I’m moments away from a highlight of my summer – my viewing of “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
Yes, I am posting this from the theater. Opening previews be damned.
There’s something incredible about losing yourself in the world of a story, and movies are, at their core, stories. The comic book nerd and storyteller in me hopes that Spidey’s latest adventure will be among his best.
In the meantime, to prepare for “Homecoming,” I spent the last week re-watching the five previous Spider-Man movies. Essential research, after all. I didn’t include the incredibly entertaining “Captain America: Civil War” in that batch, since it is primarily a Cap/Avengers movie, but let’s face it – Tom Holland’s Spider-Man debut and his scenes with Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark were highlights of the movie.
Where will Holland’s Spider-Man and “Homecoming” rank in the Spidey-verse of movies? I’m guessing among the best, but before finding out, here’s my unofficial comic nerd rating of the last five Spider-Man movies, in reverse order, of course:
5. “Spider-Man 3” (2007)
An unsympathetic Peter Parker controlled by a symbiote, a Topher Grace miscast as Venom, and a plot that barely brings all the pieces together make this my least favorite. Great Spider-Man/Sandman action sequences and an interesting-if-overshadowed villain performance by Thomas Haden Church as the Sandman are highlights, though.
4. “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012)
Spot-on chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Ben and May Parker, and an interesting mystery twist on Peter’s Spider-Man origin story all work well here, but where is the lighthearted Spider-Man we all know and love?
3. “Spider-Man” (2002)
How can you not love one of the best superhero origin stories of all time? Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man and Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson deliver here, and so does Willem Defoe’s Norman Osborn, one of the best super villain portrayals ever. This movie sets up the Spider-Man trilogy perfectly. I’ve watched this movie so many times. It’s cliché to say, but the story and the movie withstand the test of time.
2. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014)
Many won’t agree with placing this above “Spider-Man,” but I love it slightly more in my heart because Andrew Garfield IS Peter Parker/Spider-Man in this movie. Despite the film’s flaws, Garfield delivers the best Spidey performance to date in this movie (we’ll see if that’s still the case after “Homecoming”). True Spider-Man historians know how this story plays out before the movie even begins, but the Garfield/Emma Stone chemistry and strong writing deliver an homage to the Peter Parker-Gwen Stacy romance, and the movie’s final battle scene and conclusion are powerful.
1. “Spider-Man 2” (2004)
The best. My favorite. This is, above all else, a Peter Parker story. The second movie both honors the 2002 original and brilliantly sets up the third installment. It not only features the most satisfying conclusion in all of the movies, but includes brilliant emotional and action scenes (look for Spider-Man saving the city from a runaway train) and the best Spidey villain portrayal of all – Alfred Molina’s Dr. Otto Octavius, a bad guy we both sympathize with and fear (those mechanical arms are just creepy). This is, in my opinion, the best Spider-Man story.
So, where will “Spider-Man: Homecoming” rank on my list?
I’m about to find out.