Superheroes (and superhero movies) have taken over the world since the start of the new millennium. Batman, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and a revolving door of caped and masked men and women have been ingrained into people’s lives around the world. The one who kicked off this generation’s fascination with the comic book superhero is non-other than your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
We’ve had plenty of iterations of Peter Parker over the course of two decades since the web-slinger swung into theaters in 2002. There’s the cute, lovable, charming Spider-Man Tom Holland. The angsty, troubled, conspiracy Spider-Man in Andrew Garfield, and then there’s the OG, the best of the best, the people’s Spider-Man Tobey Maguire. His portrayal of Spider-Man perfectly meshed the awkwardness and day-to-day struggle of nerd “trying to balance his career and bang Mary Jane” Peter Parker with the heroism and cheeky bravery of Spider-Man. He’s not as handsome as Garfield, and not as funny and lovable as Holland, but that’s what makes Maguire the people’s Spider-Man, he evokes the right charisma and makes you feel the right emotions at precisely the correct time.
Throughout his trilogy, Maguire made you feel like Peter Parker was actually a real person learning he got superpowers from a radioactive spider in real time. Maguire was funny and endearing during his “learning to be Spider-Man” training montage. Learning to shoot his web for the first time will go down in the “intentional comedy made 100 times better by a weird actors line reading” hall of fame.
The people’s Spider-Man also taught my generation how to kiss upside down hanging from a web, invaluable knowledge for an 11-year-old who thought that type of skill would be a lot more useful in the 18 years since the movie came out.
Like they do with the people’s Batman Val Kilmer, many fans try to tear Maguire down with outlandish comments about his less than stellar acting in the series, which is a whole lot of bullshit.
He made us fee real feelings and cry real tears while stopping a train with his shear will and determination, as you can see on Maguire’s face during the train scene in Spider-Man 2.
How else would we know that this act of saving an out of control train could kill Spider-Man if I don’t see that kind of self-sacrifice and determination oozing out of Maguire’s face? If he doesn’t grit his teeth all those people will die. Maguire’s acting was so good he made us believe that he was a jazz loving douchebag for half of Spider-Man 3 just because he combed his hair over half his face and acted like your sisters fiancee Kyle who doesn’t believe in shaking hands and organized sports. Could Olivier do that? Could Brando? I didn’t think so, Maguire had range! He also had to act with James Franco which should be a golden ticket to an Oscar nomination.
It’s been 13 years since Maguire rode off into the sunset after slinging his web one last time. Since then he’s been replaced in our minds with more handsome Peter Parkers, more dashing Spider-Men, but when the class war starts and the uprising begins, it won’t be Holland or Garfield on the tongues of the proletariat, it will be Maguire’s name the people will shout because he is their hope, their savior, their Spider-Man.