Can ‘Spider-Man’ Live On Without Andrew Garfield?

The 'Amazing' actor suggests he's not part of Sony's plans for 'Spider-Man' beyond a third, trilogy-ending film.

Face it, Sony — you’re about to hit a sticky situation.

Andrew Garfield is signed and sealed to play Peter Parker in a third film beyond next summer’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” but beyond that? Nothing. The British actor confirmed in a recent interview with Yahoo that Sony’s planned “Amazing Spider-Man 4,” set for release in 2018, is not on his radar.

“I mean I’m under contract for another one after this… as far as a fourth one? That’s not anything to do with me,” he said. Director Marc Webb added that he’s always conceived of his “Spider-Man” vision as “a trilogy to be totally frank,” indicating that he, too, has no plans for a fourth “Spider-Man” film.

Garfield and Webb’s comments raise more than a few questions. What is Sony really planning for that mysterious “Spider-Man” movie set for release on May 4, 2018? Is the date simply a place-holder, a way of making sure that Marvel Studios can’t plant “The Avengers 5000″ on the same day? Or does the studio have active plans of how to continue the “Spider-Man” franchise without current creative leaders Garfield and Webb?

As your friendly neighborhood (and overly opinionated) writer, allow me to give my two cents: There’s little doubt that “Spider-Man” can live on without Andrew Garfield. Heck, Garfield first swung into the role only five years after Tobey Maguire exited the Spider-scene. Sony has a history of recasting the wise-cracking wall-crawler, and it’s worked, at least on some level.

But 2012′s “The Amazing Spider-Man” wasn’t without its share of criticism. Some fans thought the reboot came way too soon. (It did, if you ask me.) The saving grace was the dynamic at play between Garfield as Peter Parker and his co-lead (and real-life girlfriend) Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Their performance and story was the beating heart of what made “Amazing” work. The deviations from the source material — specifically, establishing a mythology where Peter Parker was experimented upon as a child, and therefore was some sort of chosen-one-golden-child, several years in the making — were not what made the film work.

In fact, that twist on the mythology really complicates things going forward for Sony, if Garfield isn’t interested in playing Spider-Man past the threequel. At the moment, the “Spider-Man” films are tied to a very specific story, one that’s fairly radically different from the “Spider-Man” comics. With “Amazing 4″ set for release just two years after “Amazing 3,” it’s not so simple for Sony to just undo all of that mythology between 2016 and 2018. The best way is to either push the release date, or find a way to keep Garfield close.

The former option isn’t likely to happen, because this is Hollywood we’re talking about, and release dates are everything. But how about the latter option? Isn’t there a way to secure Garfield as Spider-Man for many years to come? The actor’s lifelong fondness for Spidey is well-documented at this point. Garfield has been very vocal about his opinions on the character, even when those opinions are controversial. Few other superhero actors have championed their characters quite like Garfield has. Keeping him around is a worthwhile investment for Sony.

But how can Sony do that? How do they keep Garfield? Besides, you know, delivering three-hundred trucks filled with money to his doorstep every Saturday from now through eternity? Joking aside, there’s something of an answer in there: Maybe it’s time for Sony to consider teaming up with Marvel Studios after all, to make that “Spider-Man and the Avengers” movie that so many fans, Garfield included, want to see. It would be a unique, never-been-done-before big-screen Spider-Man story, one that could excite Garfield enough to keep going.

Of course, that dream is all it is: A dream. We won’t see Spider-Man swinging through the Manhattan skyline alongside Iron Man, at least not during Garfield’s tenure. Too many obstacles need to be cleared in order for that to happen. So, maybe the weekly trucks-of-money suggestion is the one to go with if Sony wants to keep Garfield — or they can roll the dice, and recast the role in time for 2018.

Spider-Man has life beyond Garfield. There’s no reason he can’t live through multiple actors. But rebooting “Spider-Man” just two years after a third “Spider-Man” is cynicism epitomized. If Garfield doesn’t want to swing with Sony after round three, then the studio’s best bet would be to cool their jets, squash that 2018 release date, and hit pause for a few more years yet — and maybe use that time to have some obstacle-smashing conversations with “Avengers” mastermind Kevin Feige.

How should Sony proceed with “Spider-Man” if Garfield taps out after round three? Is there life for Spidey beyond Garfield? Weigh in with your take in the comments below!

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