2. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Spider-Man 2 is the best, most sincere superhero movie ever made, one overflowing with romantic complications and human trials. Raimi returns to the same world with more passion, ingenuity, and know-how, offering a dynamic tonal range that swings from comedy to drama to horror with the flick of a wrist.
Things haven’t been going well for Peter Parker (played with dewy-eyed dorkiness by Tobey Maguire). He has no money, his grades are slipping, and his personal relationships are in the toilet. Not to mention, New York has a Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) problem! With all these obstacles, Raimi leans on a foundational one: Peter has a crisis of confidence and, ironically, can’t find his footing, causing him to lose his powers. At the cusp of adulthood, Peter must wrestle with who he is, why he does what he does, and whether or not he’s on the right path. What young true believer can’t relate to that?
But what good would a Spider-Man movie be without some heroics? Raimi and Molina create an all-timer with Doc Ock, a sympathetic villain with some of the most convincing special effects ever committed to screen. That train fight isn’t pre-vis. That’s Sam Raimi working with his camera, effects, and actors to create a grounded world for the fantastical to reside. From start to finish, the movie’s effects, its script by Oscar-winner Alvin Sargent, and the cast still feel as fresh and energetic as they did in June 2004. Hate to say it, but they just don’t make them like this anymore.