the threat of the Elementals. While Beck fills that void of mentor for Peter, it’s Beck’s motivations and journey as Mysterio here that provides the films standout moments, from the revelation that he has been playing Nick Fury and Peter Parker the entire time and his backstory that led him to be Mysterio. The sequence of him using the illusions to attack Peter is also terrifically executed, especially the sequence leading to the ‘resurrection’ of Tony Stark/Iron Man from beyond the grave. Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance brings gravitas to the film here, especially when the mask is dropped and we get to see his determination and motivation as a villain. The chemistry between Holland and Zendaya works terrifically well here, their friendship is developed more and it’ll be interesting to see how it’s handled going forward.
4. Spider-Man (2002)
When bitten by a genetically modified spider, a nerdy, shy, and awkward high school student gains spider-like abilities that he eventually must use to fight evil as a superhero after tragedy befalls his family.
The one that came in during the birth of the superhero era after Blade and X-Men, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man exploded at the box office and for a certain generation, it became their Richard Donner’s Superman moment in that you can believe a man in a spandex suit could swing/fly around New York. The origins of Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man is handled perfectly by Raimi, from the spider bite to the consequence of letting a robber go that leads to the death of Uncle Ben that haunts/motivates him going forward. You can still feel the scale of the production here in its set designs and the destruction is mostly practical (such as the Green Goblins attack at the World Unity Fair). As absolutely corny as the Peter/Mary Jane story-arc is, Raimi balances in some dark tones, particularly in Peter Parker’s psyche after the death of Uncle Ben, as well as Norman Osborn’s progression of insanity leading to him killing anyone that threatens his motivations and identity of being the Green Goblin. The film still holds up well, as does its most memorable moments (the iconic kiss scene, Uncle Ben’s death, Green Goblin making Spider-Man choose on Queensboro Bridge and the final battle) and the special effects on the web-swinging still holds up, but there’s some effects that look a bit dated, such as Green Goblin on the gliber and that mask, more so than the suit, still looks ridiculous considering that you’re covering up the expressive face of Willem Dafoe. For this incarnation of Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire balances the dorkiness and weight of the world on his shoulders aspect of Peter Parker really well and Willem Dafoe was the perfect choice for Green Goblin to just ham up the insaneness of the character.
3. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Peter Parker balances his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens with his superhero alter-ego Spider-Man, and finds himself on the trail of a new menace prowling the skies of New York City.
Sony went back to the drawing board with Spider-Man after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and this time they joined forces with Marvel Studios to have Peter Parker connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Tom Holland debuted as the third incarnation in Captain America: Civil War. Thankfully, this solo outing for Holland’s Peter Parker skips the origin phase and primarily focuses on Peter Parker trying to survive the daily life of High School phase whilst also witnessing Parker attempting to prove himself to Tony Stark to become a member of the Avengers and feels that he’s ready for the big scale missions outside of the duties of being the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. Holland’s Parker balances his shyness, naivety and also fully embraces the fun side of being a superhero. While Homecoming it arguably the most light-hearted of the Spider-Man films released to this point, it still provides a menacing threat and performance by Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes aka Vulture. His backstory is intriguing of witnessing a working man being screwed over by Tony Stark and doing whatever it takes to have a taste of the good life and provide for his family, and Michael Keaton’s performance stands as one of the best villains in the MCU, with the standout scene being him threatening Peter in the car outside the homecoming dance. Jacob Batalon’s Ned is a welcome addition to the fold as well being Peter’s friend that learns of his alter ego and becomes his ‘Man in the chair’.
2. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Peter Parker is beset with troubles in his failing personal life as he battles a brilliant scientist named Doctor Otto Octavius.
For everything Spider-Man done well, Sam Raimi doubled-down on in Spider-Man 2, even with the artistry used in the opening title sequence to recapped the events from the original film. Once this film came out, this was used as the gold standard for comic book films to come and is still considered by a few as one of the best comic book films ever made. Spider-Man 2 also showcases the best character arc for Peter Parker as we see and feel his inner conflict of self-sacrificing his own ambitions of a normal life and love to the point he has an emotional breakdown and hangs up the suit. The hero arc works better with a solid villain arc and Otto Octavius aka Doctor Octopus is the perfect foil for Peter Parker/Spider-Man here, with a tragic backstory of a man being manipulated by his own creation, the robotic tentacle arms. There is a few standout scenes here, the obvious one being the train sequence, Octavius’s transformation into Doc Ock, Peter telling Aunt May the truth about Uncle Ben’s death and Peter saving a kid in a burning building. Tobey Maguire gives really good depth here to Peter’s emotional turmoil here, Alfred Molina gives a great performance as the tragic villain and J.K Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson is just gold, solid gold here.
1. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)
Teen Miles Morales becomes Spider-Man of his reality, crossing his path with five counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat for all realities.
With Peter Parker now being brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe fold, Sony Pictures were quietly developing an animated film that would rejuvenate the franchise…that is until the Sony hack brought their business to everyone attention. The main draw for fans was that we’d finally get to see the focus not being on Peter Parker, but Miles Morales. The style of the animation is beautiful, energetic and its creative style of colours is a sight to behold on the big and small screen. What’s more amazing that Sony couldn’t get three villains to work within a Spider-Man film and yet entering seven or eight Spider-Men/Women and having half a dozen villains from the Spider-Man archive involved, it just works. The voice cast is terrific also, with Shameik Moore perfect as Miles Morales, while a seasoned Peter Parker voiced by Jake Johnson works unbelievably well and Hailee Steinfeld is great as Gwen Stacy. There’s so many memorable moments in the film, from Miles travelling to school, to also anything involving Nic Cage as Spider-Man Noir, it’s the ‘leap of faith’ scene that’ll last long in the memory. The after credits scene is also one of the most meta-amusing bits I’ve seen in quite some time and a must see for Spider-Man fans out there. Spider-Verse is filled with heart, emotion and stakes, and serves up a beautiful love letter to what the character of Spider-Man stands for while also given Miles Morales a long overdue shine in the spotlight on the big screen.
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