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As soon as Captain America: Civil War hit theaters, Tom Holland's performance as Spider-Man was hailed as a triumph. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Holland continued to perfectly capture both sides of his character. Fans and critics welcomed the portrayal after the divisive reboot attempt of The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel.
But was it really all that bad? Despite its flaws, #TheAmazingSpiderMan got a lot right, both in terms of Spider-Man and Peter Parker. And it's possible that we only have this MCU version of the wall-crawler because of Andrew Garfield's films. Here's why:
Andrew Garfield Gave Us the Attitude That Tobey Maguire Never Did
One of the main criticisms of Tobey Maguire in Sam Raimi's trilogy is that while he was great as Peter Parker, there was something missing when he put on the mask. The web-slinger is known for bantering with his opponents, and this element never quite hit the target in Maguire's films. #AndrewGarfield, on the other hand, nailed this element of Spidey's character — which was carried forward into Tom Holland's iteration.
During his first foray into superhero-ing, the webhead stops a car thief and clearly has fun with it. He first casually sits in the back seat of the car and watches as the would-be thief attempts to start the engine. After a few seconds he clears his throat and comments that the man is dressed in a very cliche way for a car thief. He continues to mock the thief, even when the thief pulls out a knife.
Garfield was a fan of the character since childhood, and this clearly shows in his performance. This is particularly obvious when he first encounters the Lizard attacking the Williamsburg Bridge.
While the Lizard is running amok, Spidey hears a cry for help from a concerned parent. After a quick glance at the Lizard, the web-slinger realizes that his responsibility lies with helping the innocent. He elects to let the villain get away for now and swings over to the car with the trapped child. It's here that we have one of the best moments in the film as we see the fledgling hero realize just what it takes to be #SpiderMan.
When Spidey breaks the back window, he looks in and sees that the boy, named Jack, is clearly frightened. He removes his mask to reassure Jack that he's just a normal guy, calming the boy down. As the car sets alight, Spidey jumps back out and grabs the bumper to stop it falling into the river; Jack is scared by what's unfolding around him until Spidey tells him to put on the mask because "it's gonna make you strong." This inspires Jack to climb up and into the wall-crawler's arms.
It's from this moment on that Peter abandons his crusade to find the man who killed his Uncle Ben, and instead uses his newfound abilities to help people. He has realized that there's so much more he can do with his powers. It's a defining moment, and one that clearly underlines his values; it also clearly demonstrates the understanding of the character that Andrew Garfield has.
Peter And Gwen's Relationship Felt Totally Authentic
Another key aspect of both Amazing films was the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Both Andrew Garfield and #EmmaStone received a lot of praise for their roles in the films, and it's obvious why. The bond that they share is a special one and the chemistry between the two actors is fantastic — so fantastic that they actually began dating in real life because of this film.
Anyone who's read a Spider-Man comic will tell you that the Peter Parker aspect of the character is just as important as the superhero aspect; the same is true for The Amazing Spider-Man films. His relationship with Gwen perfectly displays this, especially thanks to the fact that she is more than just a love interest. (Gwen is top of the class in science, and is able to assist Peter in his battles.) This relationship was a much more natural and well-written one than Peter and Mary Jane in the Raimi films.
We Saw Spider-Man Use His Brains
Another area where The Amazing Spider-Man succeeds is demonstrating Peter's intelligence, and he often uses this to defeat his enemies. From creating the Lizard antidote (alongside Gwen) in the first film to magnetizing his web-shooters to neutralize Electro's attacks in the second, it's immediately obvious that this version of Peter Parker is very bright.
This was an area that was lacking in Sam Raimi's films, particularly as the decision to give Spider-Man organic web-shooters removed the possibility of showing Peter creating them — yet another moment we actually see in The Amazing Spider-Man. Tom Holland's Peter Parker may get help from Tony Stark, but his own intellect shines through.
How 'The Amazing Spider-Man' Ultimately Gave Us Tom Holland's Spider-Man
When the deal between #Marvel and Sony brought Spider-Man to the #MCU, Andrew Garfield lost the role to Tom Holland. While this might have been harsh for Garfield, his films certainly went a long way towards delivering the Spider-Man we have today. One key decision that Marvel made was to forgo the origin story; we've seen Uncle Ben die on screen twice in 10 years, and everybody knows Peter gets his powers by being bitten by a spider. (This did mean that we missed out on arguably the greatest Stan Lee cameo of all as Uncle Ben, but it did make sense to remove this from the MCU.)
A criticism of both the Raimi trilogy and the Amazing films was Peter growing up too quickly. Many consider Peter Parker to be a kid in high school who's struggling to balance his superhero exploits with his schoolwork, and both previous incarnations barely featured this. Marvel took the decision to cast Holland because he will be able to play a young Peter Parker for a number of films, rather than have him graduate in a second film.
Finally, because some took issue with the slightly darker tone of The Amazing Spider-Man, #SpiderManHomecoming is fun — really, really fun. The Amazing Spider-Man was possibly a victim of the time it was released; after the success of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, which was a more grounded and realistic approach to superhero movies, it seemed that every new superhero movie was a "darker, grittier" reboot. Homecoming didn't need to do use this approach, and instead delivered the Spider-Man film we'd all be waiting for.
While Sam Raimi's films will always have a special place in the hearts of Spider-Fans the world over — and Spider-Man: Homecoming managed to deliver a perfect web-slinger — we can't forget The Amazing Spider-Man. Though it might not have been as well-received as the other films, it's certainly not as bad as people make out, and it's because of Andrew Garfield's two films (their successes and their failures alike) that we now have Spider-Man in the MCU where he belongs.