From Maguire to Holland

With the seventh solo Spider-Man film (Homecoming) released on Thursday, it’s a good time to look back at the previous six Spidey films.

Spider-Man (2002): The first proper Spider-Man movie – directed by Sam Raimi – was a huge hit in the early 2000s and the first major superhero movie since X-Men relaunched the new wave of comic book films. While in his mid-20s at time of filming, Tobey Maguire had the physique for the teenaged Peter Paker and made the transformation to Spidey believable. The inclusion of Green Goblin/Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) established an important link in the Spider-Man series: Spidey’s villians are related to Peter Paker, with Osborn the father of Peter’s best friend Harry (James Franco). Kirsten Dunst played Peter’s love interest Mary Jane. Uncle Ben’s line “with great power comes great responsibility” has become an iconic quote.

Spider-Man 2 (2004): Like all good sequels, Spider-Man 2 expands on the original film’s themes, mainly the link between Peter and the main villain Dr Octopus (Alfred Molina) and Peter wrestling with the responsibility of being Spider-Man, juggling a romance with MJ (who discovered Peter’s secret at the end of the first film), his studies and working for
J. Jonah Jameson (J. K. Simmons). Raimi’s horror background came through in some scenes with Dr. Octopus, while Harry continued his eventual transformation to New Goblin to avenge his father’s death.

Spider-Man 3 (2007): Hopes were high after the first two films, with Venom’s introduction and Spider-Man’s new black suit. Unfortunately those expectations were destroyed by the embarrassing mess of Spider-Man 3. It’s hard to know where to start with this one: Topher Grace’s horrible miscasting as Eddie Brock/Venom; shoehorning
Sandman/Flint Marko’s (Thomas Haden Church) origin story into Uncle Ben’s death from the first movie; Harry Osborn’s amnesia plot; the diabolically bad “Emo Peter Parker” as the symbiote takes effect; Maguire’s overly-emotional performance or the seemingly unnecessary introduction of Gwen Stacey (Bryce Dallas Howard). This movie was so bad it killed Sam Raimi’s plans for a fourth film, with a five year wait before the inevitable reboot.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012): After the horrible Spider-Man 3, the reset button was hit for the friendly neighbourhood web-slinger. Inspired by Christopher Nolan’s successful Batman trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man – directed by Marc Webb – was meant to be darker and grittier, which seemed a misstep for such a colourful  and beloved character. Andrew Garfield replaced Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Emma Stone played Gwen Stacey (no MJ in sight) and Sally Field played Aunt May. Like Maguire, Garfield was significantly older than high-school student Parker. The familiar origin story is repeated, with The Lizard/Dr Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans) the main villain. Again the link between hero and villain was kept, with Dr Connors a friend of Peter’s father. The highlight of the film was Garfield’s quick wit as Spider-Man, one of the best aspects of the comics.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014): Like Spider-Man 3The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffered from too many villains. Jamie Foxx played Electro while the
Green Goblin/Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returned. The sequel continues the relationship between Parker and Stacey, with a shock twist towards the end. Again, the film’s lack of success killed off further sequels. There was a silver lining with Spider-Man eventually joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the delight of fans.

Captain America Civil War (2016): When the trailer for Civil War dropped (technically the third Captain America film, also referred as Avengers 2.5), everyone was excited by Spider-Man’s inclusion. It lived up to the hype, with Tom Holland’s cameo establishing the re-rebooted Spider-Man to the MCU. For once they picked an age appropriate Parker, with Tom Holland only 20 years old. Wisely they didn’t rehash the origin story. When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) visits Parker in his apartment, Spider-Man already exists via viral video. The controversial casting of Marisa Tomei as Aunt May is mentioned openly. Spider-Man appears during the epic airport fight (in Stark’s hi-tech suit), while he’s skilled, he’s still green and slightly starstruck. Spider-Man’s interaction with Stark sets up the events of Homecoming.

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