It’s not too difficult to spot when an actor is just doing something for the money. And look, this is no judgement on doing “things for money.” (Full disclosure: I, too, like money and I, too, have done things to earn said money.) And sometimes everyone gets lucky and a job someone likes also comes with ample compensation. Now, I have no idea what Andrew Garfield got paid to be in Spider-Man: No Way Home. But I would guess both (a) Garfield didn’t come back as Spider-Man only for the money and (b) he probably wasn’t paid as much as another actor, who also came back, and I would guess was more influenced by the money. (By the way, this isn’t a dig. Everything about the Magurie Spider-Man was pretty well wrapped up and well regarded and there was no real personal reason for him to reprise the role, as opposed to Garfield.)
The way I’ve been looking at this is trying to put myself in Andrew Garfield’s shoes. He’s not even 40 yet and has already had a great career, yet that has to gnaw on someone like Garfield that he’s the one who had the, let’s say, “lackluster” Spider-Man movies. So much so that Sony finally just gave up on them and called Disney for help. Now, absolutely none of this is Garfield’s fault. He’s genuinely good as Spider-Man and when people talk about The Amazing Spider-Man movies that’s usually the first thing people mention. But if it were me, oh, yes, that would annoy me to no end. No matter what success I had as an actor, that would always be in the back of my head, You’re feeling pretty good about yourself huh? Hey remember those Spider-Man movies people didn’t seem to enjoy? Too bad THAT still happened.
The thing about Andrew Garfield is he genuinely enjoyed being Spider-Man. I remember interviewing him at San Diego Comic-Con before the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the guy was just beaming. I’ll never forget, Sony had this weird conference room and each “talent” from the movies they were promoting was set up and spread out at these round conference tables. Garfield had one in the corner and when I interviewed him he was kicked back and had his feet up on the table and was holding court like he was the king of the world – just going on and on about the possibilities of where these movies were going and how this might all tie in with a Sinister Six battle. (If I recall correctly, right before this particular Comic-Con Sony had announced, or at least leaked, not just a third The Amazing Spider-Man movie, but also a fourth. So Garfield, at this point, thought this would be his job for the foreseeable future.)
Also, besides the inherent problems those two The Amazing Spider-Man movies have (Jamie Foxx mentions quite a few of these in No Way Home), they end on such a bummer. Peter can’t save the love of his life and then it just pretty much ends. The third film would have been about Peter coping and trying to become a hero again and actually sounds pretty interesting. But, as we know, that third movie never happened so it just ends with Spider-Man depressed. But, now, and I’m sure in Garfield’s mind, there is a third movie and it completely redeems Garfield’s Spider-Man.
Going back to the whole idea of actors doing parts only for the money, look, Andrew Garfield is a great actor but he’s absolutely beaming in Spider-Man: No Way Home and no amount of acting talent in the world can quite pull off just how happy he looks. Also, as discussed, Garfield always got praise for his portrayal of Peter, but it’s quite something to see Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man in a well-made, capable movie that actually makes sense. As much as I loved him in No Way Home, it’s also kind of frustrating because we are getting a glimpse at what could have been. Three good Spider-Man movies starring Andrew Garfield could have been dynamite. But, before, we had to just kind of assume that was true. Now we can see it with our own eyes and we know it’s true: Andrew Garfield made it crystal clear to everyone he’s a terrific Spider-Man. And what many people thought would be a cameo became a full-on third-act lead role, where his character actually gets to have a catharsis from the events of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
(By the way, as an aside, it’s kind of hilarious Garfield had to do two press tours this past fall – one for The Eyes of Tammy Faye and another for Tick Tick… Boom! – so he was bombarded with questions about No Way Home while Tobey Maguire just got to hang back and play poker, or whatever else it is he does in his free time. I do hope no one gives Garfield too much grief for his constant denials that he was in No Way Home. The fact no one ever believed him made the whole this endearing.)
There are already some rumblings that people would love to see Garfield’s Spider-Man back in some capacity. At this point, I’m curious what Garfield would say to that? On one hand, it’s pretty obvious he loves playing Spider-Man again. But on the other, put yourself back in his shoes: for the past seven-plus years Garfield has had to live with questions about why his series, considered a failure, ended. Now, for the first time, he’s playing with house money. Everyone loves his Spider-Man. If he never makes another people will now think of his Spider-Man as successful. If he decides to make another? Who knows what could happen? Movies like this are difficult and if a new one doesn’t turn out well… it’s back to the way it was. It’s like being down money at a casino and putting everything on red in some last-ditch effort to salvage the night and somehow it hits. You can walk out right now a winner. But, yes, it’s tempting to let it ride one more time…
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