Here at JUMPCUT ONLINE, we love Spider-Man. From Tobey Maguire to Tom Holland via Andrew Garfield, he holds a special place in our hearts. For me, he’s my superhero, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was released when I wasn’t even 10 years old and I vividly remember the joy I felt when it caused the BBFC to invent an entirely new age rating – 12A – which meant my Mum could take me to see it. I grew up loving Spider-Man in all his many forms and continue to do so today, despite the recent heartbreak of his likely departure from the MCU. I’m with you to the end of the line, Peter.
Since 2002, we’ve had a variety of actors, directors, and even film styles tackle the famous hero with, it’s fair to say, mixed results. As we’re celebrating all things Spidey this month, I thought I’d round up the team’s rankings of the Spider-Man films. Using a simple points system – the top film gets 8 points, the bottom film gets 1 point – we’re about to discover, once and for all, which Spider-Man film reigns supreme.
8) Spider-Man 3 (24 points)
Bringing up the rear is Sam Raimi’s 3rd and final effort into the Spider-Man canon with a film that started the trend of having just too many bad guys in a superhero film. By introducing us to Sandman and fan-favourite Venom alongside Harry Osborne finally taking up the mantle as the new Green Goblin, Spider-Man 3 felt bogged down. Raimi and co. threw everything at the wall to see what stuck; sadly, not much did. A sad end for an impressive trilogy. We’ll always have Sexy Dark Peter, at least.
7) The Amazing Spider-Man (38 points)
On the surface, Andrew Garfield seemed like a great choice to play Peter Parker and Spider-Man. The handsome Brit had the charm to win over fans of all ages, but his valiant two-film effort at the iconic hero never quite hit the mark. There is some fun to be had in Marc Webb’s 2011 adaptation, mainly thanks to Garfield and Emma Stone’s chemistry, some very entertaining set-pieces and, arguably, the best city-swinging we’ve seen across all of the films, but it never quite achieves the heights of Raimi’s trilogy thanks to its clunky writing and a laborious sub-plot revolving around Peter’s late father.
6) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (40 points)
This is the first surprise of the list for me as I expected this one to be dead last. Garfield’s short-lived run as the web-slinger ran into a brick wall with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the second film in the character’s film history to suffer from far too many villains. Paul Giamatti’s Rhino makes a fleeting prologue and epilogue appearance in a doomed effort to lead us into a Sinister Six film; Jamie Foxx’s Electro is an entertaining if ludicrous villain as the series forwent the character’s classic green outfit in favour of electricity infused skin which turns him blue; and Dane DeHaan’s, er, attempt at Green Goblin that, for some reason, gave him eczema. In the film’s defence, the ending surrounding the – spoiler – demise of Gwen Stacy was brilliantly played by Stone and Garfield, giving Marc Webb’s duology something of a touching send-off.
5) Spider-Man (67 points)
The strength of Spider-Man’s films is shown here with Sam Raimi’s 2002 superhero debut only managing to come 5th in our ranking. Tobey Maguire is the Peter Parker for an entire generation, balancing the hyperintelligent, shy, awkwardness of Peter with the teenager having the time of his life as the Webhead. It has an early 2000s level of cheese that hasn’t aged as well as many had hoped, but there’s much to love here. For one, it introduced to us one of the genre’s greatest bits of casting to date with JK Simmons’ iconic J. Jonah Jameson, as well as giving us one of the best villain performances in superhero film history in Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborne/Green Goblin. Looking back, it’s hard not to fondly recall the genuinely iconic moments it gave us, from the upside-down kiss to Uncle Ben’s infamous line “with great power comes great responsibility.” The finale of the film is a glider to the gut, leaving us on a sombre note as Peter faces the reality of his adopted superhero lifestyle.
4) Spider-Man: Far From Home (70 points)
The most recent entry into the Spider-Man canon was a positively game-changing film for the current iteration of Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe…until it wasn’t anymore. Still, Far From Home is a sterling sophomore effort from Tom Holland and Jon Watts. It has, arguably, some of Spider-Man’s best action sequences to date, particularly in the final act as Spidey combines his webs with his brains to take down the drone army attacking London, but you cannot talk about Far From Home without discussing Jake Gyllenhaal’s frankly brilliant performance as Quentin Beck/Mysterio. The effortless charm of Gyllenhaal combined with brilliant pacing as we wait for the penny to finally drop, Far From Home forces Peter to step out of the shadow of his late-mentor, Tony Stark and confront the man he naively assumed was his new one. The film reaches its peak with the midway illusion sequence that is the MCU at its most visually creative, echoing sequences from the beloved Batman: Arkham video game series. If this truly is the end of Tom Holland’s stay in the MCU as, for my money, the best we’ve ever seen at both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, what a way to go.
3) Spider-Man 2 (82 points)
The oft-heralded best superhero film of all time only comes in 3rd in our JUMPCUT ranking. Ironing out the issues with the first instalment, Raimi and co. return with one of the defining superhero films of all time. A never-better Tobey Maguire leads the way in a battle of wits against his mentor and hero, a superb Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavius/Doc Ock, Spider-Man 2 ramps up the action from the first and gives us yet another iconic superhero villain. The action sequence at the midway point of the film, in which Spidey and Doc Ock battle it out atop a train with no brakes, is the defining sequence of the film as a de-masked Spidey uses everything in his power to stop the train, screaming in agony as the force of it all rips his suit. The ensuing scene in which a passed out Spidey is carried back into the carriage, only to be returned his mask and a promise from those that bore witness to his act of heroism that they “won’t tell nobody,” is a stunning moment and one that defines Spider-Man as a character. He’s the hero of New York City. He risks his life for the city he loves and despite the Daily Bugle’s constant defamatory attempts on him, the city loves him back. Spider-Man 2 still holds up as one of the genre’s very best.
2) Spider-Man: Homecoming (84 points)
Introducing Spider-Man into the MCU in the manner that they did it – a cameo appearance in Captain America: Civil War – was a stroke of genius. After 2 reboots of the character, this 3rd, Holland-ification of Peter Parker didn’t need an origin story. Kevin Feige trusted the audience would be familiar with the character and brought him into the universe as a somewhat established hero under the tutelage of Tony Stark. Skipping over the classic Uncle Ben stuff, we’re given a Spider-Man in Homecoming who’s found his niche in a small part of Queen’s, saving the area from petty crimes and giving old ladies directions. Homecoming was a huge step forward for Spidey CGI and gave us brilliant action scene after brilliant action scene (my favourite is the Washington Monument lift scene), but the heart of this adaptation was in its characters. Playing the long game with Peter and Zendaya’s MJ, the two rarely interact but the film plants the seed for what’s to come. Alongside Dafoe’s Goblin and Molina’s Doc Ock, the Spider-Man films continue their trend of stellar villains with one of the very best in Michael Keaton’s Vulture. The moment Vulture’s identity is revealed to Peter is one of the MCU’s finest moments to date, and later on, when Peter has been stripped of everything, his break down under the rubble is Tom Holland giving us the best acting performance of the MCU. Everything good about Spider-Man can be boiled down to that one scene in which he believes in himself against adversity, summons his inner strength and gets himself out of trouble. No Tony, no fancy suit, all Peter. Homecoming was a glorious return to form for Spidey post-The Amazing Spider-Man, and takes a deserving 2nd place here.
1) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (100 points)
Was it ever in doubt? The animated effort from the minds of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (the brilliant directing duo behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Lego Movie, and 21/22 Jump Street) set the world on fire with this eventual Oscar-winning animation. Focusing primarily on Miles Morales as opposed to Peter Parker, Spider-Verse felt like a game-changer. It takes all of the tropes we’ve come to expect from a superhero film, and particularly a Spider-Man film, and uses them all to its strength by incorporating 5 other versions of Spider-Man thanks to an interdimensional rift caused by Wilson Fisk/Kingpin. This wildly creative adaptation is everything you want in a Spider-Man film, with some brilliant choreography, a seriously funny script, and a visual style to die for that feels like a comic book brought to life in a way no superhero film has managed before (bagel!). Miles is a wonderfully easy to root for protagonist, while Jake Johnson’s older, downtrodden Spider-Man is one of the most inspired bits of voice casting I’ve ever seen. I’ve not even mentioned the brilliance of Nicholas Cage as Spider-Man Noir, Kathryn Hahn’s Olivia Octavius, or Liev Schreiber’s Fisk. Spider-Verse left no stone unturned as it made even Fisk’s motivations for nearly ending the world understandable given its emotional undercurrent. With the MCU reaching its Endgame, Spider-Verse breathed new life into the genre and hopefully will have inspired filmmakers to try something different moving forward. We live in a post-Spider-Verse world now.
Do you agree with our ranking? Let us know on Twitter how wildly wrong we are and tell us what the actual best Spider-Man film is!