Spider-Man: No Way Home brought three sets of Spider-Man fans together in glorious harmony. Tom Holland’s Marvel Cinematic Universe ‘Spidey’ was joined by Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man featured in the beloved Sam Raimi trilogy. For fans of a certain age (the writer of this article included), seeing Tobey Maguire travel through the multiverse to enter the MCU was one of the most incredible pieces of modern cinema, but Tobey Maguire could have appeared far earlier in the Marvel movie order of things, as per ScreenRant.
Which MCU property was supposed to get the Tobey Maguire treatment? The answer to that question is Incredible Hulk. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy featuring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker had just wrapped up a year prior to the 2008 release of Incredible Hulk with the divisive Spider-Man 3. And Incredible Hulk‘s director Louis Leterrier wanted Maguire’s Spider-Man to have a cameo in the film, thus making his iteration of the world’s favo\rite web-slinger as the MCU’s Spider-Man.
So what put an end to this marvellous collaboration? The short answer is Sony Pictures. The long answer is pretty similar. In the 1990s Marvel Studios had a big cash problem and its solution was to sell the rights to some of its biggest names to other film studios. As a result, 20th Century Fox took control of the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises and Sony Pictures took a hold of the Spider-Man franchise. The X-Men and Spider-Man films in the early 2000s walked so that the MCU could run. However, as successful a start as Iron Man was for the MCU, it wasn’t enough to overturn the fact that Sony held the rights to Spider-Man, and had the power to veto Tobey Maguire’s Incredible Hulk, and veto they did.
As fate would have it, not only did Disney acquire 20th Century Fox, thus Marvel Studios reclaimed the rights to both X-Men and the Fantastic Four, but Sony and Marvel came to an agreement to co-create Spider-Man projects, starting with Tom Holland’s first Spider-Man appearance in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. So, fans may not have got to see Tobey Maguire share the screen with Edward Norton and become MCU’s Spider-Man, but Tom Holland has established himself as a Hollywood superstar thanks to his iteration of Spider-Man. And of course, Maguire was able to don his red and blue costume once more with his appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home, one of the biggest films in the history of American cinema.
It was MTV who way back in 2008 reported that Louis Leterrier was pushing for Tobey Maguire to appear in Incredible Hulk. Sony’s rebuttal could be attributed as one of Marvel’s first What Ifs. MTV’s Shawn Adler ended his piece on Leterrier’s failed Maguire cameo by pitching to readers what superhero crossovers they would like to see, be it Hulk vs Wolverine, Daredevil vs Tony Stark or Spider-Man fraternizing with the Fantastic Four. Now thanks to the likes of Spider-Man: No Way Home and the fast-approaching Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, crossovers such as these aren’t just expected, but will soon become the norm.