It’s hard to believe, but since the days Nicholas Hammond’s stunt double was foiling presidential bomb plots, movie studios had been trying to make a Spider-Man movie a reality. Countless scripts were produced, including one dark, adult one from Avatar director James Cameron, and directors ranging from M. Night Shyamalan to David Fincher were all considered.
In the end, it was Sam Raimi, a director better known for small-budget horror, who got the job. It was Raimi’s love and passion for getting Spider-Man right that convinced the studio, and they clearly made the right choice. The casting of Tobey Maguire over more experienced, or more classically handsome leading men raised eyebrows, but the decision to find the right Peter Parker, not the right Spider-Man, paid off. Maguire’s goofy charm won over audiences, and his physical transformation was one of the earliest superhero makeovers to drop jaws.
And thankfully, this time around, the costume, story, and villains all put the comic book source material ahead of everything else. With a one-piece costume torn right off the comic page, and an armored Green Goblin that still holds up, not even the studio security could resist. It took the studio over a year to find a handful of the stolen costumes, after a security guard and his accomplice couldn’t resist taking them home. Can you blame them?
Sam Raimi’s version may not be timeless for today’s comic fans, but the first movie to crack a 100-million dollar opening weekend, and one of the most successful and critically acclaimed superhero movies EVER helped prove comic book heroes were Hollywood’s next big blockbuster craze.
When Raimi’s third film showed his hopes for the character weren’t the same as the studio’s the decision was made to scrap plans for Spider-Man 4, and make the upcoming production a reboot, instead. The idea of rebooting a superhero so soon seemed like a risky move, especially since it meant telling the same origin story all over again. But after finding Andrew Garfield for the lead role, and up-and-comer Emma Stone as Peter’s REAL first girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, things turned around completely.
The story seemed to be a darker one, aimed at a younger audience more used to grim heroes, and the darker, more tactile costume reflected it. Still, it wasn’t all grim. Fans can debate whether Andrew Garfield could play a convincing outcast, bullied nerd as Peter Parker, but he captured the humor and sarcasm of Spider-Man like no one before. But the thing fans left the theater talking about was the obvious chemistry between Garfield and Stone: enough to build a franchise on, and when the pair started dating in real life shortly after, the future seemed even brighter.
Fans of Marvel Comics were pinching themselves when word broke that the rift between Marvel’s films and Sony’s Spider-Man had been crossed, with the webslinger being fully introduced into the MCU as part of Civil War, before Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige came over to produce a Spider-Man solo film. It wasn’t long after the announcement that Garfield learned he was out, with Marvel wishing to actually cast a high-school-aged actor for the part of Peter Parker. Actors under 20 competed furiously for the part, with a select few being brought to screen tests with Marvel’s heavyweights Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. In the end, it was Tom Holland who grabbed the part, already an expert jumper and dancer from headlining Billy Elliot: the Musical in London.
The decision to once again tell the origin story of Peter Parker may be a necessary risk at this point, but fan hunger for Spider-Man – ANY Spider-Man – was proven once and for all when the new Spider-Man’s cameo in the second trailer for Captain America: Civil War exploded online. With a technical-but-classic suit, and eyes traced right out of an animated series – not to mention the animated zoom on the eyepieces themselves – it’s clear that Spider-Man’s suit can only change so much from version to version.