Head to Head: Why Andrew Garfield is the most amazing Spider-Man


Courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”

The comic book character Spider-Man is one of my favorite superheroes of all time, and Andrew Garfield is the best rendition of the character as we know him. As a kid I loved watching Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of the character, as a teenager I witnessed Andrew Garfield’s reboot of Peter Parker and from high school to college I’ve seen Tom Holland bring the character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Three different versions of Spider-Man have been on the big screen in the last 19 years and during that time we have had many different “webheads” coming to debate on which one of them is the best version of Peter Parker. From his charisma, to his actions and his villains, everyone has a different opinion on who is the best Spider-Man.

I have two main points I would like to make as to why I thoroughly enjoy Andrew Garfield’s take on the character. The first is when Garfield’s Parker moves, he moves like an actual spider and uses a spider’s characteristics in his moveset.

When he fights the Lizard in the Midtown High hallway, Garfield’s Parker crawls on Lizard’s body and encases him in webs to try and restrain him. He doesn’t swing around him, and he doesn’t try to act like a normal hero – he acts like a spider. He does whatever a spider can and showcases it in his movies with how he uses his webs and body.

Another example of this is the infamous sewer scene in which Peter connects webs down a set of sewer pipes and listens for vibrations to detect where the Lizard’s hideout is. Spiders use this real-life tactic for hunting their prey, and Spider-Man uses it to hunt his villain. It’s a very nice way to show the spider part of Spider-Man. 

While the character’s movement is good, one vital plot point in the series helps define what Spider-Man truly is: The death of his love interest, Gwen Stacy.

The death of Gwen Stacy is one of the most critical moments in comic book history, as it shattered the norms of the time and brought a new meaning to what it meant to be Spider-Man to Peter Parker. 

The two-issue run that led to her demise, The Amazing Spider-Man issues 121 and 122, broke one of the major unspoken rules of superhero comic books in the 1970s: Under no circumstances did you kill off the love interest. Having her die was like Superman losing Lois Lane – it was impossible to even imagine. But Marvel took a huge leap forward in the comic book superhero genre by killing her off.

Her death in “Amazing Spider-Man 2” greatly affects Parker due to the circumstances of how exactly she dies: the main trauma from Gwen’s death is the fact that Parker was the reason she died. As Gwen falls from a great height at the top of a building, Parker uses his webs to try and catch her before she can hit the ground. While he did succeed in stopping her from falling, the whiplash of his webs catching her broke her neck, instantly killing her.

Immediately Parker felt remorse and extreme guilt for what he did even though it was an accident. He sobbed on screen and temporarily retired as Spider-Man as he felt like he couldn’t do the job correctly if those he cared about kept dying. It was only when he watched an old recording of Gwen Stacy’s valedictorian speech that he got the motivation to continue being Spider-Man.

Yumi Domangue

What it means to be Spider-Man, what it means to be a hero and what it means to be an optimist is said in Gwen’s valedictorian speech: “There will be days where you feel all alone, and that’s when hope is needed most. No matter how buried it gets, or how lost you feel, you must promise me that you will hold on to hope. Keep it alive. We have to be greater than what we suffer. My wish for you is to become hope. People need that.”

Spider-Man, as a character, is one that always comes back from how bad his life is. He is a man who had to witness the death of countless people he loved, suffers from living a double life and lives with guilt that could be avoided if he just stopped being a hero, but he can’t. He can’t give it all up because it wouldn’t be the right thing to do. It wouldn’t be fair for the people he could possibly protect. It wouldn’t be fair to the people who may lose their Uncle Bens or their Gwen Stacys.

Peter Parker puts on the mask because he wants to and he has to; he knows for a fact that “with great power, comes great responsibility.” No matter how hard things get, no matter how many people he loses, Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man shows the power of holding onto hope for those who need him to be the hero they can’t be. 

That is what makes him truly amazing, and one of the best decisions director Marc Webb made in bringing Garfield’s Spider-Man to the big screen.


Editor’s note: This opinion piece is one of three articles in a head-to-head series. Read the opinion piece about Tobey Maguire here. Read the opinion piece about Tom Holland here.