‘No Way Home’ Is Good, But Not the Best Spider-Man Movie Ever

‘No Way Home’ Is Good, But Not the Best Spider-Man Movie Ever

All right, Spider-People. It’s here. The moment. The one you’ve been waiting more than two years for. If your spider senses are broken, and you somehow have no idea what we’re talking about, then here you go: Spider-Man: No Way Home has hit theaters. The third Jon Watts-Tom Holland spidey outing promised to both wrap up Peter Parker’s coming-of-age tale in a satisfying way, and somehow do justice by the villains it snagged from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s films.

It gives us every bit of pleasure to write this: Mission accomplished.

That said, we now have nine big-screen Spider-Man films. And well over half of them are excellent, with a multitude of web-heads in the suit. That includes Maguire, Garfield, Holland, plus, (deep breath) the Shameik Moore-voiced Miles Morales. With our great power, we’ve taken the great responsibility to rank them all, from worst to best.

9. Spider-Man 3 (2007)

The finger guns. The apple pie. The Topher Grace Venom. Spider-Man 3 may not only be one of the worst comic book film adaptations of all time, but it may be the most anticipated disaster in cinema history. Banking off the massive success of Sam Raimi’s excellent Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, expectations for the big finale of the trilogy could not be higher. But, after reports that Raimi was not happy with the over-abundance of villains in the production–he allegedly wanted nothing to do with the Venom character at all–fans could tell something was awry. The film turned out to be a huge flop, cancelling the possibility of a Raimi Spider-Man 4, and forever ingraining in our minds the image of an emo Tobey Maguire shaking his ass on the streets of New York.Dom Nero

8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

After a fairly formidable franchise reboot with the Andrew Garfield-starring Amazing Spider-Man, there was a faint glimmer of hope that we would continue to have good Web-Head films even without Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire in the mix. But Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a huge disappointment. Originally planned to be the beginning of a new Spider-Man cinematic universe, Sony was hoping to use Spider-Man 2 as a launching pad for a Sinister Six villainous team-up film. But, the film was so bad it ended up caving the Garfield Spiderverse entirely. Marvel quickly picked up the pieces and started production on the Tom Holland iteration of the character, finally bringing glory back to the Spider-Man name, but hey–at least we got Blue Jamie Foxx in the meantime.—Dom Nero

7. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Fans of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films were saddened to see the marvelous Tobey Maguire trilogy come to an end. But things got even weirder Sony announced a completely new take on the character less than five years later. Helmed by (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb, this reboot saw Peter Parker as a trendier, hotter, skater boy sort of hero. The fiery connection between Garfield and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy was a highlight of this series, and made the film a totally adequate adaption of the comic book character. Too bad it hardly lasted.—Dom Nero

6. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

After seven Spider-Man films, it’s hard to imagine the character feeling fresh and the series staying interesting for much longer. Spider-Man: Homecoming was a welcome new take on the character, bringing Peter and his gang into the wild and terrifying world of the MCU, but the film felt more like a novelty. That’s because most of the fun seemed to bank off the excitement of having Spidey in this new cinematic universe, rather than developing the character naturally in his own films. Somehow, though Marvel pulled it off again. Far From Home offers a bizarre new story for the Peter Parker character, taking him and his buddies out of New York City and implanting them at ravishing locales across Europe. Marvel really needed a vacation from all the doom and gloom of Endgame, and Far From Home offered the perfect respite for the series. And, the mid-credits scene of the film is so incredible, it’s more than enough to justify the cost of the ticket.—Dom Nero

5. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Spider-Man: No Way Home, the grand finale of Jon Watts’s excellent Spider-Man trilogy, had a lot working against it. Mainly? Two years of built-up expectations from fans on a level we’ve rarely seen before. Plus, a Spider-Man 3-sized, the-third-movie-could-ruin-everything shadow over its head. We’re pleased to report that No Way Home is a cinematic experience you won’t forgetand a celebration of each and every film on this list. Homecoming beats No Way Home out by a hair, only because the former does a slightly better job of leaving the MCU of it all on the shelf so that its hero can shine.—Brady Langmann

4. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

After Tobey and Andrew, there was very little exciting about the idea of another new actor playing Spider-Man. Poor Tom Holland had a very difficult job ahead of him to separate himself from the other two men who had very recently played Peter Parker before him. Disney managed to navigate this awkwardness brilliantly, foregoing yet-another origin story for a Spider-Man film that truly felt like it was about a kid in high school. This leaned into the teenage drama, with the youngest Spider-Man actor yet, giving Parker a truly endearing naivety. Yes, this unfortunately got a little bogged down by Iron Man hogging the show, but even then Marvel managed to develop the Uncle Ben type mentor thing using Tony Stark. Plus, who wouldn’t enjoy some light sexual tension between Stark and Aunt May (?).—Matt Miller

3. Spider-Man (2002)

No colons! No sub-heads! No numbers! Just Spider-Man! In many ways, Sam Raimi’s 2002 take on Spider-Man ushered in the blockbuster era of superhero movies in which we now live. It was the first film to break $100 million in a single weekend, it quickly became one of the highest grossing films of all time. Sure, its numbers are small by today’s superhero movie standards, but this set the trend in Hollywood for a new generation of blockbusters and costumed people on the big screen. Numbers aside, Raimi’s Spider-Man set the bright color palette and slick visuals that later defined the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It revitalized the character, along with the genre, setting the course for all the Spider-Men and superheroes that came after it. Plus Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker was perfectly equal parts dork and badass.—Matt Miller

2. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Released in 2004, few superhero films have come anywhere close to the glorious, invigorating, and surprisingly emotional vision that Sam Raimi had for the story of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in this film. 15 years later, the Spider-Man 2 still soars, both as an operatic action caper, and an introspective portrait of the perils of adulthood and responsibility. It raised the bar for superhero filmmaking, and the genre has not been the same ever since.—Dom Nero

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

At the time of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s release, there had been eight different Spider-Man films with three different actors as Peter Parker over the course of a decade. Yet, miraculously, Into the Spider-Verse, the brilliant animated take on the character by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, not only answered the Spidey fatigue, it corrected it. With new versions of the friendly neighborhood hero, along with the Peter Parker we’ve known, Spider-Verse at once embraces and rationalizes the overabundance of Spider-Type heroes with one easy answer: They’re all parallel universes! But along with a brilliantly-executed, mind-bending concept, Spider-Verse captures the spirit of Spider-Man, with a truly hilarious film that might be the only superhero film to-date that fully embraces the art of comic books. It’s a film that takes risks the way more superhero films—animated, live-action, or otherwise—should do.—Matt Miller

Culture Editor
Matt Miller is a Brooklyn-based culture/lifestyle writer and music critic whose work has appeared in Esquire, Forbes, The Denver Post, and documentaries.

Video Editor
Dom Nero is a staff video editor at Esquire, where he also writes about film, comedy, and video games.

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