Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire: Who Is The Best Spider-Man?

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Photo: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

Every time a new actor steps into the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, the inevitable debate (oftentimes heated) starts: who is the best Spider-Man?

Tobey Maguire first donned the Spidey suit 15 years ago, starring in three movies. Andrew Garfield then took over in 2012 for two movies before he was succeeded by Tom Holland (Garfield says he did not handle it well – we met him and Emma Stone in Singapore in 2014 and still miss him)

Geek Crusade entangles you in the web of our analysis and comes to an AMAZING conclusion about who played Spider-Man best.

Peter Parker

Photo: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

Peter Parker has always been the school outcast. In the comics, he is even described as “Midtown High’s Professional Wallflower”. He’s that geek/nerd that everyone in school knows is there but hardly engages with.

Maguire looked the part of the hapless loser but Garfield managed to imbue the role with a sense of heroism even before being bitten by that radioactive genetically modified spider. Holland has the underdog look down pat but his Parker now lives in a world where geeks rule the Earth, so he isn’t that much of an outcast compared to his predecessors.

Advantage: Andrew Garfield


Photo: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

Peter Parker/Spider-Man has always been depicted as tall, lanky and a bit gawky. He wasn’t just deemed an outcast by his peers in school but he looked physically out of place.

One of my main gripes in the first trilogy was that Maguire looked too buff to be Spider-Man. Garfield really looked the part of our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man with his gangly physique but Holland is a balanced mix of both Tobey’s and Garfield’s physical attributes. Just check out his Instagram feed where he showcases his physicality – after all, he did lobby Marvel to make his action scenes as realistic as possible, which should look particularly impressive in IMAX.

Advantage: Tom Holland

The Wise Guy

The Amazing Spider-Man - Taking Down the Car Thief Scene
The Amazing Spider-Man – Taking Down the Car Thief Scene

Spider-Man’s trademark has always been his wisecracks and quips whenever he encounters the bad guys. There is a sense of fun and irreverence whenever he does battle with the villains from his rogues gallery.

It was precisely that kind of humour that was missing from Maguire’s take on the webslinger. Garfield’s incarnation was quick with the quips but also heavy on the angst. Holland’s Spider-Man antics are a little more subdued than Garfield’s as he still retains that Avengers fanboy mentality from Civil War and he hasn’t grown into the full fledged wise-ass that we have come to know and love.

Photo: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

Advantage: Andrew Garfield

The Villain

Spiderman versus Doctor Octopus in Spiderman 2. Photo: Sony Pictures

We’ll have to reserve judgement slightly here since we’ve only seen glimpses of Michael Keaton’s Vulture and Bokeem Woodbine’s Shocker.

The lack of a solid villain for both of Garfield’s Spider-Man outings was the weakest link for that duology. The Lizard (Rhys Ifans) and Electro (Jamie Foxx) were both played by more than decent actors but turned out to be a) illogical and b) nigh-on pointless. Meanwhile, the less said about Dane DeHaan’s Green Goblin, the better.

Spiderman Homecoming - Vulture versus Peter Parker
Spiderman: Homecoming – Vulture versus Peter Parker. Photo: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

But we reckon that Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus is still the best cinematic Spidey villain to ever grace the silver screen,  although it looks like The Vulture is going to give him a real run for his money. Your hero can only be as good as your villain and Doctor Octopus really pushed the character of Spider-Man/Peter Parker in many ways.

Advantage: Tobey Maguire

The Suit

Photo: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

One of the things that was never properly explained in all the previous Spider-Man movies is just how Peter Parker was able to fashion his amazing Spidey suit.

It’s all a little far-fetched even for Parker, who has a genius-level intellect in the comics. After all, materials are costly and hard to come by, and Parker is only a high school/college student in the movies.

Spiderman:Homecoming suit upgrades. Photo: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

It’s only with Spider-Man: Homecoming that a plausible explanation of how a high schooler like Peter Parker can obtain a high tech suit – it’s all thanks to the mechanical genius that is Tony Stark. Now, that’s a tinkerer (see what I did there?) we can live with.

Advantage: Tom Holland

The Science Nerd

Photo: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

Parker has always been depicted as the smart outcast, which wasn’t really Maguire’s or Garfield’s forte. Back in 2002, being the smart outcast basically meant you just went around taking pictures all day with your film camera and there was hardly any ‘science-ing’ involved. Granted, he did make his own web shooters, but still.

They tried to develop that a bit in The Amazing Spider-Man with some of the gadgets that are in Parker’s room and tossed in some scenes of Garfield tinkering with his web shooters but even then, it was hardly dealt with within the school setting.

Tom is the only one of the three who actually looks like a proper high schooler who is ‘smart’ and a bit of an underdog, which is truly what Peter Parker is supposed to be.

Advantage: Tom Holland

There you have it: Tom Holland has my stamp of approval to don the Spider-Man outfit.  May he play the role for many sequels to come.

Bonus – Battle of the Aunt Mays

Battle of the aunt mays
Rosemary Harris (Spiderman) / Sally Field (The Amazing Spiderman) / Marisa Tomei (Spiderman: Homecoming)

I guess the winner’s obvious?