30% Think This Is The Best Live-Action Spider-Man Movie – Here's Why They're Wrong

Which of the live-action Spider-Man movies is the best? We posed that question to hundreds of random people through SurveyMonkey, and the winner was surprising: more than 30% of the vote went to the original "Spider-Man" that came out in 2002. It's understandable that our readers have a soft spot for the film where the series began — after all, the other films might not have come to us at all if audiences didn't like the first one. Oh, but those 30% of you forget how stilted the original was. True, the movie had the famous upside-down kiss between Peter Parker and MJ (Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst), as well as a glint of humor when Peter's first attempt at the Spider-Man costume is revealed to be a pair of pajamas. Even so, director Sam Raimi responded to the high-profile project by omitting all the things that made his previous films interesting, including the gross-out jokes from the "Evil Dead" films and the bizarre visuals from his 2000 supernatural thriller "The Gift." With the two leads finding their way into the roles, the whole thing felt to me like every inch the corporate superhero movie, lacking in personality and memorable scenes. 

The Second Time's the Charm

Almost 20% of the survey takers showed better taste in picking "Spider-Man: No Way Home," which tied the original movies and its reboots together. (Note: "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" was not an option on the survey, and it smokes all the live-action movies.) The most recent film about the wall-crawler(s) is a lot of fun, but in my view, the best movie is the 2004 sequel "Spider-Man 2," which somehow received only 8.09% of the vote, fractionally less than the much-maligned "Spider-Man 3." To see why "Spider-Man 2" is the best, let's start with that fight between Peter and Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) on the train. Peter has to use both his ingenuity and all of his strength to keep the train from crashing, and when the passengers see his real face, they stand against the villain to protect the hero. Speaking of Doc Ock, he's a more relatable villain than any other in the series, an altruistic man and a kind mentor to Peter who goes insane after causing his wife's death. 

Up against Molina, Maguire locks into his character and plays Peter as a traumatized case who is far out of touch with his emotions. With Raimi keeping a looser grip on the reins, even the movie's little scenes sing, like the one in which Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) insists on giving Peter $20 while she's facing eviction from her apartment. And of course, there's the drama of MJ finding out that Peter is Spider-Man. Too bad MJ remained a passive damsel needing to be saved throughout the series, and "No Way Home" missed an opportunity to bring her back and fix that flaw. Even so, "Spider-Man 2" was when the franchise truly showed its audience what kind of ride it could deliver for its fans in the cinematic exploits of the venerable comic book superhero.