- Warning: There are massive spoilers ahead for “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
- “No Way Home” finally does right by Andrew Garfield’s version of the web-slinger.
- It gives Garfield’s Spidey closure and the actor the Spider-Man movie he always wanted.
If you ask fans who their favorite Spidey is after seeing “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the answer may not be Tom Holland or Tobey Maguire.
Garfield never received the same fan love that Tobey Maguire and Tom Holland’s takes on the superhero received. He was always doomed to fail. “No Way Home” finally offered closure for both the actor and fans.
‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ films did wrong by Garfield
The first image of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man from 2011.
John Schwartzman/Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. via Getty Images
Garfield’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” reboot came a little over a year after Maguire’s canceled fourth film in the original franchise. After three films of Maguire’s reserved, stammering, and shy Spidey, Garfield’s iteration of the character was a total 180.
Audiences were introduced to a cockier Spider-bro who was almost too attractive to play the nerdy Peter Parker. He lies about working at Oscorp, steals someone’s badge to swipe his place in an internship, and never feels guilty about these things. He was the bad boy your dad warned you about. (No, really. Gwen Stacy’s dad didn’t want her to date Peter.)
At the time, “The Amazing Spider-Man” and its 2014 sequel didn’t vibe with critics and audiences. The films weren’t as financially successful as the Maguire outings.
You didn’t have to tell Garfield any of this. He knew how people felt about his films and was frustrated he couldn’t deliver something more “deep and soulful.” Years after a third film in his franchise was scrapped, Garfield told the Guardian in November how his films were driven by money, something the lifelong Spidey fan found “heartbreaking.”
In a new interview on Marvel.com, Spider-Man star Tom Holland said the film was Garfield’s “way of making peace with Spider-Man,” adding that “it meant a lot to him.”
‘No Way Home’ redeemed Garfield’s version of Spider-Man from a cocky teenager to a sympathetic hero by putting a spotlight on self-love and mental well-being
The multiverse trip came at just the right time for Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker.
Garfield’s surprise reprisal of Peter Parker in “No Way Home” finally allowed him to bring emotionality to the role.
The sequel makes Garfield’s Spider-Man a more relatable, broken, and sympathetic hero. While Holland’s Spidey needed a few extra hands to help clean up his multiverse mess, Garfield’s Spider-Man was in need of a few friendly neighborhood Spider-Men just as much, if not more.
Following the events of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” Garfield’s Spidey isn’t in the best place mentally when we meet him. In the 2014 film, his character loses his girlfriend, Gwen, after she dies falling off a clock tower as he fights a version of the Green Goblin. Garfield’s Peter tries to save her, but he’s not fast enough and her head hits the ground. It’s the most chilling death in any “Spider-Man” movie.
Gwen Stacy’s death in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
When we catch up with Garfield’s Peter in “No Way Home,” he tells the two other Spider-Men about Gwen’s death. It’s something he’ll never forgive himself for and has caused him to become rageful and bitter.
“I just don’t want you to end up like me,” Garfield’s Spidey tells Tom Holland’s version of the character.
Throughout “No Way Home,” Garfield’s Spidey appears to be fighting a battle with
and low confidence, hinted at through a series of self-deprecating jokes.
At one point he refers to himself as lame when compared to the other two Spider-Men and it leads to a vulnerable exchange you don’t typically find in a superhero blockbuster. Instead of letting the line slide, Maguire’s Spider-Man says he’s not lame and notes some of Garfield’s character’s self-defeating talk throughout the film.
Garfield’s Spidey tries to backtrack and say, “I appreciate that. I’m not saying I’m lame,” but Maguire’s Spidey doesn’t let it go.
Recognizing Garfield’s Spidey is going through a silent struggle, the eldest Spidey of the group adds, “You’re amazing. Just take it in for a minute. You are amazing. You are amazing.”
Garfield’s character thanks him, saying, “I needed that.”
In two public screenings I attended, that exchange received a large round of applause each time.
Maguire’s reiteration of those three words — “You are amazing” — is a brilliant line that works on a few levels.
Not only does Maguire reference the title of Garfield’s “Spider-Man” franchise, but he also taps into anyone who considered Garfield’s iteration of the character to be a lame Spider-guy. (It’s no secret that Garfield’s two films are probably near the bottom of most live-action “Spider-Man” movie rankings.) In that moment, Maguire also tells the audience that maybe we’ve been a little too tough on Garfield’s films.
Similarly, it feels like Garfield (the actor), after being through the wringer with his “Spider-Man” films, also needed to hear that speech from the original live-action Spider-Man to find some peace, just as Holland suggested in his Marvel.com interview.
Garfield’s Spider-Man gets to redeem himself in a powerful way
We hear Garfield’s Spider-Man say he blames himself for Gwen’s death. Though it’s not said on screen, her death is a moment he likely replays in his mind over and over again, wondering if he could have saved her if he did something different.
In fact, when we first meet Garfield’s Spider-Man, he’s not looking for anyone when he’s transported into the MCU, in direct contrast with Maguire’s Spider-Man. Instead, he’s found in a dark alley, aimlessly wandering around dressed as Spider-Man. He was likely stewing over his losses in isolation, which makes his entry into the movie even more heartbreaking.
So when he sees MJ (Zendaya) — the girlfriend of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker — fall in a very similar way to his dead girlfriend, it’s his second chance to do right by Gwen.
Without a second thought, he dives after her. He doesn’t want Holland’s version of Peter Parker to experience the pain and rage he’s gone through, something he mentions when they first meet.
This time, fans may have noticed that Garfield doesn’t attempt to use his web to break MJ’s fall. In “No Way Home,” he catches MJ and it’s clear his Spider-Man is going through a range of emotions. Happily on the verge of tears, he’s almost in shock that he was able to save her.
Unaware of how Gwen died, MJ recognizes something seems off with the hero and asks Garfield’s Peter if he’s OK even though she’s the one that just fell several stories. Audiences gave an audible “aw” in each of my two public screenings when people saw Garfield saving MJ.
Not only does saving MJ make Garfield’s Spidey a true hero, but it gives him a moment of closure to help carry him forward in his own universe.
Garfield looked like he was having a blast on set
Aside from returning cast member Willem Dafoe, Garfield appeared to be the actor having the most fun on set of “No Way Home.” It was like watching a giant therapy session on screen not just for fans who may have been bummed they were robbed of a third “Amazing Spider-Man” film, but for Garfield whose fourth-wall-breaking scenes often felt like he was speaking directly to the audience.
At one point, late in the movie, Garfield’s Peter Parker looks around while working together with Maguire and Holland’s iterations of the web-slinger. While taking it all in, he says, “God, this is so cool. I always wanted brothers.”
Not long after, he looks at the two other versions of himself and embraces them while saying he loves them.
That’s partially why “No Way Home” is such an emotional watch. This is all Garfield has ever wanted from a “Spider-Man” role and he was finally allowed to do it.
Fans want to see more of Garfield in another ‘Spider-Man’ movie
Do you want to see Garfield back in another “Spider-Man” movie?
Since the release of “No Way Home,” fans have repeatedly been asking for Sony to bring Garfield back in another “Spider-Man” movie. Could we actually see Garfield’s web-slinger again?
Since we know Venom and Tom Holland’s Peter Parker exists in different universes — the former in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe and the latter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — Sony could certainly say that Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is the hero in Sony’s live-action Spider-Verse.
Venom hasn’t met a version of Peter Parker on his own Earth yet and a trailer for “Morbius,” Sony’s next live-action Spider-Man Universe film, teased a non-Tom Holland Spider-Man in street graffiti.
While it may have just been a playful Easter egg, Sony could lean in and pretend this was the plan all along, using it as an opportunity to bring Garfield back for more adventures, provided the actor’s open to returning.
Plus, astute fans already believe “No Way Home” had a hint about a potential showdown between Garfield’s Spidey and Venom. Garfield’s character quickly says he wants to fight an alien after hearing Holland and Maguire’s Spideys have both fought other-worldly creatures (Thanos and Venom, respectively).
If we don’t see Garfield again, at the very least, it’s remarkable that fans — and the actor — were able to get some closure with the amazing Spider-Man.