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Every Version Of Spider-Man Ranked From Worst To Best

Spider-Man has been one of the most popular characters in comics for decades. He's also been adapted for the screen far more than most heroes — only Batman gives him a run for his money. The original "Spider-Man" animated series launched in 1967, and he's barely stopped being on TV since, even after he made the jump to movies.

Some versions of Peter Parker make him look like a square-jawed hero, while others accentuate his youth and inexperience. He's been portrayed as an adult, a teenager, a globe-trotting hero, and a local New York favorite. In the 1970s, he even taught kids to read. What's more, in recent years, Spider-Man has grown bigger than Peter Parker, with other characters taking on the mantle, most notably Miles Morales.

Indeed, there is a plethora of spider-people swinging around nowadays. Here's a look at the major versions of Spider-Man from TV and movies (including a few who don't go by that name), as well as the actors who played them, ranked from worst to best.

28. '70s live-action Spider-Man – Nicholas Hammond

It isn't Nicholas Hammond's fault that nobody remembers the short-lived "Amazing Spider-Man" TV show from the late 1970s. He just didn't have much to work with: There are no supervillains on this show, no supporting cast from the comics (except J. Jonah Jameson and a single appearance by Aunt May), and Hammond never gets the chance to look, talk, or move like anything other than a random guy in Spider-Man cosplay. "The Amazing Spider-Man" aired on CBS alongside "The Incredible Hulk," but while the latter show turned out to be a hit that defined the character for years, "Amazing Spider-Man" would only ever be a footnote in Spider-Man's history.

27. Spider-Man Unlimited – Rino Romano

"Spider-Man Unlimited" was basically an effort to extend the '90s animated series past its sell-by date by recasting Spider-Man and sending him to an alternate Earth where things are darker. Rino Romano never seems to be doing much as Spider-Man besides trying to sound like Christopher Daniel Barnes, who preceded him in the role. The costume, derived from the "Spider-Man 2099" comics, is memorable, but it probably would have worked even better if they'd just made a "Spider-Man 2099" cartoon.

26. '60s animated Spider-Man – Paul Soles

Paul Soles as Spider-Man sounds the way 1960s cartoon viewers expected a superhero to sound — which means his voice is a little deeper and more Superman-like than it really should be. Soles does better work as Peter Parker, but it's clear that this first "Spider-Man" cartoon, which ran from 1967 to 1970, isn't very interested in characterization. Plus, considering Spider-Man had only existed for four years when the show started, relatively few viewers had a clear idea of just what Spider-Man should be like and what makes him special. This Spider-Man is perhaps best remembered today as the star of many animated GIFs.

25. 1981 Animated Spider-Man – Ted Schwartz

The 1981 "Spider-Man" animated series isn't bad by any means. The animation is solid for the time, and it brings in a lot of villains from the comics who'd never gotten TV time before. Ted Schwartz as Spider-Man also does good work in the role, bringing more of a specifically Spider-Man-ish quality to the standard animated superhero voice, although the mix had yet to be perfected. 

The weirdest thing about this show is that it was immediately overshadowed by another Spider-Man cartoon, "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends," which premiered the same day. "Amazing Friends" has a team dynamic, even more Marvel Comics guest stars, and a stronger Spider-Man voice. The two series also use the same character designs, which only adds to the sense that this isn't so much its own series as it is a spin-off of "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" in which he has no teammates and talks a little funny.

24. The Electric Company – Danny Seagren

Spider-Man's first live-action appearance, interestingly enough, was on "The Electric Company," a 1970s educational series that ran on PBS. This Spider-Man doesn't talk, and never appears out of costume, but his simple adventures and easily-described actions are the perfect vehicle for teaching kids basic language and math skills. The show also has a lot of fun playing with the idea of bringing a comic book to life, with Seagren often framed by comic book panels and "speaking" with the aid of word balloons. It's all a trick to get children to read, of course, but there are certainly worse motivations for experimentation.

23. Spider-Man: Don't Hide Abuse – Greg Snegoff

Okay, this is kind of a strange one. In 1990, Spider-Man starred in a short cartoon about child abuse that was distributed to schools and libraries. There are no supervillains here, just a father who hits his daughter, and a gang of kids who turn to Spider-Man for help. Since this is a PSA, Spider-Man tells them that violence is never the answer and recommends a hotline to call. That's fine and all, but it's hard not to imagine how satisfying it might have been for Spider-Man to get that dad to stop hitting his kid in the forcible manner of a guy in a mask with spider-powers. Obviously, though, there were good reasons not to go with that route here.

Spider-Man doesn't have a whole lot to do here, since it's really the kids' story, but he's ably portrayed by veteran voice actor Gregory Snegoff, credited here as Gregory Snow. He's reminiscent of the '80s animated Spider-Man, and, more importantly, has a warmth to him that makes you really believe the kids would open up to him. He comes off as an adult you can trust, which is both perfect for this cartoon and exactly what Spider-Man should be.

22. Into The Spider-Verse Spider-Man 2099 — Oscar Isaac

Given time and a "Spider-Verse" sequel or two, the Spider-Man of the future could potentially move much higher on this list. After all, Spider-Man 2099, aka geneticist Miguel O'Hara, has been around in comics since 1992, and has a cult following all his own. On top of that, he's voiced by Oscar Isaac, an extremely talented and popular actor. 

The problem, of course, is that he's barely in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" at all. It's fun to see him introduced in the after-credits scene, and his costume looks great in the film's unique animated style. Plus, his heading back in time points to a likely appearance in the sequel. However, at least in that first time-trip, he ends up in the world of '60s animated Spider-Man, just to act out a famous meme. It's a funny bit, but an inauspicious beginning for Miguel. We can only assume that in "Spider-Verse 2," he'll get more to do.

21. Spider-Man: The New Animated Series – Neil Patrick Harris

Two things are distracting about 2003's "Spider-Man: The New Animated Series," which aired on MTV, of all places. The first is the animation, which combines 2D cartooning with 3D computer modeling in an incredibly awkward way that could not possibly look more 2003-ish. The second is that every time Spider-Man talks, you can't help thinking, "I know whose voice that is! It's Neil Patrick Harris, star of 'Doogie Howser' and 'How I Met Your Mother!'" Harris isn't a bad choice for Spider-Man in theory, but it's hard to accept him as Spider-Man when his voice is so recognizable as a singing and dancing TV star.

20. 2017 animated Miles Morales — Nadji Jeter

Everybody loves Miles Morales, the modern teenage Spider-Man created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli in 2011 for Marvel's now-defunct Ultimate Comics line. Even when the Ultimate line ended, Miles and his supporting cast managed to survive, thanks to his popularity and the unique flavor he adds to the Spider-Man franchise. Unfortunately, bringing him into the 2017 "Spider-Man" animated series just didn't work that well. 

Instead of a denizen of an alternate Earth, this version of Miles is simply a school friend of Peter Parker's who gains his own powers and dons his own costume. When he first goes into action, he's portrayed as a sloppy and overly enthusiastic hero who initially does a very bad job — Peter Parker has to reign him in and train him to be a better Spider-Man. This robs him of the narrative of becoming a great hero on his own. It also makes him look particularly weak, since this Peter Parker is about his age, as opposed to the much older versions of the character who have mentored Miles in both the comics and "Into the Spider-Verse." Furthermore, making the Black Spider-Man a bad superhero the white Spider-Man has to teach is just not a great look.

19. 2017 animated Spider-Gwen — Laura Bailey

The Gwen Stacy who appears in the 2017 "Spider-Man" series suffers from a similar problem as its Miles Morales: She's a schoolmate of Peter's, rather than having her own New York City where she is the main spider-person. One could argue that this is an interesting turn, since there was, of course, a Gwen Stacy on the original Peter Parker's Earth in the comics, who never gains super-powers and is murdered by the Green Goblin. In theory, taking that version of the character and changing her destiny has potential. But when compared to other versions of Spider-Gwen who have their own universes, this take on Gwen inevitably seems less like her own superhero and more like just another spider-sidekick.

Perhaps this show chose to avoid introducing spider-characters from alternate Earths because "Into The Spider-Verse" was already in production and they didn't want to steal its narrative thunder. That's valid. Unfortunately, the side effect is that you can't get anything that feels like the real Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales without that aspect, and in that case, you might be better off without them.

18. Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Avengers Reassembled – Ben Diskin

What's interesting about Spider-Man's role in the 2015 Lego production "Avengers Reassembled" is that these Lego cartoons tend to draw heavily from the movies they're based on, but this one actually pre-dates Spider-Man's Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in "Captain America: Civil War." Thus, there was no Tom Holland performance to draw from, nor any Robert Downey Jr. nicknames to borrow. Consequently, Ben Diskin's Spider-Man comes off as a little bit basic, like Spider-Man reduced to a series of bullet points: Young, enthusiastic, into science, makes jokes (but then again, everyone in the Lego cartoons makes jokes).

Still, Diskin gives it his all in the role, as he continues to do in the 2017 "Spider-Man" series, in which he plays Flash Thompson, the Spider-Man-loving thorn in Peter Parker's side. But once the MCU established their own Spider-Man, the Lego version had to evolve a bit to keep up.

17. Lego Marvel Avengers: Climate Conundrum – Cole Howard

Cole Howard is an experienced and talented young voice actor, and no one should disparage his work in 2020's "Lego Marvel Avengers: Climate Conundrum," nor the other shorts and cartoons in which he's voiced Spider-Man these past few years. So please understand, this isn't meant to be an insult to Howard or his work. But the truth is obvious: He clearly got the part because his Spider-Man voice sounds very much like Tom Holland's.

As we discussed, the Lego cartoons draw heavily on the MCU, giving kids familiar-but-goofier versions of the characters they recognize from the big screen. So, Howard's Spider-Man comes off as a bit younger and a lot sillier than Holland's live-action version, but the similarity is still unmistakable. And there's nothing wrong with that — Howard is part of a tradition that goes back to Lorenzo Music playing Peter Venkman in the style of Bill Murray (and using the same style for Garfield, which led to Murray playing Garfield decades later, but that's a whole other article). For "Lego Marvel Avengers," which is basically "the movies but sillier and aimed younger," Cole Howard is doing exactly what's needed for the part.

16. Into The Spider-Verse Peter Parker — Chris Pine

The very first Spider-Man introduced in "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" is the Peter Parker of Miles Morales' Earth, voiced by the absurdly charismatic Chris Pine. He's a big-time hero of New York, and basically the perfect Spider-Man. He even has blond hair, unlike any other version of Peter Parker, to mark him as a literal golden boy. The problem is that a perfect, beloved, golden-boy Spider-Man doesn't really work, because the whole point of Spider-Man is that he's a flawed hero and nothing ever seems to go right for him.

This Spider-Man isn't in the movie to be a character of his own, though: He's there to provide an ideal to contrast with the inexperienced Miles and the slovenly Peter B. Parker. Plus, making him the perfect superhero makes the tragedy of his death that much greater, especially as he leaves a legacy that Miles has to try and live up to.

15. Into The Spider-Verse Spider-Man Noir — Nicolas Cage

Although the "Spider-Man: Noir" comic where this version of Peter Parker originated is quite a serious affair, the version of him who appears in "Into the Spider-Verse" is pretty much a one-note joke character. Still, thanks to some great lines and a perfect voice performance by the peerless Nicolas Cage, he's an extremely funny joke character. "Wherever I go, the wind follows. And the wind, it smells like rain," is just one example of the over-the-top stuff that comes out of this helpful but endlessly grim Spider-Man's mouth in Cage's most hard-boiled voice. He also looks super cool, rendered entirely in black and white halftone, even as he moves through a colorful world surrounded by far more colorful spider-folks. If he comes back in "Spider-Verse 2," it might be fun to get to know him a little better. But even if we don't, he's still worth having around for his look and one-liners.

14. Japanese Spider-Man – Shinji Tôdô and Hirofumi Koga

The 1978 Japanese "Spider-Man" live-action TV series has a cult following in the U.S., even though it's never been officially released there. It was produced by the Toei Company, who later brought us "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers," and they infused Spider-Man with a similar tokusatsu vibe. Shinji Tôdô plays Spider-Man's face and voice, while Hirofumi Koga does much of the performing inside the Spider-suit. 

In this series, Spider-Man is a motorcycle driver named Takuya Yamashiro, who gets his spider-powers from a super-bracelet from the planet Spider. Mostly, he does what American Spider-Man does — climbing walls, spinning webs, and so forth — but being a true tokusatsu hero, he also has a racecar and a giant robot named Leopardon. The show's a lot of fun, and Tôdô and Koga both do a great job. But it drifts pretty far from Spider-Man as we understand him, and these days, its primary appeal is probably the camp factor.

13. Into The Spider-Verse Peni Parker and SP//Dr — Kimiko Glenn

A far more streamlined and spidery mech than Leopardon, Peni Parker's SP//Dr isn't nearly as big, but it has a lot more personality. It's also apparently co-piloted by an actual spider that has a psychic link with young Peni, the teenage daughter of SP//Dr's creator. Together, they're the spider-heroes of a New York in the year 3145 that exists somewhere out in the Spider-Verse

Peni's look and story are inspired by Japanese anime, which is also reflected in how she's animated in "Into the Spider-Verse." She doesn't get much character development, but she's a great example of just how far a spider-hero can get from the standard "Peter Parker bitten by a radioactive spider" template. She also provides some pathos in the final battle, as SP//Dr sacrifices itself to save Peni. Fortunately, she's able to save her tiny spider friend from inside the mech, so hopefully they'll be able to rebuild upon returning to their own dimension.

12. Into The Spider-Verse Spider-Ham — John Mulaney

Of all the secondary spider-people in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," Spider-Ham is by far the silliest. That works for him, though — in fact, it's kind of the whole point. He began life as a spider, but was mutated into his current form when he was bitten by a radioactive pig. How little sense this makes is a clue to the world Spider-Ham comes from. He's essentially a Looney Tunes character, down to his silhouette closely resembling Porky Pig. He even exhibits cartoon physics, enabling him to do things like pull a huge mallet out of nowhere. 

This is a departure from the original version of the character, who appears in 17 issues of 1985's "Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham." There, he's much more angular in design and often serves as a straight man to the ridiculous world in which he lives. But in "Into the Spider-Verse," with multiple spider-humans around, the sillier version provides a great contrast and some of the movie's funniest bits, aided by the fantastic voice performance of comedian John Mulaney.

11. 2017 animated Spider-Man — Robbie Daymond

By 2017, when the latest animated "Spider-Man" TV series began, it was pretty established in the minds of fans what a teenage Peter Parker should sound like, and Robbie Daymond nails it. If that sounds like faint praise, it's because there's a lot about this version of the character that feels a bit by-the-numbers. This "Spider-Man" is a solid, engaging animated series, but it's all kind of been done already. On the other hand, this show does get to adapt more recent stories like "Spider-Island," where almost everybody in Manhattan gets spider powers, which definitely provides some interest. 

Some of the best moments in the series are when Spider-Man teams up with other Marvel heroes, like Iron Man and Black Widow. However, some of the weakest moments arrive when the series brings in other spider-characters while carefully avoiding the "Spider-Verse" premise that makes them work. Sometimes, it feels like the most daring part of this "Spider-Man" incarnation is the way his belt doesn't connect on the front of his costume. Still, if you're looking for a solid Spider-Man voice performance, you could do a lot worse than Robbie Daymond.

10. Spider-Man movies – Tobey Maguire

Back in the early days of 21st century superhero movies, Tobey Maguire got the job done. He got in great physical shape for "Spider-Man," but he still has the charmingly goofy face needed to play nerdy Peter Parker. While he never quite seems like a kid the way an origin story-bound Spider-Man should, he's young enough not to seem too outlandish as a teenager. In the emotional scenes, he's always a little over the top, which is par for the course with these kinds of movies. He's a solid Spider-Man, but nothing to write home about.

9. Ultimate Spider-Man – Drake Bell

"Ultimate Spider-Man" was controversial from day one. For one thing, it replaced the popular "Spectacular Spider-Man" series, which fell prey to rights issues right around the time Disney purchased Marvel. Fans grew even more irritated when it became apparent that "Ultimate Spider-Man" would target a younger audience by hiring Drake Bell of "Drake and Josh" fame to voice the title character.

But if you look past all that bad buzz (and the occasionally jarring tone of the show), Bell is actually a pretty great animated Spider-Man. He has a high capacity for silliness and fun, as Spider-Man always does, but he also comes through in the darker moments that require a more emotional Peter Parker.

8. Amazing Spider-Man movies – Andrew Garfield

The biggest problem with Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker is that he was already too old for the part when he starred in "The Amazing Spider-Man." He never seems at all like an awkward teen, and shoving him into a rendition of Peter Parker's origin story strains credulity in a way that never stops being distracting. Still, his slim build looks good in the suit, and his comic timing makes him a more natural fit than Maguire for the rhythms of the character's constant wisecracks. This is a fine transitional Spider-Man, but not one we'd want to see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

7. '90s animated Spider-Man – Christopher Daniel Barnes

For a lot of millennials, Barnes was the definitive voice of Spider-Man throughout their childhood, having played the role on Fox Kids from 1994 until 1998. While his "Spider-Man" series has aged a little awkwardly, it was the first TV version of the character to really draw on the comics' storylines in a nuanced way, introducing concepts like the symbiotic Venom suit, the "Secret Wars" crossover arc, and even the Punisher to Saturday morning viewers.

This series skips the origin and begins with Peter Parker already in college and freelancing for the Daily Bugle. Within that context, Barnes is perfect in the part, balancing the jokes and the emotional baggage that are both so central to Spider-Man. This is one of the best takes on grown-up Peter Parker around.

6. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends – Dan Gilvezan

For those a little older, Dan Gilvezan is the Saturday morning Spider-Man of choice. He voices the hero on "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends," a show that brought the Marvel universe to life from 1981 until 1986. Gilvezan was a mainstay of 1980s animation, playing Bumblebee in "Transformers" and Cooler in "Pound Puppies," among other roles. His Spider-Man has the lightness that earlier versions of the character had been missing, while still seeming more grounded than the goofier Iceman who Frank Welker voices on the same show.

This cartoon seems pretty silly by today's standards. But this was the first time Spider-Man really seemed like Spider-Man, and that's worth something.

5. Into The Spider-Verse Spider-Gwen — Hailee Steinfeld

Gwen Stacy, who goes by the name Spider-Woman but usually gets called Spider-Gwen by friends and readers, really comes into her own in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse." She's the top spider-hero of her world, where she was the one bitten by that fateful radioactive spider. To shake things up even more, it was the death of her friend Peter Parker that drove her to become a hero, paralleling the death of Peter's Uncle Ben on other Earths.

She first shows up in the movie as one of Miles' classmates, and is later revealed to be an undercover superhero from another dimension. She teams up with the other spider-people as they figure out how to get home. In many ways, she's a more capable hero than either of the central Spider-Men in the movie, and she's certainly a more graceful one. There's a hint of romance between her and Miles, but nothing that distracts from her pointe-shoe-clad super-heroics. Hailee Steinfeld's voice performance provides just the right mix of youthful enthusiasm and effortless competence. She's not exactly Spider-Man, but as spider-people go, she's one of the best.

4. Into The Spider-Verse Peter B. Parker — Jake Johnson

All the best versions of Peter Parker have a little bit of unlucky sad sack-ness mixed into their heroic persona, but Peter B. Parker of "Into the Spider-Verse" turns the sad sack aspect up to 11. He's been Spider-Man for more than two decades, and he's no longer putting the effort into it that he once did. As he approaches 40, he finds himself broke, separated from his wife Mary Jane, and gaining a noticeable paunch. He's the natural endpoint of Peter Parker's well-established bad luck, and the exact opposite of the "golden boy" Peter Parker of Miles Morales' world. But when he realizes it's up to him to mentor young Miles as Spider-Man, he rediscovers the hero he's always been deep down.

This is a take on Peter Parker that's never quite been seen before, and wouldn't work in most contexts. But in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," he's perfect, hilarious, and ultimately touching. Jake Johnson, star of TV's "New Girl," is the perfect choice to voice this version of the character, and gives a surprisingly nuanced performance. He may not be the best Spider-Man — at least at the moment this story catches him — but he might just be the most endearing.

3. The Spectacular Spider-Man – Josh Keaton

"Spectacular Spider-Man" is fondly remembered as basically the perfect Spider-Man cartoon — and one that ended too soon, for frustrating corporate reasons. It ran for two seasons in 2008 and 2009, and was being considered for a third when Disney bought Marvel and reacquired the television rights to Spider-Man, leaving this Sony-produced series unable to continue. 

"Spectacular" takes Peter Parker back to high school, with a whole new design aesthetic that fits the premise perfectly. Voice actor Josh Keaton plays this youthful Spider-Man with the earnestness of a kid trying to do his best, and it really, really works. It's just a shame there couldn't be more of it.

2. Marvel Cinematic Universe – Tom Holland

Tom Holland's Spider-Man first appears in "Captain America: Civil War," earning rave reviews from most fans, despite being the third live-action Spidey inside of a decade. Unlike Maguire and Garfield, Holland believably comes off like a young teenager with a surprising amount of power, and this youthfulness stands out perfectly in contrast with the adult heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "Spider-Man: Homecoming" fleshes him out as a nerdy high school student who might be in way over his head, which is exactly who Spider-Man should be, especially within the context of a larger Avengers-centric setting. The sequel, "Spider-Man: Far From Home," has him in even more over his head: He is completely taken in by Mysterio, a villain posing as a hero, which is exactly the sort of disaster Peter Parker tends to get ensnared by. Even more importantly, when he realizes the truth, he cleans up the mess he's helped make, proving that he really is a hero, despite his mistakes.

Furthermore, the moving eyes on his mask, enabled by some vaguely plausible light-filtering doodad Tony Stark put in the suit, are wonderful. They do a tremendous job of evoking the way Spider-Man emotes on comics pages in a way that never before felt possible in live-action. Details like that, combined with Tom Holland's stellar performance, make for the best possible Peter Parker outside of the comics themselves.

1. Into The Spider-Verse Miles Morales — Shameik Moore

With apologies to all versions of Peter Parker, Miles Morales feels like the Spider-Man of the future. He's recognizably a part of Gen Z, in a way that even young versions of Peter Parker never get close to. As the son of a Black father and a Puerto Rican mother, he also represents the changing face of America in a positive light.

More importantly, he evolves the ideas behind Spider-Man in an effective way. He gains spider powers by accident, and then just happens to be there to witness the death of his world's Peter Parker. It falls to him, a normal kid just starting to figure out his abilities, to become the hero his city needs. His is also a story of the great responsibility that comes with great power, but he doesn't have an Uncle Ben to tell him that directly. In fact, Miles' uncle is a supervillain, which further complicates his life.

Despite all the spider-people (and the one pig) who appear in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," it really is Miles' story. And just as it's the best Spider-Man movie ever made, it shows how Miles has the potential to be the best Spider-Man. It helps that he's voiced by Shameik Moore, who embodies the character perfectly. It's probably just a matter of time until we see Miles Morales in live-action, whether he's replacing Peter Parker or working alongside him. He's the future of Spider-Man, and the future is bright.