split image tobey maguire spiderman green goblin

After reprising their iconic roles in Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), actors Tobey Maguire (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) and Willem Dafoe (Norman Osborn/Green Goblin) have jointly achieved a Guinness World Records title.

19 years 225 days after their first appearance in Spider-Man (2002), Maguire, aged 46, and Dafoe, 66, have broken the record for the longest career as a live action Marvel character.

The previous record of 16 years 232 days was set by Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and Patrick Stewart (Professor X), who made their first appearance in X-Men (2000) and most recent appearance in Logan (2017).

A pioneering work of the modern superhero film genre, Spider-Man (2002) tells the origin story of Marvel Comics’ popular web-slinger.

After being bitten by a genetically-modified spider and developing arachnid-like abilities, high school student Peter Parker begins using his powers to fight crime.

No stranger to playing the villain throughout his career, Willem Dafoe acts as the film’s primary antagonist, Green Goblin.

Although Tobey Maguire’s name and face is now synonymous with Spider-Man – even after two successful reboots with different actors – he wasn’t the film studio’s first choice. Or second. Or third.

tobey maguire holding spiderman suit

Sony Pictures had expressed interest in Leonardo DiCaprio, Heath Ledger, Freddie Prinze Jr., Jude Law and several other A-listers. James Franco, who would go on to play Harry Osborn, also auditioned for the lead role. 

However, Tobey Maguire was selected after director Sam Raimi saw him act in The Cider House Rules (1999). Despite the studio’s initial reservations about casting someone who did not fit the traditional superhero image, Maguire impressed with his audition and began intense physical training in preparation for the role.

Willem Dafoe was cast as Green Goblin after the role was turned down by Nicolas Cage, Jason Isaacs, John Malkovich and Jim Carrey.

Spiderman and green goblin fighting

Spider-Man was released in the United States on 3 May 2002, breaking the record for the fastest $100 million box office film gross, doing so in just three days. The previous record of five days was set a year earlier by Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The record is currently held by Avengers: Endgame, which achieved the feat in under 24 hours.

Spider-Man (2002) also held the record for being the highest-grossing superhero “origin” movie ($821 million; £534 million), until it was broken by Black Panther (2018), which grossed over $1.3 billion (£961 million) worldwide.

After its massive worldwide success, Spider-Man was followed up by two sequels; Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007).

Maguire was almost replaced by Jake Gyllenhaal for Spider-Man 2, after he aggravated a pre-existing back injury during the filming of Seabiscuit in 2002.

However, he recovered in time and was able to make his return. Gyllenhaal entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe over 15 years later, cast as Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).

Interestingly, 2007 saw the most film trilogy final installments released in one year. The six films were: Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, The Bourne Ultimatum, Ocean’s Thirteen and Rush Hour 3.

Over 14 years after the release of Spider-Man 3, rumours began to circulate about the potential return of Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe in Spider-Man: No Way Home, the third installment in a series starring Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. 

The highly-anticipated trailer for No Way Home all but confirmed these rumours, featuring several callbacks to past Spider-Man films. Among them were Green Goblin’s infamous 'pumpkin bomb' and an appearance from Alfred Molina as Doc Ock, the antagonist of Spider-Man 2 (2004).

Spider-Man: No Way Home’s trailer became the most viewed movie trailer in 24 hours, racking up 355.5 million global views. The record was previously held by Avengers: Endgame (289 million views).

The Spider-Man movies are the most successful comic book films ever, grossing a total of $8.05 billion (£5.99 billion), ahead of the Avengers films which have accumulated $7.75 billion (£5.77 billion).

This also makes Spider-Man the highest-grossing movie superhero, followed by Batman with $6.04 billion (£4.49 billion).

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Maguire and Dafoe achieved the record for the longest gap between character appearances in Marvel films. This record is actually held by Alfred Molina (Doctor Octopus) with 17 years 170 days. The article was updated with this correction on 27/01/2022.

Header image credit: Shutterstock

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