Mike Thomas finally watched No Way Home so The Reel World can now present the world’s most timely ranking of the 9 Spider-Man movies!
Matt: There are about 14 minutes of this movie that if edited together would be the quintessential live-action Spider-Man experience. The problem is the film is longer than 14 minutes and sure does devote an upsetting amount of that to Dane DeHaan, DNA splicing and setting up a Sinister Six movie that never came out and took Drew Goddard away from Daredevil. Still, how about that kid he bonds with? Pretty good shit, right? Plus I actually really liked how they handled Gwen’s death regardless of how bad the action sequences that preceded it were. Yes, it’s a lot to try and compress into the end of an already long film, but Garfield crushes it, and him finally healing and stepping up for his rematch against the unhinged (in a good way) Paul Giamatti ruled.
Mike: The Marc Webb Spider-Mans were fascinating if not Actually Good. They had one very big thing going for it: Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone had incredible chemistry. And then somehow every other decision they made over the course of two films was just wrong and bad. The Lizard’s plan to turn all human beings into LIZARDS was very funny though.
Ben: Far From Home is a bizarre point for the entire Spider-Man franchise. Released in the immediate wake of Endgame and billed as an epilogue of sorts to the entire Infinity Saga, it fundamentally fails at being both that and a Spider-Man movie. In Homecoming, there was a novelty to being removed from Manhattan and spending more time in the suburbs, but the decision to go on a European school trip in Holland’s second solo movie is truly baffling. On some level, you can understand wanting to distance themselves from what Raimi and Webb had done before, but they’d made multiple actual Spider-Man movies. Instead what results here is Iron Man-lite, an adventure that could feature any character and doesn’t have any of the soap opera thrills of a traditional Spider-Man story (outside of the burgeoning relationship between Peter and MJ). It’s a mess of a movie that willingly tied its hands behind its back and removed everything that makes Spider-Man feel like Spider-Man; and ultimately damaged the forward momentum of the trilogy so much that they were forced to coast off of the Raimi and Webb movies that they tried so hard to avoid.
Mike: So, here is the thing about me. I am not and have never been passionate about Spider-Man, Peter Parker, or the movies about him (I do actually enjoy Miles Morales books at a pretty high clip though so I guess that should be noted). None of the movies have really spoken to me on some deep level beyond the fact that I can appreciate how good of a filmmaker Sam Raimi is (especially compared to Marc Webb & Jon Watts). I say all of this that when I went into the process of ranking these films I could set aside all other qualities except two: how much fun is the film to watch and how much I would like to watch it again. Raimi went full bozo mode with Spider-Man III. Multiple dance sequences. Multiple singing performances. Too many villains. Too many characters. Retconning major emotional moments from earlier films. It is just absolutely insane and hilarious. A major cinematic accomplishment.
Jerome: We’ve had so many Spider-men, movies and people playing the character, that it’s easy to forget this is just the 20th anniversary of the very first one. Although there had been superhero movies, including two underrated ones featuring Blade and the X-Men, this is a precursor to the MCU in many ways. Horror elements abound, but Raimi took the material seriously and created a very grounded version of the character. This also had a great portrayal of the Peter/Mary Jane relationship as well.
Willem Defoe arguably steals the show and then did the same thing almost 20 years later. The sequel gets a lot of credit for being a great superhero movie, but I would argue this set the stage for all the greatness to follow. Tobey McGuire is probably more known for his gambling habits and disappearing from site. However, he brings great energy to the lead role, and he humanizes Peter Parker in a very cinematic way.
Jerome: This movie feels like it set the stage for a sequel that never came. Michael Keaton is an all-time MCU villain, but there was no follow-up except for a horrendous cameo in Morbius. Tom Holland and Zendaya had electric chemistry, but Jon Watts never seemed to focus on their relationship as much as he should have in favor of whatever crisis Peter was facing. This is a very good movie that made audiences forget the flat-out bad Amazing Spider-man movies.
A lot of the issues with the Tom Holland led ones had their seeds planted here: Avengers cameos, Peter being able to rely on technology, villains being bad because of Tony Stark’s ego, and being too plot heavy. This movie is a ton of fun because of the performances and the more grounded high school setting. Peter is traveling to Europe or traipsing through the multiverse. Here, he’s just balancing the life of being a superhero
Matt: Fun task for me, speaking on The Blueprint for 20 years of superhero movies. If you’re a long-time follower of this site, you’ll know I was once a Spider-Man 2 Hater, so maybe you’ll get a pop out of me ranking it number one in 2022. What can I say? We grow, we change. I once defended Jared Leto’s Joker, so my crimes have been more severe. Anyway! There’s a reason everybody has been riffing on this film since it came out, albeit with a brief deviation into making ‘The Dark Knight of the [franchise name]’. At its heart, this is a film about Peter Park being really fucking broke and completely failing to balance his two lives to the point he literally throws his costume in the trash. He tries to be a normie, but it just won’t take because Peter Parker is a Good Boy and has to do what’s right. It helps that Doctor Octopus is arguably the most violently dangerous villain in any superhero movie, and there was a guy who wiped out half of all life. There is a beautiful simplicity to Otto’s love for flinging cars and chucking old ladies off buildings that is impossible to match, and there probably isn’t a finer 10 minutes of comic book filmmaking than the fight sequence on the train, Peter almost killing himself to save everybody, and the people of New York quietly handing his mask back and agreeing they didn’t see nothin’. It’s simply a movie that has It All, able to bypass the rote origin story and just give us a romantic tragedy with action sequences that still hold up today. It’s tough to imagine a live action Spider-Man movie surpassing it.
Ben: Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 is a love letter to the Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and John Romita era of the Spider-Man comics. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a love letter to every other era of the comics. Based on a comic arc that was in turn based on an episode of the 90s TV show, the smartest change that Spider-Verse makes to both of those is to put Peter Parker into a supporting role and instead push Miles Morales into the lead. It gives the movie an entirely different feel and cultural palette to work with, instead of the nerd from Queens that people had been used to seeing for 50+ years. This change can be seen in every frame of the movie, Spider-Verse is so untethered from what a Spider-Man movie has to look like aesthetically that they get to create something entirely new. It’s a movie that is the high-point for western animation in the 2010s, being the first animated feature to beat Disney/Pixar at the Oscars in over a decade. Whenever Sony decides to adapt Miles or Spider-Gwen into live action, they have to know how tough it will be, with Into the Spider-Verse’s shadow looming so large.
Mike & Matt theoretically have a Spider-Man podcast called Big Spideas. Some of it is… okay?
Jerome and Brian Da Brain are actively covering every episode of the 1994 Spider-Man animated series. They have also covered several Spider-Man movies for The Superhero Pantheon… Ben even guested on one of them!
For even more superhero fare, Matt presents Marvel Mondays, which is in the midst of coverage of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law