Who Wore it Best? Spider-Man Showdown

Are you team Tobey, Andrew, or Tom?

1962, the year Stan Lee created one of the world’s most loved superheroes, Spider-Man. Ever since that day, Spider-Man has been growing his popularity in toys, clothes, books,movies, and even a song. There have been 8 Live-Action movies made about the crime fighting spider to this day. With these 8 movies comes 3 different versions played by 3 different actors. In order, the actors were Tobey Maguire with 3 movies from 2002-2007, Andrew Garfield with 2 movies from 2012-2014, and Finally Tom Holland with 3 movies from 2017-2021. With the recent release of Tom Holland’s third (solo) Spider-Man movie, Spiderman: No Way Home, the debate on whose Spider-Man is better resurfaced. After rewatching all 8 movies, I will discuss which actor I think played the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man the best strictly using my own personal thoughts and opinions. Disclaimer: all points discussed will be opinions that some may or may not agree with. The actor chosen may not be everyone’s answer since it’s only from what I think.

I think the best way to critique these 3 actors is by separating their acting into two separate categories. One being how well they played Peter Parker and the other being how well they played the “Masked Menace”, which is what J.Jonah Jameson like to call Spider-Man. Although the debate is who played Spider-Man the best, including Peter Parker is vital to producing an answer since Peter is obviously a big part in the role of Spider-Man.

Tobey Macguire as Spider-Man

Tobey Maguire did a very good job with Peter Parker in his 3 movies. We see Peter already living with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben just like in the comics. More importantly, we see the full process of how he becomes Spider-Man with the spider bite, Uncle Ben’s death, and the discovery of his name/making of this suit. Tobey did a great job showing the struggles Peter faces throughout the movie and even the change after the infamous radioactive spider bite. We see him slowly adapt to his new abilities since he went from being weak and nerdy to a strong and athletic kid. This Peter showed many of his struggles with blaming himself for Ben’s death, fighting his own best friend and even trying to be with MJ. Also, we see him as a photographer which is one of Peter’s classic hobbies/jobs. The only small downfall I would say is that Tobey was 27 when he first played Peter which slightly affected the character since peter was a high school student meaning he was young and Tobey Just barely passed as a teenager.

Due to his great performance as Peter Parker, his Spider-man did lack a bit. For it being the first three Spider-Man movies, they were excellently made but this always left room for improvement. We do get to see him use a homemade suit before he uses his official one and where the idea for his came from. Spidey’s moves weren’t the best since Spider-Man is very flexible and can do a lot of different moves. The Spider-Man’s identity was kept hidden for a few until it was revealed to a few loved ones and citizens even though his identity was one of his biggest secrets in the comics. One of the things the web-slinger is known for is cracking jokes and having a great sense of humor during his fights. With Tobey there were jokes inserted when he was going against one of his villains but they weren’t as highlighted as they could’ve been.

Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man

Next up would be Andrew Garfield. Andrew also did a good job playing Peter Parker. We do get to see a lot of the things we saw in Tobey Maguire’s movies like him living with his Aunt and Uncle, him getting bit, and even his process of becoming New York’s new hero. The difference is we finally get to see his full backstory with his parents and why he is now under the custody of Ben and May. His Peter shows more of his journey struggling with the loss of not only Ben but also his mom and dad. The actor is less portrayed as a nerd but more of a quiet “weird” kid in school which still makes him out to be the weak bullied teen. This Peter still took up the photography interest which continued the comic-accurate Peter. Although he was 28 in his first movie, the actor did look younger than Tobey did which helped his role as a high school student. We see a change in his love interest going from MJ (from other movies) to now being Gwen Stacy. The death of his uncle was still included and his guilt seemed stronger since this time Peter was just across the street when Ben was shot. Although Peter is shown to be bitten and it still expresses him suddenly becoming stronger, the process of going from Peter to Spider-Man was more rushed than Tobey’s.

The balance between his Peter and Spider-Man seemed to be a good one. The same points were met in Andrew’s as they were in Tobey’s but they seemed to be more improved. Spidey’s moves upgraded a bit and he was portrayed to be a bit more flexible adding new moves to his fighting. Speaking of fighting, his sense of humor is way better and personally was funnier than Tobey Maguire’s. We still get to see him have a home-made suit which was more realistic in the sense that it was something he just whipped up. His identity is kept more of a secret like it should’ve been since he realizes the dangers of revealing it. We get to see how Spider-Man is either hated or loved by New York and how he reacts with either the support or hate. This Spider-Man showed more care for civilians and had more interactions with them. For only having two movies while the other actors have three, he did a great job.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man

The last and latest actor is Tom Holland. When it comes to comparing Tom to the other two actors, it’s different. While Tobey and Andrew’s story-lines were similar in the sense that it was solely Spider-Man’s story, Tom’s isn’t. With Tom Holland, Spidey had a different story arc that contributed other heroes such as the Avengers, Doctor Strange, and Nick Fury. This change made a big difference in the life of Spider-Man/Peter Parker, thus Tom’s Peter Parker was missing a lot of the key points in his life. We do not get to see his past family life such as his uncle Ben or his parents. Also, we never see how Peter was bitten and since there is no Ozcorp in this universe, it leaves the question where did the spider come from. They never show the beginning process to him being Spider-man which I think should’ve been included since it really gives perspective to the character. Although we are missing a lot compared to the other actors, we do get to see his relationship with MJ and his Aunt May. I still think he did a great job playing Peter Parker for multiple reasons. He was the youngest Peter being only 20 when he filmed his first solo movie which gave more accuracy to the character since he is supposed to be a teenager. Another reason is he is really good at showing the personality Peter has being more of a shy/awkward introvert.

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was overall better than his Peter. I would say that both roles he played were almost equally as good but his Spider-Man was just a little better. We do get to see a different perspective of Spider-Man with the collaboration of other superheroes and villains that expand from his common ones. In each of his three movies, we get at least one other hero who’s helping the web slinging spider. His sarcastic and funny sense of humor still hangs on especially during serious occasions. With the help of Tony Stark, we get to see Spider-Man in all new suits which was a great change of pace. He still starts off his homemade suit as do the others but we get new suits such as the Iron Spider, the upgraded suit, the stealth suit, etc. One way to look at the difference between Tom and the other two actors is that it’s a fresh start and something new for us to experience. In my opinion, his movies needed to be this way so it wouldn’t feel too repetitive.

Finally the most anticipated part; who wins the “Best Spider-Man” award. After all the comparisons, for me, it’s safe to say that Andrew Garfield did the best. The reason being is he had a great balance between both his character which gave us a good amount of both Peter Parker and his alias, Spider-Man. Now this does not mean that his movies were the best, because even though Tom didn’t win, some of his movies are high on my favorites list like Far From Home and No Way Home. All three actors deserve nothing but good for their incredible performances throughout the years.

Let me know who your favorite Spider-Man is in the comments below!