Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opening in theaters this week, I thought it was necessary to talk about the rest of the Spider-Man films. So I decided to rank them from best to worst. There have been five films total over the past twelve years. Five movies and two completely different Spider-Man performances. Fans and critics both are divided, as Raimi fans are loyal to the original trilogy and others kept an open mind with the newer and edgier Spider-Man. But if one thing is for certain, it doesn’t take much to make or break a superhero movie. Whether it be villains, the narrative, or something else entirely; anything can affect it.
So let’s rank these Spider-Man movies.
5.) Spider-Man 3
Was this a comedy? Or was it intended to be taken seriously? This is an example of what not to do with a superhero movie, and especially a Spider-Man movie. Spider-Man 3 was a bit of a joke. There is good moments in there, no doubt. But it is filled with horrible dialogue, awful villains who were shoehorned into the plot, and some really bad dancing. I actually liked Sandman in this movie, but once Venom showed up, it was done. Topher Grace…really? What’s sad is that this could have been good had it narrowed it’s focus and kept it simple like Spider-Man 2 did. One great villain who was actually sympathetic. Emo Peter Parker just didn’t do it for me.
4.) The Amazing Spider-Man
And here is the reboot. It probably came much earlier than it should have. The original Spider-Man trilogy was still fresh in our minds when The Amazing Spider-Man came out. So the origin story seemed very familiar and already done before. But that aside, Marc Webb does a pretty good job in the reboot. The villain was rather weak in the form of The Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans. This movie shouldn’t have worked, as many things weren’t as good as the first Spider-Man. Uncle Ben was handled better in the original but I will take Emma Stone over Kirsten Dunst every single day of the week. The chemistry between Stone and Garfield is reason enough to see this one. But, again, fans were split between Maguire and Garfield as to who is the better Spider-Man. Garfield had to act through some pretty terrible scenes but overall is a better Spider-Man than Tobey Maguire. Garfield lets us overlook the bad villain and that terrible skateboarding. Also, Denis Leary is a bad ass.
3.) The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Immediately after seeing this, I was unsure how to feel about it. Hell, I didn’t know if it was better than The Amazing Spider-Man. But, in the end, the good outweighed the bad and there were aspects of this one that were better than the previous one. In order to really like this movie, you have to accept a couple things. You have to accept that Electro is a terrible villain and that he is really just a plot device to set up Harry Osborn turning into a villain. You also have to look past the jumbled plot. It sounds like a big deal because it is; but really, it isn’t. They cram in some things that could have been cut. The mystery surrounding Peter’s parents led to nothing and didn’t really serve a purpose. This movie solidified a couple things in my mind. Andrew Garfield IS Spider-Man. He is the Spider-Man I have wanted all along. He plays him to perfection in a way Tobey Maguire couldn’t. Even aspects of his Peter Parker are better as well. Also, the sizzling chemistry between Garfield and Stone is some of the best chemistry you will see on-screen for a long time. Dane DeHaan is the real Harry Osborn as well. The costume is better for Spider-Man and we believe Garfield is Spider-Man. We can just get lost watching him portray the superhero because he is all-in. The parts that needed to work, worked. The good definitely outweighs the bad and the last fifteen minutes was just so good that it allows me to overlook some of it’s shortcomings.
2.) Spider-Man 2
This one is everyone’s favorite Spider-Man movie and I know it. I used to only find this movie okay, believe it or not. At the time when I saw it, I was disappointed because the trailers really hyped up the confrontation between Peter/Spider-Man and Harry (pictured above). But instead we got a cool reveal with a “hey, we have to deal with this later” line. This is even some people’s favorite Marvel movie ever. It never was that for me. I just watched this again today to try and see what I missed, and I missed a lot. I didn’t appreciate the fantastic villain that Dr. Otto Octavius aka Doc Ock (played by the amazing Alfred Molina) back then. He is a very sympathetic villain who has many layers to him. Plus he’s a badass. But you get the feeling that he is extremely similar to Peter, aside from taking a small detour in his path that led to him becoming a villain. I argued years ago that I felt it wasn’t a Spider-Man movie because we didn’t get much Spider-Man, but that is actually what makes it great. Peter goes through a journey that is really heroic. The poor guy is down on his luck and feels the heavy weight of responsibility. I’ll look away from the losing of his powers just because he “didn’t want to be Spider-Man” aspect, because that was bad. This is definitely a lot better than I used to give it credit for.
Yep, that’s right. The original Raimi Spider-Man is the best in my opinion. Better than everyone’s favorite one. And even though I go to great lengths to defend the new Amazing Spider-Man franchise, this is still the best effort I have seen for this superhero. I have already stated that Andrew Garfield is a much better Spider-Man, but you can’t deny Tobey Maguire’s great portrayal of the nerdy Peter Parker. While I dislike Kirsten Dunst, she was at least good and still attractive in this one. She got worse in both areas as the movies went on. We had a great villain in the Green Goblin, played to the max by the brilliant Willem Dafoe. He looked ridiculous but he was awesome. No one else can yell those corny lines like Dafoe and sell them completely. We also get the true “Uncle Ben” sequence with the quote that hits home with everyone. It may not follow the comics as closely as The Amazing Spider-Man does, but it makes up for it in how fun it is. James Franco still never went on to become a good character in these movies (read about Dane DeHaan above) but he was still tolerable in this one. This movie is flat out fun, and it gave us the first look at Spider-Man. It remains to be the best entry in the Spider-Man movie franchise to date. And Willem Dafoe has to do with a lot of the reasons why.