#BUROBinge: A recap of the previous Spider-Man movies before ‘No Way Home, from 2002’s ‘Spider-Man’ to 2019’s ‘Far From Home’
The latest Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: No Way Home, is upon us. You may have missed the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe movies featuring Spidey—or forgotten what has happened till now in the MCU (which is completely understandable and forgivable).
With plenty of fan theories swarming the Internet, some of the Spider-Man film lore can get confusing too, especially for new fans. So fret not, for we’ve got your back! Here’s a full and friendly recap of all the Spider-Man movies—from 2002’s Spider-Man to 2019’s Far From Home—to refresh your memory, before you watch the highly anticipated No Way Home.
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy
Directed by Sam Raimi, Toby Maguire stars as the popular web-slinger, who starts off as a typical high-school nerd—he’s near-sighted, scrawny; the whole deal. On a field trip to a genetics laboratory, Peter is bitten by a genetically engineered “super spider”. The next morning, he wakes up to discover that not only is he no longer gawky and no longer in need of his glasses, he even has superhuman spider-like abilities.
Glasses? Who needs them?
Peter enters an underground wrestling tournament, wanting to use the prize money to buy a car and impress Mary Jane ‘MJ’ Watson (Kirsten Dunst). When the event promoter cheats him of his winnings, he allows a thief who breaks into the promoter’s office to get away, only to find out that the thief killed his beloved Uncle Ben while getting away. In the aftermath of this tragedy, Peter turns to crime-fighting in the eminent blue and red suit, under the persona of (you guessed it!) Spider-Man.
The villain in this movie is Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), owner of Oscorp and father to Peter’s best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco). Oscorp is developing super-soldier serums and has plans to secure a contract with the military. Norman experiments upon himself and creates an evil split personality who goes on to be dubbed as the Green Goblin. When he finds out that there are plans to force him out of Oscorp, Norman—in the form of the Goblin—turns up to assassinate the company’s board at the World Unity Fair. He and Spider-Man have their first scuffle, in which Peter is wounded. Later at Thanksgiving, Norman sees Peter’s injury and realises he is Spider-Man. With this knowledge, he goes after Aunt May and later, MJ.
In their final battle, Norman reveals his identity and begs Peter to stop attacking while he positions his glider to impale Peter from behind. Thanks to his Spider-Sense, Peter is able to avoid the incoming glider, but it ends up stabbing and killing Norman.
Peter delivers Norman’s body home and is caught by Harry, who believes Spider-Man killed his father and vows revenge. Realising that the enemies of Spider-Man who figure out his identity will go after his loved ones, Peter rejects MJ and tells her they can only be friends.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
We’re introduced to Dr Otto Octavius, a nuclear scientist leading a fusion power project sponsored by Oscorp, which Harry now leads. Dr Octavius befriends and mentors Peter. Whilst at a research demonstration, a power spike occurs, destabilising the fusion reactor and fusing Dr Octavius’ mechanical arms to his nervous system, giving the menacing contraption’s AI control of his mind and body. Under the influence of the arms, Dr Octavius becomes Doctor Octopus and quickly becomes Spider-Man’s next enemy as he rains havoc on the city in an attempt to redo his previously failed experiment.
Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus
Finding it increasingly impossible to balance his superhero persona and normal life, Peter has an emotional breakdown after finding out that MJ is engaged to another man and loses his powers. He quits being Spider-Man, but his powers are reinvigorated when Dr Octopus abducts MJ. Harry, still bent on revenge, makes a deal with Dr Octopus to capture Spider-Man so Harry can kill him, in exchange for the isotope tritium needed to fuel his nuclear reactor. The deal is fulfilled, only for Harry to be completely shocked when he discovers that Spider-Man has been his best friend all along.
Spider-Man engages Dr Octopus in his waterfront laboratory just as his experiment begins. Spider-Man manages to short-circuit the mechanical arms and in a moment of clarity, Dr Octopus sacrifices his life to stop the nuclear reactor. During the fight, Peter’s mask falls off and MJ, who had been held captive in the lab, sees his face and realises that it’s Peter who’s been rescuing her all this time. Despite Peter’s warnings that being together would endanger her life, MJ is still in love with him and leaves the altar on her wedding day to be with him.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
A still-bitter Harry talks with his father’s evil ghost and reinvents the Green Goblin’s technology. Intent on avenging his father, he fights Peter but is knocked out and develops partial amnesia, conveniently forgetting about his conflict with Peter. The two are able to be best friends again.
In the meantime, escaped convict Flint Marko accidentally gets caught in a science experiment while escaping the police and gets turned into the Sandman. He’s confronted by Spider-Man while robbing armoured trucks and defeats the friendly neighbourhood hero. In a twist of fate, it turns out that Marko was actually the man who shot and killed Uncle Ben. While sleeping in his spider suit, an alien symbiote that fell to earth on a meteorite binds to the suit, and Peter wakes up in a black suit that he finds enhances his powers but brings out his dark side. While fighting Marko again, Peter is filled with negative emotions and no longer holding back, bursts a water pipe and washes the Sandman away.
Harry regains his memory and once again goes after Peter. In an argument, he throws a bomb at Peter but under the black suit’s influence, Peter slings the bomb back and the explosion defigures Harry’s face. His new dark personality also alienates MJ. Peter only sees that the black suit is corrupting him when he accidentally hurts her. He retreats to a church bell tower, where he discovers that the symbiote hates high-pitched sounds. The ringing of the church bells helps to repel the symbiote from the suit but it attaches to Eddie Brock, a photographer that has been following Spider-Man, and births a new villain: Venom.
Venom seeks out Marko, who survived the earlier water attack, and the two form an alliance to kill Spider-Man and capture MJ—because what better way is there to lure out the spider? Outmatched, Spider-Man is pinned in a fight and hope seems to be lost until none other than Harry Osborn shows up with the Green Goblin technology and a sense of forgiveness. With Harry’s help, Spider-Man is able to defeat Venom, but at the price of Harry’s life. Marko gets the chance to explain to Peter that Uncle Ben’s death was an accident and that it’s haunted him ever since. Peter is able to forgive him and allows Marko to escape. The end of the movie (and the trilogy starring Tobey Maguire) sees Peter and MJ reconciling and sharing a dance at the jazz club she works at.
The Amazing Spider-Man reboot
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Andrew Garfield plays the superhero in a new universe where Peter Parker’s parents were scientists doing genetic research on spiders. After they mysteriously disappear and end up being killed, a young Peter is brought up by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. While investigating his parents’ death, a now-teenage Peter is led to Oscorp, which is where he receives the all-important spider bite that gives him his powers. In a more comic-accurate depiction, Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man is unable to produce his webs on his own and unlike his film predecessor, must engineer them himself.
Peter meets the one-armed Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s former colleague. Connors is working on experiments to regenerate limbs and with Peter’s help, as well as his late father’s work papers, finds some success while testing on mice. In school, Peter gets into an altercation, nearly exposing himself. Uncle Ben is called in to meet with the school principal and due to a change in his work shift, asks that Peter walk Aunt May home on that night. Distracted by his experiments with Dr Connors, Peter forgets to do as his uncle asked, which results in an argument with Uncle Ben. Peter runs out and drops by a deli where the cashier refuses to let Peter buy milk when he’s short on cash. Peter stands by when a thief robs the deli and, like in the original 2002 Spider-Man movie, the same thief kills Uncle Ben.
Using his superpowers, Peter becomes the vigilante Spider-Man, determined to find the criminal that shot his uncle. He attracts negative attention from the city’s police, particularly from Captain Stacy, the father of Peter’s school crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Peter gets his girl a lot faster in this movie and does not conceal his superhero identity from Gwen.
Under pressure from Oscorp, Dr Connors experiments on himself to regenerate his arm (you can see a common theme here) and turns himself into the Lizard. Deranged, he concocts a plan to turn the entire city into monstrous lizard people just like him. Peter manages to make an antidote and cures Dr Connors in time to prevent his scheme. However, Captain Stacy who comes to help fight the Lizard is fatally injured, and upon recognising Peter, requests that Peter stop dating Gwen in order to protect her. When Peter relays this message to Gwen, she adamantly refuses the separation and the two continue their romance.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
After graduating high school, Peter starts feeling guilty about ignoring Captain Stacy’s dying request. This causes tension between him and Gwen and they break up (spoiler: at least for a portion of the movie).
This sequel’s villain comes in the form of Electro (Jamie Foxx), who starts off as the gentle electrical engineer and Spider-Man admirer, Max Dillon. After falling into a tank of genetically-engineered electric eels, Max turns into a human electric generator and causes a blackout in Times Square. He’s detained by Spider-Man and sent to the Ravencroft Institute where he’s studied by scientists.
The sequel also introduces Harry Osborn, Peter’s childhood friend who learns that his father’s terminal illness is hereditary, and is appointed as the new head of Oscorp after his father dies. When symptoms of his genetic illness surface, Harry becomes desperate to find a cure and becomes certain that Spider-Man’s blood could be the key. Knowing that Peter sells pictures of Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle, Harry tries to persuade Peter to help him get in contact with Spider-Man for a blood transfusion. Peter refuses and when Harry is framed and forced out of Oscorp by the company board, he makes a deal with Electro to help him get back into Oscorp in return for setting Electro free. Harry gets his hands on stored super-spider venom, but injecting this does quite the opposite of curing his illness; the venom transforms him into the Green Goblin.
Electro and Spider-Man face-off, and with Gwen’s help, Electro is overpowered (quite literally). However, victory is not yet within arms’ reach, as the Green Goblin swoops in. The Goblin sees Gwen and with knowledge of Peter’s relationship with her, deduces Spider-Man’s identity and attacks Peter for refusing the blood transfusion. In their fight, Gwen falls down a clock tower as Peter subdues the Goblin, and Peter rushes to catch her but fails. Her head hits the ground, killing her instantly.
Depressed and guilt-ridden, Peter quits the superhero life but receives advice from Aunt May—basically, “with great power comes great responsibility”. The film ends with Spider-Man coming back to fight a new villain and one of the Sinister Six, The Rhino.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Spider-Man in ‘Captain America: Civil War’
In 2016, a new Spider-Man was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), played by Tom Holland. Skipping over most of the hero’s origin story—the spider bite, Uncle Ben’s death, etc—Spider-Man is recruited by Iron Man aka Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to join the tech genius’ side in the conflict against Captain America (Chris Evans).
Spider-Man Homecoming (2017)
After the events in Civil War, Peter yearns to become a proper Avenger but Tony Stark thinks he isn’t ready. Subsequently, Peter is confined to being a small-time hero, fighting crime around the city. He stumbles across the Vulture aka Adrian Toomes, a crook with a flying suit who’s selling alien tech-powered weapons to criminals. Despite warnings to not get involved with the Vulture, Peter pursues the case to Washington, D.C while on a school trip, where he rescues his friends, including his crush Liz, from the explosion at the Washington monument. Peter attempts to disrupt one of Toomes’ arms deals on the Staten Island Ferry, but a malfunctioning weapon rips the boat in half. Iron Man comes to the rescue, but an angry Tony confiscates Peter’s suit as punishment for rash behaviour.
Back to normal high-school life, Peter asks Liz to go to the homecoming dance with him, but on the night of the dance, discovers that Toomes/the Vulture is Liz’s father. When he finds out that Toomes is planning to hijack a plane transporting technology from Avengers tower. Peter dons his old homemade Spider-Man outfit and fights the Vulture on the planes. The plane crashes, and Toomes almost dies when his suit malfunctions. Peter saves him and the Vulture is incarcerated, and Liz moves away. With Peter having proved himself, Tony returns his spider suit and offers him a position among the Avengers, the latter of which Peter declines in favour of a more normal teenage life.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Tom Holland reprises his role as Spider-Man. The movie’s villain, Thanos, needs no introduction. His Q-ship first arrives in New York City, providing the perfect opportunity for Peter to help the Avengers battle the purple fiend. Peter works closely with Iron Man throughout the film as the Avengers go head to head against Thanos and his followers. All Marvel fans will be more than familiar with the emotional scene where Thanos, armed with the Infinity Gauntlet, snaps his fingers and erases half the world’s population, including Peter.
“Mr Stark? I don’t feel so good…”
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
The superheroes are able to bring back everyone who was vaporised by Thanos, and Spider-Man is back to join the final battle against Thanos. In the end, Iron Man sacrifices himself to save the world and take down Thanos for good, leaving behind a heartbroken Peter.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Peter’s grief over Stark’s death carries on into the second film fully focused on Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and his adventures outside of the Avengers. With Tony gone, there is a widespread expectation for Spider-Man to take up the helm as his successor and leader of the Avengers. However, Peter has other ideas for himself; he plans to enjoy his summer as a normal teenager on his school’s field trip to Europe, with added hopes of getting closer to his new love interest, Michelle Jones aka MJ (Zendaya).
Peter’s plans are cut short when a Water Elemental monster interrupts their trip in Venice. Here, Peter gets his first glimpse of an interesting new hero, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), who flies in and defeats the monster. Nick Fury recruits him on a new mission with Mysterio, whose real name is Quentin Beck. Fury gives Tony’s glasses to Peter as Tony’s successor, and these give Peter command over E.D.I.T.H, the AI system that holds access to Stark Industries databases and a supply of orbital weapons. Beck claims to be from a parallel Earth that was destroyed by Elemental monsters like the water one in Venice, leading him to travel to Peter’s world to save it from the same fate.
After battling the Fire Elemental in Prague, Peter declines Fury’s invitation to travel to Berlin to form a new superhero team. Instead, he tells Beck to go alone and transfers command of E.D.I.T.H to him. However, it turns out that Beck leads a group of disgraced former Stark Industries employees who desire to acquire E.D.I.T.H. To gain Peter’s trust, Beck used holographic technology to create Elemental monsters and Mysterio’s powers, made even more believable with weaponised drones that deal true damage. A drone piece that MJ picked up during the battle with the Fire Elemental helps Peter realise the truth. He tries to warn Fury but is intercepted by Mysterio, whose illusions make him near impossible to fight. Luckily, Peter is able to figure out how to use his Spider-Sense to overcome this obstacle and disrupts Mysterio’s disastrous attack on London. Spider-Man defeats him, regaining control of E.D.I.T.H. A dying Mysterio orders an associate to retrieve drone data. The reason for this comes to light in the movie’s ending scene: back in New York, a broadcast shows Mysterio framing Spider-Man for the London attack and exposes Peter’s secret identity to the world.
Trailers for the newest Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: No Way Home show Tom Holland returning to his coveted role, along with Zendaya as MJ and Jacob Batalon as his best friend, Ned. With Peter Parker’s secret identity revealed in the last film, No Way Home
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