With Nicholas Hammond’s campy, made-for-TV movies, the early 00’s iconic Sam Raimi-directed trilogy, the Andrew Garfield led Amazing films, and now Tom Holland’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man is a character that has been a staple of pop culture for decades now. Arguably one of the most iconic heroes put to screen, many actors and directors have placed their claim on the web-slinger. This isn’t an article to argue whose take was the best, but to celebrate what we’ve seen.
The first blockbuster featuring our hero debuted in 2002 and starred Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man It embraced the character’s wacky world at a time where superheroes weren’t as popular in media as they are today. The two other movies that followed expanded Spidey’s world, giving us villains to sympathize with and enjoy watching, hilarious scenes with J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, and iconic moments still remembered to this very day. The trilogy is still beloved by many and held as the golden standard for superhero films. I will always hold these movies close to my heart—it made me a fan, and so many elements still shine to this day.
After the falling out with Sam Rami and Sony, a reboot for the hero was developed as The Amazing Spider-Man, directed by Marc Webb, and starring Andrew Garfield. At the time it was marketed as the “untold story,” focusing more on Oscorp, Gwen Stacy, and the parents of Peter Parker. This franchise released only two films, with the second essentially killing the future due to bad critical reception and an e-mail leak that took up a lot of the press. Movies for Aunt May and the Sinister Six were planned, along with other spinoffs featuring characters from Spidey’s world, but were eventually hashed after Amazing 2. While I personally wasn’t the biggest fan, I still appreciate that we have different takes for everyone.
Cut to 2015—a deal between Sony and Marvel Studios is struck to include Spider-Man in the MCU with the likes of Captain America and Iron Man. The search for a new Spidey was underway, with some fans even vouching for the inclusion of Miles Morales, a character only four years old at the time, but immensely popular. Tom Holland was cast in the role, with our first look showing him touching down with Cap’s shield and a hearty, “Hey everyone.”
Holland reprised his role for a solo outing in Spider-Man Homecoming, another wildly different take on the hero, giving him an expy of Ganke Lee from Miles Morales’ roster, a new cast of characters including Liz Allan and Michelle (who is later revealed to be a new take on MJ), and interactions between the webhead and Tony Stark, the latter acting as the formers voice of reason. This movie became a sign of controversy amongst fans, but still led to sequels like Far From Home and an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, showing Spider-Man’s integration as an Avenger. I love Holland in the role, and seeing him grow will be interesting.
We became introduced to a new universe of Spider-Man, only without the hero. Venom was another big movie of 2018, focusing on the villain Venom and his bonding with Eddie Brock, played by Tom Hardy. The film kickstarted the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters, putting the shine on villains or side characters without the swinger himself.
With Spider-Man still holding onto his spot as the current king of superheroes, we were introduced to a theatrical animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The film this time focuses on Miles Morales, while giving us Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, SP//dr, and Spider-Ham for the first time in live action. The movie truly feels like a celebration of what it means to be behind the mask, and in my opinion, is the culmination of Spider-Man movies, and should be the one everyone sees.
Overall, Spider-Man isn’t going anywhere. Being a huge part of millions of kids and adults alike, the webhead will be someone we’re going to continue to follow wherever, no matter who’s behind the mask, or even if it isn’t Peter Parker. The hero has been around for a long time on the silver screen, and he’s arguably in his prime. There’s a Spider-Man for everyone, and no matter what happens, we’ll always have these movies to enjoy.