Point/Counterpoint/Counterpoint: Who is the best Spider-Man?

Kayla Trujillo, Laynie Clark, and Jada Thomas

Tobey’s POV:

After 20 years and three different adaptations of the character, one of the biggest controversies of our generation is: who is the best Spider-Man? So, I present to you an opinion that may be unpopular: Peter 2, also known as Tobey Maguire, is the best Spider-Man out of them all.

Maguire is the blueprint for any Spider-Man to come. When old folks and new teens think of the most original Spider-Man we know and love, Maguire is the token image of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. In the original three Maguire adaptations, he portrays the comic characterization of Spider-Man the best; his wide range of emotions throughout the three movies really pulls his portrayal of the hero together. One of the best qualities of Maguire’s version of Peter Parker is how well he intertwined his “spidey senses” with his natural intelligence and power in the first film. In the final battle with the Green Goblin, we see his senses come to life when he is aware of the villain approaching sneakily behind him, causing him to jump backward and leap in the air to take down the villain. Furthermore, Maguire is the most realistic depiction of what it is like to be a hero. While the films had their downsides — such as the not-so-advanced CGI and slightly older actor — it is still a gem of a trilogy that millions adore. 

In comparison to the other two actors — Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland — and their separate adaptations, Maguire’s acting skills stand out because of the depth of Peter Parker’s dedication to living by the quote, “With great power comes great responsibility.” We see that when trouble dawns too closely to Holland’s Spider-Man, he runs away or leaves for a vacation to avoid responsibility. With Garfield’s Spider-Man, we see the way he was straying from his responsibility as a superhero to focus on his love, Gwen Stacy. Peter 2 was responsible, sacrificing at times who “Peter Parker” was to live as Spider-Man. Even in his darkest moments, especially in “Spider-Man 3,” he still fought the bad with the good and became a hero and man that Uncle Ben would be proud of. Not to mention that upside-down kiss? Iconic and hard to replicate. 

With that, my most definitive statement is that Peter 2 — also known as Tobey Maguire — will remain the best Spider-Man and the one that we can relate to the most, bringing him closer to us as an audience and as fans. The awkward conversations and dancing on the sidewalk will be some of Maguire’s best moments for generations to come. 

Andrew’s POV:

The world has seen him as many things — Eduardo in the “Social Network,” Desmond in “Hacksaw Ridge,” Jonathan Larson in “Tick, Tick… Boom!” — but especially as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield is my favorite Spider-Man and by the time you’re done with this article, regardless of where you stand on the issue, you won’t be able to deny all that Garfield brings to the table.

After the release of Marvel Studios’ biggest movie since the start of the pandemic, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” fans all around the world have fallen completely head-over-heels for Peter 3, though that was not always the case. Andrew Garfield filled the shoes of Peter Parker in 2012 when “The Amazing Spider-Man” took to the big screen. Fans were largely indifferent toward his movie, but they did not hate it. In 2014, Garfield’s second Spider-Man movie premiered — “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” — and fans were not impressed. In fact, Garfield did not even finish the trilogy, instead moving on to other movies and leaving the world of Peter Parker behind. 

Garfield’s Spider-Man adaptations have always been given the least amount of love. I found it strange that “The Amazing Spider-Man” movies were pushed under the rug; with the incredibly detailed suit and slow-motion web-slinging scenes, he was easily the most eye-catching. By implementing a “skater boy” aspect and a darker story into his Peter Parker, Garfield took the role and made it his own rather than just recreating the original adaptation that came before him. 

Tobey Maguire was the first live-action Spider-Man that the big screen had ever seen. Maguire did a great job bringing a character that so many comic fans adore to life, but he is no comparison to Garfield. Maguire’s movies portrayed the best villains that any of the adaptations have ever shown; although they were frightening and ruthless, the audience was able to see their origin story and really empathize with them, which is the embodiment of a powerful villain. Unfortunately for Maguire, his movies are the oldest, so there was not much that could have been done visually. I will not fault him for that; Maguire was a beautiful Spider-Man for his time and I thank him for laying down the foundation for the rest of his successors. 

The most recent actor to embody the role is Tom Holland. Holland introduced Peter Parker into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016 when he appeared in “Captain America: Civil War,” and fans went wild. Everybody was ecstatic to see their beloved Parker back on screen, especially in the MCU where everybody’s favorite heroes reside. Holland’s first solo movie, “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” premiered in 2017 and it was, to say the least, a little disappointing. While Holland portrays a wonderful Peter Parker, his Spider-Man was lacking. Fans did not get to see the epic web-slinging from Holland as they had with Garfield, and the villains were not up to par with Maguire’s. Luckily, Holland had enough of a fan base to continue on with two more movies. The third in his trilogy, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” is where the tables turn. 

This movie was every Spider-Man fan’s dream, considering it showed all three Spider-Men on screen at the same time — something fans never imagined being possible in this lifetime. In this movie, Garfield redeemed himself and basically flipped the entire fandom upside down with his witty humor and dark soul. Seeing all three actors on screen at once strengthened my love for Garfield because he stood out amongst the others. Maguire’s character was filled with nostalgia, Holland’s was overflowing with anticipation, but Garfield’s embodied passion and love. It was magical, getting to experience them all together, and I do not take that for granted.

Following “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” fans became infatuated with Garfield. From his powerful presence on screen to his endearing attitude off-screen, fans fell in love and started promoting a third movie to finalize his unfinished trilogy. The hashtag #MakeTASM3 was trending for weeks following the release of Holland’s movie. It is clear that the world needs more of that dark, broken, lonely Peter Parker, and they are willing to fight to make it happen.

All of this to say, Andrew Garfield’s career as Spider-Man has been a rollercoaster; he has been hated by most, loved by some and now wanted by all. It is safe to announce that I am excited to see what he does next, in the Spider-Man universe and out of it. He truly is the amazing Spider-Man in my book. 

Tom’s POV:

In 2016, longtime Marvel fans were in for a surprise when a famous web-slinging hero showed up at the end of the trailer for “Captain America: Civil War. I wasn’t quite as excited as everyone else because at the time I wasn’t attached to Peter Parker, and was more interested in the main characters of that movie. My feelings quickly changed after seeing the movie, as this new version of Spider-Man made me fall in love with the character. Now, six years later, after the release of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Tom Holland’s portrayal of arguably one of the most iconic superheroes is all I can think about.  

A year after his first appearance, Tom Holland starred in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” his first solo movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Flash forward four years, Holland has now been the center of two more movies, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Both these movies and Holland’s performance as the iconic web-slinger have received a ton of praise over the years, and a fair amount of criticism. For every fan excited about the new direction they were taking Spider-Man in, there was a fan who was upset about the exclusion of certain aspects of his origin story. For every fan glad to see Spidey in the big leagues amongst the Avengers, there was a fan wishing this version stayed more grounded and local like the previous on-screen adaptations of the character. 

However, the gaps between the opinions were filled by “No Way Home,” which rectified the issues critics of Holland’s Spider-Man had and gave fans of his portrayal even more to love. In addition, the movie was a treat for Spider-Man fans of all ages because it featured the previous versions of the character, played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Seeing the three of them interact on screen together caused fans to conclude that every adaptation is an amazing Spider-Man, each in their own special way. Although, despite this newfound attitude towards the three adaptations of the character, people still can’t help but have a preference. 

Over the past few years, the general consensus amongst Spider-Man fans has been that Maguire gave the best portrayal of Peter Parker, Garfield gave the best portrayal of Spider-Man and Holland gave viewers the best of both worlds. Tobey Maguire was the first of the three modern, live-action Spider-Man portrayals, and many aspects of his movies seem like they were taken straight from the comics. His portrayal still holds up now, 20 years later, and while he does a good job at playing the masked hero, his portrayal of Peter Parker is undoubtedly better. Where Maguire falls short in his portrayal of the masked hero, he does an excellent job portraying Peter Parker as he’s known best: a loner, a nerd and an outcast. Fans loved Maguire’s portrayal despite its faults, which gave the next actor to wear the webbed suit a lot to live up to. Ten years after Maguire’s first movie, Sony rebooted the franchise and chose Andrew Garfield to star as the beloved web-slinger. While Garfield’s portrayal of Peter Parker lacks accuracy, his version of the web-slinging hero captures his light-hearted and sarcastic nature when fighting villains, his resilience and his attachment to his friendly neighborhood. 

In each of their portrayals, Maguire and Garfield balance out the other’s weaknesses, but it was the third adaptation of the character that gave fans the most accurate, well-rounded portrayal that we’ve seen on screen. Since being granted the role of Spider-Man, Tom Holland has swung his way into the hearts of old and new fans alike. Holland does a fantastic job at portraying the nerdy, awkward and outsider personality of Peter Parker, while also capturing the core aspects of Spider-Man: his determination, his witty humor, and above all, his commitment to helping others, no matter the cost. Not to mention, his portrayals of both sides of this character are wrapped up in incredible acting performances. Ultimately, Holland’s ability to do both Peter Parker and Spider-Man justice is what causes fans to consider him the best actor to portray the character. 

Three live-action reboots of Spider-Man over the past 20 years have given fans of the character a lot to discuss. Mainly, there has been endless discourse surrounding which adaptation of the character is the best, but in the end no other portrayal of the character has been loved as widely as Tom Holland’s. No other actor has had the late Stan Lee, one of the creators of the character, call them “the exact height and age I envisioned when I first wrote Spider-Man.” In the end, despite finding something to love in all three adaptations of the character, I will always see Tom Holland as the best Spider-Man.