Newest Spider-Man film renews debates over best interpretation of beloved character

Avery Smith, Staff Writer

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” premiered on Dec. 17, 2021, breaking impressive box office records. According to  EntTelligence, a box office analytics firm, about 20 million people went to watch the movie on opening weekend, and discourse over who the best Spider-Man actor truly began.

The original Spider-Man character was sold by Marvel Entertainment Group to Sony Pictures in 1999, with a contract that stated that at least one Spider-Man movie must be released every 5 years. As a result, Tobey Maguire’s series, as well as Andrew Garfield’s, became commonly known as part of the “Sonyverse,” separate from Tom Holland’s storyline which was integrated in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) years later. After the deal with Sony closed, Maguire’s Peter Parker was put into action with “Spider-Man” in 2002, “Spider-Man 2” in 2004 and “Spider-Man 3” in 2007.

Maguire’s first two movies were box office hits, however “Spider-Man 3” did not have the same effect. Maguire was forced to retire his suit and a new chapter of the crime fighting New Yorker came along with Andrew Garfield.

Garfield starred in “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012) and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014). These movies contained a few subtle differences to Maguire’s, for example, there were different characters, villains and plotlines that kept viewers hooked and uncertain of where the end of the movie would take them.

However, the release of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” fell short in the box office, and paired with some rumored creative disagreements, the Garfield Spider-Man franchise was brought to an end.

In February of 2015, after the decision to not continue with Garfield’s Spider-Man, Sony Pictures announced their plan to collaborate with Marvel Studios for a new era of Spider-Man. Shortly thereafter, “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” starring Tom Holland, was released in 2016 and the love for the classic films immediately returned in viewers’ hearts.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is truly a collaboration of all three Spider-Men. While the movie is specifically based in Holland’s universe, cameos from Garfield and Maguire make the film one of the most entertaining and action-packed Marvel movies to date.

The blockbuster film brought elements from the Spider-Man movies of Maguire, Garfield and Holland, including villains and events that tie up loose ends from previous movies and give fans closure after the abrupt ending from the Spider-Man predecessors.

The contentious debate over whose interpretation of the Spider-Man character carries over into the Madison hallways.

Some students valued Maguire’s Spider-Man over all other interpretations because of the nostalgia Maguire holds in many hearts.

“[Maguire’s Spider-Man] is just classic, he’s the one I grew up with,” Jack West (’23) said. “[His] universe really set the gold standard for superhero movies, and the Green Goblin is undoubtedly the best Spider-Man villain. However, Tobey’s universe has the worst MJ, in my opinion.”

Others favor the 2012 and 2014 films with Garfield.

“I think Andrew Garfield is the best Spider-Man because he is the best actor,” Matthew Remy (‘23) said. “Even though his love story is sad, it shows the best character development out of all the movies,”

Like millions of other die-hard fans, Holland’s interpretation of the character is favored over the other two because of the

“[Holland’s Spider-Man] just fits the Marvel category so well,” Ari Staab (’23) said. “Holland really plays his character to his fullest potential and takes the plot line to another level, especially in the Avengers movies. I think out of all the actors, Tom Holland makes the best Peter Parker, but I would argue that he also makes the best Spider-Man.”

The debate over the three interpretations of Spider-Man remains a hot topic on online platforms. All three actors bring their own perspective to the films that resonate with different audiences. Maguire has been dubbed as the best Spider-Man, Garfield as the best Peter Parker and Holland as a great mix of both.

Screenwriters have confirmed that there will be a fourth Spider-Man starring Tom Holland. It is doubtful that we will see Maguire and Garfield put on the Spider-Man suit in the immediate future, Holland will likely continue as our “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”