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(Pocket-lint) - Spider-Man isn't a typical superhero. He's one character in the Spider-Verse, a complex web of Spider-People in alternate universes. But it all seems to be converging in the next Spider-Man film, No Way Home.

The Tom Holland-led version of Spider-Man is just one of three takes on the character we've seen on the big screen. And it's all but been confirmed the two other actors to have played Peter Parker - Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield - will return, with some of their adversaries, in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Meanwhile, Sony has been producing Spider-Verse offshoot films, with 2018's Venom and the 2021 sequel, Let There Be Carnage. The sequel notably has an end-credits scene that reveals (SPOILER ALERT) the Venom movies take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it shows Holland's Spider-Man on a TV screen after his identity is revealed at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Holland's Spider-Man films are Sony and Marvel co-productions. 

Let's also not forget Marvel has tapped Sam Raimi to direct Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, an upcoming MCU movie. Raimi directed all three Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films for Sony in the early 2000s. This is prompting speculation that Maguire's Peter Parker will re-emerge again in the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel that's supposedly all about reality breaking down. Doctor Strange also plays a key role in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

So, this is a fantastic time to re-watch Spider-Man if you want to know all about the MCU and, specifically, learn more about the Spider-Verse.

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Spider-Man movies in order: The best way to watch

At the bottom of this guide, you'll find a spoiler-free, bulleted-list version.

NOTE: THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

A surprise hit that grossed over $375 million in the US box office, this animated feature is directed by Bob Persichetti. It shows a character named Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) getting bitten by a radioactive spider and developing powers similar to how Peter Parker does in most Spider-Man films. Morales then meets other people who have spider-like powers.

Into the Spider-Verse won Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards. We recommend you start with this film because it reveals multiple versions of Spider-People coming together from multiple universes, aka the Spider-Verse.

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Spider-Man (2002)

Long before Marvel and The Avengers and the MCU, this 2002 film was what superhero films hoped to be like - successes with a great story. Directed by Sam Raimi, the film follows young Peter Parker (played by Tobey Maguire) as he develops super speed, strength, and the ability to produce webs and stick to walls after getting bitten by a genetically enhanced spider. The film also stars Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson and Willem Dafoe as the villain Green Goblin.

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Spider-Man 2 (2004)

One of the most beloved superhero sequels sees Tobey Maguire return to take on his mentor Otto Octavius (played by Alfred Molina), who has transformed into Doctor Octopus following an experiment gone wrong. To make it harder for Parker this time around, his powers are failing him, and his relationship with Mary Jane is on the rocks. Sam Raimi returned to direct this film, too.

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Spider-Man 3 (2007)

The final film in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy is the most disappointing. It sees most of the series' main actors return, such as Maguire as Peter Parker, Dunst as Mary Jane, and James Franco as Harry Osborne. But, this time, Spider-Man is forced to face off against two foes: the dangerous symbiote Venom, who has attached itself to fellow journalist Eddie Brock (Topher Grace); and Flint Marko, a small-time thug who had a role in the death of Peter's uncle Ben.

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The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Sony rebooted the Spider-Man franchise in 2012, but with Andrew Garfield in the lead role as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as his love interest Gwen Stacey. The film sees Parker discover some of his deceased father's research into a way for humans to regrow lost limbs. Peter turns these notes over to his father's former partner, Curt Conners (played by Rhys Ifans), who uses the new information to attempt a dangerous experiment.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Garfield returns to play Parker, while Jamie Foxx stars as the villain Electro. Not only does Peter battle Electro in this film, but he must contend with his terminally ill friend Harry Osborne, who believes Spider-Man's blood could hold the key to curing him. Coming off of the success of the first film, Sony made big plans to flesh out the Spider-Man universe, including spin-offs centered around Venom and The Sinister Six. However, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was such a bomb that most of those plans were cancelled.

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Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Following the collapse of its own Spider-Man universe, Sony agreed to let the Spider-Man character be used by Marvel in the MCU. This led to the debut of Tom Holland as Peter Parker in Civil War. When Captain America (played by Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr) fall on opposite sides of a debate over government control of superhumans, they recruit their own teams to face off, leading to Tony visiting Peter's apartment in New York City.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Following his adventure with Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr), Holland's Peter Parker returns home to his life with his Aunt May (played by Marisa Tomei). However, with that taste of the Avengers' life, Parker continues fighting crime in his neighborhood, which leads to him facing off with Adrian Toomes (played by Michael Keaton), a former construction worker who's selling recovered weapons from the Battle of New York in the first Avengers film.

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Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

In Spider-Man's third entry in the MCU, Tom Holland gave us one of the most heartbreaking moments in the 20+ film series, when we see Peter Parker's fate following the snap. We also get to see Spider-Man fight in the "Iron Spider" armor, which is basically an Iron Man suit designed for Spider-Man.

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Avengers: Endgame (2019)

While Spider-Man isn't featured a tonne in Endgame, this Avengers' installment is important for the future of the MCU and Spider-Man, as it sets up Peter Parker as the potential future leader of the Avengers. Tom Holland delivers another tear-jerker, too, when his mentor, Tony Stark, makes the ultimate sacrifice.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

The first post-Endgame MCU film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, shows Holland's Peter Parker dealing with the fallout from the death of his idol and mentor, Tony Stark. When on a field trip to Europe, Parker is contacted by Nick Fury (played by Samuel L Jackson), who wants him to be one of the leaders of the Avengers. While Parker is initially hesitant, he finds another mentor to help him through the process in the form of Mysterio (played by Jake Gyllenhaal).

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Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

No Way Home sees the return of Tom Holland as Spider-Man, along with MJ and Ned, put is potentially a much more important pivot point in the Spider-Verse. Turning to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help, the situation gets worse and we see the return of Spider-Man's foes - from across the history of Spider-Man films. Willem Defoe is back as Normon Osborn, Alfred Molina is back as Otto Octavius, Jamie Foxx as Electro and the list goes on. No Way Home will be in cinemas from 15 December.

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Venom (2018)

Sony finally began fleshing out the Spider-Man Universe with 2018's Venom. It follows the story of investigative journalist Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy) as he uncovers unethical trials - conducted by the corporation Life Foundation - on alien symbiotes found in space. When Brock breaks into the Foundation's lab, one of the symbiotes bonds with him and becomes Venom. Because there is no Spider-Man appearance in Venom, we orginally said this film is optional. However, Venom's second film might change that.

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Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)

Tom Hardy returns as the host for symbiote Venom, this time alongside Woody Harrelson, but it's the post credits scene that have people speculating about a future segue into the Spider-Verse, slotting this movie between Far from Home and No way Home. It's available to stream from 22 November.

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Complete Spider-Verse at a glance

This is a version of the guide above, complete with optional Venom movie, but free of spoilers.

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
  • Spider-Man (2002)
  • Spider-Man 2 (2004)
  • Spider-Man 3 (2007)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
  • Optional: Venom (2018)
  • Optional: Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)

Did you like this?

Then maybe you'll like our other movie order viewing guides:

We also have these rumour round-ups on upcoming movies:

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 2 May 2020.