Spider-Man vs. The Amazing Spider-Man: Which Movies Did It Best?
*SPOILERS* If you have not seen Spider-Man 1-3 and/or The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2, stop reading now to save yourself from having the movies spoiled.
Super heroes have become a popular genre in the television and movie industry. It’s hard to miss previews of a new movie or TV show coming out that isn’t somehow tied to being a superhero. Of course, only since recently have we seen so many iconic heroes on the small and big screen get so much attention. Past attempts may have garnered praise from viewers, but never before has the technology of CGI and other special effects been able to capture characters with powers so well.
Spider-Man is arguably one of the most popular super heroes to ever be created. Next to Superman and Batman, Spider-Man has been the hero that many can relate to and has been recognized by old and young alike. Starting out as a normal kid, Peter Parker became the Amazing Spider-Man due to a bite from a radioactive spider. Once being viewed as a nerd for being smart, wearing glasses and other features, Peter was transformed into a true super hero. His super powers and abilities include super strength, agility, being able to attach to walls and other objects like a spider, a “spider sense” (a sixth sense that warns Peter of impending danger) and making his own “web shooters” to swing through New York city from and also to use as a weapon. Along with memorable villains, it’s easy to see why he has become so famous.
In the late 1990’s while Marvel Comics was going bankrupt, Sony Pictures bought the rights to making live action Spider-Man movies from Marvel. In 2002, Spider-Man (directed by Sam Raimi) was released and became a box office smash. Many viewed it and 2000’s X-Men as the start to the cultural super hero movie movement we see today. Although some devoted comic fans had gripes with the movie such as Spider-Man (portrayed by Tobey Maguire) having natural webbing and not the web shooters he made himself in the comics, most agreed it was a solid movie that stayed mostly true to the comics. Regardless, the movie set the tone for super hero movies to come.
Next came the sequels Spider-Man 2 in 2004, and Spider-Man 3 in 2007, all with the same cast and crew from the original. There was talk of continuing the series with Raimi directing and Maguire reprising his role in a “Spider-Man 4” movie, but Sony Pictures decided against it. Due to the high negativity in reviews for the third installment, the project was scratched despite being the highest grossing of the three films. Instead, the studio went with a new reboot to the series in attaining Marc Webb as Director and actor Andrew Garfield playing the friendly neighborhood webhead in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man.
Ever since then, the debate of which series is better has been discussed. So which is better? Of course everyone has their own opinions with varying likes and dislikes. However comparing each series makes for a fun debate. Simply put, if the question posed of: “Which Spider-Man movie series is better?” must be answered, you’ve come to the right place. Although the original series directed by Raimi consisted of 3 compared to Webb’s 2, at this point the comparison can be made. By two movies, we can clearly see the direction the series was taking and can make proper conclusions. To settle the contest, a category for each movie will be discussed in five rounds. Let’s start off with round 1.
Round 1: Peter Parker
Tobey Maguire began playing the nerdy Peter Parker in the first Spider-Man films. Many agree he had a right look and acting to the character. Comparing with the comic version, he definitely fit the mold of a shy, smart and insecure person. Maguire may not have been the absolute best choice to play the part, but it’s hard to argue that he did a horrible job. Many may have wanted a more muscular build, but Parker always had a smaller frame in the comics. In some adaptations, Peter had more muscle, but many fans can agree it wasn’t overwhelming. His interactions with others such as J. Jonah Jameson were solid and really captured the relationship well. Throughout his days at school, you could see he was an underdog, and an unpopular student with others. His transformation into the Spider-Man hero was done nearly flawless as well. Of course it’s hard to forget the repulsive emo look and dance routine that Peter does in Spider-Man 3, but overall the role was done well by Tobey Maguire.
Andrew Garfield took over as Parker in the reboot The Amazing Spider-Man. Although he looked the part much like Tobey Maguire did, his interactions and portrayal of the character were much different. Some consider his take to be a breath of fresh air and more true to the comics. However, the transformation from being the average Peter Parker to the amazing Spider-Man wasn’t nearly as noticeable as Maguire’s. Other than removing the glasses, Garfield’s take on the character didn’t seem much different. His performance playing the alter ego of Spider-Man was in no way terrible, but it did feel dry and forced at times. Even before being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker seemed somewhat popular compared to Maguire getting bullied in school by practically everyone (not just Flash Thompson). Garfield seemed to be more of a punk skater who happened to like science, more than an overall geek. As a whole, it was hard to see him as a smart kid in high school. Also, his crush on Gwen Stacy by having her picture on his laptop was borderline creepy.
Round Winner: Tobey Maguire – Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Series
Round 2: Spider-Man
It was awesome seeing Spider-Man swinging across New York city on the big screen for the first time over ten years ago. We all knew it was CGI (and today to some looks dated) but man did it look amazing to see it done right! The action was top notch too, never seeming to disappoint (Spider-Man 2’s fight with Doctor Octopus on the train was absolutely mind blowing). The downside to this version was that Peter naturally made webbing due to the spider bite instead of making it himself in a chemical lab. Although small when compared to the grand scale of things, one interesting aspect of Spider-Man was the possibility he could run out of web cartridges for his web shooters. By making him naturally shoot webbing from his wrists, it took away that aspect that could’ve added to an already cool plot in the first two films.
When viewers got to see Spider-Man in costume helmed by a different actor, no doubt there were mixed reviews. One issue was the costume itself being different. Although not a huge deal to most, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 reverted back to the more original look to appease most comic fans. Another issue was in the first film, Spider-Man took his mask off more often than not (it’s there for a reason Peter!). This of course wasn’t Andrew Garfield’s fault but more the screenwriter’s. However, many fans rejoiced in seeing Spider-Man now have web shooters he made himself compared to the last film series. In addition, Garfield was able to capture the personality extremely well when facing off with his first criminal and beyond. The wise cracking, cocky attitude seemed to be front and center more compared to Maguire’s take on the webhead. Although the costume may have been better by Tobey Maguire, the focus is more on the portrayal of the character itself. When focusing on Spider-Man himself, Garfield narrowly beats out Tobey Maguire’s version in the films.
Round Winner: Andrew Garfield- Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man Series
Round 3: Love Interest
The first Spider-Man decided to skip on the Gwen Stacy love interest and go straight to Mary Jane Watson (played by Kristin Dunst). Although not an entirely bad move, some argued that Stacy’s death in the comics molded who Spider-Man was. Nevertheless, the similar sequence of the Green Goblin dropping Gwen from a bridge was used with Mary Jane. The difference is that Mary Jane lived compared to the tragic death of Gwen Stacy in the comics. Another downside that bothered fans was the inability for Mary Jane to avoid trouble. It seemed that the only plot points of her character other than being a love interest, was the typical damsel in distress. Not a bad choice of casting Dunst as Mary Jane, but much like Maguire some felt a better choice could’ve filled the role.
For The Amazing Spider-Man, the film decided to go back to Parker’s first love in Gwen Stacy. Emma Stone captured wonderfully the character and was a fan favorite. Much like the comics, she was intelligent and majored in science but also had the charm that attracted Peter. The chemistry between Garfield and Stone could be seen obviously, and the pair have been dating in real life as a result of working together on the films. As far as following the comics and casting the right actress for the role of Gwen Stacy, The Amazing Spider-Man did a flawless job.
Round Winner: Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone)- Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man Series
Round 4: Villains
Spider-Man much like Batman, has a large number of villains that are easily recognized. For Raimi’s series, the first movie had Spider-Man’s ultimate nemesis in Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin (played by Williem Dafoe). The second film featured and considered by many fans a favorite, Otto Octavius aka Doctor Octopus (played by Alfred Molina). Finally the last in the trilogy stuffed in the Green Goblin (portrayed now by James Franco, playing Harry Osborn throughout the series) Flint Marko aka Sandman (played by Thomas Haden Church) and Eddie Brock aka Venom (played by Topher Grace). The first two films were considered well casted and developed throughout the movie. However, the third installment was criticized for having the “Batman and Robin effect” (cramming too many villains in at once). Harry Osborn’s Green Goblin and Sandman were considered well done, but most of the hate was directed at Venom. Having no more than twenty minutes of screen time, many fans were let down. In addition the casting of Topher Grace felt awkward and out of place. Still, excluding the third movie, many consider the villains to be a big strength of the first movie series.
Since The Amazing Spider-Man went back to basics in its reboot, they decided to start new with Curt Connors aka the Lizard as the main antagonist. For The Amazing Spider-Man 2 , some were uneasy of the amount of villains that included Max Dillan aka Electro (portrayed by Jamie Foxx), Harry Osborn aka the Green Goblin (played by Dane Dehaan), and Aleksei Sytsevich aka the Rhino (played by Paul Giamatti). Despite the cast playing well to their roles, it often times felt well short of their characters. The Lizard turned out to be more human than reptile in the movies, and the acting seemed weak at times. Electro was given less screen time due to the other villains needing to be introduced, but overall was a solid effort. The Green Goblin now given right off the bat to Harry Osborn instead of his father Norman, felt forced and rushed in order to set up the death of Gwen Stacy. The Rhino proved to be a very elementary rouge and came off more annoying than a real threat. The potential was surely there, but the execution seemed to be lacking in most cases.
Round Winner: Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Series
Round 5: The Plot
In the original Spider-Man, we see the origins of Peter Parker in acquiring his super powers from a radioactive spider, learning how to control his powers, and a momentous scene in losing his uncle to a burglar. Taking from the comics, Peter had a chance to stop the man who kills his beloved uncle after a wrestling match for money ends up shorting him. Remembering the famous line from his Uncle Ben: “With great power, comes great responsibility”, Peter takes it upon himself to use his power for good. Eventually he defeats the Green Goblin who turned out to be his best friend Harry’s father Norman Osborn. It stuck mostly to the comics but also put it’s on spin on things. The second followed with a strong follow up on Peter coping with being Spider-Man and going to college. The first two films were great and really set the tone for a good series. It’s unfortunate that the third movie felt so rushed and out of synch compared to the other two. If the movie wasn’t crammed with so many villains and the studio didn’t push so much for Venom, the series could’ve possibly continued.
Thus the idea of not using Sam Raimi as director lead to the reboot in The Amazing Spider-Man being released with a renewed origins story. A movie that had a strong point of focusing on Peter’s parents and why he was raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Introducing a new villain in the Lizard proved to be a good setup compared to starting with the Green Goblin. However, the downfall in rebooting the series after the last movie was released only five years before, is the origins felt rehashed and old. Also gone and replaced was Uncle Ben’s death now following from the Ultimate Spider-Man universe storyline. Instead, the burglar comes from a random convenience store that Peter is at instead of from a wrestling arena. Also gone was the saying that defined Spider-Man in his Uncle’s: “With great power, comes great responsibility” quote. Although it seemed to improve in some ways from the original, it also lacked in other areas. For The Amazing Spider-Man 2 , the plot picked up nicely from the death of George Stacy. Before his death in finding out that Parker is Spider-Man, he makes Peter promise to stay away Gwen to not endanger her. This plays nicely with the plot in showing how tormented Peter is in not wanting to give up being Spider-Man, but at the same time still pursuing a relationship with Gwen Stacy. Although it started off well, by the end the movie’s plot seemed rushed. With the expectation of the “Sinister Six” to be in the possible future, it seemed to focus more on getting viewers to see more movies, than the plot of the movie itself. In addition the villains of the Green Goblin and Rhino were forced in and seemed out of place. With more effort, this series could’ve seemed more polished.
Round Winner: Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man
End Result: Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Wins 3-2
The Original Spider-Man Films Wins
There you have it, The Amazing Spider-Man movies fell just short of the original series. As been stated before, everyone can have an opinion on their favorite, but this was a way to break down individually the strengths and weaknesses of each of the films. With the new agreement with Marvel/Disney, the next movie series for Spider-Man could be interesting. Stay tuned for updates on the next installment as we get more updates in the near future. Although with Spider-Man 3, they can’t do much worse….right?
Agree with the result? Comment below with your take on the best Spider-Man series.