Who are the best Spider-Man actors? On paper, this seems like a relatively easy question. After all, there have only been three of them, right? Well, we’ve only had three live-action Spider-Men grace the big screen, but plenty of performers have played the wall-crawler.
In Spider-Verse alone, we get eight different versions of the Web-Head. Sure they don’t all call themselves ‘Spider-Man’ but as we learned in that beautiful animated movie, “anyone can wear the mask”. We haven’t even started to consider all the different versions of Spidey we’ve seen in different TV series over the years.
So as dedicated fans of all things Spidey-related, we here at The Digital Fix have decided to go through and rank all of the big-screen Spider-Man actors from the animated to the MCU. Unfortunately, that means Nick Hammond and Shinji Tôdô are both out as they were only in TV movies. And, of course, it’s important to remember there are no bad Spider-Man actors, just bad Spider-Man movies.
Who are the best Spider-Man actors?
- Oscar Isaac – Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099
- Chris Pine – Peter Parker/Spider-Man
- Kimiko Glenn – Peni Parker / SP//dr
- John Mulaney – Peter Porker/Spider-Ham
- Nicolas Cage – Peter Parker / Spider-Man Noir
- Hailee Steinfeld – Gwen Stacy/Spider-Gwen
- Jake Johnson – Peter B. Parker/Spider-Man
- Andrew Garfield – Peter Parker/Spider-Man
- Tobey Maguire – Peter Parker/Spider-Man
- Tom Holland – Peter Parker/Spider-Man
- Shameik Moore – Miles Morales/Spider-Man
Oscar Isaac – Spider-Man 2099
Whoever thought that Oscar Isaac, of all people, would come bottom of a list of actors, but sorry, his Spider-Man 2099 just doesn’t compare to the other wall-crawlers.
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He might be the Fist of Khonshu in the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper, but we only got a glimpse of him in the Spider-Verse post-credit scene, so we can’t justify putting him any higher. Maybe he’ll rank up after Across the Spider-Verse?
Chris Pine – Spider-Man
Like Isacc before him, Pine doesn’t get an awful lot of screentime – although what we do see is very impressive – so we can’t rank him too high. That said, we like the confidence Pine brought to Peter Parker, who’s normally a little neurotic, to say the least.
We should also give Pine credit for being the only Spider-Man who’s had the good grace to die on screen. Maguire flirted with the idea of popping his clogs in No Way Home but ducked out the coward!
Kimiko Glenn – Peni Parker / SP//dr
Kimiko Glenn does a fine job as the adorable Peni Parker / SP//dr, who’s definitely one of the odder Spider-Man variants but she’s probably the least well developed of the core Spider-People.
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Her character’s role in the film is mostly to be ‘kawaii’ which is a shame because it means she basically doesn’t get that much to do except be, well, an anime character. It seems a waste of her talents, especially when you look at her acting resume. I mean, she was the voice of Baby Shark, and now it’s in your head.
John Mulaney – Spider-Ham
Spider-Verse’s main comic relief we love Spider-Ham. This swinging swine is what you get in you throw bugs bunny, a packet of ham, and Peter Parker in Seth Brundle’s telepods.
Sure, as a concept, a cartoon pig version of Spider-Man sounds pretty nonsensical, but you’re reading an article about actors who played different versions of man/woman/animal who got spider-powers. Sense left the building a while ago!
Mulaney does a wonderful job at bringing Peter Porker to life as well. As we mentioned, he’s channelling Mel Blanc and his various Looney Tune characters for the most part, but his natural skill as a stand-up and actor means his constant wisecracks never become irritating.
Nicolas Cage – Spider-Man Noir
Nic Cage playing Spider-Man. Need we say more? Oh, we must? Well, what if we said he was playing Spider-Man while doing a Humphrey Bogart impression? Now you’re impressed, right.
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In all seriousness, Cage may appear in some crappy movies, but you never accuse him of phoning it in. The iconic actor and occasion anthropomorphic meme brings his all to every role including the rather thinly sketched Spider-Man Noir who’s basically got one gag (he’s from the olden days).
It’s a testament to Cage’s skill and passion that this never gets tiring, now, can we please get this man into the MCU? Thank you.
Hailee Steinfeld – Spider-Gwen
Since her debut in the Spider-Verse comic book event, Spider-Gwen has been a fan favourite, so there was a lot of pressure on Hailee Steinfeld to get this right. Luckily she pulls it off with the grace you’d expect of someone playing a character with spider-agility.
Her performance as the dimensionally dislocated teen is pitch-perfect. Steinfeld makes Gwen warm, kind, and occasionally irritated. Basically, she brings this literally two-dimensional character to life in a way that’d make even the most curmudgeonly of comic book fans admit she did a good job.
Jake Johnson – Peter B. Parker
Jake Johnson’s slacker take on Peter Parker may not be everyone’s favourite interpretation of the Web-Head, but everyone isn’t writing this list, I am, and I love this performance. Like Steinfeld’s portrayal of Gwen, it works because it’s so layered. This slightly older world-weary version of Spider-Man is grumpy, lazy, and a bit of an arsehole to Miles, who just wants help with his powers.
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But despite his anti-social qualities, Johnson keeps him sympathetic. You never feel that his version of Spidey has lost his heroic edge. He’s just a bit out of practice, and sure enough, Miles helps him take that leap of faith to get back on the superhero horse.
Andrew Garfield – Peter #3
We know putting Andrew Garfield last of the live-action Spider-Men is going to be controversial but don’t get out your pitchforks just yet; we can justify it. Listen, we love Garfield and his movies. Tick, Tick… Boom!, The Social Network, 99 Homes, they’re all brilliant, but let’s be honest, the poor writing in the Amazing Spider-Man movies held him back.
We’re not saying his performance is bad – he’s arguably the best at Spidey’s whole quipping schtick – it just doesn’t reach the heights he’s capable of hitting. He’s an Oscar-nominated actor; he should be dominating this list, but even the biggest of Garfield stans would admit it’s a stretch to call him the best Spider-Man actor.
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It doesn’t help that, for whatever reasons, they made his Peter Parker inexplicably cool. I never understood for a minute why anyone would bully this version of Peter Parker. He looks like he could be walking the catwalk in Milan, not slumming it in Midtown High.
It’s not all bad. He’s got the physicality of the character down, and as we mentioned can deliver a cheesy one-liner with the best of them. All in all, he’s probably the best actor to have played Spider-Man, but he isn’t the best Spider-Man actor.
Tobey Maguire – Peter #2
Proof that first isn’t always best, Tobey Maguire comes in at third. Why? Well, we’ll start with the good. No one, and we mean no one, has ever embodied the awkwardness of Peter Parker quite like Maguire.
You can tell that Sam Raimi was a fan of silver-age Spider-Man when Peter was at his dorkiest, and most put upon because Maguire’s Parker cannot catch a break. But despite the world seemingly having it out for him, Maguire, he manages to capture Peter’s quiet dignity in knowing he’s doing the right thing.
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Other versions of the character have said Uncle Ben’s iconic line “that with great power comes great responsibility,” but Maguire is the one who actually sells it. It feels like a promise when he says that line, not a catchphrase.
The biggest problem with Maguire is his stiffness. You never felt he was entirely comfortable in his own skin, which worked great for Peter but not for Spider-Man. Spidey’s supposed to be Peter’s Id free to swing through the streets, not the same nerds wearing a blue and red onesie.
Tom Holland – Spider-Man
If Garfield gets Spider-Man and Maguire gets Peter Parker, then Tom Holland is the perfect synthesis of the two and the best of the live-action Spider-Men. He’s good at being simultaneously both youthfully exuberant and tremendously put upon, a tricky tightrope for an actor to walk but one that’s necessary to play Peter Parker.
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It probably helps that of all the big-screen Spidey’s Holland is the one we’ve seen the most. He’s had six movies to perfect his Spidey performance that triple what Garfield initially got. Sure there’s plenty of criticism levelled at this version of Spidey, but those arguments tend to be levelled at the writing, not Holland’s acting.
Unfortunately as good as Holland is even he can’t hold a candle to the best big-screen Spider-Man actor.
Shameik Moore – Miles Morales
I mean, was there ever really any other choice? Shameik Moore doesn’t just play Miles. He embodies him with just a voice. Moore captures Miles’s insecurities, doubts, and fears while keeping the character cocksure without seeming like a contradiction.
We’ve only seen this version of Miles on the big screen once, but he’s left an indelible impression on the minds of Spider-Man fans the world over. Roll on Spider-Verse 2!