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Not since the infamous Clone Saga have fans had so much trouble choosing the right Peter Parker. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re pitting the two actors who have portrayed our favorite webslinger on film during the early 2000s, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, against one another.
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Round 1: Origins
After an unfortunate incident involving a radioactive spider, Peter Parker took to wearing bright blue and red and fighting crime as Spider-Man. Oh, and his uncle was murdered. Simple and elegant; no need to complicate things.
Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man followed that structure almost to the letter except the weird bit about organic web shooters; we have James Cameron to thank for that. Peter got bit, passed out, didn’t need glasses anymore and off he went to fight crime in his Spidey suit.
Just a decade later, that simple and elegant story got a bit more complicated. Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker was abandoned at a young age by his parents who may or may not have been super spies. The back-story of his parental units was shrouded in mystery, and ultimately there was much more to Peter acquiring his powers than a random spider-bite. By the time the sequel rolled around, Columbia Pictures and Marvel Entertainment got a bit more confident about changing the Spider-Man origin story.
You don’t get points for changing the formula that much, so we’re gonna give this round to Tobey Maguire.
Winner: Maguire 1 / Garfield 0
Round 2: Portrayal of Peter Parker
Who is Spider-Man under that swanky mask of his? At his core, Peter Parker was conceived to represent the archetype of high school nerdiness. Shy, bookish and generally an all-around loser, Pete didn’t have many friends and wasn’t much of a jock. When Spider-Man first swung onto the big screen in 2002, Tobey Maguire had all these qualities. He was ignored by girls, looked after his aging aunt and was a good nephew until that time he accidentally got his uncle murdered.
In 2012, all the things that made you a geek a decade ago instantly made you hipster cool.
Andrew Garfield put on his trendy glasses, managed an effortless bed-head coif that almost looked like it wasn’t planned and skateboarded through the halls of his high school like some kind of super-powered Marty McFly. He stood up for weaker kids and even caught the attention of Gwen Stacy. While he is bullied somewhat, Garfield seemed more like the cool older brother we always wanted—but that’s not 100% faithful to the true essence of Peter Parker.
If we’re going by comic book standards, which we are, Tobey Maguire takes this round with a knockout.
Winner: Maguire 2 / Garfield 0
Round 3: Portrayal of Spider-Man
Tobey Maguire suspended our disbelief when he knitted the best cosplay costume we’d ever seen and took to the streets as Spider-Man. The only thing was that he was still Peter Parker under that mask. He fought villains and saved kitty cats, sure; but he was still a big geek. Yes, he had a few witty one-liners, but he spent most of his time with the mask off anyway, to the point where Peter Parker and Spider-Man were indiscernible from one another.
2012 saw yet another teenager craft his own award-winning super-suit presumably from materials found in his basement. But when Andrew Garfield put on his mask, he became a version of the Web-Head closer to the one we all know and love. He took his pent-up angst out on bad guys, cops and giant lizard creatures and made it fun to be Spider-Man—not to mention the fact that he always had a good zinger ready in his back pocket.
Because he made Spider-Man cool again, Andrew Garfield wins this round.
Winner: Maguire 2 / Garfield 1
Round 4: Chemistry and Relationship
When he wasn’t watching her creepily from his backyard, Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man was making awkward attempts at conversation with Mary Jane that never really panned out. And though they eventually hooked up at the end of the second movie, Mary Jane had Peter firmly in the friend-zone until she eventually put two and two together and discovered his way cooler, way sexier alter ego. He gets points for that reverse lip-lock in the first film, but that might not be enough to win this round.
When Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy broke the ice, the chemistry was instantaneous. They flirted, joked, and generally gave each other the googly-eyes—and before you knew it, they were dating. Now that’s one smooth web-head! And though it might not be the traditional “wait a few years and see if she notices me” approach that we’re used to from old Petey, it managed to spice things up and made for a more engaging story.
The point here goes to Garfield for his smooth moves.
Winner: Maguire 2 / Garfield 2
Round 5: Character Motivations
What does Spider-Man really want out of life? Tobey Maguire’s wall-crawler only wanted to help make a difference, to make sure that the streets were a safer place and put his powers to a good and noble use. Well, isn’t that wholesome? And it’s definitely relatable—don’t we all want to make the world a better place in one way or another? This Spider-Man does just that and he does it in style.
So the same thing must be true for all iterations of the character, right? Well, not quite.
Seems like Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man took his cues from “Batman Begins” and decided to avenge his dead uncle. How? By taking down every criminal who bore even the slightest resemblance to his uncle Ben’s killer, even undercover cops. That is, until a giant reptile creature started stealing the spotlight. And faster than you can say “production notes,” he dropped the revenge plot line and battled the giant Lizard for some even sexier front-page action.
If social network trending and Twitter followers are your thing, then Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker was on the right track. But Tobey Maguire had that selfless heroism thing that deep down we really want from our Spider-Man.
Winner: Maguire 3 / Garfield 2
By a score of 3 to 2, the winner is Tobey Maguire. Andrew Garfield may be a sass-talking hipster with a lot of angst, but Tobey is the one who really nailed it to become the Spider-Man we know and love.
What did you think of our friendly neighborhood verdict? Be sure to debate in the comments section, and subscribe to WatchMojo.com for more entertaining videos published daily.