Spider-Man is now established as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in last year's Captain America: Civil War and starring in his own solo vehicle this summer in Spider-Man: Homecoming. But before Sony struck a deal with Disney to make this possible, they tried to craft a shared cinematic universe on their own with their Amazing Spider-Man reboot. Two films in the would-be franchise were released, featuring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. The performances (and chemistry) of the actors were widely praised, but the movies overall received a more mixed reception from critics and fans.
Now a couple of years removed from his last outing as the wall-crawler, Garfield has been more open about his experiences, lamenting the "different set of values" that was placed on the productions and explaining why he was "heartbroken" after playing the role. Now, Garfield continues to discuss his time as Spider-Man, describing his fight to maintain the character's honor amidst the more corporate mindset of the studio.
While speaking with THR, the actor talked about how he wanted to give fans the best version of the web slinger possible:
“I had to fight really, really hard to make sure that the character was honored and that we were offering something really fun, entertaining and also moving and complex and deep for all the young boys and girls that want to see their favorite superhero.”
Despite his best efforts, Garfield ultimately believes only a "semblance" of his work was apparent in the final product, claiming he did not feel "represented" in those two tentpoles:
“So many beautiful things came out of that. I met someone that remains incredibly important to my life on that — you can fill in the blanks on who that is. But the difference between how I felt when Never Let Me Go and The Social Network were coming out and how I felt with The Amazing Spider-Man franchise was that I didn’t feel represented. I was feeling very represented by those other two films, and with The Amazing Spider-Man stuff I didn’t feel like that was my work up there, in a weird way. It felt like a semblance of it or kind of a shade of it, but ultimately I felt it was enshrouded in that filter.”
In order to be completely successful, major franchise films need to strike a balance between the filmmakers' vision and the ultimate objectives of the studio's plans for the property. Working in that kind of machinery is not for everyone, and it's become clear that blockbuster fare may not be for Garfield. Based on his career choices outside of Spider-Man, he seems to be at his best when paired with an auteur like David Fincher, Mel Gibson, or Martin Scorsese. His two most recent performances in Hacksaw Ridge and Silence received much acclaim and have Garfield in the thick of the Oscar race this year. He most likely would not have had those opportunities if the Amazing Spider-Man series was still going. In a way, Sony pulling the plug on it was a blessing in disguise, since Garfield can now pursue projects he's passionate about.
When he first signed on for the part, Garfield frequently talked about his personal connection to the Spider-Man character and how much he loved the material, so it's easy to understand why he took the Amazing Spider-Man's failings so hard. At the same time, he remains excited for what Tom Holland will do in the role, and he's clearly not alone in this regard. In the grand scheme of things, this looks to be a win-win situation. As a fan of Spider-Man, Garfield can sit back and enjoy the new MCU installments featuring the web head while going back to his roots as a dramatic actor. If this past year is any indication, he could be an awards season mainstay for years to come while Holland lights up the screen with his youthful enthusiasm. Few will complain about that turn of events.