Of all the famous superheroes out there, I think Spider-Man lends himself to action better than most. His web based powers, and fighting style make him come off like a ninja with cat like reflexes, and there’s this perfect blend of fast acrobatics with special effects. His villains also offset his powers perfectly, and offer a great variety of different things to battle. Continuing my celebration of the new “Spider-Man: Homecoming” here’s a quick list of my top 10 personal favorite action scenes from the live action Spider-Man movies.
#10 New Goblin Attacks [Spider-Man 3] (Spider-Man vs the New Goblin)
The first battle between Peter and the New Goblin also made for a great action set piece, but I have to admit that the CGI on display during that battle was really bad, especially when their flying through the obvious green screen back ally.
#9 Burning Building Showdown [Spider-Man] (Spider-Man vs The Green Goblin) - For one of the first superhero adaption’s of the early 2000’s, the action scenes have held up very well, and in some respects are better then what we get today. When Spider-Man and the Green Goblin battle in a burning building, I genuinely feel the excitement, but I can also admire the practicality of the piece. I like that while special effects are present, there isn’t an over abundance of it. In fact most of the action is very much in camera, but still with a lot of flare and energy.
#8 The School Attack [The Amazing Spider-Man] (Spider-Man vs The Lizard) – While this installment in the web heads film series really didn’t have many action highlights, the actual fighting choreography, and movement of Spider-Man is the absolute best captured on film thus far. When Spider-Mans monstrous adversary The Lizard attacks the school, we see the full range of how awesome our hero’s combat skills are while in close quarters. It’s all very slick and we see him do things we’d never seen before. For example, this is the first time we see Spider-Man fighting on the ceiling, and I love this one moment in which he uses his webbing to trap his enemy in a cocoon, that was a cool touch.
#7 Bare Knuckle Fight with Harry [Spider-Man 3] (Spider-Man vs the New Goblin) - I love the bare knuckle fight between Harry and Peter in the mansion sweat, as it’s completely in camera, and doesn’t feature any CGI.
#6 Final Battle with the Green Goblin [Spider-Man] (Spider-Man vs The Green Goblin) - I have split feelings about this climax, and by that I mean the first half sucks, and the second half is phenomenal. The first half of the battle takes place on the George Washington Bridge, where the Green Goblin is holding Mary Jane and some kids hostage. To be honest, this sequence just felt like a rip-off of the climax from “Batman Forever”, in which a green suited villain forced a superhero hero to rescue one of two things that fall from a deathly height. Also, this was the same setting from the classic comic book, where Spider-Mans first girl friend Gwen Stacy died during a battle with the Goblin. It’s only a visual reference to fans, because while Mary Jane is a hostage, nothing really serious comes of this situation. The girl is rescued, and there’s a painfully forced moment with all the people of New York turning on the Goblin. Once Spider-Man and the Green Goblin are alone, and fighting in that broken down building, this climax suddenly goes from lame rip-off to one of the greatest finales I’ve ever seen. It’s actually quiet suspenseful as the villain just relentlessly beats the crap out of our hero. Once again, the whole fight is in camera, and the lack of music just adds to the tension. Once Spider-man stands his ground, and really starts fighting back, it’s absolutely riveting stuff. It all escalates to a very satisfying, yet kind of tragic villain death. Spider-Man discovers that the goblins real identity was his best friend’s father the whole time, setting the stage for future conflicts. That final shot of the Green Goblins beaten mask is just the perfect icing on the cake.
#5 Sandman Truck Chase (Spider-Man 3) (Spider-Man vs The Sandman) - While obviously not as good as the first two films, this movie is still considerably more fast paced, and features some of Spider-Mans greatest battles. The truck chase with the Sandman is personally one of my favorites. While the past two movies also featured car chases, this was the first to feature a villain, and it was just a great action set piece.
#4 Tag Team Finale [Spider-Man 3] (Spider-Man & the New Goblin vs Venom & The Sandman) - While it doesn’t reach this movies climax doesn’t reach the same character or story highs as the first two films, I think the battle itself is the coolest of the original trilogy finales. Of course Mary Jane is a damsel in distress again, which is painfully tired and been done, but I love everything else. Seeing Spider-Man team up with the New Goblin to defeat the combined threats of the Sandman and Venom is the highlight of “Spider-Man 3” as a whole. While the events leading up to this weren’t handled very well, it’s still very satisfying to see Peter and Harry become friends again. Also, seeing these two hero’s fight side by side gave us our first real taste of what “The Avengers” would eventually deliver. The battle itself is a big long spectacle that covers a lot of ground and is just really fun to watch, despite some corny moments with that annoying crowd of people cheering them on.
#3 Final Showdown at the Power plant and clock tower [The Amazing Spider-Man 2] (Spider-Man vs Electro & the New Goblin) - In my opinion, this is the best finally of the whole series. I love the buildup, as we see our hero swinging through the city while chasing this electrical trail left by the villain, the music builds, and I just get chills all over. As the battle begins Electro and Spider-Man fight in this colorful electrical plant, which is a cool design, and it’s a lot of fun watching our hero leap all over the pillars while the villain relentlessly blast him with electricity. Some of the best moments once again are Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy working together to defeat their foe. Once Electro is beaten the new Green Goblin makes his attack, which leads into a deeply thrilling fight in a clock tower. There’s a real sense of dread as the fight builds, and as Spider-Man does his best to keep Gwen safe, we the audience are terrified knowing what’s about to happen. Obviously this ending was inspired by the classic Spider-Man comic in which Gwen Stacy dies, and for the most part, there are some great improvements on its source material. First of all, Gwen is conscious throughout the whole battle, so we have this nervous hope that she might make it out okay. Also the clock tower setting in my opinion is a huge improvement over the clichéd bridge setting, because the clock is literally and figuratively ticking away to her demise. Finally, the death is hauntingly tragic, as not only did we loose one of our favorite characters, but Spider-Man lost Gwen just as he was saving her. The whole scene was just shot beautifully, and the emotion of this lose really hits home. It was thanks to Gwen being there that Spider-Man was able to save the city from Electro, but he just couldn’t keep her safe in the end, making this a hollow victory. The only thing the comic did better was that Gwens death came at the hands of Spider-Man’s arch nemesis, and that’s just not what happened here.
#2 The Bank Heist [Spider-Man 2] (Spider-Man vs Doctor Octopus) – “Spider-Man 2” is hands down my favorite of the web-heads movies by far, and it just happens to feature my two favorite action scenes. The first is the battle at the bank, which escalates into an awesome dual on the side of a building. Seeing two super-powered characters fighting on the side of a building is something I’d only dreamed off, and seeing it come to life here was riveting. The layout, the energy, and a well placed Stan Lee cameo would have been enough to call this my all time favorite Spider-Man fight, if it weren't for what's coming up next.
Before I reveal my #1 favorite, here are some Honorable Mentions ... Final Showdown with Doc Ock [Spider-Man 2] (Spider-Man vs Doctor Octopus) Battling Sandman in the Subway (Spider-Man 3), Battle Over Time Square (Spider-Man), Rescuing Mary Jane from Muggers (Spider-Man), Final Rooftop Battle (The Amazing Spider-Man)
#1 The Train Chase [Spider-Man 2] (Spider-Man vs Doctor Octopus) - Obviously the greatest action scene of all is the deeply thrilling battle on the train. After all these years, this fight still gets me pumped, and I just love how creative this whole sequence gets. We have Spider-Man getting dragged on the road, balancing himself while hanging onto the side, and ducking oncoming trains and bridges. It’s just one big feast for the eyes, and definitely one of the all time greatest battles scenes from any superhero movie. I also love when his mask gets damaged, and he just pulls it off regardless of his identity. The scene ends on a high note as Spider-Man practically sacrifices his body to stop the out of control train.