With the theatrical release of the hugely-anticipated Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) behind us, and with anything now possible in the MCU, there might be no better time to look back over 20 years’ worth of Spider-Man movies (yes, it’s been that long since Sam Raimi’s first movie!).
While the movies haven’t racked up as many actors portraying the wall-crawler as the likes of James Bond or Batman, we’ve still had three excellent versions — Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland, as well as the actors in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018).
So here’s our ranking of all nine Spider-Man movies, from worst to best.
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9. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Following up the first two critically-acclaimed box office juggernauts was never going to be easy, but with director Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) back on board, it’s fair to say that Spider-Man 3 (2007) had a lot going for it. Unfortunately, it also has a lot going on, as it introduces far too many subplots and villains than it knows what to do with.
Not only is Peter already trying to save his failing relationship with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), he’s also trying to keep his identity a secret from his best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco), who’s still trying to hunt down Spider-Man, convinced that the wall-crawler killed his father, Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) in the first movie.
Enter Gwen Stacey (Bryce Dallas Howard) for a love triangle, Flint Marko/The Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) as the film’s main villain (whose arc retcons elements of the first film), while Harry becomes the “New Goblin”, and a shoehorned villain in the form of Eddie Brock/Venom (Topher Grace) is quickly served up as the third act threat. What a tangled web this movie weaves!
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8. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Just five years after Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy went down the waterspout, along came another iteration, which many complained felt far too early. The trailers did very little to remedy this, and the idea of a reboot to something that was still so fresh in everyone’s minds just seemed a little off. Nevertheless, the prospect of a new Spidey was still somewhat exciting.
Ultimately, the film doesn’t do much to feel any different from Spider-Man (2002), as it follows all the same beats: Peter’s struggles at school, a love interest — this time in the form of Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) — and the death of Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). Rhys Ifans also leaves a lot to be desired as Dr Curt Connors/The Lizard, while a subplot suggests yet another Green Goblin.
There are plenty of positives here, though — in other words, this isn’t the disaster many will have you believe it is. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are delightful to watch, while Denis Leary is as entertaining as ever as Detective George Stacy. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) is a vast improvement over Spider-Man 3, but then that isn’t saying all that much.
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7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) gets a really hard time from fans (though it’s likely many are now revisiting the Garfield collection following his appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home). It’s not a perfect Spidey movie, but even nine movies in, we’re still not convinced such a thing exists. Nevertheless, the sequel to the 2012 reboot does get a number of things right.
In fact, from here on upwards, we have very few bad things to say about each entry. With that said, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 won’t escape our web of criticism that easily. Stuffed to the brim with far too many villains, while revisiting Peter Parker’s origin story (this time regarding his parents), this sequel seems to have learned nothing from the failure that was Spider-Man 3.
On a positive note, Garfield and Stone are electrifying to watch once again, while Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon/Electro is, well, literally electrifying! Unfortunately, Dane DeHaan brings very little to the table as Harry Osborn, while his version of Green Goblin is pretty cringe-worthy. The soundtrack, however, is excellent, and adds to the gut-wrenching tragedy of the third act.
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6. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
The first follow-up to Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) arrives straight in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame (2019), and finds Peter Parker (Tom Holland) struggling to come to terms with the death of Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), and the prospect of picking up his mantle. This time, however, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is the father figure of the piece.
While this is Tom Holland’s first sequel, it’s his fifth appearance in the MCU, having appeared in a bunch of movies at this point, so we had already grown used to seeing him play the wall-crawler. Nevertheless, just like Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home continues the fresh take on the titular hero. In other words, this isn’t your average friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
However, the fact that Holland’s Spidey is an MCU-Spidey has been a complaint from many fans, despite them having begged for his appearance in the franchise for years. It’s great to Spidey in new digs (Europe, to be specific), while Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a truly manipulative mastermind, who ultimately paves the way for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
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5. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Following the failure of yet another series of Spider-Man movies, seeing Spidey finally welcomed into the MCU following a deal with Sony Pictures was met with much joy, and his first solo outing in Spider-Man: Homecoming, having featured in Captain America: Civil War (2016), was a breath of fresh air. But how does Homecoming compare with the other two series-starters?
Well, the truth is that it’s actually quite tricky to compare Homecoming to Spider-Man or The Amazing Spider-Man, largely because this is part of a much larger universe. If you’re looking for a run-of-the-mill Spidey affair, this isn’t it, and feels more like a Spider-Man/Iron Man crossover (which is in no way a bad thing). With that said, there’s still plenty in the way of simplicity here.
In fact, despite being part of the MCU and dovetailing off The Avengers (2012), and even starring Robert Downey Jr, somehow Homecoming feels less convoluted and bogged down by characters than Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It even has one of the most interesting Spider-Man villains ever, in the form of Adrian Toomes/The Vulture (Michael Keaton).
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4. Spider-Man (2002)
When Spider-Man came swinging into movie theaters in 2002, it broke records and new ground, catching $825 million dollars just like flies, and wowing audiences with the wall-crawler’s hugely impressive web-slinging sequences. Beyond that, it’s also incredibly charming, with Tobey Maguire’s performance as Peter Parker/Spider-Man being an endearing one.
There might be no superhero origin story that’s as perfect or as engaging as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, which is largely due to the fact that it’s something almost every person watching the film is able to relate to — a tragedy at home, trouble at school, young love, and evil scientists on hoverboards (okay, scratch that last one).
Seeing Peter Parker bitten by a radioactive spider and consequently becoming a razor-focused, musclebound dork suddenly became a dream almost everyone wanted to pursue, despite how utterly impossible waking up one morning with a shredded body and superpowers actually is. But even outside Maguire’s performance, Spider-Man is a huge blast with the right level of camp.
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3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Easily the most stand-out on this list for obvious reasons, the 3D-animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is actually the first film in the Spider-Man series to introduce the concept of the multiverse onto the silver screen, something Spider-Man: No Way Home has now brought to life in live action. But needless to say, Into the Spider-Verse is a completely different movie.
The movie focuses on Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who is bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes a new Spider-Man (Peter Parker’s Spider-Man already exists in his world, but is consequently killed). But just when Miles thinks he’s alone in taking on the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber), he’s joined by fellow Spideys, such as Gwen Stacey/Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld).
First things first — the animation on display here is sublime, even if it is a little too much for the eyes at times (if you’re susceptible to migraines, this might be found on the bottom of your list!). Secondly, this is Spider-Man at its absolute finest, even if it definitely strays from the more simple outings in exchange for something a bit weird, whacky, and overall, pretty wonderful!
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2. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
It’s the movie we’ve all been dreaming of, and one that was teased at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, when JK Simmons reprised his role as Editor and Chief of the Daily Bugle, J Jonah Jameson, having only appeared in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Spider-Man: No Way Home officially opens up the multiverse within the MCU, which means that all things are possible.
After being outed by Quentin Beck/Mysterio in Far From Home, Peter Parker turns to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help, but things go awry when the multiverse is opened. As a result, Peter meets villains from other dimensions, such as Doctor Octopus, Electro, and Green Goblin, with Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, and Willem Dafoe, all reprising their roles, respectively.
Yes — the MCU is now connected with both Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies and The Amazing Spider-Man reboots, and surprise cameos aren’t just limited to villains, as Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire also return as their versions of the web-slinger! Spider-Man: No Way Home is an incredibly ambitious superhero movie, and despite the huge risk, it definitely sticks the landing.
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1. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
While Spider-Man: No Way Home is easily the most epic Spider-Man movie in the entire series, with so much novelty to it, sometimes less is more. Enter Spider-Man 2 (2004), the hugely-anticipated sequel to Sam Raimi’s first superhero outing. This time, Peter Parker is juggling college life and working in the city with his life-threatening responsibilities as the wall-crawler.
Not only that, but he’s still yearning for Mary Jane Watson, who’s currently dating astronaut, James Jameson (Daniel Gillies). And if you thought this was more than enough for Peter Parker, we haven’t even mentioned the fact that respected physicist, Dr Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), having tested the limits of fusion-reaction power, becomes the villain, Dr Octopus!
Spider-Man 2 is considered one of the greatest superhero sequels of all time, and rightly so. Unlike its successor, Spider-Man 3, the 2004 sequel expertly balances a number of storylines, while dealing with the overarching theme of Peter Parker questioning whether he still has what it takes to be Spider-Man, which is a truly fitting extension of that iconic line from the first movie.
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How would you rank all the Spider-Man movies?