We’ve written before about why he’s objectively the best superhero, but watching Captain America: Civil War recently has gotten me thinking about his portrayal in film. Since I pissed off so many of you a few weeks ago by ranking every Mario Kart game, I thought I’d piss off even more of you by ranking every Spider-Man movie. Let’s dive in!
Unranked Because I Didn’t Have Time to Watch Them: The ’70s TV Movies
Apparently there were three American TV movies starring Spider-Man in the late ’70s, plus another movie based on the Japanese TV series. Presumably because no one cares about the copyright for these things, the American ones are all on YouTube now: The Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man Strikes Back, and Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge. I couldn’t find the Japanese one anywhere, though.
Are they good? No idea! Look, I love Spider-Man, but watching four and a half hours of TV movies from the ’70s is where I draw the line. If I had to guess, I’d say they’re probably primitive compared to the standard set by the Spider-Man movies that followed. But they’ve all got a really good like to dislike ratio on YouTube, so what do I know?
Unranked Because I’m Not Counting Them as Spider-Man Movies: Captain America: Civil War and the LEGO Marvel series
Civil War is awesome, and handles Spider-Man as a character really well (for the two scenes he’s in). But it’s not really a Spider-Man movie, just a Marvel movie that Spider-Man happens to be in. Same goes for LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload and LEGO Marvel: Avengers Reassembled, which, shockingly, are the only two animated movies in which Spidey has appeared. What the hell, right? The good news is that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the guys behind The LEGO Movie, 21 Jump Street, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, are making an animated Spider-Man movie set for release in 2018. I look forward to having to rewrite this article.
5. Spider-Man 3
There’s no way this one isn’t last. How this movie got a fresh rating on RottenTomatoes is beyond me. There are three villains, two love interests, and emo Spider-Man, all stretched across two and a half alternately boring and maddening hours.
I remember the internet making a meme out of James Franco’s stupid pie scene. I remember being totally confused as to why Sam Raimi didn’t just make a movie about Venom or Hobgoblin like we all expected him to, instead of throwing Sandman in there for no reason I can possibly explain. But most of all, I remember walking out of the theater feeling like Raimi was just f*cking with us. I mean, the guy made Evil Dead 2 — surely he just thought it would be funny to make an insane mess of a movie and dump it on us, right? Nope. He actually tried to make a good movie and failed. And that’s why Spider-Man 3 is last: it’s so immensely disappointing.
4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Oh look, another two and a half hour long sequel with too many characters! How a movie like this could get made in a world where Spider-Man 3 already exists is beyond me. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 might actually be worse than Spider-Man 3, but at least it’s the kind of bad you expect from a major studio — excessive set up for a sequel, overloaded effects, overly familiar narrative. Maybe it’s just because I was older when it came out, but I feel like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is just another cash-in, as opposed to a betrayal.
3. The Amazing Spider-Man
It’s… okay! Really, The Amazing Spider-Man‘s biggest problem is that it stands in the shadow of the original Spider-Man movies. We don’t really need to see Spidey’s origin story again, something Marvel understood when they scooped him up for their cinematic universe. To be fair, the effects are better, the cast is great, and it’s refreshing to see Gwen Stacy instead of Mary Jane. In other words, I can’t blame you if you’re too young to have seen the original Spider-Man in theaters and think this one is better. Maybe I’m just a dinosaur, I dunno.
Along with X-Men, this movie helped start the superhero craze that dominates the box office today. Like most blockbusters of its time, the effects and acting haven’t aged well, and the weird ultra-patriotic shots of Spidey and the American flag were a heavy-handed response to 9/11. But the original Spider-Man still holds up. It’s funny, and does a great job telling the Spider-Man origin story without getting bogged down in details. Throw in several iconic movie moments — the upside down kiss in the rain, blood dripping from the ceiling, catching Mary Jane’s lunch on a tray — and you’ve got a great popcorn experience.
1. Spider-Man 2
Everybody knows Spider-Man 2 is the best one. Roger Ebert called it the best superhero movie ever. Of course, that was in 2004, back when its only real competition were the original Batman and Superman movies. But still, Spider-Man 2 is funnier, darker, and deeper; has easily the best villain in the series (Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus); and features some of the best action sequences in any superhero movie. If you haven’t seen Spider-Man 2, or even if you haven’t seen it since you were a kid, go back and check it out. There’s no substitute for a good story, and Spider-Man 2 has the best in the series.
What’s your favorite Spider-Man movie? Let us know on Twitter @Smosh!