‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’: The First Battle Between Mysterio and Spider-Man Was in the Gym

The latest movie featuring our friendly neighborhood web-slinger, Spider-Man: Far From Home, tries to hide who its villain is. It’s pretty obvious for anyone who knows more than a little about Spider-Man. Note: SPOILERS ahead for people who really don’t want to know.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Mysterio, an illusion artist who presents himself as an ally to Spider-Man, but he turns out not to be. Mysterio fights Spider-Man basically by being a visual effects artist and making Spider-Man see things that aren’t really there. The idea is to confuse Spider-Man so that he can wear himself out and/or Mysterio can take advantage of his weakness and put him down. 

Gyllenhaal may be new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he knows what he’s doing when it comes to preparation. So much so that the first battle really turned out to be with Tom Holland in the gym. And that’s not the only battle Gyllenhaal had with Spider-Man offscreen.

Jake Gyllenhaal works it out with Tom Holland

Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhaa
Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhaa | Victor Chavez/Getty Images

By now, Holland is an old hand at the physical fitness thing, having played Spider-Man in five movies now, more than any other actor. Holland is also a dancer and a gymnast, and at 23, he’s younger than Gyllenhaal, who is 38. So Holland should have a leg up on Gyllenhaal, right?

Wrong, as Holland quickly found out in the gym. 

“I didn’t want to go because Jake Gyllenhaal is ripped,” Holland, 23, revealed during an interview with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show. “And I’m really competitive.”

After a quick warm-up, Gyllenhaal suggested running a mile on the treadmills. Holland, who was already feeling the burn, said: “I’m like, ‘A mile? Are we pressed for time? C’mon, let’s do two.’ So, Immediately I’m regretting suggesting doing two miles….And there’s, like, a law in the gym that you can’t run slower than the guy next to you. You just can’t.”

Holland tried not to die, but as he kept going, he knew his onscreen rival was more than keeping up with him. As they were nearing the finish line, Holland recalled: “He’s like, ‘Let’s do 3.5 [miles],’ and I’m like, ‘Dude, let’s do 4! Why 3.5? Why stop there?'”

Once all the goading and running was done, Holland instantly regretted it. The two had to do press the same day, and people noticed that Holland was struggling. He recounts: “I’m sitting there and a journalist goes, ‘What’s wrong with you?'” I said, ‘Well, I do all of my own stunts.'”

He actually does some, but not all.

Jake Gyllenhaal was almost Spider-Man once

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I just realized I’m not playing Spider-Man.

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While Gyllenhaal is mostly known for hard-edged parts in indie movies like Donnie Darko and Nightcrawler, he’s not a complete stranger to superhero movies or roles that require a lot of physicalities. What’s ironic about Gyllenhaal playing a villain in a Spider-Man movie is that he almost played Spider-Man at one point.  

What was the issue? Of all things, physical fitness.

Tobey Maguire had signed his multi-picture deal with Sony for their Spider-Man movies in the 2000s and was getting ready to shoot Spider-Man 2. But Maguire had been having back problems, supposedly due to working on the horse-racing drama Seabiscuit. The real sticking point, according to CBR.com, was actually money. 

Maguire felt he was owed a bigger paycheck after the first movie was a smash hit. Sony supposedly acquiesced, but then Maguire’s team released a statement:

“After doing two physically demanding films in a row, Tobey has experienced mild discomfort in his back, which is in the final stages of healing,” With an April 12 start date around the corner, everyone involved wants to be certain he is able to do the intense stunts.”

Sony was not amused, believing Maguire was using his injury as a negotiating chip. They made an offer to Gyllenhaal, who at that time was dating Kirsten Dunst, the series’ Mary Jane Watson. That made Maguire “heal” quickly, and he ended up making two more movies, so Gyllenhaal had to wait his turn to be in a Marvel movie. 

Even though Maguire won that round, we’re willing to bet Gyllenhaal still would have beat Maguire in the gym.