Jon Watts’ Spider- Man: No Way Home celebrated 20 years of Spidey storytelling... and shattered box office records. Sure, the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduced the concept of multiple Spideys teaming up for one adventure, but it was No Way Home that moved logistical mountains to make this reality happen in live-action, and audiences rewarded the effort at the box office.
Given the fact that Spider-Man: No Way Home brought Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield into Tom Holland’s existing Marvel Cinematic Universe, this also is as good a time as any for us to go back over all nine Spider-Man films and rank them… from the worst, to the all-time greatest. I like to think I’m a bit of an expert on the wallcrawler’s Hollywood history, having written the book on Spider-Man’s climb (opens in new tab) to the top of the comic-book pyramid. Still, this list is subjective, so take my selections with the obvious grain of salt.
9. Spider-Man 3
I’m fairly confident that no matter how many more Spider-Man movies Hollywood makes, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 will remain at the bottom of any list I make. The movie stumbles for so many reasons, from Raimi not caring about Venom as a villain (and a woefully miscast Topher Grace) to Emo Peter and “Bully” Maguire.
But the greatest sin of Spider-Man 3 is that it’s lackluster and dull, failing to capture even an ounce of the wonder and heart that Raimi managed to inject into his first two Spidey movies. It’ll forever be a disappointment that studio interference prevented Raimi from delivering what might have been a perfect superhero trilogy, because instead, Spider-Man 3 killed this franchise and forced a drastic shift in direction for a reboot.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
In my opinion, this is the only other “bad” movie on this list, even though there are elements of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 worth celebrating. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone had chemistry for days as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, so when Marc Webb attempted to adapt the tragic “Death of Gwen Stacy” storyline in the conclusion of this sequel, we felt it. As Spider-Man: No Way Home helped to demonstrate, Garfield always was a strong choice to play Peter/Spidey, but the material he was handed didn’t live up to his potential.
Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was asked to be too many things for too many people, and the lone movie buckled under the weight of needing to launch a Spidey Cinematic Universe that would compete with Marvel. Marc Webb will tell you this movie doesn't work. Still, I love the Spidey suit in ASM 2. It’s probably my favorite suit in the entire series.
7. Spider-Man: Far From Home
The second MCU Spider-Man movie had a very tough act to follow, being the film that arrived in theaters right after Avengers: Endgame shattered box-office records. Jon Watts countered the enormity of Endgame with a lighthearted romp through Europe that suggested Peter really wanted a vacation after having been snapped away for five years… even if “escaping on a vacation” isn’t really a Peter Parker thing to do.
That being said, Far From Home remains an exciting and enjoyable Spider-Man movie. Mysterio is a visually spectacular villain (played well by an anxious Jake Gyllenhaal) who was long overdue to get the silver-screen treatment. The “Madness of Mysterio” illusion sequence is an all-timer. Tom Holland and Zendaya used their own natural chemistry to develop Peter and Michelle’s relationship. And the ending twist did a great job of setting up No Way Home. There’s nothing wrong with being the third best MCU Spider-Man movie, because the other two are just that good.
6. The Amazing Spider-Man
Andrew Garfield’s initial Spider-Man movie was given a difficult assignment. The Amazing Spider-Man had to distance itself from the enormously successful Sam Raimi trilogy while establishing its own voice and adhering to the elements that make Spider-Man the hero fans adore. This meant no Green Goblin, no Doctor Octopus, no Mary Jane… but we do see the origin story all over again, and endure the death of Uncle Ben (this time played by Martin Sheen).
What we end up with is a grounded and indie-feeling origin reimagining that’s probably better than you remember it being, with Garfield delivering a heartfelt but edgier take on Peter Parker, and co-stars Sally Field and Emma Stone giving this series a strong foundation on which director Marc Webb should have been able to build. He couldn’t, but The Amazing Spider-Man contains the bones of what might have been, if he’d been able to construct the series he wanted to make.
The one that started it all. Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man might be higher up on your list, and I couldn’t fault you. In adapting the classic interpretation of Stan Lee’s iconic creation, Raimi and leading man Tobey Maguire tap directly into who Peter Parker is, with all of his strengths AND all of his faults.
Spider-Man lands at five on my list for two reasons. One, it’s a bit dated, so the hard-shell Goblin face mask and the visual effects at the Macy Gray concert come across as rough because they are 20 years old. Also, Raimi stuck Mary Jane into the Gwen Stacy bridge plot, a narrative choice that always baffled me. But in terms of kicking off a Marvel hero franchise, few movies have been as effective as Spider-Man. It was so satisfying to see Maguire back in the role in 2021.
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Following his celebrated MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man swung into a street-level solo story that found the character trying to maneuver his way through high school while also desperately wanting to become a member of The Avengers. Those worlds tugged at a very uncertain Peter Parker, creating a fascinating dynamic we hadn’t seen in a Spider-Man movie before.
The desire to show fans something new led to the use of The Vulture, and the spectacular casting of Michael Keaton, who earned his paycheck in that fantastically intimidating scene in the car outside the Homecoming dance. It led to a souped-up Spider-Man suit, courtesy of Spidey’s mentorship from Iron Man (a benefit Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield couldn’t have). By adhering to the concept of the friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man, Homecoming seamlessly integrated Peter Parker into the MCU and successfully launched the character in a new series… yet again.
3. Spider-Man 2
For years, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 was the gold standard against which all superhero movies – not just Spider-Man, but ANY superhero film – was judged. The sequel took everything that worked about Raimi’s original film and expanded on it in organic ways. Alfred Molina was cast as Doctor Octopus, a tragic villain with significant connections to Peter Parker. Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst further explored Peter and MJ’s complicated relationship. And Raimi’s team of visual effects artists, led by the legendary John Dykstra, improved their techniques to create some eye-popping action set pieces that hold up to this day.
The whole thing works beautifully. It’s funny and exciting, melancholic and regrettable. It wraps its arms around all of the eccentricities of a traditional Peter Parker story, paying homage to classic comic storylines like “Spider-Man No More!” while also creating its own unique, original adventure. Every other comic-book franchise would love to have an entry as good as Spider-Man 2.
2. Spider-Man: No Way Home
There’s no way this movie should exist. Go back to 2002, when the first Spider-Man movie was reaching theaters, and imagine hearing, “Right, but, in a future movie, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange are going to tear a hole in the multiverse, allowing Green Goblin, Doc Ock, the Lizard, Electro, and Sandman to team up and fight three different Spider-Man from alternate universes.” Your mind would melt.
The beauty of Spider-Man: No Way Home is that Jon Watts figures out how to balance a solid Tom Holland storyline – incorporating Peter’s college search, his identity reveal, the empathy he feels for the villains he has wronged, and the loss of his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) – with a landmark plot twist that brings Garfield and Maguire into the MCU… not as window dressing or as glorified cameos, but as essential components to a sprawling narrative that services MCU Spidey’s journey. This is the kind of Spider-Man movie that fans only dreamed of one day seeing. Except, now it’s real, and it’s spectacular.
1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
As good as Spider-Man: No Way Home is, the animated Oscar winner Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is slightly better. For starters, it’s the groundbreaker that convinced Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and producer Amy Pascal that a multiverse story could work in the first place. The animated feature mesmerizes with its cutting edge animation, seeming to borrow inspiration from the graffiti art of leading character Miles Morales while also creating a vibrant version of New York City.
The idea to focus on Miles Morales (voice of Shameik Moore) was revolutionary, but Into the Spider-Verse thrills because screenwriters Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman didn’t stop there. Spider-Gwen, Spider-Noir, Peter B. Parker, Sp//dr, and Spider-Ham all stop by to make this the most inventive, surprising, motivational and rewarding Spider-Man adventure ever created. It also has the best and most heartfelt Stan Lee cameo, and for that reason alone, it’s number one on my list.
Spider-Man, as a character, will continue to entertain audiences for generations to come, with more Marvel movies and Sony spinoffs for antagonists like Venom (Tom Hardy), Kraven the Hunter (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and Madame Webb (played by Dakota Johnson). Expect our rankings to jostle every so often, but always know how important Spider-Man and his world are to the movie-going crowds.
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