Some of the best Spider-Man movies have been Amazing - others less-than-Spectacular. But when it comes to which is Superior, the tangled web of reboots and sequels usually boils down to two picks for the top spot: Spider-Man 2 (the best Tobey Maguire one) and the revolutionary Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
However, now that Spider-Man: Far From Home has swung onto cinema screens around the world, does that still remain the case? My Spidey-Sense is tingling: now is a good a time as any to rank the best Spider-Man movies around.
All eight mainstream Spider-Man movies are listed from best to worst down below. For the avoidance of doubt, the list includes the Sam Raimi trilogy, the Amazing Spider-Man duo, the Tom Holland-starring MCU/Sony duo (we’re not including films that have had Spider-Man as a secondary character, AKA Avengers: Endgame), and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It’s all here. The one with Willem Dafoe chewing up the scenery. The one with the European vacation. Yes, even the one with Maguire’s emo dancing.
8. Amazing Spider-Man 2
Scraping the bottom of the Spidey barrel is Amazing Spider-Man 2, a movie that takes a solid (if unspectacular) prior movie and undoes all the goodwill built towards the rebooted series by making a flurry of baffling character choices.
Jamie Foxx’s Electro is played for laughs and, as such, never quite stacks up against Andrew Garfield’s webhead. Their showdown ultimately fizzles out into nothing more than an anti-climactic power struggle.
The inclusion of the Green Goblin, meanwhile, does lead to Gwen Stacy’s heart-wrenching death. Yet Spidey’s nemesis never quite earns his place as a top-tier villain thanks to some rushed storytelling and a tendency for the script to skip over most of his motivations. Amazing Spider-Man 2 is instead content with a general hand-wave towards the Raimi trilogy, which made far better use of the source material.
7. Spider-Man 3
Where did it all go wrong? Spider-Man 3 should have seen Sam Raimi’s trilogy go out in a blaze of symbiotic glory. Instead, it reads a case study into how too many supervillains can spoil a previously finely-poised Big Apple broth.
Sandman, Venom, and James Franco’s Green Goblin all lack their own spotlight with the movie being far more concerned with hammering home Peter Parker’s internal conflict and dark suited shenanigans instead.
Yes, Tobey Maguire’s ill-fated emo phase on-screen is now played for laughs, but it’s proof that Spider-Man 3 doesn’t know what tone it should strike: it aims to be a goofball comedy, a character study about the fine line between good or evil, and an explosive end to a fantastic trilogy. It succeeds at none of those things.
6. Amazing Spider-Man
Despite Andrew Garfield’s best-in-class portrayal of Peter Parker, the first Amazing Spider-Man never quite soars to the heights of two-thirds of Rami’s trilogy. Garfield’s Parker fizzes with teenage angst opposite Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy, making for a refreshing change of pace after the MJ/Pete drama that muddled its way through all three of Raimi’s movie. Yet, it’s mired by an utterly forgettable villain in the shape of Rhys Ifans, who plays Curt Connors/The Lizard.
It’s not bad, but it’s not particularly good either. Amazing Spider-Man is about as much of a cookie-cutter, middle-of-the-road offering as you can get from Spidey. Understandably safe given the backlash to Spider-Man 3, though it’s far outclassed by the vast majority of its more stylish, swaggering peers.
5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Don’t be fooled by Spider-Man: Homecoming and its relatively low position on this list. Tom Holland’s debut MCU standalone flick does away from the past ills of the franchise (it’s got an actually entertaining villain in Michael Keaton’s Vulture, for one thing) and delivers a breezy affair that easily convinced audiences that the franchise is in safe hands for years to come with Holland behind the mask.
Sure, it can sometimes lean too heavily on Tony Stark as a surrogate Uncle Ben figure, and mileage may vary on the high-school shenanigans of Peter, Ned, and MJ, but it’s a confident, assured effort on Marvel Studios’ part. The highlight? It has to be Pete’s skin-crawlingly awkward night with Liz, all while her supervillain daddy tries to uncover her doting date’s secret identity.
4. Spider-Man: Far From Home
The most recent entry on this list, Spider-Man: Far From Home just pulls away from Homecoming in terms of quality thanks to some inspired and fresh new surroundings, plus Jake Gyllenhaal’s terrific performance as Mysterio.
Director Jon Watts manages to stealthily introduce a genuinely funny European vacation movie into the MCU and have it masquerade as a superhero movie. It shouldn’t work, but it absolutely does. You end up caring more about certain periphery characters and, therefore, Peter’s duty to protect them. There’s even scope for some of the best use of CGI in the series. No spoilers here, but you’ll be getting serious Batman: Arkham Asylum vibes by the time the credits roll.
Again, it doesn’t quite break free of the spectre of RDJ, who still casts a long shadow over this movie post-Avengers: Endgame. Still, it’s a genuinely thrilling affair – and one that comes bundled with the best cliffhanger in MCU history.
To understand the quality of Spider-Man, you have to take stock of what came before it. Prior to Tobey Maguire putting on the webbed suit, only X-Men and the original Batman could stake a claim to having put out a worthwhile superhero movie. Spider-Man blows them all out of the water.
It’s at once both funny and heartfelt, while also a gripping origin story. Plus, any movie that can feasibly introduce Randy Savage as a larger than life character (he played Spidey’s wrestling opponent Bonesaw McGraw) gets two big thumbs up in my book.
It set the template for years to come and, whisper it, the MCU still hasn’t created a dynamic as compelling as the ones between Maguire’s Peter Parker, Kirsten Dunst’s MJ, and the outstandingly cheesy Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin.
2. Spider-Man 2
For the longest time, Spider-Man 2 was the cream of the Spidey crop. And it’s easy to see why. the movie’s breakneck pace never once slows down, even when it has to factor in a Doc Ock origin story. Alfred Molina glowers and menaces his way through a thrilling final act that ranks right up there among the very best in action cinema.
It also features scenes that are still timeless today, such as where Peter loses his mask and is carried through a crowd or New Yorkers. Spider-Man 2 effectively juggles Parker’s own self-doubts, a brooding Harry Osborn, and a will they/won’t they relationship tug-of-war with MJ in a way that Spider-Man 3 could only dream of – all without missing a beat.
1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse isn’t just the best Spider-Man movie. It’s cool. It’s daring. It’s essential. It’s a fashion statement for those who were told superhero movies were for sad acts and shut outs. It flaunts its minority status and wears it as a badge of pride like no other movie that has come before. And all while weaving in a wonderful story about what it means to grow up as an outsider.
Miles Morales has done the impossible and potentially usurped Peter Parker as the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. He’s delightfully awkward, but still carries with him a charm that makes him bounce off the other Spiders with complete ease. It helps that each Spider-Man from the multiverse gets a chance to shine – even Nic Cage – and the kinetic ground-breaking animation lends itself to an energetic, ensemble-led affair that never once lets up.
When the dust finally settles on the superhero craze, Into the Spider-Verse will be held up as one of the genre’s shining beacons. It’s a movie that has you smiling all the way through. That is if you’re not too busy bopping along to its tune-laden soundtrack and effortless sense of style.
Spidey isn't the only show in town. Here are some of the best superhero movies to ever swing from the rooftops and leap tall buildings in a single bound.