I like Spider-Man. I’ve also seen a lot of him for the last sixteen years. With Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse set to hit theaters on the 14th, it seemed appropriate to take a look back at the franchise, its various incarnations, and answer the age-old question: which Spiderman film is best?
Here are our definitive rankings. Let the controversy begin.
7. THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 (2014)
Oh, where do we begin? This movie, built on the very shaky foundation of its predecessor, tries a lot of stuff. It tries to deliver intrigue in its exploration of the Parkers’ secret life and relationship with Norman. It tries to deliver tragedy In the untimely death of Gwen Stacy.
It tries to deliver electricity with Electro. (Sorry.)
While Peter contending with his parents' secret life should be rich, dramatic territory to mine, it fell flat here. I appreciate that the writers tried to do something different, but ultimately the familial conflict doesn’t add to the character in a meaningful way. It’s a pretty dull diversion.
Gwen’s death has no emotional impact whatsoever because it’s telegraphed throughout the movie. And Electro? Jamie Foxx tries his all to give the character dimension, but he’s far from Spidey’s greatest foe.
The movie’s a nearly unwatchable mess of ideas, none of which add up to much. Skip it.
6. SPIDERMAN 3 (2007)
I remember the disappointment like it was yesterday. Spiderman 3 was perhaps the most anticipated movie of my young adult life. The three-year wait behind the second and third installments was interminable. Then, the trailer hit. It blew us all away. This was the grand finale and the first two films were great. Surely, this would deliver. Surely, this would be even better than its predecessors.
Well. We were wrong. Very wrong. What happened exactly? Well, Raimi’s said that he had no interest in depicting characters like Venom, an immensely popular (so we’ve learned) figure that the studio wanted in the film. He was forced to shoehorn the character into the movie. Alongside Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman. And Harry’s Green Goblin.
The franchise was built to climax with a battle between best friend. For Peter and Harry to square off once and for all. It was a relationship so beautifully drawn. A fight destined to deliver us cinematic greatness. And yet… the film’s numerous villains muddy this. It’s a confused, overstuffed, and ultimately underwhelming movie. It gave us Emo Peter Parker gifs, but that’s about it.
5. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)
Despite the world’s collective disappointment with Spiderman 3, expectations were high when this movie debuted. Spidey was back… but could this new iteration of the franchise possibly deliver the thrills of Raimi’s work?
The answer was no. Now, the movie wasn’t bad. We were forced to sit through Uncle Ben’s death a second time, but Garfield and Stone have a (clearly very real) chemistry that carries the film through its narrative missteps. It sports perhaps the weakest villain of the series in Rhys Ifans Lizard.
The Lizard's evil plot seems to be... turning everyone else into lizards.
In all the superhero movies ever, that has to be the weirdest evil plot ever, right? The lizard even says he's granting some gift to mankind with this transformation. Really? Everyone wants to be Lizards? Why?
This is a true head-scratcher. Maybe it all ties into that conspiracy theory about lizard people running the government.
Lizard people plans aside, the action is boilerplate and there isn’t a great deal of tension. I’d almost rather watch Garfield and Stone’s awkward banter for two hours. Is that weird?
4. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (2018)
Time and time again, Phil Lord and Chris Miller have proven they can revitalize tired ideas and infuse them with creativity, wit, and joy. Shame about that whole Solo thing...
With this one, they’ve done it again, alongside directors Rothman, Ramsey, and Persichetti. Ambitious, innovative, and refreshingly diverse, the animated flick goes places Spidey never has before. I hope we get so many more of these.
if you’re a Spidey fan, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
3. SPIDER-MAN (2002)
The film that built an empire. Raimi’s debut was stunning. It set the standard for what a superhero movie should be. I had never seen the spectacle on such a grand scale. The movie’s fun, tense, thrilling… if you don’t enjoy it, you may not have a soul.
You’ve heard Uncle Ben’s words a thousand times - with great power comes great responsibility. Peter’s arc is about learning this lesson. And he does, in the most heartbreaking way. Not only does he have to put his romance with Mary Jane on hold, but he’s also harboring a terrible secret (Norman was the Green Goblin!) that puts him at odds with his best friend Harry. By the end of the movie, Peter’s no longer a plucky neighborhood teenager. He’s an adult carrying a great burden. In short, he’s Spider-Man.
2. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
I’ll be honest. By the time this film was released, I had serious Spiderman fatigue. We already had two incarnations of the character, and while Marvel’s involvement in the project was encouraging… what more could a Spiderman origin story really offer? Working from Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley’s smart, nuanced script, Jon Watts crafted a superhero film for the ages. Michael Keaton’s Vulture is the most compelling villain we’ve seen in a superhero film since Heath Ledger’s Joker. Yeah, I said it.
The pre-prom car confrontation between Keaton and Holland is the tensest, pulse-pounding scene in the history of the franchise. It features no web-slinging. No explosions. Not even a hint of action. It’s human drama. And it’s amazing. So is this movie.
1. SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004)
Well, you knew this was our number one. Spiderman 2 is a perfect film. It has it all!
Alfred Molina’s iconic performance as the Doc Oc. Harry’s brilliantly charted evolution from friend to foe. Peter’s attempt to hang up the suit and rededicate himself to Mary Jane. Oh, and that heart-stopping train sequence. Spider-Man 2 is so much more than a popcorn movie. It’s a film that examines love, legacy, and identity in meaningful ways.
It’s number one by a comfortable margin here because it is that damn good. In a century, if the Earth still exists, we’ll look back at this movie and The Dark Knight as the premiere films of the superhero era.
Summing Up The Spiderman Rankings
Now you know where I stand.
Got a different opinion? Sling that right into the comments.