After the extraordinary success of 2002’s Spider-Man, director Sam Raimi was keen to bring everyone back on board to get started on Spider-Man 2. Unfortunately, disaster struck Peter Parker star Maguire who had been advised by his medical team that he needed to “steer clear” from reprising the role.
After starring in Spider-Man Maguire took on the role of Red in Seabiscuit. During filming for the movie Maguire injured his back, leaving him worried about swinging around as the wall-crawler again. What’s more, Maguire’s medical team were wary of him “injuring his back and becoming paralysed”.
Director Raimi was reportedly told that Maguire’s back was in “such a bad condition” that any further injury could lead to his paralysis – an outcome nobody wanted.
Raimi said at the time: “At that moment, I said to myself: ‘I can’t be irresponsible. I can’t make a movie about responsibility and then grab this kid and make him do stunts where he’s going to be paralysed. And I can’t compromise the movie.'”
Maguire’s publicist even released a statement about his concerns.
The statement read: “After doing two physically demanding films in a row, Tobey has experienced mild discomfort in his back which is in the final stages of healing. With an April 12 start date around the corner, everyone involved wants to be certain he is able to do the intense stunts.”
With their Spider-Man star potentially out of the running to return, Sony looked to another bright young actor to replace him. Sony considered taking on a few stars, but reportedly closed in on bringing Jake Gyllenhaal onto the project as the next Peter Parker.
And years later Gyllenhaal opened up about almost taking over from Maguire in what would become known as the greatest superhero film of all time: Spider-Man 2.
Dunst said: “I mean, I would like to work with him, and I would. I’m happy it wasn’t this because I would rather do a more intimate movie with him where I could actually have, like, many scenes with him. If we had done this, we could never have done another movie together probably, and I would rather do something else with him than this movie.”
Before long, Maguire was soon told to “behave himself” by his representatives, and he came to an agreement with Sony about the fee for Spider-Man 2, bringing him back on to the project once and for all. Of course, three years after Spider-Man 2, he returned once again for Spider-Man 3.
Maguire was likely pleased with his choice to return considering Spider-Man 2 made a staggering $789 million at the box office (approximately $1.2 billion with inflation). The film was even nominated for a number of Academy Awards – one of which it won.
Spider-Man 2 was nominated for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects. The Sony movie won Best Visual Effects – Raimi’s first and only Oscar win for his Spider-Man franchise.
Maguire made yet another triumphant return to his role of Peter Parker in 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. He reprised his performance by playing an older version of the hero, acting as a mentor for Tom Holland’s Marvel Cinematic Universe hero.
Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy is available on Netflix.