It’s a bit disconcerting to see just how a superhero like Spider-Man has been mishandled in previous years but it’s also not the fault of the actors that have donned the mask and suit. Andrew Garfield actually cared a great deal about the hero for a while but the distaste that he started to feel for it came more from the negative reviews and fan response that ended up killing off any interest in his return to the franchise. There were a few aspects that could have had something to do with this and could have easily been why the Amazing Spider-Man films weren’t all that well-received but it’s also likely that the studio simply mishandled the superhero and his entire story. After Tobey Maguire people were starting to wonder what they would see and which villains would be brought into the mix.
So far the arguments for Maguire and Garfield have been pretty back and forth since both men did manage to play the webslinger fairly well and the only problems that came along were not their fault. For instance when Maguire was in Spider-Man 3 the mishandling of Venom kind of sent things off the rails and the inclusion of Sandman, no matter that it was kind of well done, was something that fans didn’t really take all that well to. Likewise people were kind of scratching their heads when the Amazing Spider-Man took on the Lizard in his first movie and then the Green Gobling and Electro in the second. Things in the comic book movies just haven’t been on an even keel for a long time now as directors seem willing to pull from the source material but will go off the rails quite often when it comes to playing around with the characters, the setting, and the plots. There are enough plots in Marvel Comics to last for years, and some that are worth building up to at this point since people are willing to keep coming back to the theater again and again in order to see what their favorite hero is up to.
But one thing working against Garfield, just as much as it worked against Maguire, is age. He knew very well that Peter Parker had to be a teenager and he played it off great, but the idea that he was much older was something that for some reason bothered a lot of fans, which was the same with Maguire. Tom Holland doesn’t have that issue since he still looks quite young and is bound to be able to carry the franchise for a while and do quite well at it. But as Garfield continues to get older his ability to represent a younger man is diminishing. The fact that he did enjoy playing the character and would likely go back to it is something that seems to be uplifting in a way, but it doesn’t seem all that likely. It does feel as though he’s moved on from it and considers the role of Spider-Man to be a great experience and little else. He’s still a fan of the hero but playing him again doesn’t seem like something that would happen unless there was no other choice.
That being said you can kind of understand why. After all the age thing is kind of obvious. You can only keep playing a younger person for so long, and even CGI isn’t quite good enough to keep up appearances after a while. But there’s also the idea that there’s always someone that’s just a little better at acting like a teenager, either because they’re still that young or because they have a youthful appearance that won’t fade as quickly. Tom Holland stepped into the role nicely and he’s proven to be just as adept at the role as any that came before. It does kind of give the impression that the Spider-Man movies that have come along already don’t count, but there seems to be a plan for that as well since Into the Spiderverse seems to have indicated. Marvel is notorious for dimension-jumping, and it’s likely that we could see all the Spider-Man characters eventually, or it could just fold up and pack itself away if no one’s interested.
Whatever does finally happen it’s obvious that some people are going to remember Andrew Garfield’s contribution to the webslinger’s legacy, though it might go down in cinematic history as one of the worst represenations through no fault of his since the villains and the situations introduced into the films were kind of iffy at best and didn’t always give Garfield the room he needed to really expand and become the kind of Spider-Man that people wanted to see. If ever he rejoined the ranks of the Spider-Man films it almost seems as though he’d be given another part to play that was somehow connected, but without the suit.