Comic book film reboots are all too common these days; Hellboy is getting a reboot (probably because the first was so forgettable) and Superman and Batman have had numerous reboots over the last few decades. Spider-Man is the latest comic book character to be rebooted and Spider-Man: Homecoming is the second mainstream cinematic/Hollywood reboot and sixth film in just 15 years.
Kirsten Dunst, who co-starred in the first major adaptation of Spider-Man alongside Tobey Maguire for three hugely successful films, recently dismissed the second reboot of the franchise. The cocky actress boasted that the films she was a part of were the best. But is her air of superiority justified?
Well, according to box office performances and professional reviews, people are loving Spider-Man: Homecoming starring Tom Holland, just as much as they did Tobey and Kirsten’s films. Homecoming is the second-highest grossing one worldwide out of the six films after Spider-Man 3 (though fourth in North America after the first three), the second best reviewed film on Rotten Tomatoes after Spider-Man 2 and joint second alongside the first film behind its sequel.
I recently managed to finally watch Homecoming and prior to it I personally preferred Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man to Tobey (and it’s a bonus he was better looking too). However, looking back at Tobey’s films, the main differences between the first two adaptions is the villains. Very little else changes in terms of Spider-Man’s goofy personality, Peter Parker’s nerdy (but doesn’t look it) status at school and his love interest (besides her name). Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is also similar in these respects but the plot is refreshing enough to make it more unique.
*Update February 2021: Far From Home, the now highest-grossing Spider-Man film has now been added to this list. You can read my review of Spider-Man: No Way Home here!
7) Spider-Man 3
Pros: The plot twist of the “bad spider”, who eventually becomes Venom, was very clever.
Cons: Most trilogies start to get tiresome by the third film and this is no exception. Also, there are THREE villains in this film, which is confusing and hardly necessary.
6) The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Pros: Heartbreaking but good plot twist where Gwen Stacy, played by the brilliant Emma Stone, is killed.
Cons: Dillon, one of the two villains, is technically not really a villain, so his part in this film seemed to be there just add more action.
Pros: Tobey’s nerd-like portrayal of Peter Parker is probably the most genuine, seeing as Andrew and Tom didn’t look or act like they would be “losers” bullied at school. It also sticks closer to the first comics about Spidey than the others do.
Cons: Mary Jane Watson as a character, just isn’t as interesting or dynamic as Gwen and comes across as just a typical damsel in distress character.
4) Spider-Man 2
Pros: James Franco as Harry Osborn and Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus stole the show as the two antagonists. Doctor Octopus is probably also the best villain of the franchise so far.
Cons: Tobey and Kirsten’s chemistry doesn’t seem great and the relationship between their two characters adds no excitement or twists.
3) The Amazing Spider-Man
Pros: Andrew Garfield made a “cooler” Peter Parker and Emma Stone shone in one of her first big film roles.
Cons: The villain, The Lizard, isn’t killed but instead sent to prison – he doesn’t return for the second film so I’m not sure why he was kept alive. Much of the plot and backstory was very similar to the first film (but at least it was more engaging).
2) Spider-Man: Far From Home
Pros: Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man shows real growth as a character post-Tony Stark and Avengers: Endgame. This is his journey from a naive young teenage boy to being a bit more mature as he’s thrown into the real world without much help. The mid-credits scene gets you really pumped for what might happen in the next film, apparently due out in December 2021.
Cons: There is only one split second scene of Tom going topless (and he turns around!)… No, in honesty, there weren’t many negative points except it felt like the filmmakers had to go all-out to both try and match the scale of the final fight with Endgame, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s villain in disguise character was a predictable anti-climax when it unravelled what his true intentions were. Also, I’m not sure about the Peter/MJ relationship due to them both being a bit socially awkward so it’ll be interesting where that goes next time.
1) Spider-Man: Homecoming
Pros: The integration of The Avengers films and other Marvel Universe characters alongside Spider-Man’s story is fresh and different (we don’t get to see how he becomes Spider-Man for the third time, thankfully – WE KNOW!) and Tom’s animated interpretation of Spidey as an over-excited 15-year-old (compared to the older versions Tobey and Andrew played) was fun, which helps appeal to a younger, newer generation of fans. Plus, he’s damn cute and has a ridiculous good physique (it’s ok, he’s actually 21, not 15 in real life).
So all in all, the first three Spider-Man films as a trilogy were certainly good (well, the third one wasn’t great) but The Amazing Spider-Man, despite a disappointing sequel, pipped them to the post. However, Homecoming‘s link to the larger Marvel Universe web (see what I did there) slings it shot just that bit further for me, while Far From Home continues with the MCU ties and allows Tom Holland’s version of Spidey to go from strength to strength.