Not so long ago the Spider-Man films were considered some of the best the superhero genre had to offer. Now, not so much. With Marvel continually changing audiences perceptions on their own heroes and franchises, some superheroes are getting left behind. The Fantastic Four is about to rebooted, while the X-Men were also essentially rebooted this year, even DC have had to re-think their strategy after finding success with The Dark Knight trilogy and are now doing things the “Marvel way.” Perhaps it is no surprise then, that Spider-Man feels a little bit lacking in some regards these days. Due to different studios owning the rights to various characters, Spider-Man essentially exists on his own, but does he need a shared universe to succeed? Not necessarily. Spider-Man was once at the forefront of superhero films, and today I take a look back at the entire franchise, and rank each film in the series from worst to best.
5. The Amazing Spider-Man
When I first heard they were rebooting the Spider-Man franchise, my immediate reaction was, why? The newest iteration of the wall crawler was released only ten years after Sam Raimi’s original film, and a mere five years after the ill-fated Spider-Man 3. The result was a mixed bag, but one that ultimately fell flat, not necessarily through its acting or directing, but more because it came across as a lame copy of the first film. Not only did we learn how Peter Parker became Spider-Man, again, but we also had another green big bad for him to fight, who was also the victim of some freak accident, while we swapped Mary Jane Watson for Gwen Stacy and Peter had the ultimate fall out with his Uncle Ben. It was all too familiar, and hit too many of the same notes, leaving the audience asking the same question, why did they bother?
4. Spider-Man 3
The final film in the original Spider-Man trilogy should have been spectacular, instead, it was just very “meh”. Sam Raimi obviously wanted to put the characters and the audience through the emotional grinder with this one. With Peter Parker going from hero to zero and back again, we saw him fall out with his girlfriend, nearly lose another potential love interest and ultimately see his best friend die in front of him. It wanted to be The Empire Strikes Back but instead felt more like Attack of the Clones. The spectacle was all very well and good, but what had made Raimi’s previous two films so enchanting had gone, and it felt like the films heart had been lost/ripped out. There were too many new characters introduced, and one of the comic books best villains, Venom was simply wasted. As were the 139 minutes I spent watching this tosh.
The first Spider-Man film is a part of a select group of superhero films which brought about a revolution to the genre. Blade, Spider-Man and the X-Men saw a change in superhero films, and with new-found special effects and ever-increasing budgets, fans were finally able to view their heroes on the big screen properly. Spider-Man may have its faults, but director Sam Raimi’s first effort in the series was a tribute to the classic Spider-Man stories of old, and told a simple story that would begin and end within one film and wouldn’t require the audience to sit through ten minutes of credits to get a 30 second glimpse at the next film in the series. It can look a little dated now, but the film makes up for it in heart and by having a director who clearly loves the character. Therefore, it does feel a shame that Raimi never got to come back to the series to direct Spider-Man 4.
2.The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Despite my feeling towards the Spider- Man reboot, and in particular The Amazing Spider-Man, I must say that I really quite enjoyed its sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It was fast paced, had good action, Andrew Garfield completely nailed Spider-Man and the chemistry between him and Emma Stone kept the film afloat when it threatened to go under. Sure, Jamie Foxx’s Electro was a bit bland and Dane DeHaan’s turn into the Green Goblin came a bit too late in the film, but these were forgivable aspects of an otherwise really fun film. Another big downside however, was Sony’s decision to try to copy Marvel in their attempt to try to build a shared cinematic universe. When you own the rights to one property, it can only exist within itself anyway. This made elements of the film seemed forced and unnecessary. Which is a shame, because Spider-Man can work entirely well on his own, and doesn’t need the extra baggage.
1. Spider-Man 2
Easily the best film in the entire series thus far has to be Spider-Man 2. Raimi upped his game from the first film, delivering an excellent villain and also an engaging, emotionally led story. Raimi’s confidence was clearly on a high here, his direction of action had improved considerably and he even found the time for an excellent visual reference to his own Evil Dead film. Spider-Man 2 has everything a summer blockbuster needs and should have been the blueprint for the rest of the series. In fact, while the current Spider-Man series is on an unplanned hiatus, its creators would do well to watch this film again to remind themselves of how good the franchise can really be.
Now it’s your turn to tell me whether I’m right or wrong by using the form below, and voting on which Spider-Man film is best.