Though he’s had a wide-ranging career, it’s hard not to think of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, a role that was the first of the leading man, blockbuster variety for the actor. He took on the character before the web-slinger had entered the MCU and really before Marvel’s run of movies had gone into the stratosphere.
The popularity of comic books turning into movies in the past decade has made it impossible for audiences to escape superhero magic in theaters. Robert Downey Jr. scored big with the release of Iron Man in 2008, seemingly launching the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since then, other studios like DC and Sony have tried to play catch up, releasing their versions of superhero flair in theaters and on streaming.
Before Tom Holland took on the multiverse as Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, other actors occupied the spidey suit to great success. Tobey Maguire introduced theatrical audiences to his version of the character beginning in 2002, starring in three feature films for director Sam Raimi. British actor Andrew Garfield was the next to play Spider-Man, which he has done in three films to date.
Here is a look at Andrew Garfield’s career and what it took for him to embody Spider-Man.
BEFORE ANDREW GARFIELD WAS SPIDER-MAN, HE WAS ON THE STAGE AND IN THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Andrew Garfield was born in Los Angeles and raised in England, where he got his start on television and the British stage. Making a name for himself in episodes of Sugar Rush and Doctor Who in the mid-2000s, Garfield hopped from television acting to appearing in theater productions of The Laramie Project, Romeo & Juliet, and Beautiful Thing in London.
Film studios across the pond began to take note, and the actor was cast in minor roles opposite heavyweight performers like Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise in 2007’s Lions for Lambs and Heath Ledger in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
Before Andrew Garfield was tapped to play Spider-Man, he found fame by portraying real-life entrepreneur Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network. The role made Garfield a household name, as the David Fincher-directed film performed well at the box office and eventually scored a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Andrew Garfield was suddenly flooded with offers from major studios, and he chose his next adventure: The Amazing Spider-Man.
ANDREW GARFIELD WAS CHOSEN AS SPIDER-MAN BECAUSE OF HIS CHEMISTRY WITH EMMA STONE
Tobey Maguire filled Peter Parker’s shoes in an initial trilogy for Columbia Pictures/Sony in the early 2000s. Columbia originally wanted to continue the character’s storyline in a proposed Spider-Man 4. However, Columbia and Marvel chose to go a different way and reboot the franchise altogether under the new title of The Amazing Spider-Man.
They retained Spider-Man 2 writer Alvin Sargent who cowrote The Amazing Spider-Man with James Vanderbilt and Steve Kloves.
Director Marc Webb met with several young actors to play the lead role of Peter Parker, which included Jamie Bell, Josh Hutcherson, Michael Angarano, and Joe Jonas. According to Yahoo! News, Webb chose Andrew Garfield for the part of Spider-Man because they filmed a scene in which Garfield ate a cheeseburger and told Gwen Stacy to calm down. Webb thought this was indicative of the character.
Webb also noted at the time that Garfield was a new face for the film industry, defending the casting of a 28-year-old actor to play a high school student in the film.
Andrew Garfield has been rumored to be a fan of Spider-Man since his childhood, so playing the web-slinger was a dream come true for the actor. He stepped into Tobey Maguire’s shoes by remaking the character into his own image. Sony chose to alter some of Peter Parker’s storylines to better fit the on-screen chemistry between Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy.
After meeting on the film, Garfield and Stone ended up becoming a real-life couple, a relationship that would continue for several years.
HE STUDIED REAL SPIDERS TO MIMIC THEIR MOVEMENTS WHEN HE ACTED
Not only did Andrew Garfield play teenager Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man when he was nearly 30 years old, his predecessor Tobey Maguire was of similar age when he filmed 2002’s Spider-Man. Garfield saw his casting as a challenge, given that Maguire had recently embodied the same character. He feared audiences reacting poorly to his take on the iconic superhero.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter at the time The Amazing Spider-Man was in production, Andrew Garfield said he wanted to make Peter Parker seem authentic. Garfield stated, “The audience already has a relationship with many different incarnations of the character. I do, as well. I’m probably going to be the guy in the movie theater shouting abuse at myself. But I have to let that go.”
Andrew Garfield felt he could relate to Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man, and sought to develop a new side to the character that viewers already thought they knew backward and forwards.
Garfield began studying the movements of spiders in their natural habitats and modeled many of his motions on what he observed. He also focused his attention on how athletes moved while practicing yoga and pilates to gain a fresh perspective on the character.
The character of Peter Parker and many events surrounding the high school student becoming Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man closely resemble that of Tobey Maguire’s original film. However, Andrew Garfield’s Peter faces off against Rhys Ifans as the mysterious Dr. Curt Connors, aka Lizard. Replacing Mary Jane as Peter’s love interest is Emma Stone in the Gwen Stacy role, and Gwen is heavily involved in helping Spider-Man to defeat Dr. Connors.
The Amazing Spider-Man opened in theaters in July 2012, just five years after Tobey Maguire had last swung into action in Spider-Man 3. Andrew Garfield’s performance in The Amazing Spider-Man helped the movie reach a box office gross of $758 million against a budget of around $200 million.
In his review of the flick for CNN, Tom Charity wrote that Garfield’s “fresh-faced innocence” and “nervous agitation” made the movie “immediately appealing” to watch.
HE REPRISED THE ROLE IN THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
Sony and Marvel had initially believed they would continue working with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone by making several sequels to The Amazing Spider-Man. Two years after the first film debuted, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released to financial success, although it failed to live up to the previous movie’s box office total.
The movie grossed over $700 million and is considered the lowest-performing live-action Spider-Man flick to date.
Andrew Garfield returned to the franchise and in the movie fought battles on multiple fronts. He finds a new foe in Jamie Foxx’s Electro, and Spider-Man must save New York City from the threat of his childhood friend Harry Osborn. Osborn transforms into the Green Goblin, a similar fate that audiences witnessed in Spider-Man 3 with actor James Franco.
Primarily due to the poor performance at the box office, as well as mixed critical and audience reception, future installments of The Amazing Spider-Man sequels were eventually scrapped.
ANDREW GARFIELD WAS OUT AS SPIDER-MAN WHEN THE CHARACTER ENTERED THE MCU
Sony struck a deal with Marvel Studios shortly after The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s release, which would integrate the Peter Parker character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Walt Disney Studios bought Marvel Studios in 2015, and Disney chose to drop Andrew Garfield from playing Spider-Man in hopes of rebooting the character within the MCU.
Fellow Brit Tom Holland took on the role of Peter Parker and first appeared as Spider-Man in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War before starring as the lead of his own film trilogy for Marvel. The character was incorporated into the Avengers films, which helped to close out Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This would take him through several movies, up to 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Before Holland put the spidey suit on, arachnologists honored Andrew Garfield for his duties as Spider-Man. Yuri M. Marusik and Alireza Zamani named a new species of crevice weaver spider after the actor and Tobey Maguire, according to the Journals of KMK Scientific Press Ltd. The spider named after Andrew Garfield specifically is Pritha garfieldi, which is endemic to Iran.
HE RETURNED AS THE CHARACTER IN ONE OF THE GREATEST MOVIE SURPRISES EVER
With Tom Holland excelling in the role of Peter Parker for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, audiences had found a worthy actor to play the part of a web-slinging superhero. However, Marvel understood that since other actors had taken the role and made it famous in the past, their presence in the franchise might be well-suited for a story about the multiverse.
After rumors swirled for months about the possibility that Tobey Maguire and/or Andrew Garfield could reprise their roles as Spider-Man, viewers got precisely what they wanted in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
As part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four, Spider-Man: No Way Home was billed as a possible conclusion to Tom Holland’s take on Peter Parker. Several deals between Sony and Marvel Studios took place over a period of a few years, and many leaks occurred to confirm the speculation that some actors might be featured in the new installment.
The film’s cast tried desperately to quash all rumors, and both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield lied on several occasions about their involvement with Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Audience suspicion was revealed to be true when Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker stepped onto the screen during a pivotal moment of the film. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man encounters instances of the multiverse, and Garfield’s alternative Spider-Man character travels to Holland’s universe.
When Garfield is revealed, audience reaction went through the roof, with Vulture noting Garfield’s performance as the film’s best and calling the actor a “genuine delight.”
Andrew Garfield seemed to jump at the chance to play Spider-Man another time, believing he would never step into the role again. In Spider-Man: No Way Home, he is referred to as “Peter-Three,” and the actor has noted his intention in joining the movie was to “tie up some loose ends.”
The movie’s climax shows Garfield’s character saving MJ (Zendaya) much in a similar way to how he failed to save Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It helped to put a fine point on his character’s internal struggles to rest.
ANDREW GARFIELD MIGHT NOT BE PART OF SPIDER-MAN’S FUTURE
With the financial success of Spider-Man: No Way Home to the tune of a $1.9 billion box office haul, audiences would likely love to see Tom Holland personify Spider-Man once again. There are currently no announced plans for Andrew Garfield to reprise his role as Peter Parker, and Tobey Maguire has moved on to other projects like Babylon, though there are rumors that they may appear in future Avengers movies as part of the Multiverse.
Sony is developing new projects as part of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, which has included stories revolving around the characters of Venom, Morbius, and Madame Web.
Sony’s animated arm will be releasing a sequel to 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse this year called Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. This part of the Spider-Man franchise is aided by a variety of voice acting by well-known performers who play incarnations of Peter Parker, including Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Chris Pine, and Nicolas Cage.
While Andrew Garfield has yet to confirm if he will be playing Spider-Man in the future, it would be fun if he showed up as a surprise part of the voice cast of an installment in one of Sony’s animated films.
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