Spider-Man is not just a comic superhero; he's a character in what's called the Spider-Verse, a complex web of Spider-People in alternate universes.
The Spider-Man franchise we all know is just one part, and it's a messy one, spanning several reboots over a couple decades. The web-slinger has been portrayed by several actors - most recently by Tom Holland. And although Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man, it has loaned the character to Disney-owned Marvel for some Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
Meanwhile, Sony is also producing its own Spider-Verse offshoot films, such as 2018’s Venom. There is a Venom sequel and another standalone film planned for 2021, too. These won’t be part of Disney’s MCU. We’re not quite sure how all that will play out, but a recent Venom comic potentially lays the groundwork for how Tom Hardy’s alien symbiote in Venom might join the MCU.
Let’s also not forget Marvel has tapped Sam Raimi to direct Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, an upcoming MCU movie. Raimi, if you didn’t know, directed all three Tobey Macguire Spider-Man films from the early 2000s. This is prompting speculation that Macguire’s Peter Parker could re-emerge via the Doctor Strange sequel that’s supposedly all about reality breaking down.
So, this is a fantastic time to re-watch Spider-Man if you want to know all about the MCU or simply learn more about Spider-Verse - specifically the Spider-Man franchise, which consists of three Tobey Macguire films, two Andrew Garfield films, two Tom Holland films (plus the three MCU films he appeared in as Spider-Man), Venom, and the animated hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
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.
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.
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 Macguire) 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.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
One of the most beloved superhero sequels sees Tobey MacGuire return to take on his mentor Otto Octavius, 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.
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 Macguire 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.
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 Rhys Ifans), who uses the new information to attempt a dangerous experiment.
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 canceled.
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.
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.
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.
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 Spiderman, 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.
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).
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.
Note: Because there is no Spider-Man appearance in Venom, this film is optional. However, eventually (and presumably), Venom and Spider-Man will meet in a future Spider-Verse film.
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)
- Optional: Venom
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