Ranking the Spider-Man Series

By: Andrew Bridgeman, Class of 2021

Within the last 15 years, we’ve had three Spider-Mans, six movies, and endless licensing battles. Now that Spider-Man lives in the MCU, it’s interesting to look back at the series through its ups and downs. From worst to best, here is my ranking of the Spider-Man series.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2:

Starting off our list is an all-around bad film. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers from an overabundance of characters and plotlines, and as a result, we’re left with an incoherent, broken movie. Action scenes are lifeless, none of the three villains are memorable, and the dubstep score by Hans Zimmer is atrocious.

If anything is worth noting, Andrew Garfield does continue to give it his all and the chemistry between him and Emma Stone still shines. Sadly, it’s not enough to save the movie from its flaws. Interestingly enough, some people are thankful for this one, as it led to Sony giving the rights to Spider-Man back to Marvel.

Spider-Man 3:

Ok, this one isn’t AS bad as people make it out to be. Yes, it is overstuffed with characters and sub-plots like The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Yes, some of the scenes are goofy (and have inspired way too many memes). And yes, it can’t match its predecessors.

Yet when I watch the movie, it’s hard for me to hate. Unlike The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it does a decent job of handling three villains and a multitude of plotlines. I also feel like some of the “infamous” scenes, like the bar scene and the dance scene, aren’t meant to be taken too seriously. And that’s how I feel the movie is best watched: as a fun popcorn movie. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s a nice sendoff to Raimi’s trilogy.

Spider-Man: Homecoming:

Spider-Man’s first feature film in the MCU is a pretty solid film. Above all else, it captures the “coming-of-age” feel that no other movie in the series seemed to find. And that’s the best part about the movie: the scenes where we see Peter in high school as a typical teenager.

Some problems hold back the movie, unfortunately. The Vulture is pretty cookie-cutter: we aren’t given a lot of background on his story and as a result, it’s hard to relate to him. In addition, the movie suffers from a lot of problems that plague other MCU movies: action scenes that are hard to follow and a need to connect to other MCU movies that at times feels forced. Nevertheless, the film is still pretty enjoyable, and it does have one of the best twists in recent memory.

Spider-Man:

Back when superhero movies didn’t have to exist in an overarching universe, there was Spider-Man. And this film is undoubtedly a classic. Tobey Maguire is great as Spider-Man along with Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin. And the score by Danny Elfman is unforgettable.

By today’s standards, yes, the movie is a little dated. Special effects don’t look as great now and the Green Goblin is a little cheesy (particularly the mask). But like Spider-Man 3, when you watch it for what it is, it’s a whole lot of fun. Superhero movies wouldn’t be where they are today without it.

Spider-Man 2:

Here’s a sequel that improved on its predecessor in every way. Doc-Ock is a much more mature, imposing villain than the Green Goblin and the special effects trump those of Spider-Man in every way. The train scene, as well, is one of the greatest action scenes in the film.

But what’s great about Spider-Man 2 is that its quieter scenes work just as well as its action scenes. Throughout the film we see Peter trying to balance his personal life with that of his alter ego, giving the movie an emotional, human feel. It’s something missing in a lot of superhero movies today and the reason Spider-Man 2 stands as one of the all-time greats.

The Amazing Spider-Man:

It’s hard to compare The Amazing Spider-Man to the original trilogy because each property set out to accomplish different goals. Whereas Raimi’s films had a more comic book feel, Webb’s take on the character offered a mature, slick outing more in line with the modern blockbuster. And that, in my opinion, made for an all-around better film. 

First of all, Andrew Garfield is great as Peter Parker. His mannerisms really capture those of an awkward teenager, and it’s easy to relate to him as a result. Rhys Ifans as the Lizard offers another great performance: I was actually able to sympathize with him and understand the motivations behind his actions, something not every villain can do.

Everything else about the movie is perfect. Action scenes shine, the special effects are top-notch, and the score by James Horner is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a shame that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 couldn’t continue in its footsteps.

No matter what your opinion is on the movies, there’s no question that Spider-Man is an icon of pop culture. Now, with upcoming movies like “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming, it’ll be interesting where we see the character go in the future. From Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland, the Spider-Man series has been a ride and it’s great that the future has much more in store for us.

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