Understanding the Different Cinematic Versions of Spider-Man
Holland is the best. I have spoken.
Everyone has their opinion on who their favorite Spider-Man is. I’d say that it comes with age, but it doesn’t, because I grew up watching Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, was a college student who was in love with Andrew Garfield during his run, and now love Tom Holland with my whole heart, so … it just depends on the person.
But there is a problem with understanding our cultural love of Peter Parker: We all think we know what’s best. Unfortunately, we don’t. We barely can explain why we each love him, and if you think you are great at explaining it, I’ll tell you, you’re not. I say this as a girl with a Spider-Man tattoo on my wrist. Even I can’t explain why I love Tom Holland the best; it’s just how I feel.
What I can do is talk about why each of these are different and how that has informed why I love the Tom Holland movies best.
Since the dawning of Tobey Maguire swinging into high school at 27 years old, the first Spider-Man film is a staple that informed my entire life. For context, I was ten, turning eleven, when this movie came out, so prime time for me to have a crush on Tobey Maguire. Ah, if only I knew then that I’d continue to have crushes on Spider-Man actors, but alas.
With Maguire, he was a perfect Spider-Man—understood his desires, how he was behind the suit, and how he wanted to protect Aunt May and MJ most of all. His father figures came in the form of Uncle Ben, Norman Osborn, and even Dr. Otto Octavius. But where he shined as Spider-Man, his Peter Parker fell flat—at least, to me, now that I’ve seen better Peter Parkers. At the time, he was perfect, and Spider-Man 2 was the source of one of the greatest friendships of my life.
For the sake of my sanity, we’re not even talking about Spider-Man 3 and how the studio forced a Venom movie to happen, mainly because if I think about Spider-Man 3 for too long, I remember my upset at the time and how fifteen year old me was devastated. I will not go back!
But then, that leads us into the 2012 The Amazing Spider-Man. Here’s the fun thing: I still remain in love with Andrew Garfield, so I cannot be blamed for how much I love these movies! A man who wanted to play Peter Parker his entire life, Garfield was the first time I realized that Peter Parker could be his beautiful nerdy self and be a hot mess like I wanted the original Spider-Man movies to include.
Maguire’s Spider-Man was still better, but his Peter was left in the dust by Garfield, and I felt like I could finally talk about why I love Peter Parker so much. But even if I did like looking at Andrew Garfield in that suit, it was short-lived.
Now, let me get into why I happen to like the Tom Holland arc as Peter Parker. Again, I don’t think any of us can really explain why a specific Peter is our favorite, because at the end of the day, we’re all coming from a place of love for this character. So sure, me screaming that I love Holland the best is more about me just sharing my thoughts on that specific actor because … well … they’re all Peter in their own way.
But with Holland, for the first time in any of these franchises, it isn’t about losing Uncle Ben and forcing his villains to stand in for that father figure role. Instead, he finds someone to mentor him in Tony Stark. He finds a father figure in his connection to the Avengers and uses it to fuel him.
His desire to help his neighborhood comes from wanting to prove to Mr. Stark that he can do it. When Far From Home happens, he fights because he knows it’s what Mr. Stark would have wanted him to do. But through it all, it also shows that Tony Stark needed Peter just as much as Peter needed him and it, in turn, gave Peter another level to him that wasn’t rooted in his villains being his father figure.
I think a huge part of my problem with the slander against Holland’s movies is that people don’t like how connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe they are. Well … that’s kind of the point.
Spider-Man never had to deal with the other Marvel heroes before because the MCU didn’t exist. Maguire and Garfield’s franchises were separated from other Marvel properties. Sure, there was the odd comment like mentioning Doctor Strange in the Daily Bugle, but they were pretty much on their own.
Tom Holland’s Peter doesn’t have that luxury. He’s very much involved with the Avengers, and so that means dealing with them in his standalone movies, as well. Sure, his connection to Tony Stark makes it so that Peter has to deal with a lot of Iron Man’s problems, but that’s what being a part of a team is.
He was Team Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War, so it makes sense that he’d be connected back to Tony in his own movies. Are you all going to complain that Black Widow was in The Winter Soldier? No, because that’s fine, and so is Tony being in Homecoming or Peter coming to terms with the fact that Tony Stark willingly died to protect Peter Parker and his family.
So yeah, I stand by my previous statement that we can’t really claim someone’s Spider-Man is better than someone else’s, because we live in a world where we all just love this character. What we can do is recognize what we don’t like about something. For me, I love that Holland’s is the first Peter Parker that made sense.
He was the first one who felt like a kid getting thrown into this superhero thing, and I happen to love his connections to the Avengers because, while he is still just our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, he’s also an Avenger, and I can’t wait to see what the future of the MCU holds for him.
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