Tom Holland Might Be The Best Spider-Man, But Tobey Maguire Was A Much Better Peter Parker

Of all three live-action Spider-Man actors, Tobey Maguire played the version of Peter Parker who remains the most relatable.

By TeeJay Small | Updated

tobey maguire spider-man 4

Spider-Man is one of the most iconic characters in the Marvel universe, dating back to the character’s web-slinging inception in the 1960s. Over the course of the last few decades, as superhero films have risen from campy studio money-pits to the box office-dominating forces they are today, several actors have portrayed the friendly neighborhood hero, including Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland. While everyone has their own opinion about the best portrayal of the character, one point stands above all else: Tom Holland may be the fan-favorite Spider-Man, but Toby Maguire will always be the best Peter Parker.

While all three live-action leads have made their incredible mark on the character, as portrayed by their collaborative efforts in 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, even the most obsessive fan would have to admit that each iteration of Peter Parker has his pros and cons. Things seem to become even more complicated when you factor in the host of alternate universe Spider-Men in animated iterations such as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Tom Holland burst onto the scene in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, quickly becoming a fan favorite. Holland had the opportunity to bring Spider-Man to life for the Marvel cinematic universe after a landmark agreement between Disney and Sony Pictures to essentially share the rights to the character, in order to provide fans with a more complete Avengers roster. Tom Holland’s portrayal is categorized by his quick-witted charm and kind-hearted nature, making his Peter Parker highly empathetic and beloved by Marvel fans the world over.

Tom Holland

Though Holland’s boyish frame and miniature stature seemed to make him an ideal candidate to revive the character’s high school era for the big screen, the events of Avengers: Infinity War meant that this iteration of Spider-Man almost immediately found himself blasting off into outer space with the assistance of a mechanized suit engineered by Robert Downey Jr.‘s Iron Man. Tom Holland’s earliest stabs at the character were nearly perfect, but the need to accelerate Peter Parker’s growth for the MCU in order to take on intergalactic baddies such as Thanos meant stripping the character of some of what it means to be the awkward teenager figuring life out by himself.

One of the central conceits of Spider-Man as a hero is the duality of his identity. While at once balancing the life-saving antics of a web-slinging hero, so too must Peter Parker continue to support himself as he makes his way through high school, facing the relatable awkwardness of an average teen with the added plight of a super-powered burden on his shoulders. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man embodies this struggle through some of Spider-Man: Homecoming, but ultimately loses any semblance of self-made relatability during the Infinity saga, where he essentially becomes a pop culture-quipping Iron Man clone.


Tobey Maguire, by comparison, is a lovable underdog throughout all three of his film installments, posing him as a struggling student barely keeping it together without a shred of outside assistance. Of course, some fans will point to the obvious age disparity throughout Sam Raimi‘s Spider-Man trilogy, laughing at the fact that nearly every high school student across the three films appears to be 35 years old. While this is clearly an obstacle of the filmmaking process, it doesn’t detract from the fact that Maguire’s Peter Parker remains true to his roots in a way that the MCU couldn’t possibly allow at this stage of the game.

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man seems, ironically, to embody the spirit of an older and more experienced Peter Parker, despite his youthful appearance. Holland’s portrayal is significantly more confident and outgoing than Maguire’s, in stark contrast to the shy and reserved Peter of the original comics. While Holland’s take on the character is highly enjoyable, it lacks some of the nuance and depth that made the Sam Raimi trilogy so memorable.

Of course, it’s worth noting that each Spider-Man actor has embodied different aspects of the character, highlighting and accentuating different flaws and strengths of the iconic character throughout their respective runs. The best example of this comes in the form of No Way Home, which takes all three iterations of Peter Parker and places them together, putting the many similarities and differences of the actors’ approaches on full display. The film was obviously an enormous success for the franchise, bringing home nearly $2 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.