With the release of Spider-Man No Way Home, I thought it’d be an appropriate time to rank all 11 Spider-Man/Venom films from the worst, to the best. Before we get started, I must emphasize that this list isn’t the right list, it’s my personal list. Also, a spoiler warning is in effect for every film on this list. With that said, let’s get started!
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Out of all the films on this list, I find TASM 2 the most frustrating film. Whenever director Marc Webb is making a film about relationships, it’s great! Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have absolutely amazing chemistry, and the eventual demise of Gwen Stacy is arguably the most gut-wrenching scene in this entire franchise. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is an overcrowded, tonally inconsistent mess.
It’s been well documented that SONY forced a ton of setups for a sinister six movie that never happened. It’s also well known that the film had massive cuts, as well as drastically changing the film in the editing process by reducing Felicity Jones’s role, as well as cutting Shailene Woodley as M.J entirely. I think a big reason for that is the fact that there were WAY too many subplots that weren’t even relevant to the plot. It’s not even like the villains they set up were any good. Rhino was a bad idea where they take a great actor like Paul Giamatti and give a performance as if he snorted a mountain of cocaine and drank 12 Redbulls in preparation. Then Electro has the story arc and the cheese from Batman Forever. Tonally they don’t fit with the more serious/dramatic tone of the relationship Marc Webb was clearly passionate about. Clearly, the word “Amazing” was not the right word to add to the title.
Similar to TASM 2, the tone and story of Venom are messier than Eddie Brock’s psychological state. Every time I watch this film, I notice more things that don’t work, that frustrates me, and moments of pure stupidity that don’t even make any sense. I think many of the film’s issues could’ve been somewhat compensated if 40 minutes of Tom Hardy’s favourite scenes weren’t cut from the film. Wasn’t this film supposed to be a villain origin story? The main tagline on the poster says, “The World Has Enough Superheroes”. But Sony made Venom into another superhero! WTF!! Even as a Venom origin story, the PG rating is honestly is kind of offensive to the actual source material. I’m not saying every comic book has to be graphic like Deadpool, but if the comic character lends itself to PG-14/18 content, STAY TRUE TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL AND MAKE IT PG-14! CMON!! With all that said, the one aspect I do enjoy is the weird bromance between Venom and Eddie. Without that, this would easily be at the bottom of this list.
After the commercial/critical success from its predecessors, the artists were on a creative high, and you can see their talent on screen throughout several parts of the film but overall, I see this as a team trying too hard to replicate the success from the previous two films.
Sam Raimi has been very open that he didn’t want to include Venom and didn’t understand the character. It’s clear that behind the scenes, the team was trying way too hard on elevating the scale and scope of the previous two films. Because of that, it comes with more villains, more love triangles, more personal connections with its villains and more doesn’t always equal better. Because there’s more of everything, the film fights with itself for screen time leading to all of the main plot lines and subplots feeling underdeveloped. Along with that includes sequences that are so bizarre and cringe worthy, that another film on this list poked fun at them!
With all that said, I still think there’s magic to be found here. I think it gets the central characters right in the moments that matter the most, I love the birth of Sandman, I find Bully Maguire relentlessly entertaining, and I do think that Harry’s conclusion is a good arc for what they set up. Spider-Man 3 isn’t as bad as some say, but I’m comfortable with saying that it’s fairly mediocre and messy.
Spider-Man Far From Home
In preparation for this list, I rewatched all of the films to form a fresh opinion. Out of all of the films I rewatched, this is the film that aged the worst for me. It’s a film that’s a ton of fun, has some visually stunning sequences, a charming cast, and Jake Gyllenhaal is very entertaining as a fake hero who gives over the top monologues. However, the more I think on its story, it crumbles more. One of my biggest frustrations is the film’s basic setup. Apparently, Tony Stark gave his dangerous military glasses to a high school student who had been dead for five years without any proper instructions. It’s such an illogical decision that it tanks the film for me. Jake Gyllenhaal is fun to watch as Mysterio, but his character is garbage in my opinion. For one, this is the sixth MCU film where the villain is motivated purely by scorn for Tony Stark.
So right off the bat, that makes for a villain we’re already familiar with. Secondly, what the hell is his goal? He wants to become the most praised superhero by being a fake one and battling non-existent threats? What’s he going to do when an actual threat emerges, and Nick Fury calls for him? So, it’s a frustrating one since they got the casting right with the proper visuals, but they didn’t come up with a good motivation, a proper arc and villain scheme for what could’ve been a great presence.
So that’s what makes this so frustrating. When it’s a movie about Peter Parker on a high school trip wanting to confess to his crush, it’s pretty funny. Like I said, the Mysterio illusion sequences are creative and unique. I find this film more rewatchable than the next film on this list, but the film’s overall setup and some of its characterization prevents me from feeling a ton of satisfaction.
The Amazing Spider-Man
After the conclusion to Raimi’s trilogy, SONY and Marc Webb had the task of rebooting Spider-Man in a fresh manner. They took the direction on giving a more grounded/serious story in a fairly good movie with two fantastic leads, but I think it struggled for it to stand out and justify why the incessant need to retell Peter Parker’s origin ten years later. A decision was made to build intrigue on Peter’s parents. On one hand, I respect that because it’s unexplored territory in a Spider-man film, but on the other hand, it’s unexplored since Aunt May and Uncle Ben were fulfilling characters themselves. Adding a conspiracy with Peter’s dad uses a chunk of run time that I never asked for.
What really makes this film work isn’t the Spider-Man stuff, it’s the scenes involving the characters. Marc Webb clearly knows how to craft a realistic drama even in a superhero film. The two leads have absolutely fantastic chemistry with one another, and you buy into them as real people in a relationship. So, when the awesome Spider-Man action happens, you’re invested because you care about the characters. So, when Gwen’s dad finally accepts Spider-Man as a hero, and he eventually dies while teaming up with him, you really feel the consequences. TASM is a film with things to enjoy and appreciate but I think it truly lacks things for it to stand out from the other films.
Venom: Let There be Carnage
In preparation for this list, this was the only film that I had yet to watch. Due to how much I did not like the first venom movie, I was dreading on watching this. After it was over, I thought this was a significant improvement. For one, it doesn’t take 40 minutes for the fun to start. We’re immediately with Venom and Eddie with their really bizarre/fun bromance and it embraces it. The film moves at a really quick pace which means it’s nonstop action, comedy and destruction. The fast pace however, means all of the main plotlines are developed to the lowest common denominator, but I don’t think a film this dumb needs a thorough epic story. Woody Harrelson gives a fun performance as this cartoonish lunatic.
This is a film where I can nit-pick on its stupidity, the PG rating, the juvenile humour, but I can see it the way Andy Serkis wanted to make this. It’s not a film trying to win an Oscar, it’s a film wanting to deliver B-movie entertainment, and it delivers B-movie entertainment.
After two franchises that told the origin story of Peter Parker, the MCU decided to kick start Tom Holland’s character as an already established Spider-Man. They also took the route of fully embracing Spider-Man as a high school student. The previous Spider-Men were featured in a high school setting, but this one fully explores an immature kid who wants the girl, wants to do something crazy and be as “special” as an avenger. I really do like it takes heavy inspiration from John Hughes’s 80s high school films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club. Tom Holland captures this childish naive superhero excellently.
Michael Keaton as his third flying creature is a good way of portraying a villain, as he’s not trying to blow up the city, he’s just in the mindset that society wronged him, and he commits crafting dangerous weapons. I find the twist of his personal connection with Peter highly effective. I think Spider-Man Homecoming works better as a high school movie more than a Spider-Man film, and it doesn’t reduce my enjoyment of it at all. With the list being about Spider-Man movies though, that might’ve prevented it from going any higher on the list.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
This film is tricky to score since I got to look at it in two ways. The second and third act are so good and crowd-pleasing, that when you leave the theatre you can forget how mediocre the first third was. The film decides to go with this lazy way to set in motion where Peter Parker wouldn’t shut up because Doctor Strange didn’t take one minute to explain thoroughly what the consequence of the spell would be.
You could say this criticism is invalid since it’s from the comics. Okay sure! That makes it comic accurate, but that doesn’t make it good. There are dozens of comic book set ups that are horrible and don’t work. Like the setup isn’t boring, I just find it lazy.
However, the second and third act gave me the biggest grin on my face than any of these films. With the return of Willem Dafoe, Jamie Foxx, Alfred Molina, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and many more, this film gave me a theatre experience I’ll never forget. The first third gives a B- quality level. When Willem Dafoe and Tom Holland have that great fight scene in the apartment and so on, it is easy A+ material. Combine them together, it’s an A- close to B+ film. And that’s what makes this so tricky to rank. The more think of that dumb setup it goes lower on this list, it gets higher the more I think about the good stuff. I’ve seen this film twice in theatres and when I see it a third time, maybe it’ll go higher. I must emphasize that if we’re talking about pure entertainment value, this is number 1 by a long shot.
The origin story of Peter Parker/Spider-Man is debatably the most iconic one in regards to comic books. Staying true to the source material as well as giving new energy is a difficult task. However, Sam Raimi crafted a film that did exactly that. Due to how much CGI has improved since 2002, it’s easy to forget just how ground-breaking this film was for its time. Sure there are a couple shots that have aged a bit poorly, but this was the first comic book film to take Spider-Man swing through New York and make it believable. The script is excellent on giving Spider-Man the basic ingredients to make it feel like one, but also give a style so unique with its horror film elements and the intentional goofiness.
What really standouts to me is Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin. Besides the fully fleshed out arc, his performance is something no other comic book villain can ever replace.
It’s goofy at the right moments, and terrifying at the right moments as well. I’m so happy that Willem Dafoe got to play this role one more time and aging like fine wine in NWH. The great action, memorable characters and Sam Raimi’s style, makes this a fantastic Spider-Man origin story.
Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse
Making a film in a completely different art style than the others can easily be called out as pretentious. However, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse uses the animated form to give an actual comic book vibe/story you can’t make in live action form. The detail in the animation is used to create this experience instead of the film saying, “Hey! Look at me everyone! I’m different than the others! Come praise me because I’m different.” Beyond the art style, Miles Morales is this breath of fresh air of this kid who’s brought on this journey of powers, tragedy, discovering multiverse. This makes him a great lead, but there are several other Spider-Men/Women who all have their interesting personality. What really pushes this film to the top two is the fully developed arcs for Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker.
I think Peter B. Parker is a great character as this superhero who’s depressed, off, funny, but not self-parody. I think he’s a better version of what the Russo Brothers did with Thor in Endgame.
When you get into the finale, characters have a great conclusion to them. Mile’s dad finally seeing that Spider-Man wasn’t the one who killed Uncle Arron and reduces his hatred for him is great to watch. But what I love, is the scene where Miles drops Peter B Parker into the collider. Knowing the two have done good for each other and have helped become who they are as Spider-Men, seeing Peter smiling at Miles, us knowing Peter has changed, it’s all great stuff.
This film isn’t just stylistic, has great characters, a great Spider-Man story, it’s just a great film in general. I can’t wait for the sequel coming this year.
It’s common for people to say that sequels are destined to be worse than the original. While it doesn’t seem to be a fair statement, it happens more often than not. Spider-Man 2 in my opinion is in the few films that deny that statement.
Like many great sequels, it picks up with the familiar characters and builds on the themes and conflicts set up in its predecessor. With the origin story out of the way, we can spend more time exploring the deeper parts of this character and truly explore the obstacles Peter Parker faces having to balance being Spider-Man and Peter Parker.
In my opinion, the biggest determining factor on why Spider-Man 2 is the best we’ve seen yet, is I think it understands what needs to be present in the character of Spider-Man. What needs to be there is you got to metaphorically beat Peter into the ground. His grades are decreasing, his best friend is falling out, he’s getting fired at jobs, the love of his life does not want anything to do with him. These are all conflicts we can all relate to in some way shape or form. And that’s what makes Spider-Man possibly my favorite superhero. He may have powers none of us will get, but at the end of the day he’s just a kid with similar problems we face in our lives.
In regard to new characters, Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus has this great arc where he does not want to die as a monster. We see who he’s like when he’s sane, and then we see how he turns into a villain. It was very nice to see him age like wine in NWH.
Any Spider-Man film needs action and Spider-Man 2 includes one of my favorite action sequences in any superhero film ever.
The train fight where Peter embraces his destiny as Spider-Man, desperately tries to save this train, passes out in the process, then the citizens swear to protect his identity. It makes for a fantastic sequence.
When we move into the third act and MJ finally sees Spider-Man without that mask, it’s this giant weight off our chest. It feels earned since that tension built over the course of two films and she finally understands why Peter has been acting like he has been throughout that time period.
Spider-Man 2 may not be the most crowd pleasing one, it may not be the most stylistic one, but combined with the characters, the action set pieces, and the drama, it’s enough for me to say it comes in at the number 1 spot!