The Story Geeks blogger Anthony Holdier responds with an additional perspective to the same topic discussed in this week’s podcast – picking the best on-screen Spider-Man. Want to share your own take? Join the conversation in The Story Geeks Facebook group!
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I’ll be honest from the jump: I really don’t like this question.
I can have fun arguing about who would win in a superhero battle royale (Batman, obviously), which Star Wars movie is most worth a re-watch (A New Hope, no question), or which Tolkien character is the most under-rated (Meriadoc Brandybuck, FIGHT ME), but there’s something about debating this character specifically that’s a little too close to being asked to pick which of my children is my favorite (it’s Brandon and the others know why). Growing up, Spider-Man was the my hero – I bought his books, woke up on Saturdays to watch his cartoons, wore pajamas covered with his face and, oh yes, stood in line to buy movie tickets to go see on the big screen.
So, who played Spidey the best?
Part of me wants to be cheeky and make a deep-cut reference to Christopher Daniel Barnes (who voiced the character for the animated show in the 90’s), but I’ve got to limit myself to feature-films…so I’m going to go with…uhm….with….
Shameik Moore as Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Here’s three reasons why:
1. There has not been a bad actor yet, but Moore’s Miles is in a class of his own.
It’s hardly groundbreaking for me to say something like “Tobey Maguire was the best Peter Parker; Andrew Garfield was the best Web-head; Tom Holland strikes the best balance between the two” but I’ll say it anyway. Maguire, in particular, holds a special place in my heart as they guy who made me feel seen on the screen – an awkward nerd who doesn’t really know what to do with himself, but is going to try his best to help.
But Moore’s Spider-Man didn’t just happen to portray that sort of thing (in a way that the various adaptations of Parker’s story have touched on here and there), but jumped directly into the messy beauty of teenage awkwardness in a fashion that none of the other films have really captured. Maguire looked like the kind of kid that I was, but Moore feels like it in a way that rings much more deeply true. This leads me to my next point:
2. Moore’s Miles is the best because Into the Spider-Verse is the best film.
There’s not much I can say here that hasn’t already been said many times over: Into the Spider-Verse is a triumph. From the animation style(s), to the story-telling, to the soundtrack, to the love of its characters, this is not only my favorite Spider-Man movie, but one of the best superhero movies I’ve ever seen. And, in particular, much of the film’s success centers on its development of Miles Morales as a hapless kid thrust into a situation that’s way over his head, but who rises to the occasion, puts others ahead of himself, and saves the day – you know, a hero.
3. From the current roster, Moore’s Spider-Man is the only one that I really want to see more from.
This is not to say that I’m not stoked for Spider-Man: Far from Home (especially since modern CGI has finally made Mysterio a viable on-screen personality), but it is to say that I’m excited for FFH mainly because it’s an MCU film and I’m hooked on the decade-long world building of Feige and crew. With Into the Spider-Verse, I specifically want to see more from these characters on their own merits. In particular, I’m stoked that Gwen will apparently be getting her own spin-off feature – both of my daughters who saw the movie with me were thrilled to get that news.
So, there we have it; I’ll go to the mat for any Spider-Man film (except the last 2/3 of Raimi’s Spider-Man 3) and definitely any Spider-Man actor, but Shameik Moore brought something unique to Miles Morales and I can’t wait to see more!