With reports that Andrew Garfield is out as Spider-Man and Sony's apparent frustration and directionlessness with the franchise going public following a hack that left dozens of top-level e-mails available online, there's starting to be a lot of speculation as to what form the property will take when it makes its way back to the screen.
Currently slated for a 2018 release, there has been buzz for months that neither Marc Webb nor actor Andrew Garfield were likely to return for The Amazing Spider-Man 3, but looking at the e-mails, it appears that Sony will almost certainly write that franchise off as a loss and start again, leaving that issue mostly academic. The question becomes whether they reboot from scratch, recast and proceed or work with Marvel to develop something they can share with Disney...and at present, it's difficult to tell which, if any, of those options actually has a leg up on the others.
So...who would we pick, if we had to recast Spider-Man, well and fast?
Note: No, we won't include a token Miguel O'Hara or Miles Morales on the list. We really wanted to, but there's just no getting around those comments that as long as they're working on the franchise, Peter Parker will always be Spider-man.
Of course, if Joe and Anthony Russo were to force Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach out, then who knows? They have worked on Community with Donald Glover before, after all.
The Star Trek actor was actually one of the last men standing en route to finding Andrew Garfield, and he could play a wide variety of aspects to the character.
He's a solid performer with some comedy chops, and while he'll be about thirty by the time they could get a Spider-man movie off the ground, that baby face he has would allow him to play Spidey younger in at least the first movie if need be.
The downside, such as it is, is that because he was already seriously considered and then abandoned while casting The Amazing Spider-Man, it would make it very difficult not to feel like they were going backwards. Not that there's any other indication they're hopelessly lost at this point...!
The odds of this one are astronomical; he's worked with Warner Bros. for years, currently plays Firestorm on The Flash, and it's of course really difficult to make the jump from a supporting role in a CW series to headlining a major motion picture.
Still, he's got that clean-cut look and could play a college-aged Peter well. He feels to me a bit like Tobey Maguire did back when he was doing it, except that Spider-Man is at heart a character with some levity and humor...and Maguire not only lacked those, but when he tried to insert them into his performance, it felt...weird.
That's the part Amell has in spades; his natural charm has driven many of his roles in the past, perhaps most notably as Fred in Scooby-Doo. Like Andrew Garfield, the Peter Parker part of the role would be a great fit for him.
He's young, he's just the right mix of handsome and awkward, and he's a solid actor.
It also doesn't hurt that coming off twin successes with Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, he's on the rise in a big way in Hollywood.
What might hurt? An association with his co-star from both of those films, Shailene Woodley, who could very likely advise him to steer clear of Spider-Man and Sony.
We've heard that Marvel wants a clean slate, but Jeff Robinov at Sony has told Amy Pascal that a James Bond approach might work: just kind of continue the stories with a loose continuity and don't worry about rebooting every time there's a creative change.
He also suggested allowing Spider-Man to age and his story to progress, rather than worrying about keeping him perpetually in school.
So...why not Maguire? Never Say Never Again, after all. Even as someone who didn't particularly care for Maguire's performances or the Raimi films, the reality is this would be a massive "get" for the studio and would drive a ton of interest from casual fans who would wonder what's going on and whether he can be compelling again nearly 20 years after he first played the role.
This would be a great choice. He's a solid middle ground between the younger candidates above and Maguire (he's 28 years old -- and looks it); he's been Spider-Man on Ultimate Spider-Man for long enough that you know there isn't going to be much of a learning curve in finding the character and voice...but he's also never done it in live-action, which removes the been there, done that element you might ordinarily get when fantasy-casting somebody who's currently playing the role on TV.
He does look the part and obviously sounds it. If there's any downside, it's that Bell has an existing relationship with Disney and Marvel and likely wouldn't be willing or able to take the role if it were just Sony. So bringing him on board presupposes that Marvel either reacquires the character or at least has enough input that they feel comfortable letting "their guy" head to another company.