Yet, the topic of Spider-Man has to evoke mixed feelings for Garfield, since it represents the biggest break of his career, which came to a humiliating end. While 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man was hardly a box office dud, having grossed $757.9 million worldwide, 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 failed to follow an expected upward trend with its $708.9 million take; a development that, along with its collectively unimpressed reviews, would see the franchise—and Garfield himself—kicked to the curb. Compounding that, Sony’s disappointment in Garfield’s angstier, skateboarding, conspiracy-unraveling reinvention of the Wall-Crawler was so strong that it became a catalyst for a historically uncharacteristic concession to collaborate with Marvel Studios to properly bring Spider-Man back to the big screen—a mere two years after his last appearance. Ouch!
Consequently, the current influx of excitement over a prospective return as Spider-Man has to feel surreal for Garfield, who subsequently parlayed prominence from the failed superhero platform to Oscar-nominated glory as the star of 2017 World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge. If Garfield is being deceptive, then one might think that he is simply taking time to emotionally process a prospective offer from Sony and Marvel to reprise the role. However, his denial takes a convincingly sincere turn when he further states, “I wish I could just be able to speak to everyone and say, like, ‘I recommend that you chill.’ Listen, I can’t speak for anything else apart from myself, like, they might be doing something, but I ain’t got a call.” Indeed, if Garfield turns out to be keeping one of Marvel Studios’ typical tight-kept secrets, then it would very well be one of his best acting performances.
Of course, Garfield is hardly alone on this front, since his immediate cinematic Spider-Man predecessor, Tobey Maguire (pictured below), also happens to be the focus of this barrage of speculative return rumors for Spider-Man: No Way Home. Yet, in his case, the evidence—anecdotal as it may be—is actually a bit stronger, notably since the film will manifest under the creative auspices of Sam Raimi, who famously directed Maguire in the genre-groundbreaking trilogy of films, 2002’s Spider-Man, 2004’s Spider-Man 2 and 2007’s Spider-Man 3, which reaped worldwide grosses of $825 million, $788.9 million and $894.9 million, respectively. The 2007 final entry may have been notably divisive, and lacked a cohesive vision due to the director’s clashes with the studio, but Maguire’s Spider-Man films are fondly looked upon by posterity. Thus, while plans for Spider-Man 4 were derailed, Maguire’s run came to a natural conclusion, and a prospective return wouldn’t have the same emotional baggage attached as Garfield’s.
Interestingly enough, rumors over Maguire’s also-unconfirmed return for No Way Home recently gained significant momentum when Spanish language voice actor Roger Pera, who dubbed Maguire’s lines in Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy, seemingly slipped out a potentially crucial bit of information on podcast El Sotano del Planet, on which he claimed that he’s been talking with Sony for more Maguire-Spider-Man dubbing. Said claim was conspicuously edited out of said podcast after an initial deletion, ironically lending more intrigue to the rumor. Pertinently, while Maguire and Garfield are hardly connected at the hip, one would think that Sony and Marvel wouldn’t be satisfied with just one former Spider-Man for this ambitious-sounding, presumably-multi-movie-spanning storyline. Thus, if Maguire is eventually confirmed to have been procured, then the chances of Garfield joining will seemingly have increased.
Nevertheless, Garfield remains resolute in his increasingly artful denials. Dipping into the world of video games, he even compares his situation to certain role-playing franchises, stating, “I feel like I’m in a game of fucking Werewolf (or Mafia,) where I’m like ‘I’m not the werewolf. I promise you I’m not the werewolf,’ and everyone’s like, ‘You’re the werewolf, you’re the fucking werewolf!’” Indeed, after the skepticism of the podcast host was apparent, the actor reiterates, “I DID NOT get a call. I would have gotten a call by now. That’s what I’m saying.”
Spider-Man: No Way Home hits theaters on December 17, with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness quickly arriving afterwards on March 25, 2022. We’ll know by that time if Garfield is owed an apology or not.