6. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man in Spider-Man 2 2004

Sequel to: Spider-Man (2002)

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy is still widely considered one of the best adaptations of the character’s story (despite the overstuffed disaster that was Spider-Man 3). The first entry was released in 2002, and along with X-Men and X2, prompted the rise of superhero cinema, reshaping the entire movie industry in the process. A sequel, Spider-Man 2, was released in 2004, pitting Tobey Maguire’s Webslinger against Doc Ock (Alfred Molina).

After the first film culminated in the death of Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, Spider-Man 2 focuses on Peter Parker’s double life and Harry Osborn’s growing obsession with catching Spider-Man. Spider-Man 2 builds upon the previous film’s ending in a major way, taking its cues from Raimi’s first movie and running with them. The use of a new antagonist alongside the tease of Harry’s eventual villain turn was masterfully achieved, and it’s something that the films of the MCU have been emulating ever since. In fact, the entire format of Raimi’s sequel seems to have laid the foundation for almost all superhero movies that followed: Peter’s crisis about his powers and his desire for a normal life, the reluctant villain who sees some marginal redemption before his death, and even the use of occasional flashes of comedy to alleviate the more serious moments, Spider-Man 2 perfected elements which have since become staples of the genre.

In fact, Spider-Man 2 proved to be so popular that Doc Ock entered the MCU in Spider-Man: No Way Home, with Maguire making an appearance alongside the franchise’s own version of Spider-Man. Raimi’s entire trilogy remains incredibly well-loved, but Spider-Man 2 is almost always cited as the best of the three films, and for good reason. Though the original was an excellent origin story, Spider-Man 2 really explored the nature of heroism and delved deeper into the rich world of the titular hero, making it not only better than its predecessor but one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.