Well before a rebooted “Spider-Man” hits theaters in 2012, we’ll get a chance to meet a brand-new Peter Parker — some lucky actor plucked to replace Tobey Maguire now that the 34-year-old and director Sam Raimi have been jettisoned from the franchise. As MTV News plays its own game of Cast That Arachnid — Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Jesse Eisenberg? — we took a look back at the time when we first met Maguire in his Spidey world.
It was January 2001, and production on Sam Raimi’s film was about to begin in Culver City, California. MTV was there to chat with the cast and the director at a moment when comic book movies were beginning to return to their fanboy roots after years of schlocky “Batman” and “Superman” flicks.
Maguire pronounced himself confident about taking on the iconic role. “With Sam Raimi leading the way, I feel like I’m in good hands, and I feel pretty safe about that,” he said. “I’ve read the comics, and we’re going to honor the comics and at the same time make our own movie.”
Raimi, however, confessed to feeling the pressure of delivering a “Spider-Man” movie both comic book geeks and ordinary moviegoers would dig. “I feel like there’s a great bar of expectation that I have to meet,” he explained. “It better be damn good. That’s all I’m thinking, and that’s what occupies all of my waking hours and all of my sleepless nights. ‘Is it good enough? Is it right for the character?’ All I can do is what makes the character work for me and what I was attracted to when I read the comic books and try and bring that to the big screen in the ‘Spider-Man’ movie and hope that appeals to everyone else.”
It did. Big time. Raimi’s first effort in the franchise still ranks as the second-highest-grossing comic book adaptation ever ($404 million) and spawned two hugely profitable sequels (each made over $330 million, and they rank third and fourth on the all-time comic list). But back in early 2001, all involved were simply trying to get their bearings.
For her part, Kirsten Dunst had just figured out how she’d style her hair to become Parker love interest Mary Jane (no dye job, just a red wig so as not to “upset the fans”) and was getting acclimated to an unfamiliar genre. “I’m not going to lie and be like, ‘Yes, I read every comic on the planet of Spider-Man,’ ” she said. “I’m just getting into all of it.”
Maguire himself couldn’t wait to get into it, and one wonders how he’s truly feeling now that the franchise has moved on without him.
“I’m very excited,” the actor said at the time. “I’ve been waiting a long time and getting ready for a long time.”
For breaking comic book movie news, columns and more — updated around the clock — visit SplashPage.MTV.com.