Which cinematic Spider-Man was the best one?

We’ve spoken pretty highly of Spider-Man: Homecoming and how strong it is to stand with the films that came before it. (It deserves a solid B+). But comparing films is one thing. Comparing characters and portrayals? That’s a whole other web to untangle.

What follows is a spoiler-free (don’t worry) battle royale of characterization among all three cinematic iterations of your friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler. Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland all bring something to the table, but who comes out on top?

Costume

Tom’s costume gets points for the fact the it was made by Tony Stark, plus all its fancy tech features. And while it didn’t work that well, Andrew’s costume debut was pretty bold with the black eye lenses. But Tobey wins this one. Making your first cinematic impression as a superhero means debuting with a look that shows who you are without saying too much. All iterations of the franchise from then on could make bold design choices because the first costume kept it simple.

TOBEY – 1
ANDREW – 0
TOM – 0

Quips

Part of what makes Spider-Man such a fun hero is his ability to banter tirelessly in the middle of a fight. It’s practically a superpower. Tom’s ability to quip seemed promising in Civil War, adding levity to an otherwise extremely serious war between heroes, but his characterization of Spider-Man seems more like an enthusiastic child hopped up on gummy worms than a genuinely clever hero. Tobey’s banter, to his and director Sam Raimi’s credit, sounds like what you’d actually read in the comics. Andrew Garfield takes this one though, just for the line “My weakness, it’s small knives…”

TOBEY – 1
ANDREW – 1
TOM – 0

Power Set

All three Spider-Men rank more or less the same in terms of super strength and endurance. However! While Holland and Garfield need artificial web shooters, the first Spider-Man had like, actual web glands in his wrist. So he never runs out of web fluid, and he doesn’t need to worry about cartridges, or web shooter maintenance. Just seems more convenient.

TOBEY – 2
ANDREW – 1
TOM – 0

Rogues Gallery

They all technically share the same villains, and Tobey has an unfair upper hand here, what with a trilogy and four villains to choose from. But the brilliance of Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus is outweighed by how crappy Topher Grace’s Venom was. Jamie Foxx’s Electro was just ridiculous. But the Vulture from Homecoming? The most memorable villain the Marvel cinematic universe has given us since freakin’ Loki. And yeah, in this aspect we’re not directly judging Spider-Man himself, but a hero is also made interesting because of their villains, so props go to Tom Holland for being one half of such an engaging dynamic.

TOBEY – 2
ANDREW – 1
TOM – 1

Moral Compass

With great power comes… you get the idea. Another thing about Spider-Man as a character is that he’s driven by guilt — the death of Uncle Ben is a big force behind his moral compass, which means Spider-Man will always attempt to be moral no matter what kind of quandary he’s in (even though Uncle Ben isn’t really mentioned in Homecoming). Y’know the trolley problem with the switch? Spider-Man will save everybody, or at least try.

TOBEY – 3
ANDREW – 2
TOM – 2

Looks like Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man wins this fight. As for the best Spider-Man ever, though? The one with the giant robot, obviously.

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