This post has been updated.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” came in No. 1 at the box office in its opening weekend and gave fans a truly one of a kind Spider-Man movie experience. Consequently, it’s time to come back to our ranking of the (now seven) spider-flicks.
A few caveats: One, we are not adding “Venom” to this list, despite it making big money overseas and being based on a character spawned from the Spider-Man universe who is an all-time great villain. Spidey is nowhere to be found in “Venom” so it doesn’t qualify — at least until we get the “Spider-Man v Venom: Dawn of Inevitable Sequels” movie that has to be in consideration if Sony values its wallet.
And two, even though “Spider-Verse” is animated and the rest of the films in our ranking are live-action, it still makes the cut. If you’ve had a chance to swing on the new film’s webs, you know it deserves to be on this list — and not just anywhere. We’re placing “Spider-Verse” at the very top. Here’s our new ranking.
1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
This new film (out Dec. 14) is not No. 1 just because a chance was taken on Miles Morales to lead a Spider-Man movie. “Spider-Verse” has given Sony a chance to invigorate their brand with a type of comic book-heavy style that might not fly with the live-action Spider-Man movies. And those live-action movies? They’re now a collaborative effort with Marvel Studios. “Spider-Verse,” on top of being a story full of heart, never-before-seen animation style and authentic multicultural swag, is also a chance for Sony to make it big — solo — in the superhero movie genre, without having their hands held. There’s a buzz about the new movie, and unlike the other films on this list, “Spider-Verse” has the potential to not only produce sequels, but also spin offs with a roster of popular spider-folks just as exciting as Morales.
2. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
“Spider-Man 2″ may not be able to hold the top spot for long with more movies from this promising new franchise on the way, but for now, it’s still our top Spidey-flick. Taking its cue from the “Spider-Man No More” story line of 1967’s “Amazing Spider-Man” No. 50, Tobey Maguire plays a frustrated Peter Parker who decides he’s no longer going to allow Spider-Man to get in the way of the things most important to him, mainly his love for Mary Jane Watson. Harry Osborn discovers that his best friend Peter is secretly Spider-Man and, convinced Peter killed his father, Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin, Harry goes down the dark path of becoming a Goblin of his own. Alfred Molina gives a compelling performance as classic Spider-Man villain Doctor Octopus, and composer Danny Elfman, with an assist from superstar comic artist Alex Ross in the opening credits and some fun-to-watch skyscraper web-swinging at the movie’s end, gives us one of the greatest superhero movie scores ever. “Spider-Man 2,” despite now having a lot more competition, can still be considered one of the best superhero movies ever.
3. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Spider-Man is finally home where he belongs: Marvel Studios. Once the cinematic road to the Avengers was created, it never seemed right that Spider-Man’s deal with Sony made it so he couldn’t fight alongside Iron Man and company. “Homecoming” isn’t just a declaration of Avenger-hood, however — it almost magically feels like a brand new Spider-Man movie, despite being the sixth one. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker leads an actually-young cast of high school supporting players. Michael Keaton gives an all-time Spider-villain performance as the Vulture (we shouldn’t be surprised, the guy is Batman) and Spider-Man has never looked better, with a suit that’s a nod to the Spider-Man art of the ’60s and ’70s up top with its webbed wings, mixed with some high-tech, Iron Man-like magic. “Homecoming” takes Spider-Man out of the previous movies’ dark shadows and shows it can be fun to be Spidey.
4. “Spider-Man” (2002)
If you have superhero movie fatigue, you can thank the first “Spider-Man” film, the first movie to debut with a $100 million opening weekend. “X-Men” hit theaters in 2000, but Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” was the first superhero movie since 1989’s “Batman” to feel like a worldwide pop-culture event. Perhaps this movie’s only flaw was a silly Green Goblin suit — Willem Dafoe was actually much more menacing outside of it as he went to war with Maguire’s Spider-Man while slowly going insane. A classic upside-down kiss with Mary Jane might be this film’s most memorable moment, and the web swinging in New York, when seen for the first time, had a Christopher Reeve/Superman flying for the first time feel to it. “Spider-Man” feels a little dated now in this new era of superhero movies, but it is still an undeniable classic.
5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Back in darker times, when we were all convinced Spider-Man would never be a part of Marvel Studios, this was the best we thought we would get from a Spider-Man film post-Sam Raimi. Andrew Garfield was a pretty good Spider-Man and an even better Peter Parker, if for no other reason than he looked like he was drawn by classic Spider-Man artist Mark Bagley. We get a well-put-together Spider-Man suit that takes influence from the big-eyed comic-book versions of the ’90s, which makes up for how bad all the villains look. Hipster Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) works well as a friend from Peter’s past but not as the next Green Goblin. Jamie Foxx’s Electro takes on a nerdy, Jim Carrey/Riddler personality that feels too comic book-ish even for a superhero film, and Paul Giamatti’s Rhino isn’t even worth mentioning. So heavy is the shadow of Marvel Studios at this point that not even the strong chemistry of Garfield and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy could save the franchise that ended with this installment. This movie gave us a beautifully-executed Stacy death scene, one of the most powerful moments in the history of Spider-Man comics, and it wasn’t enough. At this point, Sony knew they needed the Marvel Studios touch.
6. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Making a movie when you’ve got a great idea is one thing. Making a movie because you don’t want to lose the rights to one of the most popular superheroes ever is another. Raimi and Maguire walking away from “Spider-Man 4″ gave birth to “The Amazing Spider-Man,” a good movie that exists because Sony thought it had to, not because fans were clamoring for it. Garfield shows some decent Spidey-potential, as a New York-accented, joke-cracking version who’s likable but working with a not-so-great Spidey suit (it got better in the sequel, see above) and perhaps the least thrilling Spider-Man movie villain ever, Rhys Ifan’s Lizard.
7. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
The “Spider-Man” movie that must not be named. Raimi got a villain and a plot line that he was rumored to have wanted no part of (Venom and his black, alien suit that takes over Spider-Man for a bit), and we got a Spidey-movie that looks like something no one wanted to make. Once Maguire starts dancing, we know this is not going to be one of the all-time-great Spidey-films. The love story of Peter and Mary Jane seems to all but disappear amid drama. Venom, perhaps the most intense, imposing Spider-Man villain of all, is played by someone from “That 70s Show,” and even Aunt May looks like she realizes this was all a bad idea. They couldn’t even get black-suit Spider-Man right, giving him a regular Spidey-suit painted black instead of the classic all-black, no webbing version in the comics. The best part of this movie: Thomas Haden Church’s sympathetic Sandman.