Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, led by Tobey Maguire in the titular role, helped to kick off the modern wave of big, blockbuster superhero movies. It revolutionized the genre, and our ideas of what is possible with comic book movies. At the time of his casting, Maguire was a recognizable actor, having acted since he was a kid, with his biggest film up to that point being Pleasantville. But he was hardly a household name, nor did he have the classic looks of a typical leading man. All in all, he was a surprising choice for an iconic superhero.
As it turns out, this worked to his advantage. Maguire beat out heavy competition for the role, including James Franco, who, conveniently enough, ended up being cast as Spider-Man bestie-turned-villain, Harry Osborn. But, as Variety wrote back in 2000, Maguire had always been Raimi’s frontrunner for the role, even if he wasn’t the studio’s. The director felt Maguire’s gentle demeanor in movies like The Cider House Rules suited the awkward, nerdy Peter Parker. As it turns out, his first costume test showed that he also nailed the look of Spider-Man in the suit, too. Sometimes, things just work out as they should.