As we get closer to the summer blockbuster season the reviews for Captain America: Civil War are starting to trickle in. The reception is seemingly positive, so the safe bet is you are going to have a good time. Apparently, Spider-Man is stealing the show from our seasoned Marvel vets. The wall crawlers appearance in Civil War is subjectively brief, but he’s leaving a lasting impression that is having viewers wanting more.
Sadly, we are going to need to wait a few more years before Spider-Man: HomeComing swings into theaters. With the anticipation for the new Spider-Man movie at an all time high, I thought it would be best to go back into the vault and remember what brought us here. What is the best Spider-Man movie we’ve had so far?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Andrew Garfield was to be the Spider-Man we were all waiting for. Bogged down by its own want to expand the universe, the movie suffers. Sure, by this point we have seen four other Spider-Man movies, but this version of Peter is still growing up in front of us. The story is crammed with villains (too many, to be honest), soon to be anti-heroes, and a lack of momentum for the characters it hopes to build up. Jaime Foxx feels underused and is then sidelined for a storyline you saw coming from a mile away. It’s all very reminiscent of “true villain” reveal in The Dark Knight Rises. Peter stumbles upon more of his parent’s research that’s he’s been hunting down since The Amazing Spider-Man 1, but you never feel that this is what the film cares about.
The heart of these films is not in the cool, new, edgy Spider-Man, but the romance between Gwen and Peter. At the time, it has not been explored on screen and stands out over Tobey Maguire and Kristen Dunst. So, when the inevitable death comes at the end of the movie you actually feel the loss along with Spider-Man/Andrew Garfield. There are good moments here, but there are better Spidey portrayals out there for you to see.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
The one everyone hates. When Spider-Man 3 came out in theaters, I was the first one on line at my local theater. If you have ever been to a premiere/first day showing, you know how it can be. People dressed in costumes, and t-shirts galore. Spider-Man is everywhere you look while waiting in line. They finally let us in to see it, and it’s packed, not an empty seat in the house. The fight scenes are amazing (that alleyway scene still stands out to me), and that scene with Harry and Peter fighting one-on0one in Harry’s lair/lab/house is fantastic.
Even with all these great moments, there is too much going on in this film for it to work. Not to mention, Topher Grace being shoehorned in as Venom still irks the hell out of me. When it’s over, we pile out of the theater and it begins: people are unsatisfied and surprisingly confused by what they just saw.
Why did this one go wrong? Allegedly, studio heads had a lot to do with the misdirection of what was to become Spider-Man 3. If this was to be the last film for Tobey Maguire and the gang, they deserved a better send off. Some incredible fight scenes and an “emo” Tobey Maguire don’t help pull off a convoluted and over-burdened storyline.
And what was the deal with Eddie Brock’s unearned hate for Peter Parker?? UGH.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
When this one was first announced it was met with a universal “Why?” At the time in 2012, it was a small handful of years past Spider-Man 3, and people were not so keen to move onto a new Spidey, even if they were so quick to pan it. Yet, Andrew Garfield’s plays Peter Parker so well you forget that Peter is supposed to be a loveable nerd type. Garfield is likable in the role, and he plays Spider-Man more snarky and quick witted than Tobey Maguire did. Spider-Man finally feels like Spider-Man from any comic book.
The building relationship between Gwen and Peter feels genuine, and in the midst of it, I felt like I wanted to see what became of them. Rhys Ifans as Dr. Connors, a.k.a. the Lizard, feels unfortunately forgettable, but the true star of this film is Spider-Man. Peter Parker is finally smart again, he builds his own web shooters, and some of the best scenes in this film are the amazing things he does with them.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Everything that was great about Spider-Man is done here and more. Each character gets to shine, and you get enough backstory to understand why they are who they are.
Peter is finally getting his life together as he tries to juggle his normal life with his superhero one. MJ and Harry become more complicated characters. Every fight scene with Doc. Ock stands out, especially the train scene and what comes from that. Doc. Ock’s newly attached limbs waking up before he does and attacking the surgeons feels like its ripped right out of the Evil Dead. Peter finally telling MJ how he feels about her is incredibly touching. The scene that stands out to me is the ending, when Peter finally gets the girl and swings off to do the only thing he is good at: being a hero. There’s a shot of Mary-Jane looking at him swing away with this somberness and sadness because she realizes she’ll never really get him.
Most super hero movies were unwilling to challenge their protagonists with such dilemmas, and for that, I appreciated Spider-Man 2 all the more.
As many would say, Spider-Man 2 stands out over Spider-Man, but there’s a theme in this movie that I thinks makes it stand out.
A lot of super hero movies have a hard time transitioning between the dual personalities of being a normal person and then being a super hero. So much so that they don’t acknowledge their personal lives or they just make them full-time super heroes.
Peter’s uncle dies and we see how he is shaped by the words “with great power comes great responsibility.” Peter Parker is a good guy and because of his selfish moment, it changes his life forever. So when we see him helping people, we realize that it’s not because he’s burdened by the death of a parental role model or because he’s in a universe the demands it. It’s because he’s a good guy.
Spider-Man films are riddled with scenes of him just saving the lives of normal people, not because it was his fault (sometimes), or because it’s an end of the world situation, but only because he was at the right place at the right time. Scenes that stand out in this one for me are any with Macho Man Randy Savage (R.I.P., what an entertainer), the final fight with Goblin (kudos to the New Yorkers who had his back), the montage of him when he finally becomes Spider-Man (who doesn’t love an origin story?), and the last scene when he doesn’t get the girl (sad for Peter, good for us Spidey fans. Heartbreak turned out to be the perfect set up for an excellent sequel).
Will Spider-Man: Homecoming swing up to the top spot on the list when it premieres in 2017? What’s your Spider-Man Movie list? Let us know down in the comments.