Oh, what a tangled web they’ve weaved. Spider-Man: No Way Home is attracting not only diehard Spidey fans, but tons and tons of folks who just wanted to see a movie again in a theater. And now many of those people are hooked and eager to check out all of Spider-Man’s big-screen adventures. Well, if you’re one of those folks, we’re right here for you with our handy-dandy Spider-Man watch order thoughts, which dip into 20-plus years of the web slinger’s solo efforts, with side crawls into some of his supporting appearances in other MCU outings, and details about where to catch the movies. Mild spoilers ahead.
Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider and so begins the teen’s unlikely and awkward march toward becoming a superhero. Nearly everything about this movie is perfect. Tobey Maguire plays Peter / Spidey with equal parts charm, self-doubt and wide-eyed gee-whiz wonder. He’s aided and abetted by a stellar supporting cast that includes Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, and JK Simmons. Sam Raimi directs with style and assurance, imbuing this origin story with genuine heart, pulse-pounding action, and of course, that super-romantic upside-down kiss in the rain. He also seems proud to show a resilient New York City post 9-11. It’s a comic book come to life, from the opening credits right down to Stan Lee’s amusing cameo.
Spider-Man is currently available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes, Microsoft, and Google Play.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Peter, utterly disillusioned by life as a superhero, retreats from the spotlight. He and Mary Jane (Dunst) are no longer together, and best pal Harry Osborn (Franco) has grown bitter about the death of his father (Dafoe), Norman / Green Goblin, not realizing Peter / Spidey was responsible for his demise. Alfred Molina plays Dr. Otto Octavius, a good man who transforms into a formidable baddie, Doc Ock, brought to frightful life via a combinations of CGI and practical effects. When Doc Ock’s actions take a turn for the personal, Peter reluctantly resumes his Spidey persona. Raimi’s horror roots show in this outing, which is exceptionally well made, but darker, meaner, and thus just a bit less fun than its predecessor.
Spider-Man 2 is currently available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes, Microsoft, and Google Play.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Rather than lighten the mood after Spider-Man 2, the final Raimi-Maguire collaboration gets even darker. One could say jet-black, as an alien symbiote latches onto Peter and everything literally goes black: Peter / Spidey’s personality and even his costume. It’s an intriguing concept, Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man. Unfortunately, the film stuffs far too much – Harry is now the new, vengeance-seeking Green Goblin; Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) emerges as the Sandman; and Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) eventually turns into Venom – into its bloated 139-minute running time. Though it’s the weakest installment of the initial trilogy, it’s got its moments (we loved seeing such returnees as Simmons, Dafoe, Robertson, Ted Raimi, Bill Nunn, Dylan Baker, and Elizabeth Banks) and it was the highest-grossing of the original three films.
Spider-Man 3 is currently available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes, Microsoft, and Google Play.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
First, how is it 10 years already since Sony rebooted the franchise? Anyway, they did, recruiting British actor Andrew Garfield as Peter / Spidey and putting a new, ahem, spin on the origin story. Garfield is great and looks like a high school student, and there’s no denying his chemistry with the film’s secret weapon, Emma Stone, who lights up the screen as Gwen Stacy. Director Marc Webb – gotta love that name – made the leap from indie features to studio mega-movies here and he acquitted himself nicely. The villain here is Dr. Curt Connors / The Lizard, played by engaging Welsh actor, Rhys Ifans (of Notting Hill). The film is fun, flirty, and feels like a comic book again. And bonus points for Martin Sheen’s lovely, warm performance as Uncle Ben.
The Amazing Spider-Man is currently available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes, Microsoft, and Google Play.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The key players – Garfield, Stone, and Webb – are back, but so too is the bugaboo that tends to muck up superhero sequels: an overabundance of villains. This time, Spidey takes on Max Dillon / Electro (Jamie Foxx), Harry Osborn / Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), and Aleksei Sytsevich / Rhino (Paul Giamatti). Why three villains? Better to take the time to really delve into one and maybe lay the seeds of another for a subsequent film. Actually, this sequel does that with the Rhino section of Giamatti’s role, but Sytsevich is still a baddie. Also, the visual effects are a bit of a letdown this go-round. Rather than enhance the performances, especially in the case of Foxx’s Electro, they swallow up the performer. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 proved to be a critical and box-office disappointment, putting the kibosh on a third film and proposed spin-off projects.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is currently available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes, Microsoft, and Google Play.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
In a groundbreaking development, Sony, which had produced the previous Spider-Man films, and Disney, which now owns the MCU, teamed up to bring Spidey into the MCU fold. The result is Tom Holland’s winsome first foray as Peter Parker / Spider-Man. Holland is the most youthful-looking of all the cinematic Spider-Men, and he’s great with a quip. You can feel the father-son-ish bond start to form when Tony Stark tries to recruit “Spider-Boy,” and the scene in which Spidey appears during a tense showdown between Cap and Stark (“Underoos!”) Is one of the film’s most entertaining moments.
Captain America: Civil War is currently streaming on Disney Plus Disney Plus and available to rent or buy on iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, and Amazon Prime Video.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Holland’s Spider-Man comes into his own in this incredibly fun installment, directed by Jon Watts, that benefits greatly from two key decisions. One, it’s not quite a been-there / done-that origin story, as Peter juggles high school with his learning to command his burgeoning powers. Two, it very judiciously dips into the MCU well of characters, giving us quality time with Tony Stark (a great, as always, Robert Downey, Jr.) and Happy Hogan (the wry Jon Favreau), plus snippets of Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Chris Evans as Captain America. And then, Homecoming‘s other main cast complement Holland perfectly, starting with Zendaya as romantic interest, MJ; Jacob Batalon as best pal, Ned; Marisa Tomei as a wise and much-younger-than-before Aunt May; and Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes / Vulture, an unusually relatable villain.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is currently available to rent or buy on Starz, Vudu, iTunes, Microsoft, YouTube, and Google Play.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Spider-Man dies and a teenager Miles Morales, a teen boy recently bitten by a radioactive spider, endeavors to step into his costume. The story features familiar film baddies, but also characters far more familiar to hardcore comic book readers. So, we get Spider-women, and Peter Porker / Spider-Ham, and Spider-Man Noir, etc. The animation is stunning, the story inventive, and the A-list voiceover talent includes Shameik Moore as Miles / Spider-Man, as well as Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Zoe Kravitz, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Oscar Isaac, and Liev Schreiber. If you’ve never seen it, Into the Spider-Verse is compulsory viewing.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes, Microsoft, YouTube, Fubo, and Google Play
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Spider-Man is back in a supporting-role mode in the mash-up that brings together the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange. It’s a great ride of a film, with lots of action, plenty of laughs, and then some hardcore tragedy wrought by Thanos and his quest for a half-dozen Infinity Stones. Spider-Man figures into that tragedy, snap-snap, and Holland’s performance in the character’s last few moments on screen is just completely heartbreaking.
Avengers: Infinity War is streaming on Disney Plus and available to rent or buy on iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, and Amazon Prime Video.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Snapped out of existence by Thanos in Infinity War, Spider-Man must be resurrected in the final chapter of the Avengers saga. And it’s not much of a spoiler to say he is, since he has to be, right? Holland’s appearance here is more than a cameo and maybe something short of a full-on supporting role.
Avengers: Endgame is streaming on Disney Plus and available to rent or buy on iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, and Amazon Prime Video.
Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)
If you’ve a Spidey fan, by now you’ve got a steady flow of Tom Holland coming your way. And he’s terrific once again in Far from Home, as Peter heads to Europe on a class trip with MJ, Ned, and others, only to be called to action as Spider-Man. Samuel L. Jackson reprises his MCU role as Nick Fury, who recruits Spidey, while Jake Gyllenhaal plays Mysterio (Gyllenhaal), who is meant to help Spider-Man battle the Elementals, but may have very different plans. Be sure to check out the mid-credits scene, which features an appearance by an old favorite from a different era of Spider-Man films.
Spider-Man: Far from Home is streaming on iTunes Store, Vudu, Google Play, Microsoft, and Fubo.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
Peter’s secret is out. Everyone knows he’s Spider-Man. A visit to Doctor Strange meant to make folks forget him goes horribly wrong… or, rather, incredibly great for real-life Spider-Man fans. And that’s because the complex story, directed once again by Jon Watts, invokes the multiverse and embraces the iterations of Spider-Man played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. The movie is in theaters now, and audiences are literally cheering what they’re seeing on screen. We’ll stop there with the spoilers, but let’s just say Maguire and Garfield aren’t the only actors from the past to get in on the action in No Way Home. Even if it adds up to too many – damn, spoiler ahead – villains populating the screen, it works here. And, despite a running time of 148 minutes, No Way Home flies by in a flash.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is in theaters now.