The smoker’s cooled down, and bellies everywhere are full after the Fourth of July holiday. A plate of ribs, corn and salad later, I’m ready to get cracking on what may be the highest-grossing film of summer 2017 with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures partner for the latest reboot of Peter Parker’s tale, this time picking up the story from his younger teenage years with actor Tom Holland as Spidey.
Holland’s become a crowd-favorite without many fans even seeing him on the Silver Screen. I mean, even searching for “tom” with Google immediately produced “tom holland” as the top suggested search result.
The kid seems to have the Spider-Man wit down pat, but I’m more interested to see how Holland carries the entire film. And, yes, I said how HOLLAND carries the film. I’m already wary of Tony Stark/Iron Man’s presence in the film, as he’s been all over the marketing campaign. A good friend of mine said months ago, “You don’t need Iron Man to sell a Spider-Man film. Spider-Man does that on his own.”
But I digress. Let’s take a look at the Spider-Man films to-date, with them from best to worst.
1) Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Coming off the explosive Spider-Man (2002), director Sam Raimi could hardly do any wrong in the eyes of fans and moviegoers alike. Listen, a Spider-Man film of that level was unthinkable before Tobey Maguire brought Peter Parker to life alongside Kirsten Dunst‘s portrayal of Mary Jane Watson.
With the sequel — which was undoubtedly going to be filmed after Spider-Man‘s $821.7 million box office boom — most fans expected more of the same, yet we were gifted with fluid writing, fun action and a villainous performance that ranks highest in the franchise by Alfred Molina as Doc Ock.
This film ranks as number one in my book simply because Raimi nailed the tone of Spider-man. There’s a believable romance between Mary Jane and Peter Parker; the film has a vicious side thanks to Molina.
The action sequences were smooth, as well, with a memorable train scene.
It’s the best, man, and will be tough to beat for years to come.
2) Spider-Man (2002)
“Who am I? You sure you wanna know?”
Spider-Man changed my childhood. As a kiddo, I read Spider-Man comics weekly, making sure to tune into the cartoon on Saturday mornings, as well. This was and still is my favorite superhero.
Inside of my father’s car one elementary school morning, I heard on the radio that a Spidey film would be hitting theaters (and that Spider-man suits have been stolen). Second-grade me almost jumped out of the car in joy, only to have my seatbelt tightly fasten across my chest due to my quick movements.
This was the atmosphere Raimi’s first Spider-Man film created. The film was revolutionary for live-action adaptations of heroes previously found in comic panels. Web-slinging across New York City never looked so cool, and believable, before 2002.
There was an innocence to Peter Parker that gave him an edge over even the cartoon iterations. Dunst made many, including me, fall in love with her M.J.
Man, I could go on and on, but Spider-Man gave me chills then, and remains a film that raised the bar in terms of movie magic.
3) The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker was anticipated by, uh, nobody. However, Garfield gave us what I believe is the most accurate high-school Peter Parker to-date. Maguire was good, but the snappy, youthful tone in Garfield’s line delivery made him different from Maguire’s less-than-funny approach. This was a huge reason why The Amazing Spider-Man succeeded … initially.
Sony Pictures nabbed director Marc Webb, which many moviegoers know from the outstanding 500 Days of Summer. For me, I expected a very real relationship between Garfield and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy). Gwen had been teased in previous Spider-Man films, but was never given the limelight. Stone’s performance, coupled with Garfield’s real relationship at the time with the lovable actress, glued the film together. Webb knows how to get emotion out of his actors, eh?
However, there were issues, including the handling of Uncle Ben’s death. Martin Sheen was a fresh take on Ben, not as old and brittle as the late Cliff Robertson‘s portrayal. But the entire death sequence was mishandled, giving less of an impact than what many anticipated.
Rhys Ifans‘ performance as The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors was good and felt villainous, but once The Lizard arrives, there was a generic feel in the air.
Still, I believe this is a fun film and doesn’t warrant the hate many fans have slung. Did I mention how cool the suit looked on-screen?
4) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Oh, brother. I’ve heard almost every critique for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Some of the complaints I can understand, especially when it comes to how rushed the second-half of the film felt. Webb tried fitting too much into one film and shoehorned The Rhino in at the end. We didn’t even get to see them brawl! And we never will due to the obvious cancellation of Webb’s Spider-Man series.
Almost everything in the film was rushed, from Jamie Foxx‘s “Electro” to Dane DeHaan‘s “Green Goblin.” Oscorp’s trying to take over the city, while crazed-scientist Max Dillon (Foxx) is electrocuting himself, becoming Electro. However, his presence felt short-lived and while that final fight was fun to watch, it felt like the character quickly went to waste. It’s that never-ending superhero formula, I guess.
I enjoyed this film more than most, but I’ll be damned if the potential wasn’t there for a better Spidey film. I understand Sony felt they had a goldmine reboot with Garfield and Webb, but the news of them planning sequels and a Sinister Six film before TASM2’s release put far too much pressure on this sequel to fit in as much as they could (did they learn nothing from Spider-Man 3?).
If anything, this film continued to show how studio involvement is maybe not the best idea (*cough* SPIDER-MAN 3 *cough*).
5) Spider-Man 3 (2007)
MY HEART! MY HEART!
This is far and away the worst Spider-Man film to-date and within the Raimi trilogy, honestly. Coming off the high of its first two films, the trilogy couldn’t fail, right?
Whose idea was it to include Toby Maguire snapping his fingers, shooting finger guns at ladies down the streets of New York City? This scene is one of those that makes your skin crawl in embarrassment. But hey, there’s the rest of the film, right?
The positives in this film are scarce. Seeing Spider-Man’s Symbiote Costume on-screen was an awe-inspiring moment for many kids, but I’m 14 years old at the time and even I saw through that crappy build-up. I felt slighted by Raimi — a director I love — until I realized, again, Sony stuck both hands in the pot and tried stirring their own mixture.
Raimi spoke to Collider in 2015, saying:
“It’s a movie that just didn’t work very well. I tried to make it work, but I didn’t really believe in all the characters, so that couldn’t be hidden from people who loved Spider-Man. If the director doesn’t love something, it’s wrong of them to make it when so many other people love it. I think [raising the stakes after Spider-Man 2] was the thinking going into it, and I think that’s what doomed us. I should’ve just stuck with the characters and the relationships and progressed them to the next step and not tried to top the bar.”
The article went on to report that Sony demanded Venom (Topher Grace … ugh) due to popularity among fans, which detracted from Raimi’s development of the characters he loved and wanted to continue developing. Also, Raimi would’ve preferred to use The Vulture, who was rumored to be John Malkovich, as Parker’s main antagonist. That didn’t happen, either, and thus we get the dumpster fire that is Spider-Man 3.