The superhero genre has expanded significantly in the last 20 years, but nothing compares to Spider-Man. The world’s most popular superhero has had a range of quality in his movies, with various actors putting on the mask. Whether animated or live-action, we have ranked every Spider-Man movie to see which is the worst and the most spectacular.
Sony has developed its own, which has sprung standalone films for the web-slinger’s most iconic villains. While we are not counting those, we will look at what Sony has done and its collaboration with Marvel Studios to include the hero in the MCU. This will allow us to compare Peter Parker’s journey with Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland. They will also go up against Miles Morales and the other Spider-People/Creatures from Into the Spider-Verse.
The Sam Raimi-directed trilogy started strong with its first two installments. Things got into black goo when the Evil Dead filmmaker said that he “didn’t really believe in all the characters.” Between many things going against his wishes and his feelings, we certainly felt what he felt on that set. While you can look at the technical issues of a bloated film that spread itself thin with some laughably dumb ideas with unnecessary and memorable dance sequences to a poor executive of beloved baddies, a director not believing in his own film is the ultimate issue. The film ends up being a disservice to this version of Peter Parker, the supporting characters, the villains, and the fans. We think even the director would agree that out of every Spider-Man movie, this deserves to be ranked last.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Out of every Spider-Man movie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 sees a unique drop in quality. While Spider-Man 3 fell from the beloved Spider-Man 2, this took a respectable foundation and crumbled before it could build up any further. By becoming somehow more bloated than in Maguire’s third film, Garfield faced a horrible direction with major villains and was overstuffed with corporate gluttony for a Spider-Verse. Rather than slowly and smartly piecing together this world, we get Easter eggs and an unnecessary setup that was distracted from the already poor path we went down with Peter and Electro.
While Spider-Man 3 had little to nothing to redeem it, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had Garfield and Emma Stone’s chemistry to hold it up. They carried the film on their back with this beautiful depiction of Peter and Gwen’s relationship. While she becomes a hero in some storylines, the take on her equally well-known death landed an emotional impact. In some ways, it was infuriating to cry during a rotten film, but at the same time, it was refreshing to have a real emotional core to something that lacked a soul to put it toward the bottom of every Spider-Man movie that we ranked.
The early ’00s were a special, experimental time for the superhero genre that laid the foundation for what we have today. While plenty may not have aged well, Raimi’s Spider-Man movie, out of every other one, stands out for doing something refreshing for the origin story movies that flooded theaters at that time and would continue down the road.
It might be cheesy, and some chemistry between actors never clicked, but by bringing Raimi’s style to a comic book adaption, we got something that walked the line of comic accuracy and creative freedom. We had inspired takes with the in-body web-swinging to Willem Dafoe’s horrifying dual personalities that showed the director’s horror roots. Put him against Maguire, who became many people’s first Peter; then we have a film that is a nostalgic classic that honors and expands the ideas that originated in the comics.
Spider-Man 2 put out how to do a superhero sequel when things shifted from the ’80s and ’90s era of superhero films. Like its predecessor, this is an important Spider-Man movie, unlike every other one by what it did for the genre moving forward. Raimi managed to lean into the horror and psychological pieces with Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock and raised the stakes without it losing what people liked in the first place. Unlike the follow-up, which raised tension and stakes, led to an advancement in Peter Parker’s arc and did not put too much fat on its runtime.
The Amazing Spider-Man
While it might be a bit run of the mill, The Amazing Spider-Man delivers a more modern take on a Spider-Man origin story. Garfield is able to establish himself as both hero and a normal guy living in New York. Accompany his nerdy Peter with the stellar Stone as Gwen; then, we get one of the best couples portrayed in the superhero genre. While it may not do anything new, we got something that had heart and did not have the out-of-date dialogue and weak chemistry from the Raimi trilogy.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
In a world of crossovers in the genre, No Way Home found a way to deliver nostalgia and meaningful character moments that made it the Endgame to every live-action Spider-Man movie. Whether it was the injustice that Maguire and Garfield faced for their final films or putting Holland’s Peter in an interesting place for the future, we had something that gave love to all Peters from any universe. While not every villain got the same level of attention, it still made an attempt to give a redeeming quality to even the worst of the villains, particularly Jamie Foxx’s Electro.
While other films for the character that tried to expand would often forget Peter or any of his companions, No Way Home gave every character some love, we had the emotionally devastating moments of his decision to have everyone forget about him and Aunt May’s death. On the flip side, we had satisfying moments of Peter’s new journey with a new suit at the end and Ned and MJ maintaining their friendship to go to their dream school. Cast a Doctor Strange spell, and you earn a Spider-Man movie that rivals every other one that we have ranked.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
The MCU’s take on Spider-Man led to a developed relationship with Tony Stark. By putting him under Iron Man’s jet boots, he had a guide to navigate being a superhero. When his mentor died, he had to find a way to fill that. While going toward Mysterio for a new mentor, he soon learns not to trust so easily and to be his own person. The way Far From Home delivered this and the development of his romantic relationship with MJ, we had an emotionally mature Spider-Man entry that kept the heart and humor associated with the neighborhood-friendly superhero.
Origin stories are overdone, especially with characters most people have seen multiple times before. Homecoming bounced off the quick and efficient introduction from Civil War to give us time with an already established Spider-Man. This allowed more time for him to be the amateur hero who balanced fighting flying villains and being a normal teen wanting to go to his Homecoming dance.
Out of every live-action Spider-Man movie we ranked, this one delivers a lean standalone film that managed to have greater ties to the MCU without taking away from it being a Peter Parker story. The focus gave him plenty of substantial scenes as he chased down his first villain, Michael Keaton’s incredible Vulture. It landed to establish a bar for MCU’s Spider-Man enemies while giving us one of the most heart-pounding moments when Peter meets his date’s parents.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
We have had some great Spider-Man entries, but out of every movie we ranked, Into the Spider-Verse is not only the best, but it is one of the best in the superhero genre. It managed to deliver a multiverse story that outdid No Way Home by leaning into nostalgia, but more so in bringing heart to the characters and a compelling story that served Miles and the rest of the Spiders. The roster of diversified characters went above previous films to include a broader audience for them to see that Spider-Man and his rogue’s gallery are beyond the faces we have associated with over the last two decades.
The superhero genre has filled up the calendar every year, especially since the MCU’s inception in 2008. We have now seen the bar set for what must be reached to have a solid film in the genre. Into the Spider-Verse is the best example of how these movies need to be inspired and have an identity. Too many times, we have a vomit of visuals without thought and a lack of heart with its characters. Sony’s animated movie balanced every aspect that the biggest superhero movies have had while going above to make something unique that would be foolish to recreate unless it is Across the Spider-Verse, which holds the same brilliant team to expand this multiverse further.