What are the best Spider-Man movies? It’s a good time to be a fan of Spider-Man. In the last two decades, the Wallcrawler has had nine films, three different Spider-Man actors have donned the webbed-onesie, and we’ve even seen big-screen versions of Spidey’s most famous supporting characters, including Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen.
Yet, not all Spider-Man movies are created equally (nor are all superhero movies). We know it’s not easy to admit, but it’s not always been smooth swinging for the Wallcrawler. There have been goofy-looking villains, poorly written scripts, and a dizzying obsession with setting up spin-offs — and that’s just The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
So to save you a spider-sense-induced headache, we’ve been through every big-screen Spider-Man movie and ranked them. For the record, we’ve only included theatrically released films, which means the ‘70s TV movies are out of contention, as is the 1978 Japanese Spider-Man film (don’t worry, we included them on our Spider-Man actors ranking). We’ve also not included the team-up Marvel movies Peter Parker appears in because they’re more ensemble action movies than Spidey films.
What’s the best Spider-Man movie?
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- Spider-Man 3
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Spider-Man: Far From Home
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Spider-Man 2
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Listen, we know it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but as much as we love Andrew Garfield as an actor, there’s a reason he’s Peter 3 – he has the worst films in the series. Despite their titles, neither of Garfield’s movies lived up to their sobriquet, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 is easily the worst film to feature the Wallcrawler.
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Poorly plotted and confusing, this movie was more obsessed with setting up several doomed spin-offs than telling a coherent story. To make matters worse, its take on Electro squandered both Jamie Foxx and one of the most Spider-Man villains.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s greatest sin, though, is that it’s just dull, wasting Garfield and Emma Stone’s superb chemistry in lieu of having Peter mope about like a sulky teen. At least Spider-Man’s suit looked pretty good, I guess…
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Venom’s one of Spidey’s more complex foes, but Sam Raimi’s final Spider-Man film did the character dirty. The horror movie veteran was quite open in his dislike for the Lethal Protector during production and made it clear his inclusion was a studio mandate, not an organic part of the film.
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This instalment in the original trilogy feels the least like a Raimi film and more like a marketing exercise. To make matters worse, the inclusion of Venom meant there was little space to develop the film’s more natural Marvel villains, Harry Osborn and Sandman, leaving the whole thing feeling distinctly underbaked.
Spider-Man 3’s only saving grace is an entertaining fight between Sandman and a more brutal Spider-Man and, of course, for giving the world the Bully Maguire meme.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
The Amazing Spider-Man’s not exactly bad. It’s more forgettable than anything else. You can see Sony trying to apply the Twilight model to Spider-Man, and for the most part, it works —thanks to Garfield and Stone’s simply staggering chemistry.
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Still, the Lizard is no one’s favourite Marvel villain, and his plot to turn the citizens of New York into reptiles is pretty hokey.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
When it comes to Spider-Man movies, they don’t come bigger than No Way Home, which is jam-packed with MCU characters. We wrote in our review that the film was a thrilling and unabashed ode to the bombast of comic book movies while also a spectacular celebration of all things Spidey.
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Yet as much as we love the film, it’s undeniable that the movie’s more tangled than a spider-web trapped in a hurricane, basically requiring a degree in the history of the Web-Head to understand fully.
We get why people adore No Way Home, but it’s a little bit like having cake for dinner. It’s an absolute treat while you’re watching, but not really that nourishing and, to our mind, the worst of the MCU Spidey trilogy.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Taking Spidey out of his element and dropping him in Europe sounds like a potentially risky move for a Spider-Man film. Still, this globe-trotting adventure movie delivers plenty of thrills and some of the best action scenes in the MCU.
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Far From Home’s greatest strength, however, is its villain. Jake Gyllenhaal is magnificent as the master of illusions, Mysterio. True, he’s chewing through the scenery like a termite coming off a diet, but if you’re not playing Quentin Beck with a certain theatricality, then you’re basically doing things wrong.
The first is often the best, but not here. While we still love Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, it doesn’t quite live up to the heights of the sequel. There’s a stiffness to the performances, dialogue, and action. It’s not bad at all. It just lacks the confidence of Spider-Man 2.
All that said, Raimi really did make you believe a man could swing (not in that way) and grounded the fantastical Spider-Man in something approaching a believable reality while keeping as much of the over-the-top comic book histrionics as he could.
We’ve also got Raimi to thank for one of the best bits of comic book movie casting in cinematic history. Can you seriously imagine anyone but Willem Dafoe playing Spidey’s scariest villain, the Green Goblin? Us either.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
A lot of the criticism levelled at the MCU’s Spider-Man is that he’s moved too far away from the grounded roots of the character and is essentially Iron Lad. While that’s a pretty superficial argument – in this writer’s not-so-humble opinion – we think the best MCU Spidey film, Homecoming, demonstrates why it’s not true.
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The entire film’s about Peter Parker’s resourcefulness and instinctive heroism regardless of the suit he wears. Credit has to be given to the film for giving us the best-rounded big-screen version of Spider-Man we’ve ever got in Tom Holland – we know Holland appeared in Civil War, but this is where we really got to know his version of the Wallcrawler.
It also gave us another iconic bad guy in the form of Michael Keaton’s Vulture. Who’d have thought that Adrian Toomes (who’s more of a nuisance than a nemesis in the comics) would become such a fan favourite? It probably helps that he’s Batman…
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
The best live-action Spidey movie to date, Spider-Man 2, is a bonafide masterpiece and ranks among the best superhero movies ever made. The first Spider-Man movie feels like a warm-up for this film, which improves on its predecessor in every conceivable way.
From the direction, story, and performances, everything about Spider-Man 2 just feels more self-assured and confident. Particular praise needs to be given to Alfred Molina for making Doc Ock (one of the best movie villains of all time), of all people, relatable and to Raimi for directing the most exciting comic book movie set piece ever made, the battle on top of the elevated train.
For the longest time, I thought Spider-Man 2 would never be knocked off the top spot for best Spider-Man movie, but then a certain animated movie came along.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
If Spider-Man 2 is a masterpiece, then Into the Spider-Verse is whatever the level above a masterpiece is. A doctor-piece? No, that doesn’t work. Let’s just call it what it is: brilliant. Like our other favourite Spidey flicks, Spider-Verse has a lot of confidence in its frankly absurd premise, and as such, it manages to pull off its bonkers multiverse-spanning adventure with grace.
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The medium of animation allows us to see Spider-Man move in a way we’ve never seen before and pull off impossible feats without entering the dreaded uncanny valley. There’s also something to be said for the film daring to leave Peter Parker behind and embrace the other spider-powered people in the Marvel Universe.
We’ve been waiting to see Miles Morales on the big screen for a while now, but we never thought the day would come when he’d debut with Spider-Gwen and Spider-Ham, of all people.
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As a Spider-Man fan, Spider-Verse is the closest thing a film has ever come to capturing the magic of comic books, and for that reason alone, it deserves to be recognised as the best Spider-Man movie.
If you need to know more about the Wallcrawler, we have a guide to the animated series that’ll focus on his origin, Spider-Man: Freshman Year, and we’re looking to the future in our piece on the Spider-Man 4 release date. Or if you prefer DC movies and TV series, then we have guides to The Joker 2 release date and the Peacemaker season 2 release date.
Finally, if you’re looking for something fresh and new to watch, we have a guide breaking down the best new movies 2023 has to offer.