BY AVNI MISHRA '23
Spider-Man: No Way Home has caught the attention of comic book fans, film critics, and casual movie enjoyers alike. To prepare myself for the spectacle, I binged all the Spider-Man movies back in November, from Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man 1 to Tom Holland’s Far From Home. I present to you: A Spoiler-Free Ranking of the Spider-Verse movie series!
4. The Original Trilogy
Before you get your pitchforks, hear me out. These movies are great. This trilogy introduced us to some of the most recognizable superhero villains in media: Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Venom, and Sandman. The themes explored in these movies diverge from your standard superhero movie, especially in Spider-Man 2, which explores Peter Park’s internal struggles between his superhero responsibilities and his own mental health. That being said, returning to the series twenty years after its debut allowed me to view it in a different light. Spider-Man 1 tends to drag on, considering the disproportionate focus on Peter figuring out how to live his life as Spider-Man. Some aspects did not age well, like the apparent “China” themed party in Spider-Man 1 and or MJ’s frequent cheating in relationships. Despite it’s meme-culture relevance, Spider-Man 3 definitely lowers the trilogy’s ranking with its ridiculous and sometimes frustrating plot developments.
3. The Amazing Spider-Man
Say what you want about the Amazing Spider-Man movies, but I genuinely enjoyed them. As far as love interests go, Gwen Stacey portrayed a strong-willed, supportive, good-natured, and in my opinion, a better MJ than Kirsten Dunst. Gwen has her own arcs and importance to the story that was not as deeply explored through MJ in the original trilogy. While The Amazing Spider-Man tackled Peter’s origin comfortably and jumped straight into the action, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 bit off more than it could chew. It introduced a somewhat unnecessary conspiracy surrounding Peter’s parents and juggled with two villains (Electro and the Green Goblin) without devoting adequate time to either character arc. But to its credit, the story also deals with topics of grief, mourning, and a hero’s responsibility to the ones around them more heavily than the trilogy before.
2. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Spider-Man
Tom Holland’s performance as Spider-Man is my favorite of the three live action actors. He combines the kindness of Andrew’s Peter with the dorky-ness of Maguire’s Peter. He feels like any other high schooler who happens to save the world a couple times over. Especially because he spends so much time in school, I feel like I can really relate to him, Ned, and MJ. My love for these movies is also influenced by their involvement with the rest of the MCU, since Peter interacts with many other beloved characters. Spider-Man: Far From Home was a great movie to patch up our hearts after Avengers: Endgame, with Peter and MJ’s awkward (but incredibly relatable) relationship. Spider-Man: Homecoming was even better, showing Peter’s first steps as a hero amidst a world of super-powered crime fighters. Obviously, Spider-Man: No Way Home takes the cake for the best live action Spider-Man movie, with the best parts of all the previous movies combined into one nostalgic and emotional masterpiece.
1. Into the Spider-Verse
While Spider-Man: No Way Home is the best live-action Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is hands down the best Spider-Man movie. Switching from live action to 2D animation opened up a world of possibilities that this movie utilized flawlessly. For example, each spider-man character comes from a different universe and are drawn in different styles to match their origins, creating a visually stunning experience. Despite the shifted focus from Peter to Miles Morales, the film still captured the classic Spider-Man movie themes: the importance of family, responsibility, and finding your own path. The beautiful use of art and music really tie everything together, pushing this movie into first place.
At the end of the day, all of the Spider-Man movies have webbed a special place in my heart. With all the gateways of opportunities that have opened after No Way Home, this is far from the end of seeing our favorite web-slinging hero on the big screen, and I cannot wait!