Since Y2K, we have seen three separate big-screen iterations of Spider-Man. Director Sam Raimi made Tobey Maguire a household name with the original “Spider-Man” trilogy. After the underwhelming “Amazing Spider-Man” duology in the mid 2010s, Tom Holland was introduced as the newest Peter Parker, this time a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This video from Implicitly Pretentious compares the first films featuring Maguire and Holland, highlighting their differences, and the surprising amount of similarities they share.
The main cause of the differences between these two series are the times and contexts in which they were made. Raimi was tasked with bringing the Webbed Wonder to the big screen after a series of comic book flops in “Batman and Robin” and a number of smaller films. In order to separate his film from the widely-panned superhero films of the time, Raimi chose to make a Golden-era comics story full of camp, old-school bullies, and nostalgia.
This approach obviously worked well, as it led to two more films, and the trilogy is still widely beloved today, even with its contentious final chapter. Fast forward a decade later and Jon Watts has the tall order of bring Peter Parker into the MCU, just a few years after the panned “Amazing Spider-Man 2” with Andrew Garfield.
Instead of focusing on nostalgia, Watts chose instead to take the Spider-Man story and modernize it, focusing instead on how this classic character fits into the modern world, leading to really great comedy that fits perfectly into the MCU as a whole. This was largely due to the fact that, by “Spider-Man: Homecoming’s” release in 2017, superhero movies were (and still are) the biggest thing in pop culture. There was no need to introduce the world to this character, or convince audiences that movies about heroes in costumes could actually be cool.
This leads into the underlying similarities between the two movies. Under the surface, past the aesthetic and stylistic differences, these two films share a ton. While Maguire’s “Spider-Man” is much more of an origin story than Holland’s, both films are truly about “becoming Spider-Man.” Additionally, Willem Dafoe‘s Green Goblin and Michael Keaton’s Vulture are very similar villains that share a lot of motivation.
Obviously, it makes sense that two movies about the same character would hold a lot of similarities. However, it’s really interesting to see how a relatively short amount of time, 15 years, can lead to two films that are radically different in tone, style, and structure. This versatility is what really makes Spider-Man such a great character, and why he has been such an iconic hero since his first appearance.