Spider-Man is undeniably one of the most popular superheroes, as he has been portrayed in numerous comic books, films, television shows and video games since his first appearance in 1962. In the last 20 years alone, there have been eight live-action solo Spider-Man films released, with three different actors playing Peter Parker and his web-slinging alter ego.

First, Tobey Maguire played Spider-Man three times from 2002 to 2007, followed by Andrew Garfield in 2012 and 2014. Most recently, Tom Holland suited up as Spider-Man five times between 2016 and 2019 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), with his next solo film coming out this December. The three actors’ versions of Spider-Man all have their own virtues and drawbacks in their performances, but Holland stands above the rest as the ultimate Spider-Man.

One of the reasons that Holland shines as Spider-Man is his humor, as Holland is hilarious in the role. He brings a lighthearted feel to the character, which is a welcome change of tone from the other Spider-Man films, which try too hard to be dark and brooding — especially the Garfield ones. One of the key elements of Peter Parker, or Spider-Man, in the comics is that he has a sense of humor, even in the heat of battle. Holland is able to perfectly capture this trait, which makes his action scenes as Spider-Man the most enjoyable. For instance, during his fight with the Winter Soldier in “Captain America: Civil War,” he quips about the Winter Soldier’s metal arm, which is funny and relatable to the audience, who would probably also geek out at the metal arm if they were fighting the Winter Soldier. While some credit for Holland’s humor certainly goes to the director and writers of the films, Holland deserves the lion’s share, because he brings a fun energy to the character that had previously been absent in past movies.

Furthermore, another of Holland’s strengths is his physical appearance — he actually looks like and portrays a high schooler. In all three iterations of Spider-Man, Peter Parker is supposed to be a high school student, but both Maguire and Garfield look much too old to be in high school, as they were both in their late 20s by the time they took on the role of Spider-Man. However, Holland was only 20 years old at the time he became Spider-Man and fits right into the high school aesthetic, which allows audiences to take the film seriously. Likewise, Holland naturally gives off innocent and easygoing vibes, which makes him believable as an ordinary high school student who happened to be given incredible powers. Insider correspondent Jason Guerrasio said Holland is the most convincing Spider-Man we have seen so far, writing that “Holland is the perfect age to play a believable teen Peter Parker.”

Holland is also the best version of Spider-Man because he is able to balance the roles of Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Maguire is able to capture the sympathetic and neurotic side of Peter Parker but struggles to hold gravitas when he actually suits up as Spider-Man. On the other hand, Garfield is great when he dons the Spider-Man suit due to his witty and fast-paced one-liners, but he comes across as too cool for the character of Peter Parker, who is supposed to be more awkward and introverted. Holland is the best of both worlds, as his performance as Peter Parker is down to earth and humble, yet he is able to be charismatic and quippy as Spider-Man.

One of the biggest criticisms against Holland’s portrayal of Spider-Man is that he is too reliant on the characters around him and the larger MCU as a whole, which takes the focus away from him. Unlike the previous Spider-Men, Holland’s version of the character has had the chance to be featured in the MCU, which has released over 20 interconnected superhero films since 2008. As such, Holland has appeared in multiple Avengers team-up films, and other MCU heroes have appeared in his solo films. Nicholas Cervania, a journalist for The Gauntlet, is not a fan of Holland’s Spider-Man, writing, “Personally, I don’t like Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. While his performance is fine, I feel like the writers for the [MCU] films have a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes a good Spider-Man story.”

While it is true that Holland’s films often heavily feature other MCU characters as mentors for him, such as Iron Man in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” these films are ultimately successful because of these relationships. It makes sense that Spider-Man needs to rely on others due to his youth and inexperience as a superhero, and by the end of “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” he learns about self-reliance and takes on the antagonist alone. The mentorship between Iron Man and Spider-Man serves double duty for the film, as it both makes logical sense for the characters and provides fans a service by allowing us to see two of our favorite characters interact and learn from each other.

Overall, Holland’s performances as Spider-Man have cemented him as the definitive take on the character due to his natural humor, youthful innocence and balance between the nerdy Peter Parker and confident Spider-Man. Going forward, I know that Holland will continue to give excellent performances as Spider-Man, and I cannot wait to see where he takes the character next in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

Elijah Engler is a freshman majoring in chemistry.