With the release of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”, there are now 10 Spider-Man movies in the modern era. And today, I will be ranking them all from the worst, to the best from my own subjective opinion as a movie critic. For the sake of the length of this article, I’ll be excluding all the random early Spider-Man movies from the pre-golden age of superhero movies. So without further ado, here is my list.
Potential spoilers for every Spider-Man film EXCEPT Across the Spider-Verse
This certainly isn’t an unpopular movie to consider as the worst film depicting Spider-Man, but it is an instance of the popular opinion being correct. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has one-dimensional villains, bad CGI, annoying new characters, and less emotional impact than its predecessor.
I could go on about why Electro as a villain doesn’t work or why I despise the TASM series’ depiction of Harry, but instead I’ll just talk about one good aspect of this despised movie. This aspect of course, is romance. Because of Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield’s great chemistry, we get the singular great thing about this film. Their relationship is believable, paying homage to some of the most acclaimed comics in the Spider-Man series, and Gwen’s eventual death is still, despite the otherwise lacking movie, one of the greatest moments in the Spider-Man franchise.
TASM 2 is a very lacklustre movie and is awful as a superhero movie, but I can see how it can be appreciated as a romance flick.
#9: Spider-Man 3
I’m sure my bottom two picks haven’t shocked any readers, but these are popular opinions for a reason! Spider-Man 3 just isn’t good, which is a shame given the quality of its predecessors and the potential of a three-villain story.
Spider-Man 3 suffers from cheesiness more than any other Spider-Man film, especially in the “Bully Maguire” segments of the film. And while Thomas Haden as Sandman is fun, his writing is still lacking the ability to save the film from the abomination that is the New Goblin plotline. The film also shits all over Venom’s deep character with a poor performance from Topher Grace. On top of this, 2007 is a little late for a superhero film to be this cheesy. By this point, we were getting very well-done depictions like the Dark Knight series and early Iron-Man. Spider-Man 3 being cheesier than its 2002 counterpart is unforgivable.
While a bad film, Spider-Man 3 being so bad that it’s fun is what puts it above TASM 2. At least while watching this film, I can laugh at the spectacle that is Bully Maguire.
#8: The Amazing Spider-Man
As somebody belonging to Gen-Z, somebody born after the first Spider-Man movie, my first memory of watching a Spider-Man movie in theatres was The Amazing Spider-Man. And while I do have a ton of nostalgia for this movie and can quote many scenes word-for-word, I can also understand as a critic that it isn’t quite up to par with the movies above it on this list.
Let’s talk about the good first: Same as TASM 2, there’s a lot of good romance stuff within the film. While actually stronger in the sequel in my opinion, seeing the start of that film’s spectacular love plot develop here is very entertaining. On top of this, the Spider-Man sarcasm, unlike in TASM 2, doesn’t feel overdone.
As for the negatives, The Lizard still seems one-dimensional in his motives, never really catching me as a compelling villain. Also, although the movie was released 11 years ago, I still need to criticize it for its pretty awful CGI.
TASM is a very fun superhero flick and overall a good movie, but ultimately the worst origin story of the four Spider-Man series’.
#7: Spider-Man: Far from Home
From this point forward, I find every movie to be at least a good film. And while Far from Home is the worst of these greats, it’s great nonetheless.
Seeing Spider-Man in Europe, while taking away from the “friendly neighbourhood” vibe, is still a fun change of pace and gives plenty of opportunity for Peter to have cool interactions with Ned and MJ, which is one of the strongest points of the MCU Spider-Man. Also, being one of the first films after Endgame, it’s really fun to see how Far From Home navigates through the blip and Iron Man’s death, two things that drastically shape Peter’s foundational Spider-Man years. The school news blip announcement was one of my favourite scenes of any Marvel movie. It depicts Thanos’ snap in such a real way.
My biggest criticism with Far From Home, though, would be the disappointment that is Mysterio as a villain. While Jake Gyllenhaal gives a strong performance, part of me just feels like this villain could’ve been so much more than another ex-Stark employee. I know I just discussed how good this film is at going about Tony’s death, but I just feel as though there could’ve been a more comic accurate depiction of Mysterio that gives a more original backstory without obfuscating the need for Tony’s character to be an element in this story.
While I say Mysterio was a disappointment, I can’t stress enough that this is still a great movie with just a good villain. If not even for the plotline, please just watch this film for some of the stunning visuals.
#6: Spider-Man: Homecoming
Homecoming is a phenomenal movie. Full stop. But what makes this film so great? Let me talk about it.
Well first, it felt like a much-needed change of pace. While different in many ways, The Amazing Spider-Man uses the exact same skeleton of an origin story as the Raimi trilogy. Homecoming, on the other hand, uses some liberty from the comics, while utilizing an established comic relationship between Peter and Tony Stark, to tell a new story about Peter learning the responsibilities of becoming a superhero. In this universe, “if you’re nothing without the suit,” is Peter’s “with great power.” And it absolutely works!!!
On top of this, the film depiction of the Vulture that everybody was waiting for does NOT disappoint. Esteemed actor Michael Keaton does a brilliant job at playing a compelling Vulture who is doing bad things for the sake of his family. His acting, as well as the writing, perfectly pull off the twist that he’s Liz’ father.
The foundation of MCU Spidey’s relationships with Ned, MJ, Aunt May, Iron Man, and so many more vital characters, comes neatly wrapped in this new interpretation of an old origin story that you must watch if you somehow haven’t yet.
The film that started it all! It feels wrong putting Spider-Man even this low. The plot is concise with brilliantly executed pacing, the origin story is easily the most comic accurate of any of the Peter films, and Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin is an absolute treat that I will never get tired of.
My only criticism of the original Spider-Man (and it feels wrong to even hold the film accountable given the era it came from), is how cheesy it really is. From some of the effects that look straight from a 1970s comic book movie to some of the corniest dialogue you’ll ever hear, Spider-Man is just a very cheesy movie. And that’s okay! Cheesiness IS Sam Raimi.
While the cheesiness prevents Spider-Man from being a top tier Spider-Man movie, the film is a perfect origin story and must be credited for giving this hero the box office success required to produce future masterpieces.
#4: Spider-Man 2
From this point forward, I think that every film is a masterpiece. And Sam Raimi’s second Spider-Man is no different. This film builds on all of Peter’s core relationships from the first film, sets up brilliant plots for the third film (which are later torn down), and gives us some of the most iconic Spider-Man city scenes of all time. Specifically, I’m referring to the train stopping scene, but there are a lot of other gems in here.
Alfred Molina also hits it out of the park as Doctor Octopus, a role he seamlessly picks up in a film slightly later in this list. His short stint of going back and forth between evil and good, and his ultimate sacrifice at the end where Octavius defeats the tentacles is easily one of the best displays of a villain having a human side to him in all of Marvel cinema.
For its brilliant depiction of Spider-Man’s endless love for his city and the humanity behind every super-villain, Spider-Man 2 is the quintessential superhero movie. And if you couldn’t tell, this is somehow only one of four masterpiece Spider-Man films.
#3: Spider-Man: No Way Home
There was a point in recent memory where I considered this to be the best Spider-Man movie. And while it isn’t anymore, this is all because on rewatch I’ve found another movie to be better – not because I find No Way Home any worse.
Of the movies in the MCU trilogy, I’d argue that No Way Home is the best in just about every way. The relationship between Peter and his friends in this film blows the other two films out of the water, the villains, maybe even just by nature of their quantity, are more enjoyable than Mysterio & Vulture, Peter goes through a more significant maturity growth arc in this film than the other two, and there’s so much more to enjoy.
While I did say that the quantity of villains helped the villains to be the best of the MCU trilogy, it took a lot for this to not terribly fail. I mean, Spider-Man 3 dropped the ball with two-and-a-half villains. Maybe it’s because all of the villains in No Way Home already had backstories, but even so, the film does an excellent job at giving these humans happy endings. Doctors Conners and Octavius making up with Garfield and Maguire’s Spider-Men respectively was an absolute treat to watch.
The Dr. Strange fight sequence is a visual masterpiece and this movie’s ending is an emotional masterpiece – Spider-Man: No Way Home is must-watch cinema.
#2: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Verse 1 was a truly groundbreaking piece of cinema that looks like it’s already going to have permanent effects on both how animated films are made and the public perception of what it means to be an animated film. And while it somehow may have just been dethroned for my pick as the greatest animated film ever, there’s still so much to say about this work of brilliance.
First off, the animation is just magnificent. The way that the entire film is framed as comic panels is so simple yet so genius, and the animators do a perfect job at mixing CG animation with comic art style. This is also the funniest Spider-Man film to me. There are so many moments, like Miles saying, “who’s Morales?”, or Spider-Ham just being goofy, that had me dying in my seat.
While, as I’ll get to, this film’s sequel is better, Spider-Verse 1 does a lot of things better and is by no means worse by a significant margin. As I’ve said, this movie is funnier. I also like Miles’ gang consisting of Peter B., Gwen, Ham, Penny, and Noir, more than the gang in Spider-Verse 2. Seeing an old Peter Parker as a mentor to Miles was so fun.
Into the Spider-Verse is, as it stands right now, the best Spider-Man origin story. It also recently went from my favourite American animated film ever to my second favourite American animated film ever. Let’s talk about that.
#1: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
OH MY GOODNESS, SPIDER-VERSE 2 IS THE MOST VISUALLY APPEALING MOVIE I HAVE EVER SEEN.
Across the Spider-Verse is obviously an amazing movie. I mean, I just claimed it to be my favourite American animated film ever. So instead of talking about every little thing I liked, I will only address my absolute favourite parts of the film, avoiding spoilers in the process.
First, the animation is obviously breathtaking. I am still in disbelief at just how gorgeous this film looks. With different art styles for every character, the artists casually created the most stunning piece of cinema of all time.
On top of this, the pacing of this movie is so great. I absolutely love it when a film feels like it was 45 minutes long in the best way possible. Despite being the longest American animated feature film ever, Spider-Verse 2 felt quick and concise.
The last thing I’ll talk about is characters. While Spider-Verse 1 had cool villains, this film has two of my favourite depictions of villains in any comic book film ever. The heroes also get so much character development too, picking up perfectly from where Into the Spider-Verse leaves off. The only exception is Peter B. Parker, which is also my ONLY criticism of this absolute masterpiece.
Film bros are infuriated about it, but Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse may actually be the greatest film of all time.
Thank you all for reading, and get ready for the spectacle that will be the finale to a trilogy that has the potential to be the greatest film trilogy ever.
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