Spider-Man is arguably the most popular and beloved superhero in modern pop culture. A staple in movies and television since the 1960s, Spidey is Marvel’s crowning jewel, a near-universally adored hero that appeals to children and adults alike. Few superheroes have as much staying power as Spidey, cementing his place as a timeless icon and a staple of modern pop culture.
- 19. Danny Seagren
- 18. Ted Schwartz
- 17. Drake Bell
- 17. Benjamin Valic
- 15. Rino Romano
- 14. Chris Pine
- 13. Nicolas Cage
- 12. Paul Soles
- 11. Hudson Thames
- 10. Nicholas Hammond
- 9. Dan Gilvezan
- 8. Jake Johnson
- 7. Neil Patrick Harris
- 6. Tobey Maguire
- 5. Tom Holland
- 4. Andrew Garfield
- 3. Robbie Daymond
- 2. Josh Keaton
- 1. Christopher Daniel Barnes
The web crawler has a rich and long history in movies and television. Since transitioning from the page to the screen in the Silver Age, Spider-Man has starred in countless animated series, received multiple live-action movies, and appeared as a major supporting figure in many other projects. But who, out of all the actors who have played him, is the best Spider-Man? It’s not an easy decision – every actor has brought something unique and valuable to the table. However, some are undeniably better than others, and a few have become synonymous with the character. To begin, we will focus only on the character of Peter Parker, as he has the most depictions in movies and television.
The recurring skit Spidey Super Stories was part of the original Children’s Television Workshop. Puppeteer and dancer Danny Seagren played the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in this near-forgotten skit about the hero stopping petty criminals.
Although Spidey Super Stories is the second live-action version of any Marvel character, few remember it. Seagren did what was demanded from him, but the skit’s nature, coupled with its poor production qualities, makes for a bizarre depiction of the iconic character.
The 1981 series Spider-Man was the second animated effort starring the web crawler. Ted Schwartz voiced the titular character with enough enthusiasm to make up for the show’s uninspired and largely humorless approach.
Schwartz is a good enough Spider-Man – he can sound occasionally monotonous, though, which only exacerbates the series’ lazy dialog.
Drake Bell was a curious choice to voice Spider-Man. He does a fine job, but if you’re familiar with his Nickelodeon work — and chances are, you are — it’s near-impossible to find his performance believable. Seeing episodes of Ultimate Spider-Man will make you keenly aware that you are listening to Drake Bell, not Peter Parker.
This was probably intentional — Bell was still somewhat popular in 2012. However, that also means the show was aged badly, especially considering the downfall of Bell’s public image. His stunt casting might’ve worked in 2012, but it feels awful in 2023.
Like most kiddie versions of major IP, Spidey and His Amazing Friends is sweet, silly, and largely forgettable. Benjamin Valic plays a child version of Spider-Man fighting child versions of his famous rogues gallery, accompanied by child versions of Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales. Children will doubtless be entertained. Adults? Not so much.
Ultimate Spider-Man has its fans, but it’s ultimately a bizarre and somewhat out-of-place approach to adapting such an iconic hero. The show removes the hero from his familiar surroundings, throwing him into an alien world ravaged by civil war. Spider-Man can get quite bizarre, but this setup is far too removed from the traditional elements that make Spidey work.
Although the show sucks as a Spider-Man adaptation, Rino Romano is a rather good Spider-Man. He nails the character’s usual witty persona while capturing the youthful vigor that makes most Spidey adaptations work. If only Ultimate Spider-Man were as good.
The best Hollywood Chris voices the ultimate version of Spider-Man in 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, one of the best comic book movies of the 2010s and a strong contender for the best Spider-Man movie ever. Chris Pine’s Peter Parker is supposed to be the pinnacle of Spidey awesomeness, what every other Spider-Man wished they could be.
Pine nails the role. He is dignified but charming, what an older, more mature, experienced Spider-Man should sound like. Unfortunately, his role in the film is small, but Pine’s performance is good — great, even. They say good things come in small doses, and in Pine’s Spidey’s case, they did.
Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage is a cinematic icon. He always goes big and bold, and we love him for it. Cage voices Spider-Man Noir in Into the Spider-Verse, a 1930s version of Peter Parker who works as a PI and likes to “drink egg creams and fight Nazis.”
Cage is delightful in the role. Sure, it’s not the Peter Parker fans know, but Spider-Man noir excels as a fun and refreshing version of a well-known character who has never been afraid to explore his whackier side.
The 1967 animated version of Spider-Man gave us many great memes and an iconic theme song. It also gave us Paul Soles’ hilarious take on the character. Soles fits his show’s tone to a tee: he’s silly, breezy, lighthearted, and lacking any ounce of self-importance.
Spider-Man is now mostly remembered for its ridiculous and often borderline demented storylines, which feel like taking an acid trip through the spider’s web. Through it all, Soles guides the action with his pitch-perfect voice work as the titular hero. Soles deserves more credit for matching the show’s energy, even if that energy is more unhinged than most Spider-Man fans are used to.
Tom Holland could not reprise the Spider-Man role in the Marvel Disney+ show What If…? As a result, Hudson Thames replaced him in the animated show, and the result was better than expected.
Rather than making a direct impression of Holland’s version, Thames captures his vibe while still bringing something new to the table. What If…? doesn’t do nearly as much as it could with its showy premise, but its alternate versions of familiar characters are compelling at the very least.
Nicholas Hammond, then best known for his role in The Sound of Music, played Peter Parker in the 1970s TV series The Amazing Spider-Man and a trilogy of subsequent films. Hammond was the second live-action Spidey and the first to take the character into a more dignified approach.
Rewatching Hammond’s Spider-Man movies and shows gives you new respect for his take on the character. He embodies Peter’s cheeky confidence without forgetting his infamous social awkwardness. Hammond did a lot to establish Peter’s modern persona, and while his scenes as Spider-Man are less effective, that’s an issue of his time, not his performance.
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is an underrated entry into the web slinger’s canon. The show puts Spidey next to Firestar and Iceman, expanding the hero’s world more than ever by bringing several Marvel heroes along for the ride, including the X-Men and Captain America.
Dan Gilvezan voices Spider-Man and does a pretty great job. He finds the right mix between the character’s funny charm and his by-the-book approach, delivering one of the best takes on Spider-Man up to that point. Yes, he sometimes sounds a bit robotic, but that’s an issue plaguing most 80s cartoons and not specific to his otherwise great performance.
Whoever thought of casting Jake Johnson as a jaded, depressed, underachieving version of Spider-Man deserves a raise. The beloved actor voices Peter B. Parker in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, acting as a reluctant mentor to Miles and a less prolific version of the web crawler.
Johnson is perfect in the role, going from bleak pessimism to random humor, often on the same line delivery. He is the perfect Peter for the film’s tone, allowing Mile to shine while making a strong enough impression to be missed when he’s gone. Johnson is the Peter for a new generation, cementing Into the Spider-Verse as one of the best Spider-Man movies.
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series is very much a product of its time – Lisa Loeb voices MJ, for crying out loud! Serving as a weird quasi-sequel to Sam Raimi’s game-changing movies, the show follows Peter’s adventures as a college student. Emmy-winner Neil Patrick Harris voices the main character and does a stellar job.
Unfortunately, The New Animated Series looks quite bad, especially by today’s standards. However, a more mature approach to the title character and Harris’ somber take on the role make for an inspired adaptation of the beloved hero. Harris keeps Spidey’s trademark wit but opts for a more solemn disposition, resulting in a fresh but faithful portrayal.
Sam Raimi revolutionized the superhero movie with his Spider-Man trilogy. The director brought the web-slinger to the apex of pop culture, embracing the character’s campy persona while showcasing his prowess as a superhero. The result was a trilogy of films that cemented Spider-Man’s legacy as arguably the best superhero in American culture and launched the new millennium’s superhero craze.
Tobey Maguire will always be Spider-Man to an entire generation. His take on the role emphasizes Peter’s underdog persona and social timidity, sending him on a traditional hero’s journey of self-discovery. Maguire’s Peter is more silly than funny, with Raimi going all-in on the character’s famous cheesy humor. He isn’t as cool as Spider-Man should be and has an infamously bad last film. However, Maguire’s Spidey pretty much reframed the web crawler as Marvel’s ultimate superstar — no small feat, considering the company’s notoriously bad situation in 2002.
Tom Holland brought Spider-Man into the MCU with admirable confidence. The actor delivers a bumbling, sympathetic, and relatable take on Peter Parker that fits seamlessly in the larger-than-life world of the MCU, standing out among a cast of more experienced actors and becoming one of the universe’s biggest and most beloved stars.
The MCU went young with Peter, and Holland perfectly embodied the character’s bashful enthusiasm. Not everything about his characterization works — his over-reliance on technology is grating, and the need to keep him as young as possible throughout his trilogy can get frustrating. However, Holland remains an incredible Spider-Man, effortlessly dominating the character’s famous humor and keeping his deer-in-the-headlights attitude at the ever-increasing threats he must face as a reluctant member of the Avengers. Holland will return for a fourth Spider-Man movie, confirming his reputation as a fan favorite and one of the MCU’s last icons.
It took years, but audiences are finally giving respect to Andrew Garfield’s brief time as the Marvel superhero. The two-time Oscar nominee is the best actor to ever don the red-and-blue suit, even if his two films are not necessarily great. 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man is good enough, and its sequel is bloated but far from awful. Yet, contemporary audiences and critics paid Garfield dust, unfairly so.
Garfield is the only actor to understand that Peter isn’t a loser; in fact, Peter is quite cool — he’s just unaware of it. Peter is an underdog, however, and Garfield’s version incorporates this, albeit more subtly than Maguire or Holland. Yet, the British actor brings more emotional depth than his predecessor and successor, mainly due to how invested his movies are in the character’s backstory with his parents. Garfield is near-perfect in the role because he finds the right balance between the civilian and the hero, something many superhero actors struggle with. Garfield is equally great as Peter and Spidey, sharing brilliant chemistry with his many villains and his one true love interest. In short, Garfield’s Spider-Man is simply amazing.
Some characters like Batman and Harley Quinn are closely related to one voice actor; Spider-Man isn’t. Several actors have voiced him, although none have left such a massive mark to overshadow the others. In short, there’s no Kevin Conroy for Spider-Man. However, Robbie Daymond has left a considerable mark on the role.
The actor has voiced Spider-Man across several shows and even video games, including the better-than-you-remember 2017 series Marvel’s Spider-Man. Daymond goes for a youthful approach that feels more toward the teens than the twenties, but that seems to be where most people want their Spider-Man to be. Daymond is highly enthusiastic in the role, a seemingly inexhaustible ball of energy that never gets tired; that’s who Spider-Man should be. He’ll get his ass kicked over and over, but he will always get back up. So props to Daymond for capturing that can-do energy without seeming grating.
The Spectacular Spider-Man is among the all-time best depictions of the character – it’s from the man behind the underrated triumph that is Young Justice; of course, it’s great. Respecting Peter’s essence but updating it for a new audience, the show does a stellar job of depicting one of pop culture’s biggest stars. Coupled with some beautiful animation, The Spectacular Spider-Man is a gem.
Josh Keaton is the perfect Spider-Man. Lively, witty, cheeky, a bit of a smartass, endlessly self-deprecating, defiant, and incredibly personable. Keaton is almost unbeatable in the role, bringing a unique energy into his performance that marvelously brings the character to life. Keaton finds the right balance between playfulness and seriousness; to quasi-quote one of pop culture’s biggest stars, he’s not a boy, not yet a man. That’s the sweet spot where Peter Parker exists, and Keaton settles in seamlessly.
Call it nostalgia, but in the minds of many, no Spider-Man actor will ever surpass Christopher Daniel Barnes. The actor voiced the friendly neighborhood in the ’90s classic series Spider-Man, providing the definitive portrayal of the arachnid hero.
Barnes isn’t afraid to go big. In fact, there’s a healthy dose of overacting in a few Spider-Man episodes, which only contributes to its entertainment value. Because Spider-Man is campy and silly — he’s the guy who laughs at his own jokes, and Barnes captures this beautifully. Spider-Man is a gem of ’90s television, arguably the greatest animated version of a superhero, only surpassed by Batman: The Animated Series. And is largely because of Barnes’ charming portrayal, which defined a generation of Spider-Man fans and remains a loving depiction of the famous web crawler.
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