If a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then the world has lost its mind, and Andrew Garfield still might not be in Spider-Man. Since 2020, when rumours first circulated that Garfield would reprise his web-slinging Marvel role – alongside Noughties Spidey Tobey Maguire – in December’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, the actor has been repeatedly asked whether or not they are true. He has valiantly played along with every interviewer, either side-stepping the speculation or outright denying it. But it provokes an even bigger line of questioning: for the love of god, can we leave Garfield alone?
Garfield may or may not be in No Way Home, with Sony and Marvel deliberately keeping their cards close to their chest. What we do know is that the film sees different Spider-Man film franchises bleeding into one another, with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man facing off against villains such as Alfred Molina’s Dr Octopus (from Maguire’s Spider-Man 2) and Jamie Foxx’s Electro (from Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2). A new trailer – unveiled on Tuesday night (16 November) – confirmed that Willem Dafoe is back as The Green Goblin and that Lizard and Sandman are also on board. Maguire and Garfield? Nada.
An unexpected reveal, though, is that Maguire potentially has the best agent in the world. If the actor, who’s been absent from screens since 2014, has indeed returned for No Way Home, he at least had the foresight to avoid pre-release interviews for any other project. Garfield – who has endured the press tours for three different movies in the last year – hasn’t been as lucky.
While promoting Mainstream, The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Tick, Tick... Boom! in recent months, Garfield has been consistently asked for confirmation of his Spider-Man return. “I ain’t got a call,” he told the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “I closed the book on it for myself,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “I’m not in the film,” he told America’s Today Show. “On the record … this is not something I’m aware I am involved in,” he told Variety. “At this point, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t,” he told The Sunday Times last week. “People will just find out when they see it.”
The odd thing is that, if he is in No Way Home, Garfield wouldn’t be allowed to talk about it anyway. Journalists know that he wouldn’t be allowed to talk about it. Yet the questions keep coming, with Garfield left to squirm, deflect and somehow restrain himself from screaming in agony at the same query that can’t possibly be answered in any other way. It’s an eternally fruitless endeavour, leaving Garfield exasperated and fans none the wiser.
What’s even odder about the endless probing over Garfield’s Spider-Man status, though, is that no one much liked his Spider-Man movies. A limp franchise reboot abandoned after two films, it struggled to define its own universe and left entire characters on the cutting room floor: Shailene Woodley’s Mary-Jane Watson, we hardly knew ye. Garfield did his best, and Emma Stone made for an unsurprisingly charming Gwen Stacy, but there was never a sense that either of their Spider-Man films had a clear vision. Sandwiched in between two well-received interpretations of the web-slinger – and with its story left unfinished, it should be said – it’s the runt of the Spidey litter: rudderless and overstuffed.
Garfield himself has admitted as much. “Story and character were actually not top of the priority list,” he said in 2016. “I signed up to serve the story and to serve this incredible character that I’ve been dressing as since I was three, and then it gets compromised and it breaks my heart.” He told The Independent in 2019 that he “didn’t feel represented” during the making of the films, and was “put under a lot of pressure to retract and apologise” for entertaining the possibility of Peter being bisexual during an interview. These films seemed to be a bleak experience for the actor, making the endless fixation on his return to them slightly strange.
You can understand why Garfield would be interested in playing Spider-Man again. A long-time fan of the character, he more than deserves an opportunity to play the part in a less underwhelming film. But you can also understand if he’d want to leave it all behind. Today he is one of our most interesting character actors, making bold choices in deliberately polarising movies like Under the Silver Lake and Mainstream. Reprising a more conventional role – which, by his own admission, evokes a handful of bad memories – could easily be interpreted as a step backwards.
Whatever the truth, No Way Home can’t come soon enough. No one deserves a press tour free of Marvel questions more than him.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies