Andrew Garfield Talks Heartbreaking Spider-Man Experience

The actor decries the corruptive nature of money when it comes to franchise filmmaking

Sony Pictures

When Andrew Garfield was first announced as taking on the role of Spider-Man in a new reboot for Sony Pictures, the “Social Network” actor wore his unbridled enthusiasm on his sleeve. But nearly a decade after his casting, the actor is getting candid about his naiveté and the “heartbreaking” experience of spearheading a global franchise.

Speaking with The Guardian, Garfield revealed that he went into “The Amazing Spider-Man” with clear eyes and a full heart. “I went from being a naive boy to growing up. How could I ever imagine that it was going to be a pure experience?” It’s at this point that The Guardian interviewer notes Garfield let out a “dry, joyless” laugh and added, “There are millions of dollars at stake and that’s what guides the ship. It was a big awakening and it hurt.”

“The Amazing Spider-Man” came on the heels of three successful “Spider-Man” films starring Tobey Maguire, but as a fourth Maguire film was in development with Sam Raimi directing, Sony was also quietly readying a reboot of the franchise with a younger actor in the lead role. When “Spider-Man 4” fell apart, “The Amazing Spider-Man” was announced with a screenplay by James Vanderbilt.

The resulting film, directed by Marc Webb, put a bit of a darker spin on the “Spider-Man” character and was crafted to tell a multi-film origin story that would reveal secrets belonging to Parker’s father. Garfield and co-star Emma Stone drew raves for their chemistry, and the film grossed over $750 million worldwide.

A sequel was quickly greenlit, but with Marvel Studios having massive success with its interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” was created by Sony to launch various spinoffs and further sequels, more concerned with setting up future villains than telling a satisfying story all its own. It was a critical flop despite grossing $709 million worldwide, and Sony eventually scuttled plans for spinoff films and a further sequel and opted to team up with Marvel Studios to reboot the franchise anew with Tom Holland in the lead role.

“Comic-Con in San Diego is full of grown men and women still in touch with that pure thing the character meant to them,” Garfield told The Guardian. “[But] you add in market forces and test groups and suddenly the focus is less on the soul of it and more on ensuring we make as much money as possible. And I found that – find that – heartbreaking in all matters of the culture. Money is the thing that has corrupted all of us and led to the terrible ecological collapse that we are all about to die under.”

Garfield has eschewed franchise filmmaking following his two-film stint as Spider-Man, opting instead to work with filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Ramin Bahrani on smaller-scale dramas. And while rumors abound that he’ll make some sort of appearance as Peter Parker one final time in this December’s multiverse-centric “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Garfield has thus far been tight-lipped.

Up next for the actor is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut “tick, tick… BOOM!” for Netflix and a limited series adaptation of the Jon Krakauer book “Under the Banner of Heaven,” which is being made for FX on Hulu.

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