(Photo by Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection)
Spider-Man swung into theaters in 2002, cementing Marvel Comics as a viable player in the superhero movie arena, which had been dominated by DC with Superman and Batman. And though 2000’s X-Men felt the need to modernize its team, Spider-Man fully embraced its classical roots, down to the iconic outfit. That’s because director Sam Raimi was a lifelong fan who fully knew how to navigate and celebrate Spidey, from the relatable morality at the core of Peter Parker (played by Tobey Maguire) and the shattering death of his Uncle Ben, to his stormy relationship with Mary Jane and those workplace shenanigans with hard-ass newspaper boss J. Jonah Jameson, and finally Parker’s iconic battle with the Green Goblin, whose son just happens to be Peter’s best friend.
Spider-Man arguably fights the greatest rogues gallery in all of Marveldom, and they certainly got their due on-screen in the Raimi trilogy. Doctor Octopus gets his tentacles all over Spider-Man 2, while Sandman, Venom, and junior Goblin stack the cast in Spider-Man 3. Though a box office hit like the others, Spider-Man 3‘s tepid critical and fan response was enough to kill the momentum on continuing the series.
In 2012, Spider-Man was rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man, with Andrew Garfield as Parker. The film sought to bring in the pre-Mary Jane flame, Gwen Stacy, and pitted Spider-Man against another classic villain, The Lizard, as director Marc Webb developed a more realistic portrayal of Peter’s world, as opposed to Raimi’s comic-book overtone. The second Amazing Spider-Man fell for the too-many-villains trap (we had Electro, Green Goblin, and Rhino), and the franchise shut down again.
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe in full motion, Marvel Studios was able to negotiate a deal with Sony, which holds the theatrical rights to Spider-Man, to get the character to jump to the MCU. Thus, Tom Holland made his debut in 2016 for the centerpiece battle in Captain America: Civil War, before starring in his own celebrated film, Spider-Man: Homecoming one year later.
It’s been good times for Spidey fans ever since, with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (the animated blockbuster that brings Miles Morales into the fold), Spider-Man: Far From Home, and No Way Home. Even his bad guys have reason to celebrate: Critics may not have loved 2018’s Venom, but audiences sure did. And Tom Hardy clearly does as well, as he returned as Eddie Brock for Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
Now, we’re ranking all Spider-Man and Venom movies by Tomatometer!
The third Marvel Studios Spider-Man film almost didn’t happen. In the summer of 2019, arguments between the Walt Disney Company and Sony Pictures Entertainment about the former’s profit participation in the project seemingly stopped development dead. Soon after the companies stopped negotiations, Tom Holland used his clout to get both organization to resume talks.
At least, that’s one version of the story.
However it actually happened, Disney and Sony agreed to produce another Spider-Man film (and to feature the Holland version of the character in a yet-to-be announced Marvel Studios film). And if the recent trailers any indication, this third Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man is going to be the biggest film of the webhead’s cinematic career.
So let’s take a look at what we know about the film so far and what it might mean for Peter Parker’s (Holland) future in the MCU, the Spider-Verse, or some combination of the two.
[Updated on 8/24/21]
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Since Holland leveraged his participation in the upcoming adaptation of Sony’s Uncharted video game series to make it happen, he is definitely back as Spider-Man. Joining him, as they have for the previous few films, are Zendaya as MJ, Jacob Batalon as Peter’s best friend Ned, and Marisa Tomei as Peter’s aunt, May Parker. Tony Revolori will also appear as quasi-nemesis Flash Thompson, and J.K. Simmons will continue on as J. Jonah Jameson following his cameo at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home. But his appearance was more of a tease than we ever realized about the next Spider-Man and the return of some familiar faces. More on that in a moment.
Behind the camera, director Jon Watts returns to join a very exclusive club of filmmakers who navigated Marvel machinery to make a full trilogy – currently, Ant-Man series director Peyton Reed and Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn are scheduled to join him in that fraternity by 2023.
On the script side, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers also return for their third outing with Holland’s Spider-Man, as do producers Amy Pascal and, of course, Kevin Feige, who seems to be using the film as an opportunity to introduce a lot of Spider-Man film history into his Marvel Universe.
(Photo by ©Columbia Pictures)
Although the COVID-19 epidemic slightly delayed the film – it moved from an initial July 2021 release to the end of that year – news started emerging throughout 2020 that suggested it may be the biggest Spider-Man film to date.
It all began on October 1, 2020, when word broke that Jamie Foxx would appear in the the film as Electro, the character he played in Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — the film’s whose relative shortcomings led to the studio’s talks with Marvel about placing Peter in the MCU in the first place. Though it was possible Foxx would play a new version of the character more tailored to the Marvel reality, many began to wonder if he was playing the same Electro from that earlier film, giving it a place in the tapestry of the MCU.
A week later, Benedict Cumberbatch joined the cast to reprise his role as Doctor Strange. According to the reports at the time, Strange was presumed to serve the same “mentor” role as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Nick Fury/Telos (Samuel L. Jackson) in Far From Home. From the teaser trailer released in August of 2021, though, it’s clear Strange’s role is more “co-conspirator” than mentor as Peter tries to use magic to erase his public outing. In the trailer released in November, Strange also charges Peter with a new task – although some moments suggest they will also come into conflict.
(Photo by Matt Kennedy/©2021 CTMG)
Of course, Strange’s choice to help Peter will lead to his next starring role in 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which seems poised to serve as an Avengers-style keystone in the Multiverse plot weaving its way around Phase 4. In addition to returning to threads from WandaVision, it seems pretty clear he will become aware of the Loki problem as well.
When asked about the nature of his role, Foxx played coy at first, but then infamously posted – and subsequently deleted – a picture of the three live-action Spider-Man actors (Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Holland) to his Instagram. It inspired hope that perhaps Holland’s Spidey would meet his colleagues from other realities, echoing Sony’s Oscar-winning animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
(Photo by Marvel Entertainment)
Then, in December of 2020, a flood of info seemed to confirm this notion. Alfred Molina was spotted on set, and the trades subsequently reported he was reprising his Spider-Man 2 role of Doctor Octopus. Just a few short hours later, a report from Collider indicated Kirsten Dunst was in talks to reprise Mary Jane Watson from the first Spider-Man film series, with The Amazing Spider-Man’s Andrew Garfield also planning to join the film. Original Spidey Tobey Maguire and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy in the ASM series) were also said to be circling the project; Stone’s pregnancy may prevent her from appearing, while Maguire may only need the right deal to make this meeting of the cinematic Spider-Men a dream come true. Aside from Molina’s casting, none of the others has been confirmed, but the November trailer made it clear that both screen Green Goblins, the Lizard, and the Sandman will all appear as more deadly foes Spider-Man must face. It is still unclear, though, if they will be played by the original actors or just appear as costumes and CGI.
Also, eagle-eyed fans on the Internet have already noticed the Lizard reacting to a seemingly invisible opponent at one point, indicating some world-famous Marvel image manipulation may be obscuring certain characters in the trailer.
At this time, it is unknown if the previous Aunt May actors, Rosemary Harris and Sally Field, have also been approached, but other rumors indicate Charlie Cox will play Matt Murdoch from Netflix’s Daredevil series — apparently to represent Spider-Man in court.
While all of these actors represent a huge cast, particularly for a Spider-Man film, it also suggests No Way Home is looking more across the gulf to Sony than a story about Peter’s place in the MCU. Which may not be a bad plan, all things considered.
(Photo by ©Columbia Pictures)
The wildly successful Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse already established all the fictional architecture required to either transfer Holland’s Spider-Man into Sony’s film universe – a narrative setting it tried to dub the “Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters” in 2019, but shortened to “Sony’s Spider-Man Universe” last August – or bring the Spider-Verse into the MCU. The various realities are all true, after all; even the reality where Spider-Man 2099 is played by Oscar Isaac. Considering the way other realities appear to be converging toward the end of the November trailer, we could imagine the film establishing a long-term explanation for the two movie universes and Peter’s place within them.
Sony, as it happens, was ready to walk away from the MCU in 2019 thanks to the success of its incipient Spider-Verse. The animated film took home a Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards and created a lasting legacy. The studio’s 2018 film Venom, meanwhile, proved they could launch a successful Spider-Man movie without Spider-Man. That confidence led to some of the disagreements when Disney wanted a larger cut of No Way Home, and it emboldened Sony to finally move ahead with Spider-related projects they wanted to produce since The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
(Photo by Sony Pictures Entertainment)
That film was supposed to lead directly in to a Sinister Six movie in which the most dastardly foes of Spider-Man teamed up against him. The tepid box office and critical response to ASM2 put a hard stop those plans and led to a rebooted Peter Parker’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War and subsequent Marvel releases. Nevertheless, Sony continued to develop Venom, Into the Spider-Verse, and a movie centering on Black Cat and Silver Sable.
As it stands, Sony is currently developing films centering on Madame Web, Black Cat and Silver Sable as separate projects, Silk, Kraven the Hunter, and Spider-Woman, the latter with Olivia Wilde slated to direct. It also has two completed films, Venom: Let There Be Carnage — which bowed in October — and Morbius, set for release early next year.
(Photo by Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Morbius also raised eyebrows with a trailer released in late 2019 that referenced Peter’s current problems in the MCU; that is to say, various shots offered glimpses of posters referring to Spider-Man as a murderer. Making Morbius’s place in the Spider-Verse murkier was the surprise appearance of Micheal Keaton, presumably playing Adrian Toomes from Homecoming and offering Micheal Morbius (Jared Leto) a piece of the action. It left fans wondering whether Spider-Man was finally going to fight the Sinister Six or the group was coming to him to fight on MCU turf. The November trailer presents a sinister group of Spider-Man’s enemies ready to fight him, and Let There Be Carnage’s stinger scene made it clear two Sony characters are definitely in the MCU.
It remains to be seen, though, just how connected the MCU and the Sony Spider-Man Universe will be. There are certain advantages to keeping the MCU and the Spider-Verse close, particularly if the relationship between Sony and Disney warms up. But as with No Way Home’s apparent cast list, the potential universe-hopping plot leaves many breathlessly anticipating its release.
(Photo by Marvel Entertainment)
Spider-Man: No Way Home is set for release on December 17th, 2021, a date that seemed in doubt even after the August trailer. But with just a month to go before release, Sony is absolutely committed to letting fans see the film soon.
Thumbnail images by ©Sony Pictures Entertainment
For some movies, the hype building up to their release isn’t based on its stars or director or plot, but by the boutique company putting it out to the public. Think A24. Think Laika. Think Blumhouse, the production org that’s become synonymous in horror with low budgets, big returns, and bigger thrills.
Over the past two decades, magnate of monstrosity Jason Blum — who has also produced plenty of “normal” movies — has banked his legacy on reinventing how horror scripts are discovered and made, keeping the genre from going stale, like it infamously did in the ’90s. After all, blood dries quickly; gotta keep it fresh. Look to franchises like The Purge, Paranormal Activity, and Insidious: when you watch one Blumhouse horror movie, you’re probably gonna seek out what else they’re up to.
And now Blum’s back this week with Us. It’s not strictly Blumhouse (credit that to Monkeypaw Productions), but it is built off the groundbreaking, Best Picture-nominated Get Out, and represents a stunning continuation of writer/director Jordan Peele’s mission to infuse horror with brash brains. And that’s Mr. Blum in the producer credits. Now, we’re ranking every Blumhouse horror movie by Tomatometer!
The crack of the bat. The roar of the crowd. The smell of ballpark franks, and we’re not just talking of the Thomas variety. At Rotten Tomatoes, we’ve cleared the benches and rushed the field with the best-reviewed baseball movies of all time!
From sentimental favorites (Field of Dreams, The Natural) to inside documentaries (Ballplayer: Pelotero) to wild comedies (The Sandlot, A League of Their Own) we’ve got a murderer’s row of heavy hitters. And because we know baseball fans trend towards being stat geeks, here’s ours: We picked only Fresh movies before sorting them using our ranking formula, which takes into account factors like year of release and number of overall reviews. The latter is important to the non-theatrical films (like 61* or The Battered Bastards of Baseball) to keep that playing field grass nice and even.
Batter up! It’s time to go to bat with the best baseball movies ever!
Friends of the super variety, we’ve collected every Fresh and Certified Fresh superhero movie with at least 20 reviews to assemble our guide to the 75 best superhero movies ever, ranked by Tomatometer!
It’s been a decades-long battle towards the top in pop culture for superhero movies, and we’re featuring here all the goods, the greats, and the masterpieces made along the way. Everything from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man, Avengers) to DCEU (Aquaman, Wonder Woman), animated fare (The Incredibles, Megamind) to live-action spoofs (The Toxic Avenger, Mystery Men), comedies (Deadpool) and the super serious (The Dark Knight), and then throwing in some originals made just for the big screen (The Rocketeer, Darkman, Unbreakable).
Great leaping buggaboos! This introduction is now over! Throw up the cape, slip on that cowl (but leave the whip at home, unless you’re looking for the erotic films list…), and hop into the Tomatomobile: We ride for to the 75 best superhero movies of all time!
Born in the morbid, decaying wonderland known as Burbank, California, visionary director Tim Burton showed a propensity for the dark arts from a young age, guiding him into a CalArts education, and then the prestigious honor of getting fired from Disney in the mid-’80s. The reasoning: Wasting company money animating things too scary to show kids. This only gave Burton the opportunity to let his imagination run unfettered on the big screen and, with the help of some choice partners-in-crime, produced one deranged hit after another: Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, two Michael Keaton Batman movies, Edward Scissorhands. (And if you’re later wondering why Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t on this list, though he’s often associated with the role, Burton is not credited as director on the film.)
After perhaps his finest hour — turning the cultural tide on the worst director ever with Ed Wood — Burton has oscillated between pet project curios (Frankenweenie, Dark Shadows) and bombastic blockbusters, such as Alice in Wonderland, which made a lot of money for, appropriately enough, Disney. And with Edward Scissorhands celebrating its 30th anniversary, we’re ranking all Tim Burton movies by Tomatometer!
Tom Holland is riding high as Marvel Studios’ current live-action Spider-Man, but he is far from the first to slip on the Spidey suit. Some would say it was Tobey Maguire, with his three Spider-Man films directed by Sam Raimi, who kicked off the superhero movie era as we know it and respect must be paid; others would say Andrew Garfield was an underrated web-slinger who perhaps failed to soar less because of his performance than the movies that surrounded it. Others would counter with a GIF of Maguire dancing. We’re here to settle the debate once and for all – at least Mark Ellis is. Our Vs. host is breaking down the Spider-Men by Tomatometer, box office, and the villains they faced to determine once and for all who wore it best – “it” being the blue-and-red suit, of course.
Check out clips of some of Spider-Man’s best moments.
This August, Rotten Tomatoes turns 21 and to mark the occasion we’re celebrating the 21 Most Memorable Moments from the movies over the last 21 years. For this special video series, which we’ve been publishing over the last four months, we spoke to the actors and filmmakers who made those moments happen, revealing behind-the-scenes details about how the moments came to be and diving deep into why they’ve stuck with us for so long. You’ll find big ’90s twists – yep, he sees dead people – as well as super-recent cliffhangers, like Thanos’s universe-halving Snap. There are laughs (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Elf, Bridesmaids) and romance (The Notebook, Spider-Man) and more than a few scares (The Blair Witch Project, 28 Days Later…). But which moment is the single most memorable of the last 21 years? Well, that’s where you come in. We’re asking you to watch the below videos and then vote on your favorite movie moment of the last two decades (and a bit).
Voting is open now and runs until midnight Friday August 16 and we will announce the winner on August 19. Fans get a single vote – so choose wisely – and moments are listed in the order they were published over the past few months, most often to tie in with anniversaries and relevant occasions.
Director George Miller: “It’s a moment by the way, I think, is available only to her. I don’t think any other character could have done it. I remember the line. I remember Charlize on that day said that she wanted to say the line. It wasn’t a written line. She said, ‘Look, I feel like I really want to say it. OK by you?’ I said, ‘Great.’ It just hit a sweet spot in amongst that action, and it was a little pause before the brutality of the moment and the continuation of the action that was to come.”
Co-director Joe Russo: “Anth and I, through our entire experience at Marvel, always tried to make very disruptive choices with each film. The end of Winter Solider, good guys and the bad guys, we flip everything on its head. In Civil War we divorce the Avengers. With Infinity War we knew we wanted to make a strong narrative choice. There’s an adage where you write yourself into a corner, and you try to figure out how to get out. That usually creates really dramatic moments for the audience. There’s no bigger way to write ourselves into a corner than killing half the characters.”
Director Baz Luhrmann: “I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we put her in a circus trapeze and we did a trapeze number, but we’ll have to have a stunt person. But Nicole being Nicole was like, ‘No way.’ So she trained with a circus person for a good, I would say, two weeks to do that number and when you see her swing around that’s her. It’s her all the way through that footage. She’s on the trapeze, she’s being swung around, she comes down, she falls into all those guys. So she was 100% stunt-free on that moment.”
Makeup artist John Caglione Jr.: “Heath [Ledger] was great in the chair. Special actors like Heath – and my experience with Al Pacino over the years – these actors help you relax so that you can bring your game… I always got the feeling that [Heath] had already worked it out in his head, from what I remember. He knew where he was going. Early on, in first meeting Heath and playing around with the makeup, he already kind of had it all figured out. It was my job to just basically gild the lily and try to catch up with him, really. That’s what I felt.”
Co-writer and co-director Eduardo Sánchez: “The direction was: You’re not going to make it out of here. This is like an internal monologue. We were directing these actors to almost be like their conscience speaking to them. For Heather, it’s like, ‘You’re responsible for this. You’re the one who brought them out here. You didn’t heed the warnings. You knew this is dangerous and you brought these guys out here. Say your goodbyes. If you want to apologize to people, apologize to people, just basically say goodbye.’ We called it a confessional, your last confessional before you’re going. You’re not going to get out, and hopefully, somebody will find these tapes and will be able to tell your story, but tell your mom goodbye, and tell your family goodbye.”
Director Sam Raimi: “In the rain while he was doing the scene, I remember, he was slightly drowning because he couldn’t wipe his nose and the water was falling down into his upside-down nose, into his nostrils. So he was kinda drowning, and the only way he could breathe was through his mouth. It doesn’t look un-pleasurable, but I think it must’ve been.”
Director Danny Boyle: “One of the technical advantages of using these smaller cameras is that you could shoot a location, not multiple times, but you could shoot it from multiple viewpoints simultaneously. Cillian was in no rush, he could just walk across. But you don’t get much time at these locations free of people even at four o’clock in the morning when we shot. So what happened was we hired a lot of students, because they’re cheap, to be our traffic marshals.”
Director Nick Cassavetes: “There was something built up between these two kids, and it has nothing to do with directing. Because when we turned the cameras on, the scene was like: He’s mad at her, she’s mad at him, and then he says that he wrote her every day, and that’s the key that unlocks the door. And when that door got unlocked, I didn’t need to direct nothing. They wound up together for many years after the movie, which is…I don’t know if I’m proud of it, but I think it’s fantastic that they found each other like that. And I think that was the moment, because they weren’t together before that kiss. But they were together after that kiss, so maybe that was one of the deciding moments.”
Representative John Lewis: “I truly believe that Oprah, Ava, and the staff working on the film sought my involvement because they knew my history. Selma represented an attempt to redeem the soul of America, to help us move closer to the participation of all people in the political process. This film can educate and inform the mind of hundreds and thousands of young people around America and around the world.”
Actor Vin Diesel: “And it was that moment where we realized that Fast and Furious didn’t need to be restricted in any way. That we were so thorough about story and character, and it’s so much a tale of brotherhood and family, right, that we were allowed these kind of outrageous and fantasy-filled moments, and flying through the air was playing to that. Flying from building to building was playing to that. It was one of those solutions to the riddle, or answers to the riddle, ‘How do we one-up the spectacle of each film?’”
Cinematographer James Laxton: “When Barry alerted us to the storm approaching, we gathered our equipment together as quickly as possible, ran out into the water, and in some respects… I don’t want to say improvised, because what is in the script is on camera, if not in the exact way it was depicted. But we had a lot more shots in our shot list, and [were going to be] much more organized about capturing it. We had to really get out there and… let Mahershala as Juan guide this young man, and [have] me out in the water, as well, trying to capture this swimming lesson as it came. It [was shot] almost like a documentary, less so like a film in some respects. Sometimes your reaction to moments is as good as a well detailed plan might be. Sometimes it’s even better.”
Director Pete Docter: “There’s one moment in that montage where Ellie has to go to the doctor and it’s implied that they can’t have children for whatever reason. That raised some eyebrows even here at work as we were developing the film. So, we did experiment with taking it out. And we thought, ‘Well, maybe [the sequence] could still work [without it] because there’s some really charming stuff.’ But the strange thing was, not only did we not feel the emotion as strongly in that one little sequence, but as we watched the rest of the film the whole film lost a little bit. I can’t really fully explain that other than to say it was a real dark, low moment for them that I think made that relationship feel more real. The sort of pain and loss of that situation bonded those characters together and made you empathize more with them.”
Actor Andy Serkis: “I’d never considered myself a voice actor, just a regular actor, and I had to kind of think my way into it. I started to work on this notion that he’s called Gollum because of the way he sounds – and what would make his voice sound like that? I started to think about constriction of the throat, and as I was doing that, I was actually fortunate enough to witness my cat throwing up a fur ball. It suddenly gave me this idea that the whole physicality of the role would be determined by this force within, which is kind of built out of guilt and torment – this involuntary physical action is what caused this sound coming out of his mouth. The cat throwing up a fur ball is actually what generated the idea for this involuntary spewing out of words.”
Co-Writer Annie Mumolo: “We [originally] had a fantasy sequence where they go into the dress shop, and Kristen’s character tries on this dress and she has this fantasy that when she wears this dress, she’s all of a sudden in a castle. And all the men at the wedding are fawning over her. There’s so many of them wanting her so badly [that] just to escape from the castle she goes running out into this field and runs into the forest. And she naturally sees Christian Bale there, who’s chopping wood without a shirt on. And they end up on a bearskin rug, and he was combing her hair, and it was this expansive sequence of her little love affair with Christian Bale. In the meantime, [back in the real world] Helen gets the women to get the dress she wants because Annie is caught up in her fantasy. So that was the original [scene]. And then I think Judd said at one point we’ll never get Christian Bale to do this. And then we tried to put in Matt Damon and then we’re like, ‘As if we’re going to get Matt Damon to do this.’ He was concerned we weren’t going to get anybody to do it. And also he felt it needed harder comedy there, rather than what we had. So, we sadly let that go. We did not want to let that go. We loved that sequence.”
Director David Yates: “Harry sort of carries the spirit of Voldemort, in part, and they have this unity, and I had this idea that Harry and Voldemort are at the top of a school tower, and as they confronted each other… Dan would grab Ralph, and actually pull him off this tower, and they would apparate around the school together, and as they apparated around the school together, we’d explore this weird visual synthesis that exists between the two of them, and they’d eventually tumble down into the courtyard.”
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige: “The moment I realized that this could be an iconic moment, not just for the MCU, but for these kind of films, was on the mix stage. When the effects were final and when Alan Silvestri’s amazing score was coming in, and the timing, and the experience of watching the whole movie up to that point… That[‘s when] I got chills and I realized Joss had pulled it off.”
Stunt double Chad Stahelski: “So Keanu and I both had to back up to our number one marks and pretty much try to do all the choreography and the one-handed cartwheel and all the shooting with your eyes closed. Because once the squibs started going off, you couldn’t see anything. You had to count your steps and kinda go into it. And I remember looking at him and going ‘Uh, OK, this could be a little tricky.’ And he’s like ‘Eh, OK.’ And he nailed it first take. So that was pretty cool.”
Actor Haley Joel Osment: “There was an even-more morbid element to that scene that actually ended up getting cut out: When I tell Bruce my secret, [at] the last shot of the scene they pull back from my bed and you look out the window where you can see another entire wing of the hospital and in every window there is a person with some horrible injury or someone who’s gone pale because, you know, being in a hospital is a pretty heavy place for a ghost to linger around in this world. So, you pull back and you see all these people lined up on the other side of the frame.”
Writer-director Judd Apatow: “I basically set up four cameras and we had some basic beats we wanted to hit. We knew that we had to get Steve’s real reactions, so we shot it like a documentary. We wrote out tons of curses, because we did plan the main joke to be that he would just curse right into her face. And we also made lists of words that weren’t real curses that sounded like curses. That’s how we got to Steve screaming ‘Kelly Clarkson!’ Off to the side, Seth Rogen had made this enormous list of curses, and I would just yell them out to Steve, and each time they ripped the hair off of something he would scream out one of the curses.”
Director Patty Jenkins: “I think that the biggest reason I was obsessed with [the scene] was really from a character place. From Diana’s point of view, it is: What is the birth of a superhero? Just like Superman pulling his shirt open the first time and revealing the ‘S,’ these are definitive, incredible moments, and so I knew that Wonder Woman needed an incredible moment and because we were doing her origin story, it really needed to be the moment that she made the decision to go from being a younger person who was hopeful and idealistic to one who decides to be a hero despite knowing more. And so in this story, that was what I cared about.”
Actor Will Ferrell: “That kind of exclamation of ‘Santa!’ and screaming it, that was just my articulation of Buddy literally taking that piece of news [that Santa is coming] at face value and [thinking] what would be his literal reaction. A man without a country in this strange land finally getting to see someone he knows really well – it would just be the most jubilant reaction ever. I know that the first couple takes really took people by surprise, that I would go that big with it. And all of that, ‘Santa, I know him,’ all of that playing around we did, that was all improvised there.”
Watch: Director Sam Raimi and stunt coordinator Jeff Habberstad on the making of Spider-Man above.
In 2019, Rotten Tomatoes turns 21, and to mark the occasion we’re celebrating the 21 Most Memorable Moments from the movies over the last 21 years. In this special video series, we speak to the actors and filmmakers who made those moments happen, revealing behind-the-scenes details of how they came to be and diving deep into why they’ve stuck with us for so long. Once we’ve announced all 21, it will be up to you, the fans, to vote for which is the most memorable moment of all. In this episode of our ‘21 Most Memorable Moments’ series, director Sam Raimi and stunt coordinator reveal how a cold night in the fake rain on the backlot helped shift the course for the superhero movies forever.
It’s unthinkable today, but making a Spider-Man movie in 2002 was a risk. Hollywood had gone cold on the superhero movie following the diminishing returns of the Batman movies, turning its attention to fantasy epics and series instead. Making a superhero movie with a somewhat scrawny, emotionally vulnerable kid at its center? With large portions playing out like a high-school comedy? Directed by the guy who made The Evil Dead? That was almost unthinkable. But Sony’s risk would pay off, with director Sam Raimi’s take on the Peter Parker character and the comic-book movie changing the next two decades of cinema that would follow. Here Raimi recalls how he had to fight passionately to get the job and execute his vision, while stunt coordinator Jeff Habberstad reveals how he helped bring that vision to life.
Sam Raimi: “I had always been a giant fan of Stan Lee’s great comic books, Spider-Man chief among them, and I heard that Sony Pictures was going to make a movie of Spider-Man. So, I told my agent at the time I’d really like to get a meeting to be considered for the film, and he told me at the time that Sony Pictures wasn’t that interested in me as the director. I said, ‘Well, can they at least put me on the list somewhere down the line?’ And he called me back and said, “OK, you’re on the list. You’re number 17.’ I said, ‘What does that mean?’ He said, ‘It means there’s 16 directors they’d rather meet with before you.’ And I said, ‘Great.’ So, the months went on and I didn’t hear any response, and I called the agent. I said, ‘How’s it going?’ And he called me back and said, ‘Well, you’re number seven.’ I finally worked my way into an actual meeting with them, and they said, ‘Tell us about the movie you wanna make.’ All I did was I told them about my great love for Stan Lee’s comic book, Spider-Man, and what it was to me. And for me, it was a great love story with a real human being at center, Peter Parker. Somebody I could really identify with. Somebody who had to do homework. Someone who the girls weren’t crazy about. Somebody who was bullied. And, somebody who came from a broken home. And yet, he had to rise up in his off-hours and become this hero to protect the city, and I thought that was so moving. It seemed like they had never heard that version before, which is everything that Stan Lee did in his comics. And they called me up sometime later and said I had the job.”
Raimi: “Tobey was my first, and really, my only choice for the role. He’s very sensitive as a human being, and he’s a great actor, and so he understands the inner pain that Peter Parker feels, but knows to keep it hidden, and not to wear his heart on his sleeve. But at the time, Sony Pictures, headed up by Amy Pascal, didn’t see why he was the right choice for the role. I think the humanistic superhero hadn’t yet really hit the screens yet… It just came to everybody’s mind in Hollywood that a superhero should be strong, tall, leading man, have a lot of power or gravitas — he should be like how George Clooney played Batman or how the great Christopher Reeves played Superman. I was successful when I finally was able to communicate to Amy over the course of months of writing, working on the scripts with the writers, and doing pre-production, that we’re really making the story of a boy who learns responsibility. And I think when she finally understood the character that Stan Lee had created, she realized that Tobey was the right choice, and finally relented and allowed me to cast him. It’s very rare for me to have worked with a studio that actually listened [which Sony did], that actually understands that the director has a vision for a project and listens and knows to support that vision. It was a very new experience for me. Especially when it’s contrary to their vision.”
Raimi: “I had great graphic images all through my childhood years of how Spider-Man lands, what his pose looks like, how he swings from a web. I’d seen all these great artists’ artistic renderings. The job was not really difficult to come up with a vision, because it existed. It was to bring that vision to the big screen. How would we do that? How would we get actors to move in a way through space that only a comic book artist could depict? It really wasn’t realistic. It was fantasy. How could we bring that to life and make it real for the audience? It happens on a painstakingly slow frame-by-frame basis. So, that went on from the first day of drawing storyboard number one with my artists, to the last day of approving a CGI final. And it was all about, ‘He doesn’t look real here. We need to put more weight in the landing. We need to really show that the web is taking on the stretch. It doesn’t feel like it’s affected by his swinging.’ It was all about the details of trying to make it seem like it could really happen, and if we could do that, we didn’t even have to count on the spectacle being as high of a bar. Simply making it believable for the audience at the time would’ve wowed them. That was my thinking, and so that’s what we went for.”
Jeff Habberstad: We had several different stunt doubles for Spider-Man. We had two primary ones, Mark Wagner and Chris Daniels. Wagner came from Cirque du Soleil and Chris came from a dancing background, and they were both extremely good acrobats and also extremely flexible. And the flexibility, when you see how Spider-Man looks just when he lands in the bottom of the boxing ring or on the side of a building, he stretches and lands in a real comfortable-looking position for him, but for you and me, there’s no way we could get into that position. That’s kind of what I saw in the comic books – you see him all curled up like a spider in this beautiful pose that you can’t achieve. We definitely tried to achieve that as much as we possibly could.”
Raimi was determined that his Spider-Man be as much a drama, and a romance, as a wham-bam action flick. So it was that so many of the movie’s most memorable moments – the death of Uncle Ben among them – happen on the ground, not while Parker is swinging between skyscrapers. The movie’s most memorable scene happens both on the ground, and in the air, in a way: after fighting off some attackers, Spider-Man kisses Mary Jane Watson while hanging upside down. The rain pours and the sparks fly. Here, Raimi and Habberstad break down the cold wet night they spent shooting in the backlot, how Tobey Maguire was half-drowning throughout, and why the scene landed so well.
Raimi: “I remember we were on a studio backlot and we had our mechanical effects [team] create rain towers for the rain effect, and just that alone is always a little difficult at night for the actors. You know, because you do take after take and they’re being doused in kinda cold water. And it can become shivering… I mean, it can become really chilling. They had to endure that the whole night, I remember. Kirsten Dunst never said anything, but she was always shivering when we were discussing the scene. And so was Tobey, but they never complained about it.”
Habberstad: “All this rain coming down is getting cooled by the air, and it’s just like one big air conditioner trying to cool you off. If you’re in the rain, you’re freezing your buns off. But we would have to get out there, get in position, get the rain going, and then we would have to lift Tobey up on the wire, upside down in the position you saw him in the movie. That would take a couple minutes, so it’s a few minutes of misery each time we do the take. Then, of course, after the take’s over, you stop and now you’re wet. My recollection is we only did that a couple of times. It was just such a cool little moment that once you got it, you couldn’t really improve upon it.”
Raimi: “Not only was there a lot of physicality needed for the fight scene from Tobey, but then he had to hang upside down for this whole scene. And it’s hard to hang upside down, unless you’re trained to do it – your blood rushes to your head very quickly, you get a headache. Also what was difficult for him was that he was in a harness that was cutting into his shoulders, because they’re not really made to hang upside down in, specifically. And, in the rain while he was doing the scene, I remember, he was slightly drowning because he couldn’t wipe his nose and the water was falling down into his upside-down nose, into his nostrils. So he was kinda drowning, and the only way he could breathe was through his mouth. It doesn’t look un-pleasurable, but I think it must’ve been.”
Raimi: “We knew that [the scene] was a threshold moment for the character. This is Peter Parker, who had just come into his own, his own sense of responsibility, and into his powers as Spider-Man, starting to learn to master them. And he had always been pining for the woman he loved, Mary Jane Watson, he could never really tell. [As Spider-Man] Peter could both be responsible, and achieve his dream of helping the woman he loved. But it’s also about him finally getting to kiss the woman he loves, and her being attracted to him, and the vulnerability that he exposes to her in the scene is finally dealt with. His sense of fragility. And I think that’s why her pulling down the mask makes the moment special, because his character longs to be loved by her. He wants to be accepted by her, and to remove the mask is the idea of exposing yourself, to becoming vulnerable to someone who loves you.”
Iron Man may have officially kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008, but that box office behemoth might not have been possible without Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002. The movie – which Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige worked on, uncredited, before officially joining Spider-Man 2 as an executive producer – showed there was a huge appetite for the character and these kinds of movies, and its mix of action, grounded human drama, romance, and comedy, would become a template not just for Raimi’s sequels but for the best Marvel movies to follow. Despite six more movies (direct sequels, the Andrew Garfield reboots, Homecoming, and the animated Into the Spider-Verse), it remains the biggest-earning Spider-Man movie of all time – though the just-released Far From Home may challenge that title. Raimi could not see all that coming back in the early 2000s, though; then his ambitions were somewhat modest – he just wanted to do Spider-Man’s creator justice.
Raimi: “I felt the pressure that the genre was in trouble. It was very hard for me to get people to work on the film. I know it doesn’t seem likely [today], but that was the case [then]. Hollywood was soured on the superhero film around year 2000, 1999, and it was looked down upon as something that people didn’t really wanna act in. I tried to get different people interested in playing some of the other parts. No one was really interested, no one was that interested in taking key positions on the crew, tell you the truth.”
Habberstad: “Sam had this vision. I can give you an example. We were doing one scene, the second unit was shooting, and the second unit director came to Sam with this idea. He said, ‘Look, we’ll shoot it from under the truck and it will be a real wide-angle lens, and it’ll look real cartoon-y.’ Sam stopped him right there. He goes, ‘This is not a cartoon. This is a dramatic movie. It cannot look cartoon-y.’ That one statement right there spoke to me in droves. All of a sudden, I’m like, ‘Yeah, he’s not making what you would really naturally think a comic book movie is.’ It’s just like the kiss. It’s a very special dramatic moment, and he wanted the whole movie to be like that, about as far away from a cartoon as it could possibly be. All of a sudden, adults and people that grew up with these comic books, I think they just had a little discovery in their head that they didn’t know was there: ‘Wow, this is what I want to see.’”
Raimi: “I love Stan Lee’s work and I was trying to be true to it, and if people recognized from Spider-Man that his stories were really effective, then I’m proud. I think Stan Lee’s work in the Marvel comic books was so great in the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s. And I was one of the first kids that was able to shout to the neighborhood, ‘This is so great you guys, get down here and check this out!’”
(Photo by © Warner Bros.)
Neil Blomkamp is reassembling RoboCop, Joaquin Phoenix is getting his own Joker movie, and Robin is about to lead the Titans on streaming. That’s the great thing about our favorite characters: they’re never really gone – someone new can always bring them back. But how many of these adaptations really capture what we love about our favorite characters? And which adaptations do it best?
To find out, we took a deep look at 15 characters who have had at least five different versions of them made, and which have current or upcoming adaptations on the way. For some who’ve had dozens (thanks to public domain), we stuck to the 10 most famous versions. If a role was just recast during the same series – as opposed to a wholly new take – we counted them together. For each character, we also found their highest Tomatometer-rated portrayal – the ultimate arbiter of which version is the best (and likely the ultimate argument-starter among those who disagree!).
(Photo by © Orion/courtesy Everett Collection)
Number of RoboCops: 6
All the RoboCops: Original Trilogy (Peter Weller/Robert Burke), 1988 animated series (voice of Dan Hennessey), 1994 RoboCop TV Series (Richard Eden), RoboCop: Prime Directives TV series (Page Fletcher), 2014 RoboCop (Joel Kinnaman), Neil Blomkamp RoboCop (TBD)
The Best RoboCop: RoboCop (1987) 90%
No surprise, the original 1987 RoboCop is still rated highest. But we would never bet against Neil Blomkamp giving that version a run for its money.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite RoboCop
(Photo by ©Warner Home Video)
Number of Jokers: 17 and counting
10 Most Famous Jokers: ‘60s TV Series (Cesar Romero), 1989 Batman (Jack Nicholson), Batman: The Animated Series including Mask of the Phantasm and crossover films and series (voice of Mark Hamill), The Batman (voice of Kevin Michael Richardson), The Dark Knight (Heath Ledger), Batman: The Brave and the Bold (voice of Jeff Bennett), Suicide Squad (Jared Leto), The LEGO Batman Movie (Zach Galifianakis), Joker Origin Movie (Joaquin Phoenix), Martin Scorsese-Produced Joker Movie (Leonardo DiCaprio)
The Best Joker: Batman: The Animated Series
At 97%, Batman: The Animated Series edges out even The Dark Knight’s 94% if we judge versions purely by Tomatometer. Morgan Jeffery of Digital spy praised the show’s voice cast, saying, “On top of its beautiful visuals and vocals, Batman also boasted a tone far more adult than one might expect from a comic book cartoon.” Hamill’s Joker is so acclaimed that he continued voicing him in many animated incarnations. However, as live-action Jokers go, Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning portrayal is hard to top. Will Phoenix or DiCaprio do it?
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Joker
(Photo by © Warner Bros.)
Number of Batmans: 17 (including a radio show) and counting
10 Most Famous Batmans: ’60s Batman TV series (Adam West), The Batman/Superman Hour/Super Friends (voice of Olan Soule), Burton/Schumacher film series (Michael Keaton/Val Kilmer/George Clooney), Batman: The Animated Series through Justice League Unlimited (voice of Kevin Conroy), Batman Beyond (voice of Will Friedle), The Dark Knight trilogy (Christian Bale), Batman: The Brave and the Bold (Diedrich Bader), Gotham (David Mazouz), DCEU (Ben Affleck), LEGO Movies (voice of Will Arnett), The Batman (TBA)
The Best Batman: Batman Beyond 100%
Batman earned his highest Tomatometer score in the futuristic Batman Beyond with 100%. EW’s Ken Tucker said, “The new, black-winged, red-blooded Batman on display Saturday mornings will have you pouring a steaming mug of coffee and shouldering aside any nearby children to catch all the fresh fun and action.” In the live-action realm, Christian Bale’s Dark Knight trilogy is the most consistently Fresh Batman series with a high of 94% for The Dark Knight.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Batman
(Photo by © Lionsgate)
Number of Robin Hoods: Dozens
The 10 Most Famous Robin Hoods: 1922 Robin Hood (Douglas Fairbanks), The Adventures of Robin Hood (Errol Flynn), Disney’s Robin Hood (voice of Brian Bedford), Robin and Marian (Sean Connery), Time Bandits (John Cleese), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Kevin Costner), Robin Hood (Patrick Bergin), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (Cary Elwes), 2010 Robin Hood (Russell Crowe), 2018 Robin Hood (Taron Egerton)
The Best Robin Hood: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) 100%
With 100%, Errol Flynn is hands-down the most acclaimed Robin Hood. Not bad considering Rotten Tomatoes didn’t exist yet in 1938! But our critics still respect the classic, with Village Voice’s Elliott Stein commenting, “Movie pageantry at its best, done in the grand manner of silent spectacles, brimming over with the sort of primitive energy that drew people to the movies in the first place.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Robin Hood
(Photo by ©Walt Disney Pictures)
Number of Mulans: 15
The 10 Most Famous Mulans: Hua Mulan Joins The Army (Hu Shan), Lady General Hua Mu Lan (Ivy Ling Po), The Saga of Mulan (Bai Shuxian), Disney Mulan franchise (voice of Ming-Na), The Secret of Mulan (uncredited voice), A Tough Side of a Lady (Mariane Chan), Mulan: Rise of a Warrior (Zhao Wei), Once Upon a Time (Jamie Chung), Live-Action Disney Mulan (Liu Yifei), Alex Graves-directed Mulan (TBD)
The Best Mulan: Mulan (1998) 86%
Since most of the Chinese film and television productions of the Mulan story weren’t available to international critics, the Disney Mulan currently wins on the Tomatometer by default. Film Journal International’s Wendy Weinstein wrote, “it is in the subtlety of its characters’ ‘acting’ that Mulan excels” and it does have an 86% Fresh rating. We have every hope for the upcoming live-action renditions, too.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Mulan
(Photo by ©Walt Disney)
Number of Tinker Bells: Dozens
10 Most Famous Tinker Bells: 1924 Peter Pan (Virginia Browne Faire), Disney’s Peter Pan/Return to Neverland (Silent), 1960 Peter Pan (stage light), Hook (Julia Roberts), Peter Pan (Ludivine Sagnier), Neverland (Keira Knightley), Tinker Bell film series (voice of Mae Whitman), Peter Pan Live (CGI), Once Upon a Time (Rose McIver), Live-Action Tinker Bell (Reese Witherspoon)
The Best Tinker Bell: Tinker Bell (2008) 90%
Tinker Bell’s solo movie is even fresher than the original Disney Peter Pan, and subsequent sequels are Fresh too. The L.A. Times’ Michael Ordona wrote, “To its target audience, it will be another self-empowerment fable with loads of imagination and colorful, painterly images (and a keen marketing blast for Disney fairies).” The 1924 film is praised unanimously by a handful of critics, so it’s worth seeking out.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Tinker Bell
(Photo by © The CW)
Number of Portrayals: 16 (including radio)
10 Most Famous Superman: Live-action serials (Kirk Alyn), Superman and the Mole Men + The Adventures of Superman (George Reeves), Superman: The Movie through Superman Returns (Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh), Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (Dean Cain), Superman: The Animated Series (voice of Tim Daly), Smallville (Tom Welling), Warner Animation Superman films (voices of Adam Baldwin, Kyle MacLachlan, Tim Daly, Mark Harmon, James Denton, Kevin Conroy, George Newbern, Matt Bomer, Sam Daly, Alan Tudyk, Jerry O’Connell, Benjamin Bratt), DCEU (Henry Cavill), Supergirl (Tyler Hoechlin), Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (voice of Nicolas Cage)
The Best Superman: Superman: The Movie (1978) 94%
You never forget your first Superman, so the franchise that began with Christopher Reeve’s 94% Fresh Superman: The Movie remains the most acclaimed. As recently as this May, The Times UK’s Ed Potton called Reeve “manlier and steelier than recent portrayals by Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill.” John J. Puccio of Movie Metroplis (appropriate name) said of Reeve “the casting department found someone with just the right charisma to pull it off.” Recently, Tyler Hoechlin’s portrayal of Kal El on a few episodes of Supergirl earned new raves. Digital Spy’s Morgan Jeffery says, “Tyler Hoechlin is the best live-action Man of Steel since the sorely underrated Dean Cain hung up his tights.” TV Fanatic’s Stacy Glanzman agrees that Hoechlin “nailed it.” Give him a few more seasons and see if he can catch up to Reeve!
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Superman
Number of Different James Bonds: 006
All the James Bonds: “Casino Royale” episode of Climax (Barry Nelson), EON Film Series (Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig), Casino Royale comedy (Peter Sellers, David Niven, Woody Allen), “The British Hero” episode of Omnibus (Christopher Cazenove in re-enactments), Never Say Never Again (Sean Connery), James Bond Jr. (voice of Corey Burton)
The Best Portrayal: Goldfinger (1964) 99%
It’s the long-running EON films version of the character, obviously. At its height, these films scored a 97%. Roger Ebert remarked of Goldfinger and the franchise, “it is a great entertainment, and contains all the elements of the Bond formula that would work again and again.” Now, whether you pick Daniel Craig or Sean Connery as your favorite from this version…we’ll let that debate continue among Bond fans.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite James Bond
(Photo by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Number of Portrayals: 13 including Marvel animated guest appearances
10 Most Famous Hulks: The Marvel Super-Heroes (voice of Max Ferguson), The Incredible Hulk TV series (Lou Ferrigno), The Incredible Hulk animated series (voice of Bob Holt), The Marvel Action Hour (voice of Ron Perlman), The Incredible Hulk (voice of Neal McDonough), episodes of Iron Man: Armored Adventures (voice of Mark Gibbon), Superhero Squad Show (voice of Travis Willingham), Hulk (Eric Bana), MCU (Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo), The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes through Avengers Assemble and appearances on Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man (voice of Fred Tatasciore)
The Best Portrayal: Marvel's the Avengers (2012) 91%
With a 92%, The Avengers‘ incarnation of Hulk smashes the rest – and the MCU version as a whole, including Ed Norton and Mark Ruffolo’s tale,s has a Fresh average of 81.8% . The animated Earth’s Mightiest Heroes scores higher even than The Avengers, but with only five reviews, we’re still giving the title to the MCU’s Hulk Matt Brunson of Creative Loafing said when reviewing The Avengers, “The scene-stealer is Ruffalo, who provides Bruce Banner with a soulfulness missing in the portrayals by Bana and Norton.” Even CNN’s Tom Charity singled out the Hulk among other Avengers, saying, “Never underestimate the entertainment value of the Hulk Smash.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Hulk
(Photo by © Columbia)
Number of Spider-Man: 16
The 10 Most Famous Spider-Men: The Amazing Spider-Man (Nicholas Hammond), Spider-Man (voice of Christopher Daniel Barnes), Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (voice of Neil Patrick Harris), Ultimate Spider-Man and LEGO Marvel (voice of Drake Bell), Sam Raimi Trilogy (Tobey Maguire), Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2 (Andrew Garfield), Turn Off The Dark (Reeve Carney and Justin Matthew Sargeant), LEGO Spider-Man (voice of Jackson Buffington), (MCU/Homecoming (Tom Holland), Into the Spider-verse (Jake Johnson and Shameik Moore)
Best Spider-Man: Spider-Man 2 (2004) 93%
With a peak at Spider-Man 2’s 93%, the Sam Raimi trilogy remains the most critically acclaimed Spider-Man films (Holland’s appearances in Captain America: Civil War and Homecoming comess close though.) AP’s Christy Lemire praised the series when reviewing the second film: “The web-slinging sequences are bigger-better-brighter-faster than the already spectacular ones in 2002’s Spider-Man, and at the same time, the film’s smaller emotional moments are denser, richer and more resonant than those in the first.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Spider-Man
(Photo by © The CW)
Number of Jugheads: 7
All the Jugheads: Radio show (voices of Hal Stone, Cameron Andrews and Arnold Stang), The Archie Show and spinoffs (voice of Howard Morris), The New Archies (voice of Michael Fantini), Archie’s Weird Mysteries (voice of Chris Lundquist), 1976 Archie pilot and ’78 special Archie Situation Comedy Musical Variety Show (Derrel Maury), Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again (Sam Whipple), Riverdale (Cole Sprouse)
Best Jughead: Riverdale 84%
Riverdale has a series Tomatometer score of 88%, crowning Cole Sprouse as the best Jughead. It’s also the only take who’s been reviewed enough to have a Tomatometer score, but we have a feeling this CW fan favorite would likely win against his animated competition even if the data was there.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Jughead
Number of He-Men: 5
All the He-Men: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (voice of John Erwin), Masters of the Universe (Dolph Lundgren), The New Adventures of He-Man (voice of Garry Chalke and Doug Parker), 2002 series (Cam Clarke), New Live-Action Film In Development
Best He-Man: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 100%
Boy, did all the Tomatometer critics grow up on the weekday afternoon cartoon in the ’80s, or what? Well, this one may still be up for grabs if they make a really cool live-action movie, but for now the original cartoon is the master. Nerdist’s Rosie Knight puts it in perspective saying, “Beloved for many reasons. There’s the notoriously rushed production… giving it a unique and charming look. It’s also revered for its vision of a kid friendly techno-barbarian landscape.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite He-Man
(Photo by © Netflix)
Number of Punishers: 6
All The Punishers: 1989 The Punisher (Dolph Lundgren), Spider-Man: The Animated Series (voice of John Beck), 2004 The Punisher (Thomas Jane), Punisher: War Zone and Super Hero Squad Show (Ray Stevenson), Netflix series (Jon Bernthal), Avengers Assemble episode “Planet Doom” (uncredited)
Best Punisher: Marvel's Daredevil: Season 2 (2016) 81%
Bernthal remains the only certified Fresh Punisher, and his stint on Daredevil season 2 bested even his own series (though Marvel’s The Punisher is still Fresh). New York Observer’s Vinnie Mancuso singles out Bernthal’s haunted portrayal, “Jon Bernthal is the perfect Punisher because there is zero fun in his performance.”In reviewing Daredevil‘s second season, Aggressive Comix’s Steph Cozza adds, “The Punisher is the true MVP here.”
Poll: Vote for Your favorite Punisher
(Photo by © Toho Films)
Number of Godzillas: 9
All the Godzillas: 31 Toho Films, Hanna-Barbera Godzilla, Godzillaland, Godzilla Island, 1998 Godzilla, Godzilla: The Series, Nike commercial with Charles Barkle, Legendary Films’ Godzilla, Netflix Godzilla
The Best Godzilla: Godzilla (1954) 93%
With a 93% for the classic Gojira and seven more Fresh movies in the franchise, nobody’s done Godzilla better than Toho. The Washington Post’s Stephen Hunter put it best in 2004 when he said, “Its images of the destruction of the cities is far more powerful than in American films, where the cities are trashed for the pure pleasure of destruction, without any real sense of human loss.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Godzilla
Number of Kongs: 9
All the Kongs: 1933 King Kong and Son of Kong (stop motion animation), 1966 King Kong animated series, King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes, 1976 King Kong (voice of Peter Cullen) and King Kong Lives (Peter Elliott), Kong: The Animated Series and Return to the Jungle, 2005 King Kong (Andy Serkis), Kong: King of Atlantis, Kong: King of the Apes (voice of Lee Tockar), Legendary King Kong (Toby Kebbell)
The Best Kong: King Kong (1933) 98%
Certified Fresh at 98%, the original 1933 Kong is still King (its sequel, rushed into release later in 1933, not so much). Robert Ebert explained why it still works nearly a century later, writing that “there is something ageless and primeval about King Kong that still somehow works.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite King Kong
There are many more characters who’ve been portrayed over and over again. Who are your favorites? Tell us in the comments.
To go by his words and deeds, Avengers: Infinity War’s Thanos (Josh Brolin) may be the most consummate and powerful foe the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet unleashed. To hear him tell it, his attempt to give the universe balance by obtaining the Infinity Stones is a merciful and humane action. Perhaps more than any other Marvel villain, he is a hero in his own mind with goals he perceives as altruistic.
But will his Infinity War appearance make him one of the great film supervillains of all time? And what makes for greatness when it comes to villainy? Is it a grand plan executed with aplomb? An iconic look or an immediately quotable motto? Or is it a knack for banter with the hero? As more and more people see Infinity War, Thanos’s merits as one of the great villains will be debated, but let’s take a look at 20 of the big screen’s greatest superhero foes he will have to contend with to get that honor.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
The big screen’s first Joker was also television’s original Crown Prince of Crime. Romero memorably gave the character his psychotic laugh and off-kilter sense of humor. In the film, he also succeeds at being a cabin boy to a senile admiral. Armed with his repertoire and a “dehydration” gun, the Joker — along with the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) — creates plenty of trouble for the Dynamic Duo.
Film Appearances: Batman: The Movie (1966), though he previously appeared in the Batman TV series.
North American Box Office: $1.7 million
Destruction Factor: Turns the “United World” Security Council to a fine powder.
Memorable Line: “I’m afraid they’ll find our humor very, very dry!”
Powers: Puns and gag weapons.
Cosplay Cred: Few are ever willing to grow a Romero mustache for the perfect Joker ’66 look.
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)
As a deep-cover spy, Neville Sinclair was the toast of Hollywood with the ability to bed any woman and earn the trust of any man. But his attempt to secure Howard Hughes’s (Terry O’Quinn) experimental rocket pack fills him with a particular mania that serves to be his undoing. Also: his sophisticated movie star image is the perfect counterpoint to the unkempt style of the Rocketeer (Billy Campbell).
Film Appearances: The Rocketeer (1991)
US Box Office: $46.7 million
Destruction Factor: Assists in the destruction of a dirigible, the rocket pack itself, and a portion of the “Hollywoodland” sign.
Memorable Line: “It wasn’t lies, Jenny. It vas acting.”
Powers: A strong resemblance to Errol Flynn and Timothy Dalton.
Cosplay Cred: Sadly, none.
(Photo by Warner Bros.)
The Phantasm is one of the most personal villains the animated Batman (Kevin Conroy) ever faced. In costume, the Phantasm speaks with the voice of Stacy Keach and strikes terror into Gotham’s organized crime families. But in reality, she is Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), the only woman who could ever pull Bruce Wayne away from his life as a vigilante. Sadly, the dissolution of their relationship leads them both to don masks and face the City’s worst criminals.
Film Appearances: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
US Box Office: $5.6 million
Destruction Factor: Batman’s heart.
Memorable Line: “Your Angel of Death awaits.”
Powers: Combat training and smoke bombs.
Cosplay Cred: Rare, but it’s memorable when you spot a Phantasm cosplay in the wild.
Though he seems to be a mentor, Elijah Price is really the architect of all of David Dunn’s (Bruce Willis) problems. (Sorry: Spoiler.) Though he is the only person to recognize the presence of superpowers in the world, years of abuse and neglect — to say nothing of his brittle bones — lead him to one conclusion: be the supervillain the world needs to find the hero it requires.
Worldwide Box Office: $248.1 million
Destruction Factor: Derails a train to prove David is indestructible, among other acts of terrorism.
Memorable Line: “They called me Mr. Glass!”
Powers: A terrifying intellect.
Cosplay Cred: A surprisingly rare occurrence at comic cons.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
As both spy and confidant to Magneto (Ian McKellen), Mystique relies on her top martial arts skills and mutant ability to blend into any environment. But she is also the most visible example of Magneto’s crusade. Though she can choose to appear as anyone she wishes, Mystique’s natural blue serpentine appearance inspires fear in the world. The character was so memorable in the initial X-Men film series that the current cycle revolves around her, now played by Jennifer Lawrence.
Film Appearances: The X-Men franchise.
Worldwide Box Office: X-Men: $296.3 million, X2: X-Men United: $407.7 million, X-Men: The Last Stand: $459.3 million
Destruction Factor: Though she has been known to blow stuff up now and again, that isn’t really her style. Instead she sows confusion and wreaks havoc by manipulating her foes.
Memorable Line: “You know, people like you are the reason I was afraid to go to school as a child.”
Cosplay Cred: An extremely tough look to pull off at comic cons.
(Photo by Warner Bros.)
When Superman is overcome by the toxic effects of Gus Gorman’s (Richard Pryor) counterfeit Kryptonite, he turns into a self-centered jerk who would rather make time with a pretty lady than save a bunch of bus passengers on a disintegrating bridge. Reeve’s attempt to channel an all-id Superman does feel more “bad” than evil, but it provides a fun opportunity for Reeve to play against himself and presents the first on-screen exploration of an idea — “What if Superman were evil?” — that would become a major theme driving the narrative behind movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.
Film Appearances: Superman III (1983)
US Box Office: $60 million
Destruction Factor: Straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa ruined the Italian economy.
Memorable Line: “You always wanted to fly, Kent!”
Powers: All the powers of a Superman, but he’d rather drink Johnny Walker Red.
Cosplay Cred: Not nearly as common as it should be.
The merger of Nicholson’s persona with the Joker is one of Batman’s great strengths, but the performance is more nuanced than many gave it credit for at the time. Once he falls into the Axis Chemicals acid and adopts his clown persona, Nicholson loses some of his iconic cool to dig into the louder, broader aspects of Gotham’s #1 villain (e.g. the Smilex commercial). A consummate foe for the Batman of the late 1980s.
Film Appearances: Batman (1989)
Worldwide Box Office: $411.3 million
Destruction Factor: Kills his boss, fries a business rival, and poisons Gotham City.
Memorable Line: “Ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
Powers: Knowledge of chemistry and a flair for the theatrical.
Cosplay Cred: A fairly rare sight as other takes on the Joker became more popular.
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)
The ultimate sycophant, Syndrome (née Buddy Pine) was a precursor of the sort of fan culture that eats itself for some perceived lack of purity. His jealousy of the supers leads to a lot of strife for the Parr Family and an America burnt out on superheroes. Nonetheless, his actions also lead to a possible return of heroes, despite an attempt to even the playing field.
Film Appearances: The Incredibles (2004)
Tomatometer: 97% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $633 million
Destruction Factor: His robots leave a path of destruction through the metro area the Parrs call home.
Memorable Line: “And when everyone’s super, no one will be.”
Powers: Zero point energy manipulation via technology.
Cosplay Cred: Virtually nonexistent, though memorably spotted on occasion.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
As the personification of Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) id, Ultron’s attempts to secure the planet make clear Tony’s greatest failing: he cannot see the human cost in any of his endeavors. Powered by the Mind Stone, Ultron makes a final, ugly calculation in regards to humanity and sets out to destroy it. Also, since he’s based on Tony’s brain patterns, he quips. A lot.
Film Appearances: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Tomatometer: 75% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $1.41 billion
Destruction Factor: Raises – and razes – the entire nation of Sokovia; the ramifications of which are still being felt throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Memorable Line: “When the dust settles, the only thing living in this world will be metal.”
Powers: All the powers of an Iron Man, multiplied by the ability to self-replicate infinitely.
Cosplay Cred: Extremely rare, though a few Ultrons appeared at cons after the film’s release.
(Photo by Warner Bros.)
While DC Comics’ favorite cat burglar skirts the line between villain and ne’er-do-well, Catwoman’s initial involvement in a plot to disgrace Batman (Michael Keaton) earns her a spot on the list. Pfeiffer’s performance defined the character for a long time – even if she was partly inspired by the TV Catwomen of the 1960s – as she fought Batman and her own turmoil. In the end, her Catwoman chose her own way and never appeared in a film again. Not that anyone has ever been able to forget her.
Film Appearances: Batman Returns (1992)
Tomatometer: 81% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $266.8 million
Destruction Factor: She blows up Schreck’s Department Store in an early show of strength.
Memorable Line: “Meow.”
Powers: Nine lives and a filing system that is unstoppable.
Cosplay Cred: Though the film is over 25 years old, this Catwoman costume is still popular.
(Photo by Zade Rosenthal/Walt Disney Studios)
Yes, yes, he isn’t a villain by choice, as he’s very much a weapon of Hydra in the film, but Bucky Barnes is very effective at playing the part. His Soviet brainwashing is so effective that, when activated, almost no emotional appeal will work on him. Well, at least until his old friend Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans), finally breaks through. And, really, Bucky’s relationship with Steve is part of what makes him so compelling.
Tomatometer: Captain America: The Winter Soldier: 89% (Certified Fresh), Captain America: Civil War: 91% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: Captain America: The Winter Soldier: $714.3 million, Captain America: Civil War: $1.15 billion
Destruction Factor: Assists in bringing down S.H.I.E.L.D. and its helicarrier fleet.
Memorable Line: “Who the hell is Bucky?”
Powers: Heightened strength and agility, a cybernetic vibranium arm.
Cosplay Cred: A beloved fixture of con-going cosplayers.
(Photo by Sony Pictures)
Despite a strong work ethic and good management skills, Adrian Toomes turned to crime when Tony Stark and government officials bulldozed over his contract to clean up Manhattan following the Battle of New York. Granted, the swiftness with which he became a black market weapons manufacturer suggests all he ever needed was a gentle shove to embrace villainy. But the opening scene of Spider-Man: Homecoming made him immediately understandable and compelling as a villain; and even sympathetic once his relationship to Spider-Man’s (Tom Holland) world is revealed.
Film Appearances: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Tomatometer: 92% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $880.1 million
Destruction Factor: Rips a ferry in half, crashes a Stark Industries jet, and blasts Logan Marshall-Green out of the MCU.
Memorable Line: “The rich, the powerful, like Stark, they don’t care about us! The world’s changed boys. Time we change too!”
Powers: A flying rig based on crashed Chitauri tech.
Cosplay Cred: Surprisingly rare costume in spite of a great adaptation of the comic book Vulture’s look.
Excusing some of the camp value to Hackman’s Luthor – particularly in the sequel – he exudes the key quality of Superman’s archfoe: egotism. Luthor, a real estate swindler in these films, only decides to fight Superman because his ego dictates it. Consequently, Superman cannot really appeal to his emotions; none are present as he plans to remake the West Coast in his image.
Tomatometer: Superman: 93%, Superman II: 87%
Worldwide Box Office: Superman: $300 million, Superman II: $156.9 million
Destruction Factor: Nearly sank California into the Pacific.
Memorable Line: “There’s a strong streak of good in you, Superman. But then, nobody’s perfect… almost nobody.”
Powers: He is the greatest criminal mind of his time. He also owns a hefty Kryptonite necklace that he uses to weaken Superman.
Cosplay Cred: Between Hackman’s refusal to go bald and the appalling 1970s fashions, he is a truly rare cosplay sight.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
Currently, the Avengers’ greatest foe is not a flamboyant god or a maniacal robot, but a sad, quiet man with a detailed plan and working knowledge of governmental procedures. Zemo destabilizes the world for a very personal and, ultimately, small goal: hurt the Avengers the way they hurt him. He also succeeds, leaving Captain America a fugitive and Tony Stark so isolated that he has to pal around with a spider-themed teenager hero.
Film Appearances: Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Tomatometer: 91% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $1.15 billion
Destruction Factor: With some smoke, a few explosions, and a very inconvenient truth, he brings down the Avengers. He also murders a few people along the way.
Memorable Line: “An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again, but one which crumbles from within? That’s dead… forever.”
Cosplay Cred: Despite his comic book counterpart’s incredible fashion sense, the Marvel Cinematic Universe version inspires few to dress up.
(Photo by Columbia Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
One of the most sympathetic villains on the list, Molina’s Doc Ock was as much a victim of his passions as he was a willing accomplice in a plan to destroy Spider-Man. The cruelty that emerges in him came from his cybernetic implants; a crucial detail that becomes clear when he finally reasserts control and realizes he was trying to kill his friend Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire). Also, the warmth with which he welcomes Peter — a guy in desperate need of a positive male role model — makes his turn all the more tragic.
Film Appearances: Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Tomatometer: 93% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $783.8 million
Destruction Factor: His lab is completely destroyed during an experiment. He also leaves his mark on New York skyscrapers and the subway lines.
Memorable Line: “I will not die a monster.”
Powers: Super-tough robotic appendages.
Cosplay Cred: Popular in the wake of the film’s release, but has since faded.
(Photo by Warner Bros.)
Thanks to Stamp, Zod is as much a staple in Superman’s rogues gallery as Lex Luthor. Seemingly reserved, Zod can lash out without hesitation. Despite the air of refinement Stamp gives the character, he is just another petty dictator — a point underscored when he takes control of the White House (and, by implication, the world) only to suffer from conqueror’s boredom. Superman’s return late in the film comes as a relief to Zod, as debasing the son of Jor-El gives him something to do.
Worldwide Box Office: Superman: $300 million, Superman II: $156.9 million
Destruction Factor: He and his cohorts reshape Mount Rushmore and pummel the West Wing. They also make insurance premiums rise in Metropolis again.
Memorable Line: “Come to me, son of Jor-El! Kneel before Zod!”
Powers: All the powers of a Superman plus advanced military training.
Cosplay Cred: Zod’s look is just a little too disco for most cosplayers.
(Photo by © Marvel and © Walt Disney Pictures)
The secret shame of Wakanda, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) presents a legitimate concern to King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his subjects, even if his methods are woefully misguided: Should Wakanda reveal itself to the outside world and help those who live with the legacy of the African slave trade? The character’s heady subtext is backed by Jordan’s gifted abilities as a performer.
Film Appearances: Black Panther (2018)
Tomatometer: 96% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office (To Date): $1.34 billion
Destruction Factor: Destroys all but one of the heart-shaped herbs, which is far more devastating than any property damage he caused in the film.
Memorable Line: “Nah, just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from ships. ‘Cause they knew death was better than bondage.”
Powers: Thanks to the heart-shaped herb, all the powers of Black Panther; Navy SEAL training.
Cosplay Cred: Few could wait for a comic convention to dress in Killmonger’s now-iconic London look. Cosplayers dressed in his subsequent battle suit, which looks suspiciously like Vegeta’s from Dragonball Z, shortly after.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
Erik Magnus Lehnsherr is one of the most compelling antagonists in comics and film for one simple reason: he’s pretty much right. His methods may be unquestionably cruel to conventional humans, but he recognizes two sapient species cannot share the planet. Violence, subjugation, and pain are inevitable. And when his point of view is given McKellen’s voice, it becomes incredibly persuasive. The more optimistic philosophy of the X-Men looks naïve and childish in comparison.
Film Appearances: The X-Men Franchise
Worldwide Box Office: X-Men: $296.3 million, X2: X-Men United: $407.7 million, X-Men: The Last Stand: $459.4 million, X-Men: Days of Future Past: $747.9 million
Destruction Factor: He moves the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz, turns Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) into a water creature, and renders a sick burn unto Rogue (Anna Paquin) about the white stripe in her hair.
Memorable Line: “Let’s just say God works too slowly.”
Powers: The ability to manipulate all metal.
Cosplay Cred: His initial low-key look is rarely imitated these days.
(Photo by Zade Rosenthal/Walt Disney Studios)
The power of persuasion is also a major weapon in the arsenal of the God of Lies. Loki is charismatic, witty, exciting, and a sharp dresser. He’s that bad boy who looks redeemable even as he opens a wormhole to let the Chitauri invade Earth. But then he has a good explanation for his bad choices: he was raised by the god who kidnapped him from his real family. And he means to do good, so shouldn’t that be enough? It’s no wonder Loki returns to the MCU time and again; his brand of villainy looks like it can be reasoned with. Even if he betrays Thor again, again, and again.
Tomatometer: Thor: 77%, The Avengers: 92%, Thor: The Dark World: 66%, Thor: Ragnarok: 92%
Worldwide Box Office: Thor: $449.3 million, The Avengers: 1.52 million, Thor: The Dark World: $644.6 million, Thor: Ragnarok: $853.5 million
Destruction Factor: He seizes the throne of Asgard and almost murders Thor, then later precipitates the Battle of New York, which alerts the world to the presence of superpowered beings.
Memorable Line: “You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”
Powers: God-level abilities and a snake-oil salesman’s tongue.
Cosplay Cred: A perennial favorite, though his formal tux from Avengers was more popular in the wake of the film’s release.
(Photo by )
In an age when origins are required, Ledger’s Joker arrived on the scene without a name, place of birth, or a particular ambition. As Alfred (Michael Caine) put it, he just wants to see the world burn, and he even tells Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) as much late in the film. His complete lack of backstory and motivation makes him the most unpredictable, dangerous supervillain on this list, and the purity of his cruelty makes him the most fascinating.
Film Appearances: The Dark Knight (2008)
Worldwide Box Office: $1 billion
Destruction Factor: Took out most of Gotham’s entrenched mafia, destroyed Harvey Dent, and made the Batman Gotham’s Number One criminal.
Memorable Line: “Why so serious?”
Cosplay Cred: Thanks to the alterations to the classic Joker look, Ledger’s Joker costume remains popular at cons and at Halloween.
Roughly 75 years after she made her comics debut, Wonder Woman’s finally getting her shot at solo big-screen glory — and if the early reviews are any indication, the Amazonian’s self-titled debut is not only a much-needed shot in the arm for the DC Extended Universe, but a whooping good time for action fans of all ages. Of course, decades before the Wonder Woman movie, the character had her own TV series, which got us thinking about all the other superheroes who started out in live action on the small screen before making the jump into theaters. Grab your decoder rings, true believers… it’s time for Total Recall!
Vigilantes, space knights, evil geniuses and cartoon legends got together this weekend to bring pop culture favorites to life, and celebrate another WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention Center. And we at RT got to check them out up close. Click on the thumbnails below to see which characters got represented this year. Who’s your favorite cosplay?