Julien Neaves, Editor
My original Spider-Man film ranking came out way back in January 2019. But then in December 2021 a little independent movie called No Way Home came out and made a tiny splash. I’m kidding, I’m kidding; it broke the internet and made enough bank to make Scrooge McDuck jealous. Okay, Far From Home also came out in the interim, but that entry only break my heart. We’ll get into that later.
With No Way Home recently releasing on digital media it’s the perfect time to update my ranking and include this big budget behemoth. With a Multiverse-breaking SPOILER ALERT let’s find out where NWH ranks among the eight Spider-Man films:
#9 Spider-Man 3 (2007)
No one should be surprised that this monumental mess of a movie is at the bottom of the list. With too many villains, subplots and plot holes Spidey 3 is an exercise in excess and has neither style nor substance.
Thomas Hayden-Church is wasted as Sandman and Topher Grace’s version of Venom was an affront to a beloved character. The Uncle Ben death retcon is contrived. Harry Osborn’s arc is unnecessarily convoluted. But nothing in the film was more awful than dancing Emo Peter Parker (later Bully Parker). Oh how far the mighty Raimi trilogy had fallen.
#8 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Now this film gets a lot of hate but I find some of it to be undeserved. Sure Jamie Foxx’s Electro is a ridiculous baddie with a stupid origin and paper-thin motivation, the whole parent conspiracy subplot went nowhere, they tried wayyyyyyyy too hard to set up future films in (a since aborted) shared universe. And the ending was supremely anti-climactic.
But Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone continue to have blazing onscreen chemistry, Dane DeHaan was decent as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin and there was some cool web-slinging action in the mix. With all the post-NWH love for Garfield hopefully TASM 2 will get more appreciation.
#7 The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
This film is solid but not spectacular; you see what I did there, and you liked it! Garfield puts a fun, gangly spin as the new man in the suit, the aforementioned Garfield/Stone chemistry is once again great and Rhys Ifans has some genuine menace as Dr Curt Connors/The Lizard. And wasn’t it great seeing Denis Leary onscreen again? I like him.
Throw in some great Spider-on-Lizard action and you have a fun time to be had by all, generic plot notwithstanding.
#6 Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Tom Holland’s sophomore solo outing looked great from the trailers. Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio? Black-suited Spidey? The Elementals? I was fully ready to pack my bags and head off to a cinema to enjoy this one. But other than the very good visuals effects, some entertaining set pieces and one banger of an ending cliffhanger (JK Simmons back as J Jonah Jameson revealing Peter Parker is SPIDER-MAN! Ermagerd!) the glaring plot flaws are too obvious to overlook.
Mysterio’s reveal as a baddie could have been seen from a Multiverse away. The central plot of Tony gifting murder drone AI technology to a teenager makes zero sense whatsoever. And speaking of Tony, the film spends way too much time reconnecting to his legacy. Just let Spidey do his thing, folks. But it’s still a fun little getaway that earns it a halfway spot on this ranking.
#5 Spider-Man (2002)
This was the film that started it all and showed fans of our favourite webhead that the days of the super dull 70s campfest of a TV series were long, long gone.
Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker may be the oldest teenager ever but he is charming and likable in the role. He and Kirsten Dunst’s MJ have okay enough chemistry but, aside from an iconic upside-down smooch, never really blazes like Garfield/Stone. Willem Dafoe gleefully chews up the scenery as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin and makes for a grand old time. And while entertaining the film was still a test case for greater Spidey outings to come.
#4 Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Tom Holland already wowed fans with his appearance as Spidey in Captain America: Civil War but could he carry a full film? Apparently he could.
Homecoming finally succeeds in giving fans a teenage Peter that feels like a teenage Peter, and the film does not treat high school like a facet of the character to be rushed over. His mentor/mentee relationship with Tony Stark is also refreshing. Michael Keaton is mesmerising and a relatable villain as The Vulture, though Bokeem Woodbine’s Shocker does fizzle out. The high flying, intense action sequences topped off a gratifying film. And how could we forget sexy Aunt May? Mamma Mia!
#3 Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
NWH at number 3?! That’s crazy!! It’s the greatest Spider-Man movie ever!!! You don’t know diddly squat!!!! I can’t even read the rest of this garbage!!!!! That was my impression of some of the readers reacting to the latest Spidey outing getting the bronze medal. Now before you all cancel me let me explain that I enjoyed NWH. I had nerdgasms seeing Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield back and interacting with/fighting alongside Tom Holland’s version. And the final act is nothing short of epic. It was also pretty cool seeing the old villains return, with Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock and Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn/Green Goblin being highlights.
But like Far For Home, where NWH falls short is in the plot department. Now Tom accidentally breaking the Multiverse by making Dr Strange mess up a spell to make everyone forget he’s Spider-Man is a fine, if weird set-up. And having five previous villains return was cool. But the whole idea to save them from returning to their deaths in their own universes by “curing” them makes about as much sense as Spidey defeating Strange with “the power of math”. And while Doc Ock and Goblin are great Lizard and Sandman are just kinda there while Electro has inexplicably gone from brooding blue psychopath to a non-blue Jamie Foxx-esque quipping jokester. And speaking of comedy, the many, many jokes miss more than they land. Also Aunt May’s death feels unearned and both Ned and MJ feel like less than side characters. NWH is still a very entertaining movie, but there is too much filler in the midsection to make it the top contender. Feel free to @ me now.
#2 Spider-Man 2 (2004)
For a long time this was my number one Spidey film and I still consider it one of the best superhero films ever. Maguire goes through the classic hero story and it is done to perfection. The action is raised to another level compared to the original and the train rescue remains firmly embedded in the minds of every moviegoer.
But while Alfred Molina did masterfully as Doc Ock the character’s motivation was somewhat lacking and the ending battle felt rushed. And when poked further the numerous plot contrivances and conveniences show Spider-Man 2 was not as perfect a film as it could have been. Still very, very good though.
#1 Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2019)
If you had told me the best Spider-Man feature would have been an animated movie where the main character is not Peter Parker but the Miles Morales version, then I would have lifted my eyebrows at you in a strong expression of skepticism. (Wow that was a long sentence). But then I saw the movie and I was like — THIS IS THE BEST SPIDER-MAN MOVIE EVER!
Everything in this movie works. Everything! The animation is a veritable feast for the eyes and the magnificent, edgy soundtrack will have your ears thanking you for days after. Possibly week. Morales is a light, fresh and completely relatable protagonist. The other Spider characters are well done and all have their own arcs. The action is pulse-pounding and well structured. And Kingpin makes for an imposing and threatening big bad (literally and figuratively) but was still given a believable motivation. The core theme of family is also expertly done and so, so moving. Swing onto the centre of the podium Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. You deserve it.
So what did you think of the list? How would you rank the Spidey flicks? And you can check out more great comic book content below: