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You can barely move for an infestation of spiders and the popular Marvel hero has the honor of being rebooted twice since 2002, narrowly beating Batman's revolving door of movies. Sure, we all remember the Tobey Maguire greatness and Willem Dafoe's grimace, Alfred Molina's tentacled terror, and (maybe not) Peter's emo phase, but what did we all take away from the Andrew Garfield era?
When the series was rebooted in 2012 and Andrew Garfield was brought in as Hollywood's golden boy, everyone thought Marc Webb could turn the series around — he had "web" in his name for God's sake. The Amazing Spider-Man garnered great reviews, positive returns, and an instantly greenlit sequel, however, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is pretty much universally panned as a "Gar-crash," and Andrew himself bore the brunt of the criticism.
Speaking to Variety's "Actors on Actors," alongside Amy Adams, the 33-year-old expressed the misery behind the red and blue suit. It looks like the wounds are still crawling with spiders for the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man:
“There is something that happened with that experience for me, where story and character were not actually at the top of the priority list, ultimately, and I found that really, really tricky. I signed up to serve the story, and to serve this incredible character that I’ve been dressing as since I was three, and then it gets compromised and it breaks my heart. I got heartbroken a little bit to a certain degree.”
Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi may have bowed out in a mire of symbiote goo and sand, but their tenure eclipsed Garfield as the forgotten Spider-Man. We may have finally got a Curt Connors/Lizard story, the appearance of Electro, and the iconic Gwen Stacy death, but something was off with the Amazing Spider-Man series. It is a bad sign when people prefer the bad-graphic video game to the film it is based on. It seems that Garfield's intentions were noble, but he didn't realize he was just a cog in the great machine of churning superhero movies.
Out With The Old, In With The Young
The Marvel/Sony deal may have brought Parker swinging back to where he belongs, but the biggest loser in the merger was undoubtedly Garfield himself. I don't think B.J. Novak or Sally Field lost much sleep about not coming back for Amazing Spider-Man 3, however, finding out that the studio was going for a much younger Parker must have been a blow for Garfield. At the age of 32 (at the time) he was only one year younger than Avengers lead Chris Evans, and he just didn't fit with the MCU's hip, young webslinger. It must be a bit like Marla Maples being replaced by Melania Trump:
“I was young — not as young as the young guy is that playing it now — Tom Holland, who is a fantastic actor…There’s something about being that young in that kind of machinery which I think is really dangerous. I wasn’t a teenager, but I was still young enough to struggle with the value system, I suppose, of corporate America, really. It’s a corporate enterprise mostly…I found that really, really tricky.”
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was too caught up in establishing the Sinister Six, or shoehorning in Paul Giamatti's dire Rhino cameo, to realize that Peter Parker's story was playing second fiddle. The key to a great Spider-Man movie is the relationship of Parker and those around him — a'la M.J. in Spider-Man 2, or Peter bonding with Otto Octavius. Max Dillon thundering around NYC just didn't work, and Harry Osborn once again felt like an unnecessary afterthought.
At least Holland's current incarnation seems to be focusing more on the childlike wonder of Spidey as a hero; hopefully we will see more of this in Spider-Man: Homecoming. While I'm a little miffed to be getting ANOTHER origin story, let's all go into this with open eyes. As for Garfield though, don't feel too bad. It didn't Brandon Routh his career and in 2015 arachnologists Yuri M. Marusik named a new species of spider the Pritha Garfieldi after him. You win some, you lose some!