Remembering Andrew Garfield’s Brief, But Brilliant Spider-Man

By March 11, 2016
andrew garfield spider-man 1

Yesterday, the internet was set ablaze with the release of the newest trailer for Captain America: Civil War, which among many other cool, fangasm-worthy moments, gave viewers their first official look at Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, and his introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The clip itself was only about five seconds, give or take, but it revealed the new costume, his role in the film, and even Holland’s voice as the character.

To say fans were excited by the reveal, would be an understatement. If you go and look at any movie or entertainment-related website on the internet right now, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single one without the image of Holland’s Spider-Man plastered on the home page, ours included.

As a lifelong fan of the character as well (hell, I even have Spider-Man glasses okay?) I’ve been understandably excited to see the Peter Parker that I think myself, and many others, have been waiting our entire lives to actually see. Young, smart, and interacting with the heroes of the MCU for the first time onscreen. It’s not hard to figure out why the first image we see of the character in the film, featured him holding onto Captain America’s iconic shield.

It sent a message, and the message was clear: Spider-Man’s here, and this time, he’s not alone.

Among all of my immense excitement though, there’s also been a tinge of melancholy appearing consistently throughout, and the source of it has come from the fact that just two years ago, we had seen the last of what I believe to be, was one of the greatest comic book movie performances ever. And the real kicker, was that we didn’t even know at the time it would be the last time. You hardly ever do it seems like.

I’m of course, talking about Andrew Garfield’s turn as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

I should preface this all by saying that, I have more problems and issues with those two films than almost anyone else you can talk to about it. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more disappointed opening weekend in my life in fact, than the one I experienced in the summer of 2014, following the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as I had waited with palpable anticipation, only to see Sony Pictures let another one of their biggest Spider-Man related opportunities pass them by.

Even with all of the waste and rushed world-building that plagued those two films though, there were moments that I believe were also some of the best that the genre had ever seen, and at the center of it all, was Garfield’s performance.

A British actor who was only really known for his recent performance in The Social Network when he was cast, Garfield came onto the scene with a kind of pressure that few other actors have ever had to face, and how did he begin his public tenure as the character? With a kind of proclamation that few other actors would have had the guts to give, standing amongst a packed room in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con. In case you had forgotten, check out the video again below:

If Garfield had wanted to make a statement that he was the right man for the job, then he managed to do it with that speech alone, and boy oh boy, did he knock it out of the park. His Peter Parker was real, and it was honest. It was the one of the few times in my life, where I felt like the character I had grown to love on the page was appearing in a fully-realized fashion on the big screen.

Partnering with his co-star Emma Stone for a majority of the franchise’s best moments as well, Garfield managed to bring his dramatic chops and authenticity onscreen into the forefront of his performance as Peter Parker, even when he was forced to do silly and zany things like fight a rushed Green Goblin, or worse yet, make a map on his bedroom wall to the tune of a Phillip Phillips song.

Say what you want about the films themselves though (Lord knows I have), who here didn’t smile during the scenes between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker in the school hallways of Midtown High, when the truly relatable aspects of the Spider-Man comics were brought to life in some refreshingly honest ways. Who here didn’t feel emotion when Gwen Stacy met her untimely demise at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, even despite all the problems and inconsistencies surrounding that sequence?

Who here didn’t laugh when Spider-Man was zipping around New York City making the kind of jokes that had even been absent from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films? Those were the moments when director Marc Webb and his two lead stars were able to make the Spider-Man films you could tell they were dying to create.

They’re also the moments that have most haunted me as a Spider-Man fan in the years since. The moments that should have been full movies. The problem with The Amazing Spider-Man films was that they were created by a studio that inherently misunderstood what it was that brought grown ass adults into the theatre in the first place. It wasn’t because of toys, or because they desperately wanted to see three villains in one film. It was the characters themselves, and the possibility of seeing their heroes given the kind of respect they deserved onscreen. Unfortunately, for a majority of those few films, we didn’t get that.

But The Amazing Spider-Man films are also laced with brief, vibrant strokes of authenticity and greatness that we very rarely see in comic book movies, and I challenge anyone to think of a relationship in a comic book movie that was as palpable and real as the one between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker, putting aside some of the contrived plot movements they were forced to commit.

So as we move into this new age of the Spider-Man onscreen, I wanted to take a brief moment to officially say goodbye to Andrew Garfield’s turn as Peter Parker, and remember the kind of respect and love he put into his performance as the character because while it was usually surrounded by awful plot beats and story elements – it’s difficult to imagine an actor who so wholeheartedly believed in their character the way he did, and never once forgot the power that comic book movies can have on audiences.

So thanks again Andrew Garfield, for trying to give us a superhero performance that we hadn’t quite seen before. Hopefully, if anything is remembered from The Amazing Spider-Man movies, it will be that. And hopefully, this new iteration will be able to stick around a little bit longer.

Captain America: Civil War will hit theatres on May 6th.

Make sure to keep checking back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.

Alex Welch

Alex Welch

Alex dreams of meeting a girl with a yellow umbrella, and spends too much time* staring at a movie screen. His vocabulary consists mostly of movie quotes and 80s song lyrics. *Debatable
  • Bruno Babelon

    Loved this. I actually really enjoyed andrew’s spiderman and hate that everyone just remembers the terribleness of the studio and most of the plot lines. I know he probably feels a certain way about spiderman now but I wish I could tell him how great he was in the movies– and everyone just hated the studio and too many crammed villains.

    • Alex Welch

      Yeah, I loved his take on it. A lot. The problem wasn’t him or even his co-stars or Marc Webb. It was the studio.