Best Spider-Man actors ranked

Spider-Man: No Way Home
(Image credit: Sony)

Spider-Man: No Way Home is getting a digital streaming release in March, followed by Blu-ray/4K in April - and as everyone now knows, the film features not one, but three live-action versions of Peter Parker drawn from across the character's film franchises.

Seeing Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield come together onscreen got us thinking who should take the crown as the best Spider-Man actor of all time.

Everyone has their favorite - including us - so without further ado, here's our ranking of the best live-action Spider-Man actors of all time!

4. Nicholas Hammond

(Image credit: CBS)

Nicholas Hammond was the first actor to play Spider-Man in a major live-action production, in an eponymous CBS TV series that eschewed most of Spidey's colorful comic book adventures for more rote crime-of-the-week style plots.

Hammond was an older Peter Parker, working full-time for The Daily Bugle as a photographer who often became embroiled in the stories he reported on.

A serviceable enough performance, Hammond's Parker was more of an everyman, somewhat to the show's detriment. Unlike the contemporary Hulk TV show which thrived on the charisma of Bill Bixby as David Banner and physical presence of Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk, Spider-Man fell somewhat flat without a strong sense of humor or particularly compelling plots, leaving Hammond's live-action TV run the only one Spidey's had yet.

3. Andrew Garfield

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Andrew Garfield had a big task as the second big-screen Peter Parker, taking over from the well-loved Tobey Maguire just a few years after Maguire's final performance in the role (something of a tradition for Spider-Men, with Garfield's successor Tom Holland also following quickly). But he took to the job by going a very different direction with his version of Peter Parker, leaning into his sadness and masking it with a sense of humor.

Garfield's biggest failing as Peter Parker may have been as just plain simple as being saddled with a set of films that swung too far away from the common precepts of Spider-Man without enough of their own identity to make it work.

Still, through that, Garfield presented a Peter Parker practically designed to be lovable - a hard-trying, often-failing, always-striving innovator with a quick joke and a strong sense of what's right.

2. Tobey Maguire

(Image credit: Sony/Columbia Pictures)

The original big screen Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire defined the role over three films that tapped a vein directly to the melodrama and angst of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's original comic book tales.

Maguire perfectly embodied almost everything Peter Parker is about - his warmth, his struggle with responsibility, and his commitment to being a hero. His performance established the Spider-Man of the movies as a sincere and full-blooded hero, always striving for what's right.

If there's one thing that Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker/Spider-Man lacked, it's a simple sense of humor. Maguire's Peter just didn't make with the wisecracks, leaving room for a different view of a comic book-inspired Spider-Man to come.

1. Tom Holland

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Some fans will surely side-eye the idea of putting the current guy at the top of the list, but when it comes down to it, Tom Holland is a pitch-perfect Peter Parker - more than anyone else who's taken the role.

Holland matches Maguire's sincerity and Garfield's exuberance, but with a sense of humor and youth that are endemic to Peter, but which have rarely been actually captured onscreen.

As of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Holland now has six onscreen credits as Peter Parker - almost as many as Maguire and Garfield combined, counting their own No Way Home appearances. 

And over the course of those films, the young actor has created a comprehensive version of Marvel's favorite son that breaks new ground compared to previous film and even comic book versions while perfectly capturing the essence of Peter Parker.

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)