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Every Single Spider-Man Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

 

If it wasn’t for Spider-Man’s success on the big screen, we might not have the MCU. At a time when Marvel didn’t own the majority of rights to their own characters, Sam Raimi’s hugely successful trilogy (yes, even including that third one) showed them a map for future success. It’s no accident that they would start doing something with the rights they’d retained (and the ones they were able to get back) around the same period.

Spider-Man probably ranked as the one commodity they wished they’d never given away too. The Wall Crawler is consistently one of the biggest merch movers of any character for kids (Disney store sales records have him and Cars right up there) and he has a universal appeal to key demographics that the other big superheroes simpyl cannot compete with.

This is all why he’s been a big fixture on the big screen too, with thirteen movies under his Spider-belt so far and a LOT more planned given the existence of three Spider-Verses in movies right now. But which is the best and which is the worst so far?

13. Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge (1981)

CBS

Well before Sam Raimi got his hands on Spider-Man, we were “treated” to several movies in his name as well as some TV shows. Far removed from the great animated show of the 90s, The Amazing Spider-Man show that ran between 1977 and ’79 was a kitsch monstrosity that is pretty much only good for its nostalgic value now.

It’s so dated that it’s mostly unwatchable as anything other than a museum exhibition and it’s all VERY silly and very poorly made. Naturally, it still inspired a movie – The Dragon’s Challenge – which was actually the feature-length Season Two finale (also otherwise known as The Chinese Web). The central story sees Peter Parker protecting a Chinese businessman, because that’s one of Spider-Man’s lesser-known abilities, of course – bodyguarding.

There’s no real action, in contrast to the show itself and it was a poor end to the 1970s TV movie trilogy.

12. Spider-Man Strikes Back (1978)

CBS

Considering how poor The Amazing Spider-Man TV show from the late 70s looks now, it’s a bit of a shock that we got a single movie out of it, let alone THREE, but here we are.

The second was the film made out of two-part episode “Deadly Dust” with the same quality production values as ever and the same preposterously old Peter Parker played by Nicholas Hammond. This time, one of Parker’s tutors accidentally gives some of his fellow students the correct ingredients to make a nuclear bomb (hell of an accidet, this) and Parker himself ends up under suspicion while villain Mr White (who is definitely not just stolen from every Bond villain from the 70s) returns to try and steal the bomb to blow up the World Trade Centre.

The low budget shows badly here and sadly Spider-Man is the biggest casulaty as Hammond is barely even in costume to save money. As a result there’s limited action, no special effects and no clear reason why it was a movie at all.

11. Spider-Man (1978)

Toei Co Ltd

Ever wanted to see Spider-Man wielding a World War II era machine gun? Then look no further. Thanks to the Japanese Spider-Man TV show, we got to see just that in the TV movie that took place between episodes 10 (“To the Flaming Hell: See the Tears of the Snake Woman”) and 11 (“Professor Monster’s Ultra Poisoning”) of the show.

The show was always pretty mental, with strong Power Rangers vibes. The only real allusion to Spider-Man is his costume since Peter parker isn’t even involved (the hero is actually motorbike racer Takuya Yamashiro) and Spidey battles the evil Iron Cross Army using guns and a giant robot. Standard sort of 70s Japanese TV fare, really.

It’s nothing like Spider-Man but it’s a whole heap of fun all the same. And the theme tune is amazing…

10. Spider-Man (1977)

CBS

Rounding out the 1970s The Amazing Spider-Man TV movie trilogy is the first of them and the pilot episode of the show itself. Predictably, the whole thing is VERY of its time, very cheap and very cheesy and there are lots of indicators in there as to why the show was cancelled after just 13 episodes.

This is an absolute world away from what Sam Raimi would do 25 years later and even from what big screen superheroism would be when Superman: The Movie was released to critical acclaim and fan adulation.

Expecting it to compete with either of those is a little unfair and there is some kitsch value to watching it these days, but little else beyond that.

9. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Columbia Pictures

You really have to marvel at the audacity Sony had back when they were making The Amazing Spider-Man 2. They’d already unveiled plans for their Spider-Man universe as an answer to the MCU and they were beginning to announce movies for it. Sadly, they also seemingly saw this sequel as an opportunity to seed those movies rather than focusing primarily on making a good Spider-Man movie.

The sequel is not entirely irredeemable (and nor is the performance by Jamie Foxx as Electro that gets WAY too much hate), but it struggles for exactly the same reasons that Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 was counted as such a failure (ridiculous as that is to think now). It had too many villains, too much unnecessary plot and the ending was a let-down.

Ultimately, this was the movie that gave us the MCU Spider-Man, so we should be thankful, but it was still a major missed opportunity for Sony.

8. Venom (2018)

Sony Pictures

Look, yes, Spider-Man is not in Venom and nor is there any mention of him (other than the post-credits stinger that featured footage from Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse) but this is still a Spider-Verse movie. Eddie Brock still talks about the Daily Globe and Carnage is hinted at and it WILL come to somehow be linked more closely to Spidey in sequels.

Sadly, it’s a bit of a mess. Tom Hardy is great and the interactions between his Eddie Brock and Venom are brilliant and very funny, but the rest is dull and feels outdated and he action in particular leaves a lot to be desired. Supporting characters and villains aren’t well-drawn either, but at least the effects are great and there’s huge potential for a better-focused sequel to do well. Let’s hope it gets enough financial response to make that happen.

Soon, lists like this will be populated with even more spin-offs as Sony plan to expand their Spider-Verse massively (starting with Morbius). Let’s hope they do it all a little better than they have with Venom.

7. Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Sony Pictures

Considering some of the AWFUL comic book movies that have been released over the years, the idea that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 is considered anywhere near the same bracket is an absolute travesty. But there’s no underplaying just how much of a disappointment it was at the time in the wake of the spectacular Spider-Man 2.

Infamously destabilised by Sony insisting on way too much creative control and forcing Raimi to include Venom, the sequel was a picture of excess and very obviously bore the marks of Raimi’s disinterest in making a film for someone else. Had he been able to make the film he wanted, we’d probably have seen Spider-Man 4 too, so it’s all a huge shame.

There are things to like about it, but the misuse of three great villains was criminal and that image of emo Peter Parker dancing down the street is burned horribly into fans collected consciousnesses by now.

6. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Sony Pictures

By rights, Sony should have just made Spider-Man 4 even when Sam Raimi confirmed he couldn’t deliver the sequel the studio were looking for. They should have gone with someone else, rather than needlessly rebooting.

Having said that, there are some good things about The Amazing Spider-Man that shouldn’t be over-looked. It was admirable that they sought to use a villain who hadn’t been introduced before, for instance and Andrew Garfield wasn’t terrible as the younger, cooler Peter Parker. Likewise, Emma Stone was a better female lead than Kirsten Dunst had been allowed to be in Raimi’s trilogy.

It’s far from the worst movie ever released, but it was always working against itself to justify its very existence and it never quite manages it. In the end, it was just too close to Raimi’s work for comfort and the new additions paled in comparison to his ideas that were still fresh in everyone’s minds.

5. Spider-Man (2002)

Sony Pictures

There were definitely comic book movies before Sam Raimi unveiled his first take on Spider-Man, but without it and Bryan Singer’s X-Men movies, there wouldn’t be the current fascination with the mini-genre that there is now.

What Raimi did with Spider-Man was incredible and props to Sony for hiring a horror movie maker to handle their big assault on the superhero bucks. His experience in supernatural movies actually helped too as he created one of the most memorable comic book movie villains ever by essentially borrowing from Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde to bring his Green Goblin to life.

Tobey Maguire is great, Willem Dafoe is too and the whole thing is an exercise in blowing the cobwebs away from a genre that had lost its way badly with Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies. As a post-9/11 movie, it also nailed the spirit of New York, which still really comes across today.

4. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Marvel Studios

Captain America: Civil War should never have worked. It was too grand in scope, too divergent from the source material and too focused on bringing in new characters to be anything but a mess. But incredibly, it worked out magnificently.

Actually abandoning the source material for the most part allowed the Russos to tell their own story focused on more personal stakes and the tighter focus on the trio of Cap, Iron Man and Bucky was an inspired move that didn’t even undersell all the rest of the cast. Obviously, some characters ended up getting less to do, but it didn’t feel like any were particularly betrayed.

And even though he’s not involved all that much, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man ended up being a scene stealer (particularly when fighting Giant Man) and this movie proved to be the perfect launching point for his own stand-alone MCU debut.

3. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Marvel Studios

Spider-Man: Homecoming was nothing like Sam Raimi’s trilogy and nothing like The Amazing Spider-Man movies and still managed to be an incredible success. Taking in John Hughes influences and a Harry Potter-like focus on characters in school, the stand-alone was a brilliant starting point for Spider-Man’s assault on the MCU.

The tone is pretty much perfect, with a great balance between humour and emotion, and the cast is excellent, even though there were major concerns early on that there were just too many villains involved again. Tom Holland stands out in particular, but Michael Keaton’s menacing Vulture – a villain for the working class modern moment – is also really great.

The connections to the rest of the MCU aren’t over-bearing either and it promised a hell of a lot for the future of the character under the MCU banner. Let’s just hope he sticks around longer than the initial deal allows.

2. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Marvel Studios

There are many, many explosive, emotional moments in the third Avengers movie, but Spider-Man’s death at the end is one of the very most impactful beats of the entire film. He’s essentially in Infinity War as a narrative device (though a very charming and funny one he makes), in order to double down on Tony Stark’s guilt at involving him at all in employed superheroism.

Infinity War is obviously a massive ensemble piece with lots of characters and it would be difficult for any but the really top billed characters (Thanos, Thor and Iron Man chiefly) to leave TOO much of a mark, but Tom Holland’s Spider-Man does manage it thanks to his enthusiasm in the face of doom and that awful death moment.

The film itself is a breath-taking achievement too – the kind of spectacle that the term “blockbuster” was invented for, which manages to include some of the best comics panel-like scenes and original story-telling at the same time.

1. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Columbia Pictures

Is this the greatest comic book movie of all time? It’s certainly up there.

Sam Raimi’s 2004 sequel soared thanks to the freedom from having to establish characters and the universe and Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus managed to outdo Willem DaFoe in the villain stakes too.

The sequel does everything you’d want from a follow-up, building on everything we’d already seen from Raimi’s work, introducing new linked ideas and escalating the threat to Spider-Man, all while adding depth to him as a character.

Yet it still managed to retain the intimacy that the first film had relied on so heavily and which was so notably absent from The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

If there’s ever going to be a better Spider-Man movie, it will have to do a LOT to get there.

 

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