When portraying such an iconic character, you can’t avoid getting compared to other actors that have played the part. The Spider-Man actors that have played the young hero have each brought their own flair to the role.
What makes a Spider-Man actor great? Is it their ability to cohesively blend with other Marvel Cinematic Universe characters? What about headlining the best Spider-Man movies? Is it their chemistry with their respective MJ? Or is it their accuracy to the original comic book characterization of Spider-Man? Does the authenticity of the staple characters (like Uncle Ben) around them make a difference in the line up?
Here is our definitive ranking on the Spider-Man actors that have brought the young hero to life on the big screen.
4. Tobey Maguire
Of the Spider-Man actors, Tobey Maguire is clearly the most memeable. Plenty of people use screenshots from the movie to make memes. Others use clips from the film to craft TikToks. His performance was a bit campy at times (Emo Spider-Man, anyone?). Some people think that this awkwardness worked to create the most comic-accurate Spider-Man. Others think his performance is just something to be laughed at. What you think of the performance likely comes down to how old you were when they first came out.
By and large, millennials who experienced the movies when they first came out will have difficulty seeing anyone else play Spider-Man. Kids who grew up with Holland as their first experience with Peter Parker will feel the same way.
But no one can deny that he played the role earnestly, no matter how you feel about the performance.
3. Andrew Garfield
The oldest of the Spider-Man actors, Garfield looks much too mature for a high schooler. However, despite being older than Maguire, he looks younger than the first Spider-Man.
Garfield had a bit of a different take on the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. His Parker was definitely a lot cooler than Maguire and Holland. The role of Spider-Man generally gets filled by someone who can pull off a loveable but awkward character. Some think this was his downfall, along with poorly written scripts. But seeing Spidey with a bit of charm was a fresh take that we wish the creators explored with a better written third movie.
2. Shameik Moore
While Shameik Moore didn’t play Peter Parker, he brought to life an incredible Spider-Man. Miles Morales is one of the main versions of Spider-Man portrayed in Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. He’s awkward, unsure of his newfound powers, but ultimately rises to the challenge to save the day.
He perfectly encompasses the message that we all have the power to be superheroes if we’re brave enough. The voice acting is believable and the lines are expertly delivered.
1. Tom Holland
First and foremost, Tom Holland is the only one of the live action Spider-Man actors that plays an age-appropriate Peter Parker. Garfield and Maguire were about a decade past their high school careers when they portrayed Spider-Man on the big screen.
But Holland doesn’t just bring a young face to the table. He perfectly encapsulates the awkward but lovable Parker that’s true to the comic book origins. Holland plays a believable Parker that struggles both in the high school social hierarchy and as a superhero. He showcases untapped talent led by the misgivings of a high school boy.
Sure, he has immense strength and agility. But he’s also going to make mistakes because he just doesn’t have the life experience. Holland pulls this off convincingly without making Parker feel completely incompetent.
It also helps that Spider-Man Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Spider-Man: No Way Home are arguably the best produced live action Spider-Man films out there. While that certainly wasn’t up to him, it gave him the best conditions possible to create a truly outstanding performance.
We also got to see him in movies beyond just his own. Watching him interact with the other Avengers showcases his youthful performance and adorable awkwardness. Plus, the interactions between Downey and Holland on screen are charming and adorable.
Honorable Mention: John Mulaney
Into the Spiderverse was incredible for many reasons. The inspired storytelling, the gorgeous art style, the fantastic soundtrack all elevate the film.
But nothing surpasses the sheer artistry of John Mulaney as SpiderHam, also known as Peter Porker. His wacky take on the inane character is one for the ages. The lines provided were hilarious, and the riffing and inflection of comedian Mulaney rounded out Spiderverse as a whole. It’s hard to say it’s the best version of the character, but it’s undeniably lovable and laugh-worthy.
Do you have a favorite Spider-Man? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below!