7. Spider-Man 2
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man is considered one of the most revolutionary movies that the superhero genre has ever seen. It told a serious story while also leaning into the goofier aspects of the world it was set in (and that balance was important after Batman and Robin signalled a huge step backwards for the genre). But the Tobey Maguire-led franchise would reach greater heights with its 2004 sequel, which wasn’t just a great comic book movie, but an excellent movie in general.
The film’s portrayal of villain Doctor Octopus is perhaps its greatest asset, with the complex and emotional backstory making him a tragic character that you could root for (in the same way that Mr. Freeze is in various Batman media). Alfred Molina’s performance is captivating and the chemistry he has with Maguire’s Peter Parker enriches their hero/villain rivalry with so much emotional depth.
Peter’s struggles to balance his life as Spider-Man also adds more depth to the dynamics established in the first movie and feels like a natural progression of his character arc. And it allows Tobey Maguire to offer up his finest work of the whole trilogy.
Spider-Man was excellent, but Spider-Man 2 is an improvement that earned itself a rightful place among the best Marvel movies ever made.