Spider-Man films he starred inSpider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Every Spider-Man since Tobey Maguire is an attempt at replicating his unparalleled performance. Maguire’s take on the character, bolstered by Sam Raimi’s incredible direction, is the original template upon which all others must follow. Maguire’s Peter is comparable to Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent/Superman, not only in terms of nerdy men imbued with tremendous power but in how they infuse their acting with an overwhelming sense of sincerity and heroism.

Maguire’s superpower lies within the way he conveys depths of emotions with just a look or glance; it’s transcendent, getting to the core of the character’s comic book origins in a way the other actors don’t. Maguire’s Peter is resilient and optimistic, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. When life knocks him down, he finds a way to put on the mask and keep going, keep fighting, and to keep making a difference—understanding the tremendous sense of responsibility and what it means to have these powers. Maguire captures the character’s universal appeal and can distill those elements into a performance that continues to be resonantly powerful all these years later.

Call it old-fashioned or out of style, or too sincere, but we’ll call it this: it’s unequivocally the best Spider-Man performance of all time.