With the recent announcement that Sony and Marvel have reached a deal to bring Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, levels of Spider-excitement are at an all-time high. However, the increasing likelihood that Andrew Garfield will most likely not be staying on as Peter Parker for the forthcoming appearances of Spidey in the MCU seems to suggest that in the very near future we're set to see a brand new actor playing Spider-Man.
If so, then that actor'll be the third man to take on the role of Peter Parker on the big screen since 2002's Spider-Man. What a lot of people don't know, though, is just how close we came to having had a whole other actor play the part, way back in the series' first sequel, Spider-Man 2.
This is the Story of The Spider-Man We Almost Saw
Now, our story starts way back with 2002, when...
Tobey Maguire Shone in Spider-Man
He had reportedly been a tough sell to the studio - director Sam Raimi having had to fight tooth and nail to get him the part - but Tobey Maguire's turn as Parker had seemingly turned him, overnight, into an A-List star.
Before shooting on Spider-Man 2 was set to begin, though...
Maguire Picked Up a Back Injury
While filming Seabiscuit, Maguire suffered from a recurrence of an old back injury, which put his ability to perform the elaborate stunts that Spider-Man 2 would require into doubt.
At Which Point the Studio Reportedly Looked to Another Actor
All the while putting Maguire through extensive tests to see whether he could still physically handle the role.
That Actor? Jake Gyllenhaal
Who, according to reports at the time, got as far as agreeing a contract and beginning preparations for the role. Seeing as he was dating Kirsten Dunst - the movie's Mary Jane - at the time, the casting made a lot of sense, especially as Gyllenhaal was just coming off of his big break in Donnie Darko.
So Why Didn't We See Gyllenhaal as Spider-Man?
Well, simply put, Maguire wasn't as badly hurt as he initially seemed. As he put it at the time:
"We were pretty close to production, so I think things got blown out of proportion. We were three weeks out and we were making sure, or you could say questioning, whether I was able to do it. After I did the tests, we all felt good about it and off we went."
And, So, Spider-Man 2, With Tobey Maguire, Was Born
And yet, it seems that we came awfully close to seeing Jake Gyllenhaal take over the role - and for what is widely considered the best entry in the franchise, no less.
Indeed, it's fascinating to think just how different the past ten years of Spider-Movies could have been had Gyllenhaal taken over the role way back in the early 2000's.
What do you guys think, though? Would Gyllenhaal have lasted longer as Spidey than Maguire ultimately did? Would he have made a better Peter Parker? Are there any other close-call casting decisions we need to know about?