Spoiler Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home
When the most recent Spider-man movie, Spider-Man: No Way Home, came out just last December, Spider-Man fans all over erupted in conversation of who the best Spider-Man truly is. The Spider-Man character has been portrayed excellently by four different actors: Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Tom Holland, and Shameik Moore who voiced the animated character Miles Morales. It’s important to recognize what goes into being the best Spider-Man. Madeline Dominguez, a junior at Franklin High School, interprets it as, “A connection to the community and demonstrating how Spider-Man is just a teenager and has very teenager issues in addition to gaining many new responsibilities.” Although each Spider-Man gains similar responsibilities it’s interesting to see how differently they handle them.
Tobey Maguire (2002-2007): Tobey Maguire will always hold a special place in many hearts since he is the original live action Spider-Man. His first movie, Spider-Man 1, really set the bar for the following films and made Tobey Maguire himself a very likable Spider-Man. One thing that made Tobey Maguire good for this role was his portrayal of Peter Parker. He really captures the nerdy and genius demeanor that Peter Parker has. While he does a good job executing the emotions and bravery of Spider-Man, to me he fits the role of Peter Parker better than the role of Spider-Man due to the fact that he has a natural geeky presence that fits the personality Peter Parker is known for. Tobey Maguire fought some of the most infamous Spider-Man villains including Green Goblin and Venom, making his movies some of the most iconic in the Spider-Verse.
Andrew Garfield (2012-2014): The second Spider-Man actor, Andrew Garfield, had a difficult task of filling the legacy of Tobey Maguire, but he managed to check all the boxes. It was interesting to see what ways he was similar and different to Tobey Maguire’s performances both through Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Unlike Tobey Maguire, I prefer Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man over his portrayal of Peter-Parker. He uses his intelligence to his advantage during his battles with villains, and we get to see him build his own web shooters which really captures how his intelligence helps him through being Spider-Man. Peter Parker’s love interest Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone, has a crucial role in Andrew Garfield’s very well played raw emotion. The sadness he felt after losing multiple loved ones seemed so real that it set him apart from Tobey Maguire on an emotional level.
Tom Holland (2016-present): The current live action Spider-Man, Tom Holland, has not only had three Spider-Man movies, but has also appeared in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Meaning we have seen him in very different settings than the previous actors. Tom Holland has fought more villains and dealt with more losses than all of the other Spider-Men. However, he feels very distant from the original friendly neighborhood Spider-Man trope, which is good and bad. While It’s refreshing to have something new after quite similar stories between Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire, it almost feels too distant from what Spider-Man was originally meant to be. With that being said Tom Holland does an exceptional job balancing Peter Parker and Spider-Man and I think he pulls off both very well. Since he was far younger than both Maguire and Garfield when he appeared in his first film, he looked the most like a high school student. His willingness to try new things and genuine want to help others makes him a very good Spider-Man.
Miles Morales: When Sony released Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it opened a whole new world of what it meant to be Spider-Man. The main character of the film is a teenage boy named Miles Morales, and while he’s not the typical Peter Parker, something about him still feels familiar. Although this film wasn’t the first time we have been introduced to Miles Morales (he was featured in previous comics and video games), the movie was one of the best things for his recognition in the Spider-Verse. “I think Miles has a certain closeness to the community that Peter(s) maybe don’t have as much or gain later after becoming Spider-Man,” says Dominguez. One of the best things Miles brings to the table is the amount of diversity shown throughout his movie and how it all comes together. Along with the rarely seen before, unique animation he is a very good Spider-Man. Dominguez mentioned that “he not only has a killer suit, but also has powers unlike Peter Parker.”
It is very difficult to choose one specific person to be named the best Spider-Man. Especially when one character can be portrayed in so many different ways. Seeing Garfield, Maguire, and Holland all come together in No Way Home made me realize how their differences actually support one another. Although each Spider-Man has their strengths and weaknesses, my final verdict is: Tobey Maguire has the best story and the best villains, alongside being a very strong Peter Parker; Andrew Garfield is the best at showing emotion and in my eyes the best at portraying Spider-Man but not as much Peter Parker; Tom Holland brought something new which I liked and is the best at being both Spider-Man and Peter Parker; and Miles Morales is a very lovable character that once he got used to the idea that he was Spider-Man, made a very good hero.