Spider-Man: No Way Home has kept crucial details about its plot opaquely secure under a proverbial mass of webbing, even as the threequel’s scheduled Dec. 17 premiere inches closer. However, the realm of rumors has seen plenty of activity on this front, with the reported return of Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus and Jamie Foxx’s Electro—each of whom are supervillains from the two previous franchises—signaling a Spider-Verse story that would presumably unite the heretofore unconnected existing Spidey films. However, a key component to such a notion, Andrew Garfield, is not budging in his denials.
As one of the previous two big screen Spider-Men, Garfield is likely bombarded on a daily basis with questions regarding a prospective return in No Way Home, the third solo film of current Wall-Crawler Tom Holland. Thus, a nerve appeared to have been struck during an appearance on the Happy Sad Confused podcast of MTV’s Josh Horowitz when the conversation inevitably touched upon Spidey. Garfield, of course, starred as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Sony Pictures’ 2012 reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, and its numerically-titled 2014 sequel; an iteration that was abruptly abandoned upon the 2016 debut of Holland’s Marvel Cinematic Universe-adherent version in Captain America: Civil War.
“There isn’t anything to ruin, bro,” exclaims Garfield, frantically laughing after the host cautiously posed the Spider-Man question. “I had to just quickly cut you off—there’s nothing to ruin! It’s so crazy! Dude, it’s fucking hilarious to me, because I do have this [secret] Twitter account, and I see how often Spider-Man is trending, and people freaking out about a thing.”
The universe-crossing 2018 hit animated feature, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, seems set to inspire a live-action take with the presumption that a trio (maybe more?) of onscreen Wall Crawlers will work in tandem in December’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. The film will have the aforementioned return of Doc Ock (from Spider-Man 2) and Electro (from The Amazing Spider-Man 2), and Benedict Cumberbatch is confirmed to make an appearance as Doctor Strange, presumably bringing his brand of plot-driving dimensional magic. Plus, the very title of the film’s closely-scheduled MCU successor, sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, seems to solidify a connection to No Way Home, despite Tom Holland not yet being confirmed for that film. Moreover, Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff—now fully-realized as the Scarlet Witch—is confirmed to bring her WandaVision-refined chaotic, reality-weaving powers. It’s a potentially exciting storyline, which leaves one to wonder why Garfield hasn’t been signed.
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.