Before he was bitten by a spider, Peter Parker was a sixteen-year-old outcast that was virtually invisible to his classmates. In that respect, it is very fitting that an unknown actor should fill Spider-Man’s costume. While most people knew him from movies like The Cider House Rules or Pleasantville, Tobey Maguire was not exactly a household name before swinging the New York City skyline. Andrew Garfield was even more obscure before his taking the mantle back in 2010. I remember reading that announcement after class one day back in college and being completely dumbfounded, he was the definition of an unknown. I looked up a few of his movies after the news broke and the only movie he was in that I was aware of was The Social Network where he played Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. In a moment that I’m convinced was pure synergy on Sony’s part (they also produced The Social Network in addition to the Spider-Man movies), the announcement came shortly before the movie’s release.
I went to see the movie opening night with a friend and when he first stepped on screen, I immediately thought “well, he does look like he could be a decent Peter. I can buy him as a more lean, less buff Spider-Man.” As the movie progressed, he stole the show for me and became the biggest performance as his character became the only one you as the audience really grow to like. I was sold! I enjoyed both Maguire and Garfield’s renditions of the character, as discussed in one of our podcasts from last year, but I felt something was missing from both portrayals and felt they missed the mark. And when Marvel announced they were going to partner with Sony to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe earlier this year, I was over the moon with the possibilities. When they said a new actor would step into the role, I felt that an unknown would be the best way to go. If for no other reason than it would free them up to embody the role without expectations and without someone in the audience going “Hey look! It’s (insert A-list actor) in a Spider-Man costume.” For this reason along with a few others, I am overjoyed that they chose Tom Holland for the role.
Just like Korath in Guardians of the Galaxy, the internet heard the name and answered “Who?”. Just like Garfield, he is a complete unknown with only a few film credits to his name. Most notably, he was Ewan McGregor’s son in The Impossible and starred alongside Saorsie Ronan in the adaptation How I Live Now. He is also in a bit of coincidence starring alongside Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, in a film later this year called In the Heart of the Sea. It goes without saying, but I plan on being there opening weekend to see how the two actors are going to play off one another. But I am excited because in those few roles, he has shown himself to be a really versatile and talented actor capable of drama and comedy. He also looks like he would fit right at home in a John Hughes movie, something that Marvel has said will be an inspiration for the new films. Even though no one knows his name now, after he makes his first appearance in character after next year’s Captain America: Civil War, that will change completely.
One complaint I heard about Garfield was that he was too “cool” or “hipster” looking to be bullied, which was non-sense, but hopefully his resemblance to a young Anthony Michael Hall will put that to rest. A complaint I am already hearing is that he is too young, indicated by a lot of jokes online. Compared to Maguire and Garfield, who were both nearly thirty when they played a teenage Spider-Man, Holland is nineteen. People forget Spider-Man started out as a kid, that was part of his charm, and for this incarnation to work alongside the other heroes he needs to start that way. Peter, in spite of his outsider nature, is in awe at times that he is working alongside people like Captain America or Iron Man and him being this young and impressionable can pull that off even more. Plus, Holland has signed on for multiple movies and we will see him grow up and into the role over many movies and years so it makes sense to start him as young as he is. Give it time and we’ll see an experienced, fully capable Peter Parker grow before our eyes like we saw in the comics. This is looking to be the most accurate and faithful version of Spider-Man on the big screen and I cannot be more excited! Holland also appears to be a big fan of the character, as seen by a few photos in his Instagram, and has shown he is capable of doing the more athletic feats required in the role. A few years ago, he even said that he would love to play the role. He said in ten years he thought he would have a shot, but it looks like he would have it sooner than he expected. And just like Peter grew into being Spider-Man, I have a feeling we will see the same from him.
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