Play it again, Sam.
This weekend, Peter Parker swings back into theatres, but it’s not Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield behind the familiar red-and-black-webbed mask. Instead, for the third time in 15 years the web-slinging role has been recast. This time around, 21-year-old English actor and dancer Tom Holland wears the suit as the star of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Holland’s extended Captain America: Civil War cameo in 2016 almost stole the show, displaying the character’s bright-eyed, boyish spark but this is his first outing as the title star. So far he’s getting rave reviews. After a recent critics screening the twitterverse lit up.
“Tom Holland is perfect,” wrote one poster, “He’s having the time of his life and it shows.” “I don’t want to spoil it,” wrote another, “but they found a way to make Spider-Man relatable like never before on screen, that’s where @TomHolland1996 shines.”
Spider-Man: Homecoming is poised to hit big at the theatres, breathing new life into a character we all know but it is also a shining example of the old adage, “The only constant is change.” Hollywood loves to reboot movies — we’ll soon see new versions of It, Flatliners and Blade Runner — but while the titles stay the same, the faces change.
Not everyone embraces the changes. When Garfield took over for Maguire in 2012 1234zoomer commented on The Amazing Spider-Man: “IS NOT GOING TO BE THE SAME WITHOUT TOBBY!!!,” (her uppercase and spelling, not mine), but Maguire was gracious, saying, “I am excited to see the next chapter unfold in this incredible story.”
Whether Holland acknowledges Maguire or Garfield is yet to be seen, but at least one replacement had the manners to recognize his precursor.
In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 007 No. 2 George Lazenby paid a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the original Bond, Sean Connery. After a wild battle to rescue Contessa Teresa (played by Diana Rigg) the new James Bond didn’t get the girl. “This never happened to the other fellow,” he says, looking dejectedly into the camera.
Connery went on to co-star in The Hunt for Red October with Alec Baldwin playing Jack Ryan, a character later portrayed by Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck.
In 2014 Chris Pine (who also took over the part of Captain Kirk in Star Trek from William Shatner) played the super spy in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. He admits, “We didn’t totally get that right,” but still has hopes for the series. “It’s a great franchise, and if it’s not me, then I hope it gets a fifth life at this point. I hope it’s done again and with a great story.”
The Batman franchise also has had a revolving cast. Since 1943 eight actors have played the Caped Crusader, including Lewis G. Wilson, who at 23 remains the youngest actor to play the character, and George Clooney who admits he was “really bad” in Batman & Robin.
Most recently Ben Affleck, dubbed Bat-Fleck by fans, has played the Dark Knight but probably the most loved Bat-actor of all time is the late Adam West. West, who passed away last month at age 88, admits playing Batman typecast him but says, “I made up my mind a long time ago to enjoy it. Not many actors get the chance to create a signature character.”