With the release of Captain America: Civil War, fans finally got a long-awaited glimpse of Spider-Man as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s been 14 years since the first Spider-Man movie hit theaters in 2002, and since then there have been 6 films that feature the wall-crawler, and 3 different actors who have put on the iconic costume for the big-screen. While many of the Spider-Man films failed to live up to the expectations of the fans and were considered critical bombs, there are moments scattered throughout these films that are true to the character and demonstrate some of the reasons why he’s remained so beloved to comic book fans after all these years. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield put their own unique spin on the character, but it’s Tom Holland’s turn to captivate a new generation of fans while also catering to the expectations of life-long fans. It’s no small task, but as they say, with great power comes great responsibility.
With the beginning of a new chapter for Spidey, let’s take a look back at some of the web-slinger’s most memorable moments in some of his previous films. Here are the 12 best Spider-Man movie moments.
12. P.O.V. – The Amazing Spider-Man
What more can you ask for than swinging from building to building from the perspective of Spider-Man? While many of Spidey’s most memorable moments on the big-screen are adaptations of storylines, characters, or moments from the comics brought to life, this scene offers something unique to fans in a way that can only be achieved through the magic of cinema. Moving through New York’s skyline at breakneck speeds and seeing what Spidey sees as he swings miles above the city streets was a redemptive moment in what movie fans and critics considered to be a sub-par reimagining of the character.
11. Green Goblin’s Demise – Spider-Man
Willem Defoe is a show-stopping presence any time he’s on screen. This is especially true in Spider-Man, where he breathed life into Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin, making the character as menacing on the big-screen as he had been in the comics for decades. In their final confrontation, Osborn appeals to Peter’s goodness, claiming to be a victim of insanity while he remotely activates his glider to kill Peter. When Peter senses the glider hurling towards him from behind, he leaps out of the way, sending the glider directly towards Osborn, impaling and killing him.
10. The Birth of Doc-Ock – Spider-Man 2
Alfred Molina’s portrayal of Dr. Otto Octavius begins with him as a mentor for Peter – someone who sees his potential not as Spider-Man but as a brilliant and young scientific mind. However, that mentor/mentee relationship doesn’t last very long as Doc-Ock’s fusion demonstration goes horribly wrong, killing his wife and permanently transforming him into the notorious Doctor Octopus. This version of this quintessential Spider-Man villain from the comics is a refreshing take that makes him more sympathetic than purely diabolical. This, of course, is due to the brilliance of Molina, and this scene allows him to play both Otto Octavius the scientist while giving the audience a glimpse of Doc-Ock the super villain. The fact that he can balance both is a testament to his abilities as an actor, as well as the strength of the script.
9. Flash Thompson Fight – Spider-Man
After being bitten by a radioactive spider during a school field trip, Peter begins to discover some bizarre abilities, causing a bit of hijinks in the school cafeteria that leads to a confrontation with the school bully, Flash Thompson. Using his Spidey-senses and new-found abilities, Peter’s able to avoid all of Flash’s punches with ease, eventually ending the fight with a single punch. This scene introduced both the audience and Peter to some of Spider-Man’s powers in a way that felt true to who the character is – he’s both proud about defeating and embarrassing a bully who’s been tormenting him throughout the film, while demonstrating that Peter has a good heart and doesn’t want to hurt anyone unless he has to.
8. Stan Lee, The Librarian – The Amazing Spider-Man
In the middle of an epic showdown between The Lizard and Spider-Man, we get one of the most memorable and hilarious Stan Lee cameos in any Marvel film to date (and that’s really saying something). The short cameo comes after The Lizard has attacked Peter’s high school in an attempt to force Spider-Man to face him. As Spidey tries to subdue the Lizard in a fight scene that nearly destroys the school, Lee plays a librarian who hasn’t noticed the chaos unfolding all around him because of his noise-canceling headphones. It’s a funny moment in an otherwise dark and edgy reimagining of the Spider-Man story, and a break in the relentless high-intensity of the battle.
7. Venom – Spider-Man 3
In what’s often considered the worst entry in the Spider-Man franchise, Spider-Man 3 has some pretty awful moments. However, the long-awaited introduction of Eddie Brock as Venom is definitely a memorable scene and one that stands out. Many fans took issue with the casting of Topher Grace as Eddie Brock, but once Venom hit the screen, it didn’t really matter who played him, only that Spider-Man’s antithesis and arch enemy had finally made it into the film franchise. While the design of the character was noticeably different from what fans had come to expect from the comics, it still looked great and matched seamlessly with the visual aesthetic of the rest of the film, and acted as an excellent counterpart to Spidey’s suit.
6. The Kiss – Spider-Man
Probably the best-known and most recognizable image from any of the Spider-Man films, Peter kisses Mary-Jane in the rain… hanging upside down and dressed as Spider-Man. Probably not the way he had fantasized about their first kiss after all those years of secret admiration. There’s something about this scene that is so memorable and sweet, but also extremely true to the comics in a way that feels authentic. It has also been spoofed a number of times, which goes to show how much the scene stuck in people’s minds despite all the remarkable super-heroics and action that the scene is sandwiched between.
5. Death of Gwen Stacey – The Amazing Spider-Man 2
When Emma Stone was cast as Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man – Peter Parker’s original love interest before Mary-Jane – fans of the comics knew that the iconic death of the character was inevitably going to be adapted for the big screen. In the comics, Spider-Man tries to save Gwen as she’s thrown from a bridge by The Green Goblin, only to find that catching her with his webs had snapped her neck. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, fans expected a similar fate when Green Goblin had caused Gwen to fall from a clock tower. However, Spider-Man’s webs catch her moments too late and Gwen’s head hits the ground, killing her instantly. It was a clever way of subverting fans’ expectations while remaining true to the source material.
4. Death of Uncle Ben – Spider-Man
One of the most iconic and tragic scenes in the Spider-Man mythology, Uncle Ben – who’s been a father figure and mentor for Peter since the disappearance of his parents – is murdered by a criminal who Peter could have stopped. The guilt of Uncle Ben’s murder is a major motivation for Spider-Man in both the films and the comics. The scene is absolutely heartbreaking, as Peter finds his Uncle dying in the streets, unaware that the man who killed him was the same thief he could have stopped but had chosen not to moments earlier. As he comforts him in his final moments, Uncle Ben dies in Peter’s arms. This scene motivates everything we know about Spider-Man in nearly every incarnation of the character.
3. Spider-Man No More – Spider-Man 2
In a scene taken straight from a panel in one of Spider-Man’s most well-known comics, Peter decides that he’s done being Spider-Man, and leaves his suit in a garbage can as he walks away from the mantle of the wall-crawler, as well as his responsibility as a hero and protector of the people of New York. One of the many things fans loved about Spider-Man 2 was how faithful it was to the comic book origins of the character, and this scene is but one example of the brilliant attention to detail Sam Raimi embedded into his adaptation – a true indication of his commitment to die-hard fans of the character.
2. Airport Showdown – Captain America: Civil War
The most recent entry on our list features the introduction of Spider-Man to the MCU. Spidey has teamed-up with team Iron-Man to take down Captain America and the heroes who have sided with him and bring them into custody. Although Spider-Man is not a central figure in this conflict, Tom Holland’s light-hearted and fun performance leaves the audience in eager anticipation for his stand-alone film, Spider-Man Homecoming in 2017. Tom Holland’s very first scene in the costume sets the tone for what we can expect for his take on the character, and the future looks bright with him as the new Peter Parker.
1. The Train – Spider-Man 2
A major turning point for the character and the essence of what Spider-Man is all about, this scene sees Spidey unmasked as he uses his full strength to stop a speeding train full of people from falling to their deaths. After saving the civilians, they see his face and realize that Spider-Man is really just a young kid. At his core, Peter Parker is just a kid who does the right thing because he can. This moment encapsulates the truth of the character in such a powerful way that makes it stand out as Spider-Man’s brightest big-screen moment so far.