The hype for Spider-Man: No Way Home is overwhelming, with fans desperate to see how the film will unite different cinematic takes on the hero. The two most prominent cinematic Spider-Men are Tobey Maguire and current webhead Tom Holland, but there was one more in between who may have been better than them both: The Amazing Spider-Man's Andrew Garfield.
Though his movies don't get the praise other Spider-Man flicks do, Garfield's Peter Parker is right out of the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko comics. Starting with his mannerisms as both Spider-Man and Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield's hero bested both Tobey and Tom's in terms of truly embodying what makes for an amazing Spider-Man.
Tobey Maguire vs. Andrew Garfield
While Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man may have been in much more universally praised movies, Andrew Garfield's version in The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2 was a much better representation of Peter Parker from the comics and the classic cartoons. Tobey's Peter was written much more in the mold of the Christopher Reeve Clark Kent in the old-school Superman movies (with Uncle Ben sounding incredibly like Glenn Ford's Pa Kent at one point), and the result was that he was an absolutely pathetic loser. Contrary to popular belief, Peter was never this helpless in the comics, and his level of standing up for himself and mouthing off to others made him much more antisocial than shy.
Andrew Garfield's Peter stands up to bullies like Flash Thompson in a much more assertive way, to the point of arguably being a jerk. This is much more in line with Peter in the comics' early days, who had loads of contempt for his classmates and pretty much anyone who happened to get on his nerves. Likewise, Andrew's incarnation had a much easier time of cracking wise and coming off as a jokester, albeit in a way that was still assertive and didn't reduce him to comedic relief. Tobey's Spidey rarely joked, and when he did, it came off as unnatural, especially given how serious the movies themselves were.
Tom Holland vs. Andrew Garfield
If the Tobey version of Spider-Man was somewhat pathetic as Peter Parker, then Tom Holland's version is the same way as both Peter and Spider-Man. This stems from the biggest major issue of the MCU incarnation of Spider-Man, which is that Marvel's central hero is reduced to an Iron Man fanboy. His suits are the creations of Tony Stark, who is also made into a sort of stand-in for Uncle Ben. He relies far less on his own skills and acumen and much more on Stark tech, even after Iron Man himself is dead.
Even his humor feels much more childish and spastic than the version in The Amazing Spider-Man. There, Spidey felt like a true, natural wiseacre from whom quips and jokes simply rolled off of the tongue. Holland's version, on the other hand, seems to be put in more situational comedy where he's the butt of the joke, likely a reflection of how even typically serious heroes in the MCU constantly quip like Spidey usually does.
Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man was his own man, and he didn't hero-worship others besides maybe his father and his Uncle Ben. His relationship with Aunt May was also much more like the comics, in which Peter worries about how his old aunt will take care of things following Ben's death. With a much younger and more attractive Aunt May, Holland's Spidey is robbed of his central responsibility, thus missing out on a huge part of Peter's characterization from the comics. Garfield's Spider-Man balanced humor and wit with guilt and the drive to be a hero, reflecting more than any other theatrical version what Stan Lee imparted into the character so many years ago. Unfortunately, his time in the red and blue costume was somewhat underappreciated, especially for its fidelity to the source material.
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