For almost 20 years now, Spider-Man has been appearing on the big screen in many ways, shapes and forms. Whether it's Tobey Maguire stopping trains, Andrew Garfield dodging lightning or Tom Holland teaming up with Iron Man, Nick Fury and Dr. Strange, Spidey's adventures in the media of film have been non-stop and they range all over the place on the spectrum of goodness. In this blog post, I will be ranking every theatrical appearance starring Spider-Man or Venom from best to worst, starting at the bottom of the list than working my way up to the top.
Number 11 - The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The movie starts out on a high note for sure. Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man swinging through New York in his awesome comic accurate suit busting jokes is perfect, and the movie ends with a total emotional gut punch with the death of Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy, not to mention all the cool fight scenes through the whole thing. However, despite its few redeeming qualities, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a genuine piece of garbage and (in my opinion) a dumpster fire of a Spider-Man movie.
The movie was barely about Spider-Man fighting evil, there was a solid 90 minutes or so in the middle where it was just Peter Parker (the worst quality of Andrew's Spidey performance) simping Gwen Stacy with a very poorly written romantic arc. I've seen enough rom-coms to know that there's a structure to these romantic subplots that most superhero movies follow very closely and it all works very nicely, but there is no organized structure to Peter and Gwen's relationship AT ALL. They're together, then they break up, then they get back together again, and then they're just friends, and then they make out, and then she dies. Seriously, like, WHAT?!? I'm sorry, but at least Green Lantern and freaking Howard the Duck at followed a decent structure to this thing.
The villains are total wack as well. While he is redeemed in No Way Home, Electro is super weird in this movie. Jamie Foxx is a good actor and all, but when you stick him in blue makeup and give him a weird voice he's an awful villain. His motivations were weird as well, just because Spider-Man saved him he figured that Spider-Man was his friend and when Spidey can't remember his name he loses it. Dane DeHaan's Harry Osborn/Green Goblin is awful as well, because its weird that they skip Norman and cut right to Harry becoming the Goblin and which (as seen in the Raimi trilogy with James Franco as Harry) is something that needs to be done over the course of multiple movies, plus DeHaan looks so weird with his ugly elf ears and he's freaking annoying too, and don't get me started on how much they butcher Rhino.
In conclusion, this DISASTERPIECE (new word I just invented, opposite of masterpiece, trademark 2021) is rushed, unstructured and five or so movies crammed into one with no good ending. While its a bummer how good this movie could've been if executed correctly and all we got was one of the low points of the superhero genre, we need to acknowledge that if this movie hadn't been so bad it would've never ended its franchise and Tom Holland would never have played Spider-Man so y'know, ups and downs. I'd rate it as a 4/10.
Number 10 - Spider-Man 3 (2007)
As a movie memed up to the point where it's comparable to the likes of Shrek and Revenge of the Sith, anyone can tell you that Spider-Man 3 is a flawed movie. Its cringey how weird and aggressive they make Spider-Man get when he has the symbiote (leading to "Bully Maguire" rising to power) and I really think the biggest thing that held this movie back from living up to its predecessors in an epic trilogy was forcing three villains in there.
Two of the villains had potential - Thomas Hayden Church's Sandman performance was fantastic, just take away the whole thing of him being Uncle Ben's killer and its just as perfect a portrayal as Alfred Molina as Doc Ock or Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin, and James Franco's Harry Osborn becoming Green Goblin had been built up for three movies at this point and he had some awesome chemistry with Tobey Maguire was awesome and his death had lots of impact. Its at the third villain, Topher Grace's Venom where the movie falls into the 'bad' category.
Sure, Topher Grace played a very good and comic accurate Venom, its just he barely has any relevance to the story or the greater trilogy. Avi Arad made a mistake forcing this character on Sam Raimi. All the "Bully Maguire" stuff, the cringiest parts of the movie like that club scene where he accidentally smacks MJ, would be gone if there was no symbiote. Venom was a really recent character by the time this movie was made too, he was created in the early-90s and doesn't fit in with all the other villains in the trilogy who originate from the Lee-Ditko rogues gallery of the 60s. He's an alien as well, which was kind of out of nowhere because an alien just randomly crash lands where Peter and MJ are hanging out and the idea of extra terrestrial life had no relevance to the greater trilogy.
If you made it so Peter just had to deal with his own inner demons while fighting Sandman and "Little Goblin Junior" without any aliens to the fix and you end it on a higher note so you don't have to leave the audience waiting for a Spider-Man 4 that never happened, Spider-Man 3 would be an amazing movie and would hold up to the rest of its trilogy. However, Sony did none of this, so Spider-Man 3 balances out to be the second worst Spider-Man related movie.
Number 9 - The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
The movie is kind of a half-assed reboot in my opinion, failing to do Spider-Man's origin as well as the first film in the Raimi trilogy. Uncle Ben doesn't even teach him that with great power comes great responsibility, and Peter doesn't even become Spider-Man because he wants to help people, he just gets side tracked on a quest for revenge. However, I do find this movie very enjoyable at times and a fairly underrated film in the superhero genre.
Lizard is pretty cool, I've always loved the idea of a guy injecting himself with lizard DNA because he wanted to grow his arm back but that ends up turning him into a super villain and it was all pretty well done in The Amazing Spider-Man. Unlike its sequel, Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield actually have good on screen chemistry and a solid arc, and the death of Captain Stacy affecting their relationship was good and did a great job at representing how Spider-Man can never keep balance between saving the world and having a girlfriend. While it may not be the best Spider-Man movie, it definitely wasn't the worst and it really put something in place for a great franchise to be built (if its sequel didn't screw up). I'd give it a solid 6/10.
Number 8 - Venom (2018)
One of the most underrated superhero movies if you ask me. While it takes a minute to get going, Venom is a fun, enjoyable excellent movie with interesting characters, excellent jokes and cool fight scenes. While Tom Hardy's Venom may not have been comic accurate, he was a really good character. Hardy is an amazing actor first of all, and I really dig his arc through this movie of transforming from a celebrity, to a loser, to a monster, to an enigmatic anti-hero who struggles to keep the alien living inside of him from eating people. While its no Dark Knight or Guardians of the Galaxy, Venom is a fantastic fun movie that's very rad and enjoyable which I would totally recommend for anyone.
Number 7 - Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)
Everything good about the first Venom is good in this movie, just on a way greater extreme. Instead of starting off kind of slow, this movie gets going right from the start and is full of more die hard laughter moments, kick ass fight scenes and awesome Tom Hardy stuff. The CGI really improves between this film and looks so much more real and polished when in the first one it you could really tell it wasn't real, so I for one think they've really improved. All the lines about "the lethal protectors" and stuff like "F this guy" crack me up like a mad man.
Woody Harrelson as Carnage was pretty cool as well. Carnage is a cool villain in this movie, and Woody Harrelson is a good actor so while he may be overacting at times in this movie, Carnage is really bad ass and funny in this movie so I thought he was really cool, one of the top 15 live action supervillains easily and for sure one of the best Spidey villains to come to the big screen. Let There Be Carnage may not be perfect, but its a really kick ass movie and a solid 7.5/10 for sure.
Number 6 - Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Here we have finally reached the Spider-Man movies I would overall consider genuinely amazing. Spider-Man: Far From Home will always have a special place in my heart as the last good superhero movie before the world shut down and the epic conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's third phase (which, in my opinion, was the MCU in its peak). John Watts got really creative with this movie and had the genius idea to bring the Spider-Man character to parts of the world we've never seen him in before, such as Venice Italy, the City of Prague in the Czech Republic and more, which is something I found really cool.
The villain, too, is awesome in this movie. Jake Gyllenhaal did an awesome job bringing a cool, modern twist to the Mysterio character, make him a tech based villain rather than a mystic master of illusions. The twist where he has an entire team working with him, made up of people Tony Stark screwed over helping him create the giant illusion of monsters destroying cities via holograms is really cool, and the character had a fantastic point as well by realizing that when you live in a world of Norse gods, gem collecting aliens and billionaires with robot suits you'll believe just about anything, which is a really good angle to write a villain like that from.
Tom Holland's Peter Parker also has a solid arc in this movie as well. He just wants to have a normal life and build up the confidence to ask out Zendaya's MJ, but he feels he isn't able to do that when he's a superhero with world threatening villains to fight. He, however (much like Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 2) learns that he can still have a good vacation and get the things he wants, while being a superhero, which is really good. Plus, I totally went bonkers when they brought back J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson so yeah, Far From Home is a terrific movie.
Number 5 - Spider-Man (2002)
The first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie totally understands the Spider-Man character, by nailing both the character's origin and morals. This movie has Peter Parker getting bitten by a spider at a science exhibit (just like the comics), using his powers to become a wrestler (just like the comics) and causing the death of his Uncle Ben (just like the comics) who teaches him that with great power comes great responsibility (just like the comics!).
This was the first Spider-Man movie I ever saw, and the way it opens with the Tobey Maguire narration where he says "the story of my life is not for the faint of heart" and all that to the awesome Danny Elfman score gives me the goosebumps every time because I have such good memories from that intro and the outro, where he has to give up MJ so he can keep her safe, which is a real gut puncher if you ask me.
Willem Dafoe perfectly portrayed Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, the way he did the whole thing where he acted with himself and did Norman and Goblin as split personalities was really awesome. He has a cool, complex relationship with Peter in this movie and when he offered him a father-son relationship, something Peter never thought he had but he realizes he did, when he tells Norman "I had a father, his name was Ben Parker" is a very powerful moment. The way the death of Norman complicates Harry and Peter's friendship for the rest of the trilogy was awesome sequel setup as well. Spider-Man is one of the greatest superhero origin movies of all time and for sure one of the most thrilling of the webhead's theatrical adventures. Solid 8/10 easily.
Number 4 - Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
As the first ever Spider-Man movie I watched in the theaters, I will always look back on Spider-Man: Homecoming with fond memories, for it truly is a masterpiece. While MCU Spider-Man was introduced by the Russo brothers in Captain America: Civil War, to me it will always be John Watts who made him a complex character with Spider-Man: Homecoming, because this movie is fantastic in countless ways.
This movie introduced Ned Leeds to the MCU, and he has since then been one of my top 5 favorite MCU characters. Jacob Balaton played a hilarious best friend who I could relate too and had amazing chemistry with Tom Holland's Peter Parker, and all the "guy in the chair" references I make on a daily basis all started here.
Spider-Man's arc in this movie is terrific as well. He starts out wanting to do more in life, he wants to be an Avenger and fight alongside Iron Man against world threatening attacks. However, by fighting Vulture, saving his friends in Washington and being a hero on his own, Peter learns that what he needs to do is stay close to the ground and be a "friendly neighborhood Spider-Man" which is a good rule of character arc to have your hero reject what they want in the end because its their responsibility to have or do what they need, and they play off of that another time in the movie when he has to leave the dance to go fight Vulture, which is the opposite of what he's wanted through the whole movie.
The complex relationship with the villain in this movie is amazing as well. Michael Keaton's version of the Vulture character is for sure the best. This movie transformed him from just "that bald guy with the wings" to a cool character with relatable morals since he's just trying to help his family, and they actually make him like an actual vulture as well because he's sort of a scavenger of Avenger technology. Oh, and the fact that he's the father of Peter's homecoming date is awesome, because that causes some intense conflict and really stirs the pot. The movie is an overall masterpiece and for sure one of the greatest Spider-Man movies ever made.
Number 3 - Spider-Man 2 (2004)
This is pre-MCU superhero cinema at its finest. Spider-Man 2 was the first time superhero films were more than just fun or entertaining movies without deep stories or relatable characters, it was something revolutionary that changed the course of pop culture history. First of all, Peter Parker's arc in this movie is fantastic.
He starts out miserable as Spider-Man, not thinking he can have anything he wants. He's in a bad mood, so that of course affects his powers. Peter still wants to be with MJ, but he can never do that because she's engaged and if Peter's enemies ever found out about her he couldn't bare to let them hurt her, so Peter decides he's gonna quit being Spider-Man and just be Peter Parker.
However, as soon as he does this, crime starts to sky rocket. More people begin to die without Spider-Man there to save them and Doc Ock, a villain only Spidey can defeat comes into the mix of things, so Peter must re-learn that with great power comes great responsibility and save the day as Spider-Man once again, and at the end he gets to do all this and be with Mary Jane. Masterpiece! There's so many positive messages in this movie as well, dealing with themes of everybody having a hero inside of them and true heroes sacrificing their dreams to do what's right, even if it means sacrificing their dreams.
Villain-wise as well its a near perfect movie. Alfred Molina played the perfect Doc Ock, because they totally nailed everything about this character. He looked and acted like a perfect Octavious, he had the right goals and motivations of comics Doc Ock and the fight scenes with him and Spider-Man are just so intense! Molina's Ock is easily one of the top ten greatest superhero movie villains in history and for sure my favorite Spider-Man villain from the movies, tied with Vulture.
Spider-Man 2 has and will always be one of the greatest comic book movies ever made and if you haven't seen it I would totally recommend it because it's fantastic on so many levels and an overall amazing movie.
Number 2 - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
A revolutionary film in both the genres of superhero movies and animation. Into the Spider-Verse was the first true comic book movie, because the animation was so unique and original it brought comic books to life on the big screen with all sorts of half tone patterns, visual sound effects and Kirby krackle. It's just so awesome to look at and the cinematography is full of color, every shot is just very fast moving and filled with life.
The characters in the movie are truly fantastic as well. First of all, Miles Morales is a very relatable character. I'm very close in age to Miles so that's a start for me, but we've all been at the point where we don't want to go to our new school and liked things better the way they were. He gets bitten by s radioactive spider, finds himself the perfect mentor who knows what he's going through (R.I.Peter) but he loses that perfect mentor and has to go with Peter B. Parker, who is a flawed mentor that doesn't have all the answers to Miles' questions so its like him and Miles are figuring things out together and both learning each other's lessons, like the whole "leap of faith" thing. Having a flawed mentor is a great vehicle for storytelling because it makes the mentor a more interesting character, which is something Spider-Verse nails.
The main villain, Kingpin, is an interesting an enigmatic character. I've always found it cool and intimidating how he's so freakishly big that if he existed in the real world our universe's gravity would knock him over so he's a visually appealing character for starters. On top of that, the way he blames Spider-Man for the death of his family makes him very enigmatic and he's so determined to bring his family back that he doesn't worry about the consequences and what it will do to his city and universe. He's just so awesome! I also really like Prowler and his complex relationship with Miles and him being Uncle Aaron was a plot twist as good as the Vulture being Liz Allen's dad in Homecoming.
The rest of the Spider-Gang is very interesting as well. Nicolas Cage was awesome as Spider-Man Noir and said loads of awesome lines like "we don't pick the ballroom, we just dance" and "wherever I go the wind follows" while totally kicking bad guy butt, Gwen was awesome and deserves her own solo movie, Spider-Ham was freaking hilarious and Penni Parker did some cool anime attacks so the movie is packed to the roof with interesting characters.
When it comes to positive messages, the movie is stacked with those. It deals with themes of anyone being a hero, the struggles of handling loss, building up confidence to take the leap of faith, always getting back up no matter how hard you get hit, facing your fears and countless others which I could write an entire blog post about those alone. Into the Spider-Verse is an overall perfect cinematic masterpiece that's one of the greatest comic book movies (and animated movies) ever made. Easily a 10/10.
Number 1 - Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
The movie just came out this week and was through the roof with surprising reveals and plot twists and there's probably plenty of people reading who haven't seen it yet so I'll be sure to keep this spoiler-free. Spider-Man: No Way Home essentially to Spider-Man movies as Endgame is to Avengers movies, except No Way Home builds off of stories with almost two decades in the making and functions better as a stand alone movie.
I cried like a baby twice at this movie, and while the ending was very sad, it ended in a fairly triumphant way with a good sense of new beginning. This film perfectly represented everything Spider-Man stood for, and brought back some awesome villains. Electro was actually cool in this movie unlike The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sandman had some awesome lines, Lizard was really cool and don't get me started on how terrific Green Goblin was.
It was also a true comic book movie at a lot of points as well. It was written as if it was a comic book at times, referencing events from past movies (both Marvel Cinematic Universe and other) and you just felt like there should be a little "*as seen in Spider-Man 2" across the bottom of the screen when Molina Ock is giving his back story. The way one of the cameo appearances from another MCU character worked was just like how Stan Lee used to have Cyclops or Thor randomly appear in an old Fantastic Four comic.
Its for sure the greatest Spider-Man movie and arguably the greatest MCU movie ever made, and even more so potentially the greatest comic book movie ever made. 11/10 for sure.
Side note: Me and my brother Artie (who I co-host the Geek Gossip podcast with) have very different ideas of which Spider-Man movies are better than others, so for a little bonus thing I wanted to include Artie's ranking of the films in this blog post.
The Artie Ranking:
(I for one am finding it hard to believe he put the entire Watts trilogy over all the Raimi movies and Into the Spider-Verse LOL. Artie will be Artie I guess.)
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man
In conclusion, Spider-Man movies rock and be sure to check some of these out if you haven't seen them. Take care, everyone!