Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man (Pop Culture Smash)
By: Alexander “River” Gatensby
Back in 1962, a legend was born. A young man was bitten by a spider in a lab, and his life was flipped, turned upside-down. Peter Parker, a 15-year old kid gained the power to climb walls, and the proportional strength of a spider, and most importantly the power to blow our freaking minds with how awesome he is. Now, obviously this didn’t happen in real life (except for the blowing of said minds); Spider-man is the creation of writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. He’s a fictional comic book hero from the golden age of comic books.
Over the years, Spidey has changed quite a bit, but still maintained a pretty steady status as one of Marvel’s flagship characters, and one of the first Marvel characters to appear in a big-budget film adaptation. Since the early 2000’s 3 different film actors have played the character on the big screen. We decided to have an office viewing of some of the best Spider-Man films, to see which web-slinger people like most, because as we all know, whenever more than one person plays a character, there is always a debate on who portrayed the role best. Knowing this, I took it upon myself to figure out who truly is the best Spider-Man (based on their portrayal of the character and their movies overall).
Needless to say, please make sure you have seen all of the Spider-man movies before reading this if you care at all about spoilers
I grew up with Spider-man, so this debate is pretty personal to me. I was obsessed. I used to get up at 6:30 in the morning to watch the 1960’s cartoon because it aired on the family channel. I spent hours every week playing the Spider-man 2 video game, swinging my way through New-York. Most relevantly to this topic, I have been to every Spider-man movie in theatres since Spider-man 3! Now that I’ve tried to validate my knowledge a little let’s get into the debate.
If you’re new to this, here’s how it works: I’ll give my opinion on each actor’s portrayal of the character (and points on their movies in general), mixed in with a community view to make it fair. Then in the end, count up the votes on who likes what Spider-man.
As I mentioned before, there are 3 actors for Spider-Man, the first of which being Tobey Maguire. I have to say, I do have a little bit of bias towards Maguire’s version of Spidey, just because I grew up with those movies. He captured the character of Peter Parker very well, as sort-of a geeky outcast to his peers, and a bit reclusive. He played Spider-Man in 3 movies, (two of which were good).
- One of the most important elements to Spider-man’s character is his trouble with balancing his personal and love-life, with super-hero work. He can never have a normal life, because he has a responsibility to help those in need. Tobey Maguire captures this almost perfectly, especially in the second film.
- Peter’s love interest, Mary-Jane, is played by Kirsten Dunst. Every one of their interactions is like an awkward staring contest with words here and there.
- A comment that I heard frequently while we were watching Spider-man 2 is that these movies are literally just Peter Parker staring at his friends. I do hear this a lot about Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, and I have ignored it up to this point, but I have to admit that it is a bit ridiculous.
- Another thing to note, is that the Spider-Man costume in this movie is amazing. It looks reminiscent of the comic books, and stays consistent across all three films
- One obvious letdown of this rendition of Spider-Man is the third movie with Venom. Tobey Maguire’s acting in that movie was less than spectacular. I watched the movie in theatres, and liked it as a kid, but growing up I’ve started to skip it every time I feel like going on a Spider-Man binge. The Venom symbiote is supposed to make him stronger and fuel his anger, not make him an emo street dancer.
- I have heard some criticisms on his age compared to the characters age, and I feel like it is only fair to mention that, but I don’t really see the issue there. He looks enough like a college student to pas as a good web-slinger, but again; it was only fair to mention that.
Next up is Andrew Garfield. They really changed it up with “The Amazing Spider-Man”. In this duo of movies Spider-Man isn’t really the geeky teen we’ve grown to know, but a smart hipster skater guy who gets bullied occasionally. These movies adopted kind-of a darker tone as well.
- He was good in the costume, and his costume was good. He played the classic traits of Spider-Man well, what with the joking and such.
- Emma stone rocks the role of Gwen Stacy, Peter’s love interest.
- While he may have played well with the costume on, his portrayal of Peter Parker was off. He was aggressive, depressive, and all-around a disappointing version (only my opinion, I know there are tonnes of Amazing Spider-Man fans)
- Curt Connors (the Lizard) is a great villain. I was very excited about his inclusion in the movie. He is one of Spidey’s first villains; a wonderful inclusion for the big screen and Rhys Ifans rocked the roll.
- Having watched the Amazing Spider-Man 2 again recently, I have to say it was a bit hard to follow. They tried to juggle too many different plot points (such as Peter and Gwen’s relationship, and Peter’s parents). It seems like each point comes out of nowhere at random moments throughout the movie. It’s really hard to connect with the character when the movies are so all over the place.
- One thing that was good about Garfield’s movies though, is that his costume in number 2 was on point! It looked pretty much exactly like it should have. It was almost like they pulled it straight from the comics.
- My personal opinions aside, a lot of people loved those two movies. I think people like the love story between Peter and Gwen Stacey. The way they went about it was interesting.
Last but not least, I would like to introduce Tom Holland to the race. Tom is the newest Spider-man, having played the character in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, and 2017’s Spider-man Homecoming.
- Holland plays a younger spider-man, 15 years old to be exact, which is accurate to the original age of when peter became Spider-man.
- He nailed both sides of the character: Spider-Man and Peter Parker, which can’t necessarily be said about the other two actors. Homecoming really tackled the classic Peter Parker struggle of getting his personal life tangled with his super-hero life, and not being able to really “have a life”.
- His movie ties into the Marvel universe as a whole. This may not relevant to his acting, but it’s cool to have a Spider-Man who can hang out with Iron man and Captain America.
- One of the things that sucks about Holland’s movie though is that a bunch of the supporting characters were changed. I don’t think it was necessary.
- Spider-man Home-coming deals with the whole “With great power comes great responsibility” in a whole new way. Instead of having Uncle Ben deliver this information. Peter gets to learn all of this on his own, with some assistance from Tony Stark.
- Spider-Man’s suit was filled with Stark tech. I don’t personally have a problem with it, but a lot of people wanted Spidey to stay away from tech-based super-suits. I guess people mostly have a problem with it because he didn’t even create the suit himself, which is how it usually is.
- I heard the point that Tony Stark basically replaces Uncle Ben as the father figure role. I didn’t really get that out of the movie when I watched it, but whatever I guess. People take out different things from movies.
After watching all of the movies with the Shakat Team, and taking in a community vote from social media, we have our result! Overall the votes added up came to:
Tom Holland: 43.4%
Andrew Garfield: 9.4%
Tobey Maguire: 41.5%
Deadpool: 5.7% (I threw him into the vote for fun)
It seems as though Tom Holland has won! Spider-Man: Homecoming, is still fresh in our minds, so it only makes sense that he would win people over. Not only is his character the right age, but he plays both sides of Peter and Spider-Man perfectly. It is a good thing that people like him, because he is our Spider-Man for the foreseeable future. I have to say though, Tobey Maguire was a really close second which makes me very happy.
But there you have, it Tom Holland is Yukon’s pick for the best Spider-man actor!
If you want to see some of the folks we talked to, there is a wonderful video Skyler Isaac and Alexander “River” Gatensby worked on together. Check it out: