These days, Spider-Man is an inescapable pop culture icon, with more live-action adaptations than nearly any other comic book hero. But long before Tom Holland was raking in just under $2 billion at the global box office, Tobey Maguire donned the iconic web-slinger’s suit for the first live-action Spider-Man film all the way back in 2002. Video footage of the original Spider-Man screen tests has recently been making the rounds on X (formerly Twitter), with many social media users pointing out just how far the hero has come based on the awkward reels.
Footage of Tobey Maguire’s costume test from Spider-Man has surfaced online.
When Tobey Maguire first dons the iconic blue and red suit in the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man, it serves as a massively triumphant moment, played expertly by the Babylon actor beneath an emotionally resonant score by legendary composer Danny Elfman. This is a far cry from what we see in the screen test footage, which shows Maguire awkwardly fumbling to perform medium-high kicks and pre-yoga stretches in a rubbery costume.
Tobey Maguire’s body language in the clip can only be described as aggressively Peter Parker-like, as the star seems to struggle to figure out what to do with his hands and posture in the studio. During the run time of Spider-Man, it’s easy to become engrossed in the narrative of the film, forgetting that the fully grown actors are adults portraying teenagers, but this screen test truly has all the charm and charisma of a prepubescent boy taking pre-prom photos.
Beside Tobey Maguire in the screen test footage is an ensemble of his Spider-Man costars, including Kirsten Dunst, May and Ben Parker performers Rosemary Harris and Cliff Robertson, and Willem Dafoe. Each performer is suited up in their screen-worn attire in order to test certain elements of lighting, hair and makeup, shot composition, and other pre-production elements normally not shown to the public when making a film.
Tobey Maguire’s body language in the clip can only be described as aggressively Peter Parker-like, as the star seems to struggle to figure out what to do with his hands and posture in the studio.
Ironically, it is rumored that studio executives initially refused to cast Tobey Maguire for the film until after they had seen him perform in the screen test. Director Sam Raimi insisted that Maguire would make a perfect Spider-Man and was able to get Sony executives on board after seeing the actor on camera. While it remains unclear whether this footage is the specific screen test footage referenced in the famed behind-the-scenes story or not, Maguire fully committed to the role from the beginning, opting to take on an intensive diet and exercise routine before the shoot.
Ironically, it is rumored that studio executives initially refused to cast Tobey Maguire for the film until after they had seen him perform in the screen test.
In addition to appearing in the now-iconic “webbed-up” Spider-Man suit, Tobey Maguire also appears in the screen test wearing the homemade “Human Spider” suit, which his character mocks up in order to join a wrestling match in the film. The suit looks as hilarious and cobbled together now as it did in the original Spider-Man film, showing just how far the iconic character has come in a cinema landscape rife with superhero films and comic book adaptations. These days, Tom Holland dons a suit mostly made from green-screen fabric in order to provide Disney VFX artists creative license to paint over the suit in post-production for a sleeker, more free-flowing look.