After taking so long to get a Spider-Man film off the ground, we've seen our favorite web-swinging superhero appear in multiple movies since 2002. Right now, we can't seem to go a year without Spidey on the big screen. Of course, there's no complaint from us, because he is considered one of the most popular superheroes in the world. As Kevin Feige explained to BMD, "[Stan Lee and Steve Ditko] created somebody in drastic contrast to the other heroes around him, and who was as powerful as them, in many ways, but had to be home at a certain time, and had to be in school the next morning, and had to do his homework."
Spider-Man has always been a unique franchise in the sense that it has universal appeal among both the young and old. Thus, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that many actors and actresses have clamored for parts in the films. At the end of the day, there are only so many available roles and tough decisions had to be made. Whether they were the right or wrong choices, though, can only be considered and looked at in retrospect – and that's what we're here to do.
20 WORSE: CHARLIE SHEEN AS SPIDEY
Before Sam Raimi's Spider-Man film series, the rights to the Web-Head bounced around between studios and encountered numerous headaches. Most studios were scared of taking a chance on it, because it was still considered as kids' stuff back then.
"I had an office at Orion at the time, and I brought them Spider-Man," Charlie Sheen revealed on the Mohr Stories podcast (via The Hollywood Reporter). "I said, 'Look, in a couple of years, I'll be too old to play Peter Parker.' And they said, 'Yeah, we're just thinking that cartoons are not the future, comic books are not the future.' And I said, 'But it's Spider-Man, I'm perfect.'" Do you think Spidey would've had tiger blood?
19 BETTER: LEONARDO DICAPRIO AS SPIDEY
To this day, the story of James Cameron's Spider-Man is the stuff of legends. It seemed like the film was locked and loaded before it inevitably hit a roadblock it wouldn't get out of. Interestingly, Leonardo DiCaprio was one of Cameron's top picks to play the Wall-Crawler.
In an interview with Empire, DiCaprio confirmed there had been talks and he even received a script to read. Before Sam Raimi's Spider-Man started production, DiCaprio was offered the part again but he turned it down. The role went to his good friend Tobey Maguire. Still, it's hard to imagine a better Peter Parker than DiCaprio in the early '00s.
18 WORSE: ROBERT DE NIRO AS DOC OCK
After the success of 2002's Spider-Man, there was pressure to deliver an even better sequel. The introduction of Doctor Octopus would prove to be a turning point for all superhero films, as he became one of the first layered and multifaceted villain. In the search for the perfect person to portray Doc Ock, various actors were considered before Alfred Molina secured it.
According to the rumor mill, one of the names mooted was the legendary Robert De Niro. Now, take nothing away from De Niro – he doesn't need to prove anything to anyone – but can you imagine anyone else but Molina as Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2?
17 BETTER: DYLAN O'BRIEN AS SPIDEY
It took some time for The Amazing Spider-Man series to be officially canceled. Reportedly, Sony wasn't hot on Andrew Garfield after he missed an event in Brazil and gave him the pink slip. The execs had to come up with a plan and new names to portray the hero in The Amazing Spider-Man 3.
After stealing the show on Teen Wolf, Dylan O'Brien was rumored to be the top pick to replace Garfield in the role. Not only does O'Brien possess the same sort of goofy charm and likability as Garfield, but he also has the necessary acting chops to play the dual roles of Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
16 WORSE: ALDEN EHRENREICH AS HARRY OSBORN
You have to feel for Alden Ehrenreich. He's become something of Hollywood's almost man in recent years as he's struggled to achieve A-list status. The financial flop of Solo: A Star Wars Story only adding to his woes.
More than half a decade ago, Marc Webb knew of his talents when he planned The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Reportedly, Ehrenreich was in consideration for the part of Harry Osborn/Green Goblin, which went to Dane DeHaan in the end. There was nothing wrong with DeHaan's portrayal, though, even if the Goblin costume made him look like a seriously ill person. So, it's hard to imagine Ehrenreich being better in the role.
15 BETTER: JAKE GYLLENHAAL AS SPIDEY
Once 2002's Spider-Man became a worldwide hit, Tobey Maguire and his agents looked for a bigger payday for the sequel. Realizing there was a lot of money on the table, Maguire held out for more moolah before committing to anything. Sony didn't bite, so he complained about a back injury that would've kept him from doing any stunt work.
Calling his bluff, Sam Raimi, Avi Arad, and Laura Ziskin met with Jake Gyllenhaal and offered him the gig. He accepted and got into shape to play the character. When Maguire found out, he quickly changed his tune and hopped back on board. Perhaps Gyllenhaal would've made an even better Spidey than Maguire.
14 WORSE: ASA BUTTERFIELD AS SPIDEY
Before Tom Holland was announced as the new Spider-Man in the MCU, Asa Butterfield's name was mentioned alongside several others as the main candidates for the part. There was even a rumor that Butterfield went onto Reddit and revealed that the part was his. Considering the source is Reddit, though, we wouldn't believe everything on there.
As it turns out, Butterfield was one of the final candidates. There was a lot of back and forth between Sony and Marvel Studios on who they wanted, with Holland finally being selected. Looking at how Butterfield experienced a massive growth spurt in recent years, though, he's probably better suited for other superhero roles.
13 BETTER: ANTON YELCHIN AS HARRY OSBORN
While you can't fault Dane DeHaan's performance as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin for The Amazing Spider-Man 2's middling reviews and audience reception, you do wonder if things would've turned out any differently with the late Anton Yelchin in the part. He certainly would've been an inspired choice.
For one, Yelchin looked a lot more like the comic book Harry with his curly hair and friendly face. Second, his kind and soft demeanor would've acted as a good contrast between Harry and the Goblin. Marc Webb picked DeHaan and we can't complain too much about it. Still, a small part of us ponders what Yelchin could've done here.
12 WORSE: NAT WOLFF AS SPIDEY
In recent times, Hollywood has gone nuts for the Wolff brothers. Nat and his brother, Alex, are everywhere and you can't watch a movie without either of them being in it. Expectedly, the elder Wolff brother was attached to a Spider-Man project once upon a time as well.
Nat was one of the top contenders for the part of the MCU Spider-Man. As we all know, he didn't get the role. That didn't deter him, though, as his name was also floated around in the casting for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – whom he would've played is anyone's guess. Thankfully, Sony spared us from another Wolff-infested movie.
11 BETTER: KATE HUDSON AS MARY JANE
For all that Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy did right, one of its biggest criticisms was the role of Mary Jane Watson. Whether it was because of the script or the actual talent, Kirsten Dunst wasn't very likeable as MJ. In fact, you actually rooted for Peter Parker to get with Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man 3.
Things could've been different had Kate Hudson gotten the gig. The trilogy could've done with more of a romantic comedy vibe between Peter and MJ, and Hudson is the queen of that. Before you start complaining that she isn't a flaming redhead, neither was Dunst – she dyed her hair, so Hudson could've done the same.
10 WORSE: JOSH HUTCHERSON AS SPIDEY
Prior to Sony settling on Andrew Garfield for Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man, it offered auditions to several upcoming young actors – Josh Hutcherson included. There was a hoo-ha when Hutcherson's audition made its way online and many Hunger Games fans said that Sony had made the wrong choice.
Truth be told, Hutcherson looks like he'd be more comfortable playing Spider-Man on TV than in a film. There was no gravitas or believability to his performance. Yes, Peter Parker is meant to be awkward and geeky, but Hutcherson would've turned everyone off the film series. It felt like the Spidey version of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
9 BETTER: MARK HAMILL AS THE GREEN GOBLIN
Mark Hamill is no stranger to the Spider-Man franchise, having lent his voice to the Hobgoblin in 1994's Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Naturally, when it was revealed that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse would feature a multitude of famous actors and recognized celebrities, Hamill's name was thrown into the mix.
For the longest time, most people believed that he'd be voicing Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in the movie, but the part went to Jorma Taccone. While Hamill would've undoubtedly done a phenomenal job, the role was actually rather small and insignificant. Someone of Hamill's caliber deserves to do something bigger and more relevant than a glorified cameo.
8 WORSE: BILL PAXTON AS THE GREEN GOBLIN
Casting Norman Osborn/Green Goblin wasn't an easy process for Sam Raimi. He chatted to many actors and had various conversations with Sony about who'd be the best choice. In the end, the part went to Willem Dafoe, who absolutely crushed it.
For some time, though, it appeared as if the late Bill Paxton was set to claim the gig as his own. While Paxton would've been an interesting choice, there's no denying that Dafoe is viewed as the definitive Green Goblin in everyone's eyes. Raimi still hired a Paxton, though, as Bill's father, John, played the Osborn's butler in all three of the Spider-Man films.
7 BETTER: JOHN MALKOVICH AS THE VULTURE
Production for Spider-Man 4 began in 2008, with Sam Raimi involved. The story that he wanted to tell was quite ambitious and would've featured the Vulture as the main villain. Unfortunately, the project was scrapped in favor of a complete reboot that arrived in the form of Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man.
Reportedly, John Malkovich was in talks to portray Adrian Toomes/Vulture in Spider-Man 4. When that didn't come to fruition, many thought he might appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but the part went to Michael Keaton. Keaton was great in the role, but Malkovich looks exactly like the comic book Vulture. Plus, it helps that he's a phenomenal actor, too.
6 WORSE: NEIL PATRICK HARRIS AS MYSTERIO
Don't get us wrong here: Neil Patrick Harris can do anything that he wants. Every single performance of his has been fantastic and he's someone who's capable of morphing into whichever role is required. He also has a storied history with Spidey, having voiced the character in the short-lived Spider-Man: The New Animated Series.
After seeing Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck/Mysterio in the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer, though, do you want anyone else in the part? It really does look like the perfect vehicle for Gyllenhaal, and he's a fantastic actor in his own right. Maybe Harris will portray another Spider-Man character in a future film.
5 BETTER: ICE CUBE AS J. JONAH JAMESON
While J. Jonah Jameson didn't physically appear in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, he's a part of the universe. For some strange reason, Sony decided not to cast anyone or give Jameson a little bit of time in the spotlight. Even now, there's no raging editor-in-chief of the Daily Bugle in the MCU, and our hearts feel emptier because of it.
There was a terrific rumor doing the rounds that Ice Cube was being considered for the part of Jameson, though. After seeing how he handled things in the 21 Jump Street film series, there's no doubt that he could play a similar character in the MCU.
4 WORSE: KELLAN LUTZ AS VENOM
What role hasn't Kellan Lutz been linked with?! There was a time when it was widely accepted that he'd be the next He-Man in the Masters of the Universe reboot, but that doesn't seem like a certainty anymore as the film changes directors and scripts more times than you do underpants after a night of eating chili.
Lutz hyped himself up for the part of Venom in an old interview, suggesting it's a role that he would love to portray. Of course, some fans ran with it as a possibility when Venom was announced. Considering that we have Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock/Venom, would you really trade him for Lutz? Yeah, we didn't think so.
3 BETTER: ELIZABETH BANKS AS MARY JANE
Sometimes, you don't always get the role you want when you audition for a film. In the case of Elizabeth Banks, she read for the part of Mary Jane Watson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man but didn't secure the part. Raimi, though, was duly impressed with Banks' performance and offered her the role of Betty Brant instead.
Funny enough, despite Banks' limited screen time in the trilogy, she stole the show whenever she appeared. Her character was likable and had an obvious chemistry with Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker. Maybe Raimi got it all wrong. Banks should've been MJ and Kirsten Dunst could've taken the role of Betty.
2 WORSE: ALAN TUDYK AS CARNAGE
Naturally, with the announcement that we'd get a Venom film, there was a debate over who'd be the best Cletus Kasady/Carnage. Numerous lists were published with incredible suggestions and choices, but the name of Alan Tudyk stood out as a serious possibility. After all, you could argue that with a harsher red tint in his hair, he'd look a lot like Kasady.
At the end of the day, we got Woody Harrelson (and his Annie wig) as Kasady. Are we really going to complain about this casting? Harrelson is one of the greatest actors of our generation and he'll be phenomenal in the Venom sequel.
1 WORSE: SHEAMUS AS VENOM
Unlike a lot of superhero projects, there wasn't a major build-up to the announcement of Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock/Venom in Venom. It arrived out of nowhere and didn't leave much room or time for pesky rumors. Although, a certain WWE star campaigned for the part.
Speaking to Irish Central, Sheamus admitted that he'd love to portray the antihero. "I'd love to play the role of Venom and Eddie Brock. Venom was one of my favorite characters. It would be a dream come true for me to star in the next Spider-Man film as Venom." If you had to pick between Hardy and Sheamus, the choice is obvious.