Okay, we’ve avoided this subject long enough, but we can’t beat around the bush any longer: who is the best Spider-Man? Could it be Tobey Maguire, the classic Spider-Man? Maybe Andrew Garfield, the short-lived Spider-Man with the great hair? Or is it Tom Holland, the upstart who managed to weasel his way into the Avengers?
I can already tell this is going to be a fun debate. Go wild in the comments, guys!
Tobey Maguire: Pros
It’s been so long since I actually watched Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man films that I feel like they’re only a distant dream, but I promise I remember the highlights. As a start to the Spider-Man universe, it wasn’t bad. Tobey Maguire is actually surprisingly believable as a superhero (though I prefer him in almost any other role). He has the agility and charisma to attract audiences. Not to mention he was quite a heartthrob at the time.
Overall, Tobey Maguire was the best of both worlds when it came to our beloved spidey friend. He was a relatably awkward teenager but a talented web-slinger. He lacked the self-confidence he needed to truly blast off but he was strong enough to save New York City more than a few times. More than anything, he had the pure heart needed to portray to audiences what a superhero was.
For starting off the Spider-Man franchise, it was a solid performance.
Tobey Maguire: Cons
Imagine you couldn’t hear a thing that was going on and you just see that face. What do you think is going on? Is he constipated? Did he smell something rancid? Is he trying to smile in a wind tunnel? Your guess is as good as mine.
Then there’s the fact that the early Spider-Man movies were just so…campy. The CGI was just a tad too outrageous to be believable. So, even if Tobey Maguire gave a fantastic, Oscar-winning performance, the CGI just ruined everything. His performance was just a little too much and tips the scales toward ridiculous more often than not.
Andrew Garfield: Pros
Andrew Garfield played the best Spider-Man, meaning he played the best actual superhero, not the best Peter Parker. He had the agility and the looks to fit right in with a hunky line-up of superheroes. He was just nerdy enough to play off the lovable geek but hot enough to win a bombshell like Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). While it makes the power couple easy on the eyes, it also makes it slightly less relatable.
Garfield also had a certain boyish humor about him. His awkwardness wasn’t painful to watch like it was with Tobey Maguire. Rather, it was cute and rather endearing to watch him struggle with his new powers and fight off the bad guys with trademark Spider-Man wit while also courting Gwen Stacy.
Garfield also had the greatest onscreen chemistry with his love interest. Offscreen, Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield get along swimmingly and it’s easily noticeable onscreen. Their characters’ dialogue melds perfectly together and their more romantic moments never seem forced. From the moment they meet, sparks fly between them and one can easily see that Spider-Man will get the girl.
Andrew Garfield: Cons
Andrew Garfield was so forgettable. Can you seriously tell me you remember any specific aspect of his performance? He melted a little too into the role. Actors actually do have a hard job in this aspect — if they melt into the role just enough, we get both their personality and the character’s personality and they win Oscars. If they melt too much into the role, everyone forgets their name because they aren’t watching an actor, they’re watching a character.
And that was Garfield’s problem. Despite starring opposite Emma Stone — who is, by all means, the next Katharine Hepburn in my eyes — he just couldn’t stand out and became just another Hollywood wallflower. In fact, I don’t think he really hit his stride until Hacksaw Ridge (2016). He could have been a stunt double the whole movie and it would have had the same impact.
And that’s about all I can say about him, because I truly don’t remember that much about his performance.
Tom Holland: Pros
Oh my heavens he is so attractive and adorable.
But that is slightly beside the point.
Overall, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was the perfect mix of athleticism and awkwardness, if that’s possible. We got all the geeky adorableness that we love from Peter Parker and all the coolness of a webslinging prodigy. Not to mention the humor significantly improved now that Marvel has control of the Spider-Man franchise. Tom Holland’s natural comedic timing and nonchalant attitude really brings the character to life. He also had superb onscreen chemistry with his costar Jacob Batalon with whom he builds a strong rapport that audiences loved.
I’d also like to note that this is the first movie where I actually felt true emotion from Spider-Man. It wasn’t canned like with Garfield and Maguire — this Spider-Man was real. When Holland lets the tears flow, the whole audience cries with him, which is an amazing feat for an actor his age.
Tom Holland: Cons
Tom Holland looks like a baby. As cute as he is, that’s just the problem — he’s just slightly too young. Of course, I know he’s supposed to be in high school and he is actually 20-something in real life, but he just sounds like a whiny twelve-year-old during most of his screen time. I mean, the constant references to pop culture and the cheesy one-liners are funny for a while, but there are times when you wonder just how necessary they are. We get it, Marvel. Peter is an innocent, funny kid and we should all love him.
In Infinity War (2018), he considerably matures from his more carefree persona in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), but he still has that annoying little kid vibe. Peter Parker isn’t supposed to be entirely helpless, but that’s exactly how Holland chooses to portray his character. As endearing as it is, it’s time for Peter to grow up and realize he’s a superhero now, not just a nerd building Death Star replicas in his basement.
And the Winner is…
With Tom Holland, you get the best of both worlds. We get an adorably awkward teenage (who actually looks like a teenager) Peter Parker and an incredibly athletic, talented Spider-Man. Marvel lays it on a little thick trying to get us to realize how young and clueless Peter is, but it really only adds a likable dimension to the character that Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire just couldn’t seem to muster.
If we’re going to be honest, Marvel deserves much of the credit for this choice. With over twenty superhero films under their belt, the studio is a master of the genre and knows exactly what the audience wants. In choosing a young, attractive face in Tom Holland, who also has the desirable characteristics of our favorite arachnid hero, Marvel has created the greatest Spider-Man representation for a generation to come.
Thank you for reading! Who do you think is the best Spider-Man? Comment down below!
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