There have been seven Spider-Man movies since 2002: here's a ranking of all his solo films. Spider-Man is one of the most popular movie properties today, but it took a long time for Hollywood to realize how lucrative he could be. Until relatively recently, the wall-crawler had only ever journeyed to the small screen - he was the star of several series and TV films starring Nicholas Hammond, along with various acclaimed cartoons, such as the Spider-Man: The Animated Series - although that isn’t to say that no one was trying to bring Spider-Man to the big screen.
In the 1980s and 1990s, directors Tobe Hooper and James Cameron were thwarted by failing production companies – and the fact that Spider-Man's movie rights frequently changed hands. After numerous lawsuits and hotly contested debates, MGM gave Columbia Pictures the rights to Spider-Man, in exchange for James Bond's license. Director Sam Raimi was hired, and between 2002 and 2007, he produced the highly influential Spider-Man Trilogy. This ended when Raimi and Sony parted ways due to scheduling issues and creative differences later in the decade. In 2012, Sony rebooted the character in Marc Webb’s divisive duology, where Andrew Garfield replaced Tobey Maguire as the lead superhero. Yet, Garfield and Webb were soon dropped in 2015 when Sony and Marvel Studios joined forces. The franchise was refreshed yet again in 2017, this time with Jon Watts in the director’s chair.
Today, the future looks bright for Spider-Man’s silver screen adventures. Watts is returning for Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Sony is currently developing two separate franchises: one focusing on Spider-Man’s villains, and the other charting various alternate Spider-people in animated form. Soon, Spider-Man will have starred in more films than his fellow superhero icons Superman and Batman. But as this rocky production history suggests, each of his cinematic exploits has arrived with varying degrees of success. From his pizza-delivering days to his inter-dimensional battles, let’s look back on all of Spider-Man’s big screen adventures and rank them all, from worst to best.
7. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Still mocked over ten years later, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 is still the weakest of the Spidey lot. Set a year after Spider-Man 2, the situation looks very positive for Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker. He has finally balanced his superhero duties alongside his career, and he plans to propose to his girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). But this harmony is soon shattered by the threat of the New Goblin (James Franco), the Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), and a certain black symbiote from outer space.
Like Alien 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand, Spider-Man 3 has a bad reputation for finishing a popular film series with a whimper instead of a bang. But emo street-dancing aside, it’s safe to say that Spider-Man 3 isn’t as bad as its lingering notoriety would suggest. Peter’s airborne fight with the New Goblin and his subway tussle with Sandman are still thrilling affairs. And speaking of Sandman, the character is the star of the movie’s standout scene; the moment when his disintegrating hands cannot hold his daughter’s pendant is heartbreaking, thanks to an affecting combination of detailed CGI and a touching score.
It’s a shame that this deftness is rarely seen elsewhere in the film. Spider-Man 3 is filled with many subplots and misunderstandings, and, buckling under their weight, it plods from one sequence to the next. When Mary Jane is kidnapped for the third time in the series, the movie’s tiredness is palpable, and a lot of this is due to the inclusion of one character: Venom. Sam Raimi famously disliked this villain, but Sony and producer Avi Arad pushed for his inclusion. As a result, Venom – and the symbiote arc at large – feels very undeveloped, as does Bryce Dallas Howard and James Cromwell’s Gwen and George Stacy respectively. Raimi’s dissatisfaction is evident throughout Spider-Man 3. While the film is not the crime against cinema that it has often been portrayed as, it remains a dark stain on Spider-Man’s filmic past.
6. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released seven years after Spider-Man 3. Despite this time difference – and the backlash that Raimi’s movie received – it repeated many of Spider-Man 3's failings. Marc Webb’s second attempt at adapting Spider-Man sees Andrew Garfield’s wall-crawler wrangle with Electro (Jamie Foxx), the darkness spreading from Oscorp and Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), along with the mystery of his parents’ death, whilst trying to repair his troubled relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). It’s a busy movie for sure.
In their attempts to copy The Avengers’ huge success, Sony pivoted from copying The Dark Knight’s grounded approach in The Amazing Spider-Man to mimicking Marvel Studios’ breezier, jokier output in the Spidey sequel. On top of this, they tried to set up a shared universe of their own. While the new tone actually benefits this historically light-hearted character, the abundance of plots and ideas did not.
From Marton Csokas’ camp Dr. Kafka to Harry’s harrowing Goblin transformation, there are so many disparate forces and tones at work that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 can’t quite coalesce in the way that it should. Moreover, the scenes in which Harry Osborn discovers his company’s illegal experiments deviate massively from the main plot. They are clearly setting up the next installment, as well as a Sinister Six movie, but it derails this movie and is made all the more frustrating that both of these films never arrived.
However, even though audiences may have groaned at Alex Kurtzman Roberto Orci reuse of their “magic blood” trope from Star Trek Into Darkness, there is still enjoyment to be had in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Spider-Man’s opening chase is exhilarating, as is his confrontation with Electro in Times Square. But the keys to this film are Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. The two actors were dating whilst making this movie and the result is the kind of easy, authentic chemistry that many other films have failed to generate. As as result, the film’s heart-breaking climax is of the best-acted, most affecting scenes in the history of superhero movies.
5. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Despite not being as warmly received as its predecessors, Spider-Man 3 made so much money that plans for two more sequels began in earnest. The original cast was set to return, along with director Sam Raimi, who was disappointed in how Spider-Man 3 had turned out and planned to restore the series’ glory. Yet in 2010, Raimi departed the project, saying that he couldn’t produce a quality film within Sony’s strict production schedule. Spider-Man 4's leading man and lady departing in solidarity with Raimi. As such, Sony moved forward with a rebooted franchise, now with director Marc Webb, Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, and the added prefix of “amazing.”
Webb’s new take on Spider-Man’s mythos initially promised to tell the untold story of Peter Parker’s absent parents, yet it mostly just remixes Spidey’s origins. The bullied, nerdy Peter is re-imagined as an awkward loner, and Mary Jane Watson and the Green Goblin are exchanged for Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and the Lizard (Rhys Ifans) respectively. Indeed, there’s a constant conflict between old and new within the film. Webb and co. clearly want to try something different, but they’re constrained by the comics (not to mention that Raimi’s original movie already told Spidey’s story very successfully).
The Amazing Spider-Man tries to embellish these familiar story beats, but the film often feels unfocused when it does. The power of Uncle Ben’s death is diluted because of the changes made to its surrounding plot. Similarly, Peter’s prolonged search for Ben’s murderer isn’t a bad idea. However, in the context of the film, this amendment hampers Peter’s arc. His transition from being a cocky kid with powers into a fully-fledged superhero isn’t as defined as it should be.
Still, The Amazing Spider-Man is overall a fairly solid outing for the wall-crawler. The late James Horner’s beautiful score elevates every action sequence, and the new cast performs admirably – particularly Martin Sheen, who looks and sound exactly as Uncle Ben should. Marc Webb’s edgier adaptation would have been received far more warmly if it had arrived later than it did – as would Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man.
Page 2 of 3: More Spider-Man Movies, Ranked
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) release date: Dec 14, 2018
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019