Venom isn’t a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – or maybe it is? It’s a confusing grey area, but from the moment “In Association with Marvel” came up during the opening credits of Sony’s newest attempt at launching a Spider-Man spin-off it’s been pretty clear that Marvel Studios wants nothing to do with Venom or its ilk. Instead, Venom supposedly falls outside the boundaries of the MCU along with the numerous other films Sony has made over the years following Spider-Man and his ever expanding universe of antagonists – all varying wildly in quality. With the release of Venom, check out our ranking of the non-MCU entries in the Spider-Man universe.
#6 – The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a bad movie. It’s sloppy, poorly written and lacking in any kind of emotional weight. It ruins the suspense over what happened to Peter’s dad (a thread set up in the first film) right out of the gate, and spends the rest of the film asking you to care about a character that the writers obviously didn’t care enough about. They fail to give a him proper storyline or any kind of satisfying arc. The only redeeming quality of this film is Jamie Foxx putting in an unintentionally funny performance that never fails to amuse. “It’s my birthday. Now it’s time for me to light my candles!” remains a classic line from this far from classic film.
#5 – Spider-Man 3
Coming in just above Mark Webb’s attempt at expanding the Spider-verse is Sam Rami’s conclusion to his Spider-Man trilogy. It’s bizarre, wacky, and downright slapstick at times. Peter Parker walking down the street like an extra from Saturday Night Fever, black dyed bangs hanging over his eyes, doing finger guns at random women along the street will live in infamy in comic book fan’s eyes for years to come. It’s slightly more tolerable than The Amazing Spider-Man 2 simply due to more interesting fight choreography and Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) being a somewhat compelling antagonist. Speaking of Venom, this entry features a poorly constructed attempt at the character played in this film by Topher Grace (but we’ll get into Venom in a second)…
#4 – Venom
Venom (which we recently reviewed here) is a bit of a mess. Its script is incredibly weak and its structure is the embodiment of everything wrong with modern superhero films, down to the generic final battle in which the protagonist fights a grey coloured version of themselves at night while smoke and fire obscure the frame to save on CGI costs. One of the few saving graces of the film is Tom Hardy, who puts in an enthusiastic and rather manic performance as Eddie Brock. Hardy is really doing everything he can with what he’s given, and even during some of the worst writing of the film, he manages to elevate the film a cut above the previous entries on this list with his pure enthusiasm and comedic chops.
#3 – The Amazing Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t an amazing movie, but it’s the beginning of the generally good ones. The script is passable, bordering on good – with some moments which have since become iconic in their own way. The filmmakers sew the seeds of an interesting mystery involving Peter Parker’s parents (which definitely pays off, right?), and the villain is entertaining to watch. Speaking to the film’s negative characteristics, some issues involving Parker’s characterization and casting are rather prevalent. Garfield does a good job with the character, infusing him with a fun presence and a nervous energy, but this version of Parker isn’t the classic one we fell in love with. Peter Parker has always been a nerdy scrawny kid who gets picked on, which makes his arc of becoming Spider-Man all the more powerful and fulfilling to watch. Garfield doesn’t have this arc or characterization, which makes his character less engaging and interesting to fans of the original character, and less relatable to the general viewer who may not be familiar with the character. Overall, this one’s pretty good, but we’re about to get into the good stuff…
#2 – Spider-Man
Sam Rami’s original Spider-Man is a classic superhero film. It’s fun, campy, entertaining, suspenseful (it is Sam Rami after all), and all around a great time. It’s full of iconic and unforgettable moments that have lived on in fans hearts for years. The performances of Tobey Maguire as the titular hero and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane (Peter’s love interest) are fun and believable, and Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin is one of the best comic book film villains put to screen. He’s scary, charismatic and layered, while having a significant impact throughout the film, and on the series as a whole. Spider-Man fires on all cylinders at all times – without it, none of the films on this list would have been made.
And now – as if it had to be said – the best Spider-Man film ever made is…
#1 – Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2 is easily the best of Rami’s series, effortlessly tops the Amazing Spider-Man movies, and outdoes Venom in almost every way imaginable. It’s not only a great superhero film, but it’s also a genuinely wonderful film in general. It expands upon the characters of Parker and Watson, creating a dynamic that’s fun to watch and far more engrossing than in the original. The film is elevated in almost every respect the original shined in. The writing is better, the special effects are actually quite exceptional (especially given the time), the villain is magnificent. Alfred Molina’s Doc. Ock somehow outdoes Dafoe’s Green Goblin and is captivating to watch. Speaking of Rami’s affinity for suspense, he homages his own Evil Dead series with a creepy horror slant on Ock’s birth, which infused the film with a raw energy missing from many other films on this list. The film contains countless iconic and incredible scenes, the subway fight being an obvious stand out. While other films attempt to create the same kind of emotional impact and resonance this scene has (The Amazing Spider-Man’s crane swinging scene), nothing can top this. From the raw emotion involved to the religious imagery, the scene shines in a way not many others in the franchise have. Spider-Man 2 is a masterclass in superhero filmmaking, and has stood the test of time for a reason! It’s easily the best Spider-Man movie ever made.
Venom is now playing in theatres.
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