Who Plays Spider-Man and What’s He Most Famous For?

No matter what Tom Holland does in the future, no matter how many Oscars he might win or how many great directors he might work with, he will always be known as Spider-Man. And he’s totally OK with that.

The character of Spider-Man is so iconic that once they play that role, actors tend to carry him around for the rest of their lives, for better or for worse. That’s true whether you’re Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield or Tom Holland. They know they’ll go to their graves with Spider-Man leading their obituaries, but there are far worse legacies to have.

We’ll find out where Spider-Man came from, where Holland came from, and how different actors have carried his web.

Where Spider-Man came from

Tom Holland posing in a Spider-Man suit
Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Homecoming | Sony

Spidey was one of Marvel’s first breakout characters, having followed in the footsteps of the Fantastic Four. Creator Stan Lee knew that the primary readers of comic books were teenagers, so he wanted to give them a hero they could relate to — one who had the same problems they had that would only be compounded by the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” ethos.

Artist Steve Ditko created the character’s distinctive red and blue look, and Spider-Man made his debut in Amazing Fantasy in 1962. He was an immediate hit and went on to appear in several comic books of his own. From there came various animated series, including the 1960s series that spawned his earworm of a theme song.

For all his success, Spider-Man had trouble making it to live-action. He did get a TV series in the 1970s, but it was short-lived, with its special effects looking primitive even then. Various people, including James Cameron, wrote treatments for Spider-Man, but nothing got off the ground until the X-Men movies of the early 2000s proved that Marvel heroes were viable on the big screen. And that is where Holland eventually came in.

Where Tom Holland came from

Like many actors from across the pond, Holland does such a dead-on American accent, that it’s a little disorienting to hear him talk in his normal British voice. But it took much more than a mastery of American cadences to master Spider-Man.

Holland first became famous on the London stage in Billy Elliot the Musical at age 12. His first big film role came in The Impossible, which was about a family surviving the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.

He immersed himself in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, making his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War. From the moment he said “Hey, everyone” in the trailer, audiences were delighted. That delight extended into Spider-Man: Homecoming and his heart-wrenching “demise” in Avengers: Infinity War, and now his second solo Spidey film is on deck, to be released July 2.

Why Tom Holland made such a great Spider-Man

Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were well-liked in their five Spider-Man movies, even if the movies themselves weren’t always up to scratch. Holland brought a different energy to the part, coming across more like a teenager than any prior actor had. Holland was just past being a teenager when Civil War came out, and he’s been able to maintain that youthful zest.

Maguire and Garfield have maintained solid careers post-Spider-Man. Maguire has appeared in fewer movies of late, but Garfield has worked alongside such heavyweights as Martin Scorsese and Mel Gibson, and he was Oscar-nominated for his performance in Hacksaw Ridge. There is little doubt that Holland will go on to a strong career once he does put away the web-shooters, but for now, at least, he’s content to go on as Spider-Man for the foreseeable future.

He told Empire Magazine: “Peter Parker is a character we see [in the comic books] as a 15-year-old boy and then as a 35-year-old man. So I have an idea of what I’d like to do, and I’ve pitched it and it’s already been taken into the boardroom. It would be really cool if it pans out, because it means I would be Spider-Man for a very long time.”