Warning! This article contains SPOILERS for Spider-Man: No Way Home!
After the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), many fans clamored to social media to begin debating about what they thought was the best web-slinging movie out of the 8 live-action films. While many fans were praising a lot of the actors’ performances, including Willem Dafoe and Marisa Tomei, one that stood out among them all was Tom Holland’s.
Throughout his three main movies (as well as a few appearances in the other MCU films), fans were thrilled to see how much Holland’s version of Peter Parker matured and developed. No longer was he just an average teen from Queens, but instead, a well-rounded superhero who fully understood the responsibilities that came with his powers. Even from the dialogue, audiences could see how Holland’s Parker had emotionally matured. It’s not all that surprising that many fans believe his character development and portrayal is the best.
Peter Parker’s Maturity And Intelligence
« I’ve Been Me My Whole Life, And I’ve Had These Powers For 6 Months. I Read Books, I Build Computers…And Yeah, I Would Love To Play Football, But I Couldn’t Then So I Shouldn’t Now. »
Considering that Peter is only 15-years-old when he was featured in Civil War (2016), he had already expressed a huge amount of maturity as he refuses to take advantage of his newfound powers. From what the audience later learns about Peter’s life, he isn’t exactly popular at his school as his academic and social interests see him classed as the « stereotypical geek. »
He could have easily changed his classmates’ perception of him with his new abilities and joined the « football » team, but that would have certainly gained unwarranted attention (especially since he was unable to play before). Compared to Tobey Maguire’s and Andrew Garfield’s, Holland’s Peter’s was the only one to lay low and blend into his surroundings.
Peter Parker’s Sense Of Humor
« Wait A Minute…You Guys Aren’t The Real Avengers. I Can Tell, Hulk Gave It Away. »
While all the Spider-Man movies have plenty of funny moments, one aspect in Holland’s movies that brings the most laughs is the witty (and sometimes awkward) dialogue.
Whether it’s by taunting the appearances of the robbers (as evidenced by the quote), trying to make sense of the situation, or simply by getting his pop culture references wrong, Holland’s Peter provided some great comedic relief that helped keep the light and fun of the movie.
Peter Parker Learning To Be Responsible
« I Am Responsible. I…Oh, Crap. My Backpack’s Gone. »
While Peter « failing to be responsible » was a running gag in all three portrayals of the web-slinger, many fans would agree that it felt more authentic with Holland’s version since audiences were watching him grow from an immature and impulsive teen to a rational and wise adult.
However, instead of watching him make this transformation in one movie, the MCU spread it across several. Where the first movie saw him « misplace » his backpack or go against orders, Holland’s Peter eventually learned from the mistakes he made and used these lessons to improve his status and become one of the world’s greatest heroes.
Peter Parker Wants To Be More Than The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
« I’m Ready For More Than That Now. »
After the audience saw him briefly in action in Civil War and got a glimpse of his personality too, they were quite excited when Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) was released as they wanted to see what else he could do (and what was to come).
Immediately, it was clear that Peter had high ambitions for himself and was « ready to take on more responsibilities. » With him being mentored by Tony Stark and participating in the iconic airport battle, he felt more than ready. The problem was that the movie did show that Peter made quite a few reckless and immature decisions (which isn’t seen as much in the other adaptations). Nevertheless, although he wasn’t ready just yet, this was something fans looked forward to.
Peter Parker Looks Out For Everyone
« Someone’s Got To Look Out For The Little Guy. »
Since Maguire’s and Garfield’s versions didn’t have a team of other superheroes to help them « save the city, » there were a few occasions where they had to prioritize certain crimes and go to the most important ones (which was usually the big villains).
However, the problem with this was once the Avengers had defeated these world-threatening villains, they would fade into the shadows. They wouldn’t even come out to help with the day-to-day crimes. Holland’s Spider-Man was the only one considerate enough to think about « the little guy » and the dangers they face. Since there are several MCU superheroes based in New York (with some of the Avengers living there), it goes to show everyone what a good and considerate person he is.
Peter Parker Optimism And Enthusiasm
« Mr. Stark, It Smells Like A New Car In Here. »
Considering the obstacles and the dangerous villains some of the MCU heroes have faced over the years, audiences had seen some of their personalities become a lot darker. Therefore, it’s no wonder that many fans thought Holland’s Spider-Man was so refreshing.
There was just something about his cheerfulness and optimism that drew the audience to him. Even though fans had gotten used to all the Stark technology and some of the other great MCU weapons, they did find it quite endearing how Holland’s Peter was always amazed by the suits and gadgets given to him. No one will ever forget this enthusiastic response he gave Tony after he tried on his new suit in Infinity War (2018).
Peter Parker Realizing The Responsibility Of Being An Avenger
« I Didn’t Think That I Was Going To Have To Save The World This Summer. I Know That This Makes Me Sound Like A Jerk, I Just, I Had A Plan With This Girl I Really Like, And Now It’s All Ruined. »
The audiences had seen MCU’s Peter enthusiastically declare that he had more than what it took to become an Avenger and take on more responsibility. However, by the time Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) came around, he had only just begun to realize the responsibility and sacrifices that came with the job.
While this was something that had been briefly touched upon in Spider-Man 2 (2004) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), it had been an undercurrent plot in Far From Home and No Way Home (and produced some interesting character development). By taking « summer » away this time, audiences saw Peter debate how many more sacrifices he would have to make and whether he would be able to lead a normal life.
Peter Parker Has Strong Morals
« I’m Trying To Save You. »
While both Maguire and Garfield’s versions did try their best to do right by the world (and did their best to help their enemies), many fans will agree that their morals weren’t as strong as Holland’s version.
No matter how many times he was wronged or double-crossed, Holland’s Peter refused to give in to the darkness that was embedded within him. While there were times where he questioned his morals, Holland’s version believed that everyone was worthy of a second chance and that these villains could redeem themselves if they wanted to. Based on Spider-Man: No Way Home, it was quite clear that the villains did believe Holland’s Peter had good intentions and genuinely wanted to « save them. »
Peter Parker Learns Not Everyone Can Be Trusted
« You Can’t Trick Me Anymore. »
One thing that many fans adored about Peter’s arc was that how pure-hearted he was. He just wanted to see the best in everyone. The problem is that some people ended up taking advantage of his generosity and exploited it for their gain (which was what Holland’s version learned through his brief partnership with Mysterio).
It was a hard but necessary lesson for Peter to learn as it exposed him to the harsh and cruel realities that came with life. Since Maguire and Garfield’s portrayals barely focused on Peter’s experience in high school, the audience couldn’t exactly pinpoint the moment they became less naive. However, the viewers can see this was the moment Holland’s Peter lost his childlike innocence and became wiser to the world around him and the people in it.
Peter Parker’s Selfless Sacrifice
« So Cast A New Spell. But Make Everyone Forget Who Peter Parker Is. Make Everyone Forget Me. »
It’s no secret that Holland’s version of the web-slinger ended up going through a hard time in Spider-Man: No Way Home as many of his loved ones were affected by his identity being revealed. Not only did he undergo another major tragedy but he also lost the only family he had ever known too as he asked Dr. Strange to make the world forget that Peter Parker ever existed.
While there’s no doubt that Maguire and Garfield’s Peter’s both had tragic story arcs, many fans will agree that it brought great comfort to see that they weren’t alone afterward. However, with Holland’s version, he had no one. He practically had to restart his life all over again otherwise he would have destroyed the world and continued to put his loved ones at risk. There was just something so impactful about this selfless sacrifice that fans can’t seem to forget.
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