6. Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)
Spider-Man: Far from Home was the first canonical MCU film to be set in the aftermath of Iron Man’s death, and as such had an emotional hook more sizeable than its considerable franchise counterparts.
Visually, the film also had the significant advantage of having the eccentric con-man Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) as its latest draw, the visual splendour and expressionist sequences revolving around the character’s most deadly motives making for groundwork that emphasised all that is good within superhero films in the modern day. Under the surface, Mysterio was also an interesting tool for superhero cinema examination – as outlined in Far From Home – Throwing Shade At the Superhero Factory by Sam Sewell-Peterson – but the groundwork did not make for a sequel more interesting than its predecessor; the heart, comedy and minute personal risk to Parker all-but dismissed in favour of the film’s more grandiose topics; Parker’s trials and tribulations as a young boy being less a central concern than in Homecoming, the character losing something as a result.
Far from Home was by no means a poor movie and it did set the groundwork for a more grown up, post-Endgame-trauma version of the character that will hopefully expand this version of Peter Parker beyond the restrictions of previous iterations and see his conquests begin to explore deeper themes. This movie also provided all of the enjoyment and happiness of Marvel’s mid-level hits, its position at number 5 on this list therefore less to do with the film’s lack of quality and more to do with the quality of the movies to come.
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5. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
The 2021 entry into the Spider-Man franchise was true dream factory stuff. Especially for long-running fans of the character and wider film franchise.
Courtesy of a multiverse-opening spell-gone-wrong from the MCU’s Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), this generation’s Peter Parker was introduced to a rogues gallery of supervillains from generations past. And with each character re-introduction, the Spidey-senses only tingled with more strength.
In the US, No Way Home debuted with the third largest opening in box office history – even during a pandemic – to truly illustrate the power of Spider-Man, the series’ earlier franchise films, and nostalgia, in a way that Spider-Man 3… uh… 3 couldn’t help but to make the most of.
Unlike some of the more refined entries yet to come on this list, No Way Home did suffer from a distracting level of expository dialogue courtesy of so many characters being reintroduced, and it could be argued that some of superhero cinema’s greatest ever villains were relegated to bit-part comedy players, but in terms of delivering on a premise and completing Peter Parker’s character arc, No Way Home proved to be pretty darn good.
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
The debut of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in a solo outing under the banner of Marvel Studios was one that became the talk of comic-book-town (which is definitely a real place) once the character stole the show in Captain America: Civil War. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, most people got more than they could have wished for.
This teen comedy with a superhero twist had all the tools for success – it had a fantastic cast including recent Oscar winner Michael Keaton, Oscar nominee Marisa Tomei and Iron Man himself Robert Downey Jr., as well as a funny script with a cleverly endearing version of Peter Parker and the guts to finally aim a Spidey movie squarely at the teenage market. The benefits of these decisions played out to glorious effect for Sony and Disney as the film went on to make just under $900million at the box office and launch a new version of the web-slinger that many consider to be the best to date.
Homecoming, from its strong coming-of-age plot likened to the John Hughes movies of the 80s (only with more ‘splosions) to its relatively identifiable and menacing villain, ticked all of the right boxes and was an undeniably great launching point for new Spider-Man, but it sits as low as number 4 here for one major reason: Spider-Man: Homecoming lacks the depth, and therefore the rewatchability, of the films to come.
For as satisfying and enjoyable as Homecoming was, and for as wholesome and perfectly cast new Peter Parker Tom Holland most certainly is, this Jon Watts-directed franchise entry has not withstood the tests of many a rewatch that its higher ranked brethren have, mostly due to the plot’s reliance upon its twist and the film’s slightly less compelling character journey at the heart of its narrative. It’s not that Homecoming is bad… it’s that the Spider-Man franchise is simply too good to include this one in its top three.
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