Spider-Man: Homecoming is the seventh official movie featuring New York’s favorite wall-crawling, web-slinging action hero. The film, due out on July 7, will mark the character’s first stand-alone adventure within the inter-connected Marvel Cinematic Universe, following his scene-stealing debut in Captain America: Civil War.
This MCU incarnation of Spider-Man is the third continuity in which the Marvel hero has appeared; originally, the character was portrayed by Tobey Maguire in the original Spider-Man trilogy from Evil Dead director Sam Raimi. Following Spider-Man 3 in 2007, work commenced on another sequel, but after numerous delays, the controversial decision was made to reboot the series.
In 2012, Andrew Garfield starred in The Amazing Spider-Man, directed by Marc Webb, which led to a sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2. That film was positioned as a springboard for a whole universe of Spider-Man films, including spin-offs based on The Sinister Six and Venom. Unfortunately for Sony Pictures, TASM2 was a relative under-performer by mega-blockbuster standards ($708 million worldwide, the lowest result for any Spidey film to date), and the whole Spider-Man Cinematic Universe was quietly scuttled. The future of the character was in doubt, until the game-changing decision was made by Marvel and Sony to share the character, thus allowing for a newly re-rebooted version of Peter Parker to appear in the MCU.
Across these various iterations of the friendly neighborhood web-head, he has had numerous moments which stand out as being distinctly exciting, emotionally charged, or just downright awesome. Whether the man behind the mask was Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, or Tom Holland, Spider-Man is one of the greatest cinematic figures of all time, and these are the scenes that prove it. Here are Spider-Man’s 15 Best Movie Moments.
15. Spider-Man – Using Spider-Sense For The First Time
The original Spider-Man film was a revelation for the superhero genre. Marvel’s properties were already slowly making their way to the big screen, from Blade to Bryan Singer’s X-Men, but Spider-Man was a massive critical and commercial success, a true superhero origin story on par with Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie.
In the early stages of the film, Peter Parker discovers his newly-gained abilities before applying them to battling crime. He stumbles upon his enhanced reflexes and “Spider-Sense” while casually eating lunch in the high school cafeteria. Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) walks by and slips on a puddle, flinging her tray and all her food up in the air. In one deft move, Peter saves her from falling, grabs her tray, and perfectly catches all the food without making a mess. Tobey Maguire performed the stunt himself, with no CGI assistance.
It’s a great little moment, and it fuels the next beat, in which an accidental discharge of his web-fluid leads to school bully Flash Thompson (Joe Manganiello) starting a fight with the nerdy outcast. In the heat of the moment, with the threat of Flash’s fist looming in his face, Peter discovers that his new abilities also makes him adept at dodging attacks and laying down some major pain in a combat scenario. In a situation every nerd has daydreamed about, Peter evades all of Flash’s punches and incapacitates the jerk jock without breaking a sweat.
14. Spider-Man 2 – Revealing his identity to Doctor Octopus
By the end of Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker is a far different man than he was back when he first discovered his potential to fight bad guys in that high school hallway. Otto Octavius is a fatherly mentor figure for Peter Parker, but he considers Spider-Man to be his arch nemesis, the only figure who can get in the way of his plan to (unwittingly) obliterate the city with his doomsday science experiment.
Throughout the film, Peter is struggling to maintain his double life as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, even going so far as to give up his web-slinging identity for a period of time. During the final battle with Doc Ock, Peter has to embrace the non-duality of existence and resolves his conflict with Ock – and himself – by revealing his identity to the deranged scientist. He is Peter Parker, and he is also Spider-Man. He can’t compartmentalize both sides of his life; he can only be whole if he acknowledges that he needs to embrace the wholeness of being.
Yeah, it gets pretty spiritual! In any case, the shock of discovering that Spider-Man and Peter Parker are one and the same is enough to convince Octavius that his own one-dimensional pursuit of science glory can only end in death and destruction, and he ultimately sacrifices himself to atone for his mistakes and save the city from certain doom.
13. Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Web-Slinging Intro Vs Rhino
These days, The Amazing Spider-Man films are generally dismissed as being desperate stopgaps made to keep the rights to the character from returning to Marvel Studios, but the adventures of Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker certainly have their impressive moments of heart, character, and spellbinding action.
Need proof? Look no further than the first scene of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Right after a brief prologue, the film jumps right into Spidey swinging through the city and battling Russian gangster Aleksei Sytsevich, better known as Rhino. The CGI work on the web-slinger as he navigates the city is nothing short of incredible, giving our hero the grace of a ballet champion with super strength as he deftly swings between buildings. He even has a short interlude with Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), the mild-mannered scientist who will eventually become the supervillain, Electro.
Several subplots are set up in the film’s hyper-kinetic intro, with Paul Giamatti hamming it up as the heavily-accented, tracksuit-wearing Russian mobster. Unfortunately, TASM2 veers wildly off the rails after its exciting opening. Still, it’s important to remember, especially as the years erode the relevance of the Andrew Garfield films in the fans’ minds, that it wasn’t all bad.
12. Captain America: Civil War – In The Bedroom With Iron Man
Captain America: Civil War is a film about Steve Rogers and Tony Stark in an ideological battle of wills, with each side refusing to budge. Captain America is loyal to the American Dream and not the suits in power, while Iron Man knows that The Avengers need to adapt or die, and that accountability is key; he should know, being the man who created Ultron and doomed Sokovia just a year before.
Most of the heroes who participate in the film are established figures, with two key exceptions: Black Panther and Spider-Man. During the movie, Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) makes a detour to Queens, New York, where he meets up with a young teenager, played by Tom Holland, and his “Aunt Hottie,” played by Marisa Tomei.
This scene is the formal introduction of Peter Parker and Aunt May into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it consists mainly of Tony and Peter shooting the breeze in Peter’s bedroom. The scene is packed with rapid-fire humor and the kind of tap-dancing dialogue that RDJ has come to be known for, making for a perfect trial-by-fire for Tom Holland as an actor; if he can match Downey’s pace, he’ll make it in the MCU. Indeed, he does, and even without seeing Peter donning his iconic red and blue outfit until much later in the movie, Spider-Man’s MCU debut leaves an immediate and lasting impression on viewers.
11. The Amazing Spider-Man – Peter Asks Out Gwen
Even among the many detractors of The Amazing Spider-Man films, it’s generally agreed upon that the chemistry between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey was one of the main highlights of the short-lived series. This is especially evident in an adorable scene early in the first movie. After Martin Sheen’s Uncle Ben masterfully (but deliberately and endearingly) embarrasses Peter in front of Gwen, he leaves, leaving his nephew an exquisite opening to ask his crush out on a date.
The scene is full of Andrew Garfield stuttering like a love-struck teen, Emma Stone absorbing his affections like an attraction sponge, and a palpable chemistry which can warm the hearts of even the most ardent naysayers. Even when the movies inevitably fell into a dearth of cartoonish side-characters, wheel-spinning storytelling, and empty promises of future movies which never came to be, the romantic chemistry between the two young leads was always a dependable source of genuine heart, and the true blue soul of the Amazing phase of Spider-Man’s cinematic odyssey.
10. Spider-Man: Homecoming – The Ferry Rescue
As of this writing, Spider-Man: Homecoming is not actually be out in theaters yet, but the trailers have done a great job of ensuring that anticipation for the movie is at a fever pitch. Easily the centerpiece of the film’s marketing campaign has been the incredible shot of Spider-Man, suspended in mid-air, holding on to his webs, flexing his teenage muscles and keeping a damaged ferry from literally falling apart.
Spider-Man is the personification of the spirit of New York City. He’s not as self-indulgent about it as some other location-centric heroes, but he will stop at nothing to defend his home, and he will be the first to take a hit while protecting others. The dramatic shot of Spidey literally being pulled apart to keep the ferry from splitting in two is basically the character’s entire mission statement in one moment.
If there’s one thing which holds this sequence back, at least as it is presented in the trailer, it’s how evocative it is of the legendary elevated train sequence from Spider-Man 2… But we’ll get to that later on in this story.
9. Spider-Man 3 – Breaking Free From The Symbiote
While much of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy is universally beloved, many fans were disappointed by the third entry, which featured a dancing Emo Peter, the obtrusive introduction of Gwen Stacy, and too many villains, from James Franco as the Goblin, Thomas Haden Church as Sandman, and Topher Grace as Eddie Brock, better known as Venom.
Throughout the film, Peter Parker is under the increasing influence of his alien Symbiote-infused black suit, which heightened his aggression and otherwise brought out his more selfish tendencies. It all culminates in an emotionally charged sequence where Peter actually strikes Mary Jane in a fit of rage. Recoiling in shock at his unbelievable act, Peter runs away to a nearby church. After figuring out a way to weaken the symbiote, he manages to viscerally remove himself from the poisoned suit.
It’s a powerfully cathartic moment in a movie which has been too silly for too long. Despite having cleansed himself of his sins (in a church, no less!), they come back to haunt him, as the symbiote escapes and attaches itself to Eddie Brock, a man with no greater mission in the entire world than to kill Peter Parker — so much so that he literally prays to God to strike down the man he blames for all the problems in his life.
8. Spider-Man – Bridge Fight
The final showdown of the original 2002 Spider-Man movie begins with a pulse-pounding sequence which evokes the infamous “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” story from the comics.
In that story, Gwen is thrown from a bridge by Green Goblin and dies when Spidey’s web shooter breaks her fall – and her neck. In the movie, Green Goblin holds Mary Jane in one hand, and a cable car full of innocent civilians in the other. He drops them both, forcing Spider-Man to choose one or the other. However, in a herculean feat of super strength, agility, and righteous will, Peter manages to save everyone in one of the most tensely directed sequences in any superhero movie ever.
7. Amazing Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Dead Stacys Everywhere!
In hindsight, the great theme of The Amazing Spider-Man duology is “loss,” especially considering the fact that the series was cancelled before the whole Spider-Man shared universe could truly come to fruition. However, within the movies themselves, the hero can’t escape the final battle of either film without one of his allies getting killed.
In the first ASM, Lizard kills Captain Stacy (Denis Leary). In his dying breath, Stacy makes Spider-Man, unmasked as Peter Parker, to promise to stop dating his daughter, Gwen. Peter agrees, and it’s a heartbreaking moment of love, loss, and loyalty. Of course, despite his promise and the inherent danger, our hero shows up at Gwen’s door in the closing scene of the movie.
In ASM2, Harry Osborne’s Green Goblin drops Gwen Stacy from a great height. Spider-Man catches her just after the last possible second, and she breaks her head open on the ground below. It’s a surprisingly violent moment for the family-friendly film, and Andrew Garfield sells the moment with his grief-stricken face and feeling of total failure.
Of course, ASM2 is a poorly-paced mess of a film, and the action quickly moves on to Spidey taking on Rhino while the movie ends on a triumphant note. He goes through all the stages of grief in roughly the same amount of time it takes for someone to pour a cup of coffee. Regardless of significant pacing issues, those moments still carry a weight, even if the weight is lifted as soon as the movies move on to their next scenes.
6. Spider-Man 2 – My Back! My Back!
The pressures of being both Spider-Man and Peter Parker catch up to our hero in 2004’s Spider-Man 2, widely considered to be the best Spidey film to date, and, indeed, one of the best superhero movies of all time. In this film, the stresses of maintaining his double life cause his powers to begin to fade.
After going through an existential crisis and emerging on the other side, Peter decides to test his powers by jumping between rooftops. After getting a running start, Parker jumps, triumphantly shouting, “I’m back! I’m back!“ Unfortunately for Peter, Sam Raimi just couldn’t resist implementing one more “power fail” gag, and Peter, perhaps as karma for his prideful boasting, plummets to the ground below.
It’s well-known Hollywood legend that Tobey Maguire held out for more money when it came to returning for Spider-Man 2, trying to delay his role in the sequel by claiming to suffer from mild back pain after the grueling work on the first movie (and jockey drama Seabiscuit). Possibly as a bit of humor at Maguire’s expense, the web-slinger gets up from his painful wipeout exclaiming, “My back! My back!”
5. Spider-Man 3 – Forgiveness
The first two Spider-Man movies end with the villain dying; Green Goblin impales himself on his own glider blades after a failed attempt to skewer the web-slinger, and Doctor Octopus sacrifices himself to save the city from his own creation after Peter gets him to snap out of his tentacle-induced stupor.
In Spider-Man 3, after Venom is dispatched by an exploding Goblin bomb, all attention is turned to Sandman; how is the web-head going to to defeat this seemingly-immortal villain? And, more importantly, how is Sandman going to die without officially making our hero a straight-up serial murderer?
For all the complaints people have about Spider-Man 3, it makes the admittedly bold choice to change the traditional superhero narrative. In the ending, when face-to-face with Sandman, the man who actually shot and killed Uncle Ben all those years ago, Peter forgives him. He sets aside his hate and vengeful rage, listens to his enemy’s story, and absolves the remorseful villain of his sins. Redeemed and apologetic, Sandman turns to dust and flies away, dissipating into the ether and abandoning his criminal ways forever.
4. Captain America: Civil War – The Airport Scuffle
The action-extravaganza centerpiece of Captain America: Civil War is the now-iconic fight at the airport. The Avengers mostly go up against CGI armies of soulless robots or faceless aliens; this time, they battle themselves. With the exception of Black Panther’s bloodlust against Bucky, the erstwhile Winter Soldier, none of the heroes are actively trying to kill each other.
There are so many great moments in the battle, from Ant-Man going giant to Scarlet Witch bringing down a steel rain of cars from a nearby parking garage, but Spider-Man totally steals the show. This scene is the first time the audience gets to see him in his superhero outfit; his first act is to surprise Captain America by web-snatching his iconic shield, and it only gets better from there. Tom Holland shines, offering tons of quips and acrobatic fight moves in equal measure.
Ultimately, Spider-Man is the one who comes up with the plan to incapacitate Giant Man, invoking the tow cable AT-AT scene from “that really old movie,” The Empire Strikes Back. Hopefully, this mix of kinetic action, endearing humor, and effortlessly entertaining acting from Tom Holland will be a hallmark of Spider-Man: Homecoming. If so, Spider-Man will have a long and prosperous career in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
3. Spider-Man – Green Goblin Brawl
The original 2002 Spider-Man is full of joy, wonder, and whimsical adventure. Aside from a few eerily violent moments, like the Goblin Bomb that turns the Oscorp board into skeletons which then dissolve into dust, the film is fun for the whole family… Until the final brawl between Spider-Man and Green Goblin.
After rescuing the cable car kids and Mary Jane (see entry #8), Green Goblin drags Spider-Man to an abandoned building on Roosevelt Island, and they basically take turns beating the tar out of each other. First, Goblin explodes a Pumpkin Bomb in Peter’s face, totally shredding his mask, and then proceeds to beat the teenager senseless. This part of the scene is completely devoid of music, and Sam Raimi’s visceral style makes every merciless blow feel utterly soul-shattering.
However, after Goblin threatens to kill Mary Jane slowly and painfully, Spidey musters up the strength to fight on, and he takes down the Osborn by using his webbing to bring a brick wall down on his head. In the end, Goblin tries to kill Spider-Man with his glider, but the hero backflips out of the way at the last moment, and Osborn inadvertently kills himself with his own weapon.
In his final moments, with the Green Goblin gone and the man who was Norman Osborn rapidly fading away, he sadly looks at Peter Parker, the son he never had, and begs, “Don’t tell Harry,” to spare his son the shame of having a supervillain for a father.
2. Spider-Man – Upside-Down Kiss
Peter Parker and Mary Jane are a love story for the ages, two New York teens caught up in their own lives, with Peter secretly living a double life as New York’s most famous masked vigilante. In the early stages of the first film, Peter’s crush on Mary Jane is unrequited, but things get complicated when Spider-Man saves her from a gang of ruffians in a rain-soaked alley on the shady side of the city.
After effortless dispatching her ill-meaning pursuers, she meets him for some small-talk. He’s hanging upside-down in one of his classic Spider-Man poses, and she asks if she can thank him for saving her life. Spidey agrees, and she removes part of his mask for what just may be the sexiest scene in any superhero films ever. With that kiss, comic book movies weren’t just for nerds and kids; they became hot, hip, and sexy.
The scene won the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss, and was later homaged in Spider-Man 3, where a drunk-with-public-adoration Peter Parker foolishly allows Gwen Stacy to kiss him during a public event in honor of New York’s greatest superhero. Mary Jane doesn’t appreciate the gesture, to say the least.
1. Spider-Man 2 – Elevated Train Scene
Lifelong New Yorkers scoff at some parts of the famous Elevated Train sequence in Spider-Man 2. Real New York train cars don’t look like that, and there’s definitely no elevated train running alongside Manhattan’s skyscrapers… But that’s not important right now.
In this greatest of Spider-Man’s movie moments, the web-slinger does battle with Doctor Octopus in spectacular fashion, and then has to stop a runaway train from devastating the city. During the Doc Ock fight, the eight-limbed mad scientist grabs two of the train’s passengers and throws them from the train, leaving Spidey to dramatically rescue them by catching them and tossing them into hastily-constructed webs. Eventually, Doc Ock disables the train’s brakes, and Spider-Man has to use every ounce of his strength to stop the out-of-control MTA vehicle.
The sequence where Spidey uses his webs to to slow down the train is the obvious inspiration for Spider-Man: Homecoming’s ferry rescue (see entry #10), in that the hero has both arms outstretched, using himself as the glue that keeps the city together. It’s strength, sacrifice, and pure righteousness. He stops the train and saves the day, but it costs him all of his energy, and he collapses in a heap. The subway passengers try to protect him from Doc Ock, but the villain is able to easily brush them aside and kidnap the hero, setting the stage for the final showdown.
What do you think? What are your favorite Spider-Man movie moments? Share your memories in the comments!
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