As Tobey Maguire – our first Spider-Man – celebrates his 45th birthday today, we look back on his years as our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. However, it raises the question who really the best webbed hero as Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland also played this iconic part.
If we flash back to 2002, we saw a young Tobey Maguire get bitten by that treacherous spider in Oscorp and watch as he equipped his spider abilities and of course became Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire continued to play this role as the superhero until 2007, making a total of three films.
Maguire was due to appear in Spider-Man 4, however due to complications with the script and production, the fourth film didn’t materialise. This was a disappointment to many of his fans (especially me) as Tobey Maguire had set the stage for playing an iconic Spider-Man role. What made his portrayal of the character so great was the authenticity he brought
Despite Maguire being a vegetarian, in his role as the superhero he was definitely the most physically fit. This made his part even greater because it showed the change he went through as he went from the nerdy schoolboy Peter Parker to the city saving superhero, out to save the world and the people in it.
In terms of his role as the “action hero”, he brings the more traditional approach to the superhero compared to his accessors. In scenes such as the big fire in the first of the film trilogy where he faces the Green Goblin, we see all his flips and jumps in slow motion.
Tobey Maguire stood out even more in these films not only because he brought the action to his character, but he also showed us a sensitive, romantic and even comical side to the character. If we are looking at the comical side, the clear scene that stands out is of course in Spider Man-3 when the evil Spider-Man has taken over and Parker struts down the street thinking he is God’s gift to women (classic scene).
For his emotional side, scenes include when Uncle Ben dies and Peter takes it bad, but he is determined to make his uncle proud. Not only do all these aspects make Tobey Maguire the best Spider-Man, but it makes this trilogy the best out of all the remakes simply because of the traditional approach to the superhero and the actor in his place.
Now, Garfield wasn’t a bad Spider-Man but he is the worst out of the three who have played the superhero. The Amazing Spider Man and its sequel came out in 2012 and 2014 and saw Andrew Garfield play Spider-Man alongside Emma Stone as his love interest, not MJ this time but Gwen Stacey.
In all fairness, Andrew Garfield did have a lot of pressure on him after he was cast in the place of his predecessor Tobey Maguire. Although he may not have been the best, he still brought his own spin and personality towards the role.
For example, Garfield’s portrayal was perhaps more of a jokey approach compared to Tobey Maguire as he brought more of a seriousness towards the role. Garfield’s character also presented us with a more nervous Peter Parker, something you can easily tell when he speaks to certain people such as Gwen Stacey. He has the typical “boy next door act”, where even if a girl speaks to him, he in some way becomes like jelly and you can tell by his body language.
In terms of his actions as the hero, he is the most spider-like, making him the most authentic body type to what Spider-Man would be presumed to be like. Compared to Maguire, he bends and twists a lot more easily, making him the most physically compatible to an actual spider.
As mentioned, Andrew Garfield had big boots to fill, and this perhaps was a downfall to him not only because every little detail was compared to Tobey Maguire’s portrayal but there was certain areas that stick out rather than his positives from his role.
Now, the new boy on the block in the last few years is of course British actor Tom Holland – who has been deemed the best Spider-Man out of the three – but I believe this is only due to how the Marvel chain became even bigger after the Disney takeover.
There is no doubt Tom Holland is great in the role as the webbed hero, but I think this is just because of all the gadgets his suit is equipped with (thanks to Tony Stark of course, R.I.P). Compared to the first trilogy, Spider-Man didn’t have all these specialised gadgets, all he had was his suit, his strength and will power.
Although these gadgets for the new suit brings the more modern side towards Tom Holland’s version of the Superhero, it takes away the tradition of the superhero itself.
What makes Tom Holland stand out compared to the others is the youthful side he brings to the role. When Spider-Man becomes the superhero, he is a high school student and Holland is the most realistic in this sense. In Spider Man: Homecoming, Holland himself was only 21, but he first appeared in the role at 20 years on in 2016 in Captain America: Civil War.
A great thing for Tom Holland is he is still very young and has many years ahead of him as the superhero, meaning he has plenty of opportunity to meet up to the standard of his predecessors.
Ultimately, due to much debate (in my opinion) Tobey Maguire is clearly the best Spider-Man (and I am not being bias because it’s his birthday). Not only was he the first to take on the role and set up the standard to be met, but he brings the most traditional approach towards the role. It’s this tradition that makes a superhero great and stand out from the rest.
By Katie Green
Feature image: Comic Book