Long before Disney / Marvel created this mammoth superhero world in Hollywood, Sam Raimi collaborated with Tobey Maguire to usher in the superhero genre. And they used a Marvel superhero too, who goes by the name of Spider-Man, though the movie rights were held by Sony. Spider-Man released in 2002 to universal acclaim and thrust Tobey Maguire in the spotlight. Spider-Man 2 of 2004 was loved once again, and even though Spider-Man 3 of 2007 was considered the weakest in the trilogy, it raked in the highest box-office earnings of the franchise. When Sony and Sam Raimi parted ways as they could not arrive at an agreement on the direction that the famous web-slinger should take, Tobey Maguire too opted out of playing the character which had raised his prominence in the industry. Maguire was leaving the franchise on a high, with his portrayal of Spider-Man applauded by all, and many of us waited with interest on his future projects.
This weekend, Tobey Maguire will be seen in the role of the chess genius Bobby Fischer in the biopic Pawn Sacrifice. Surprisingly, after a gap of eight years since Spider-Man 3, this is the first time that a Tobey Maguire movie has caught my attention and seems filled with a lot of promise. The movie, directed by Edward Zick, focuses on the chess matchup between Fischer and the Russian grandmaster Boris Spassky who has been portrayed by Liev Schreiber. More on the movie and its trailer can be seen here. So where has been Tobey Maguire all this while? Opting to do only a few movies, of which some were poor choices, has not helped Maguire’s career to move upwards since his Spider-Man days. He has been part of only four feature films in the period between Spider-Man 3 and Pawn Sacrifice apart from the TV mini-series The Spoils of Babylon. Here’s a look at how those movies fared.
A couple of years after Spider-Man 3, Tobey Maguire was seen on the big screen in Brothers directed by Jim Sheridan, who in his peak days gave us films like My Left Foot and In the Name of the Father. With Brothers, Maguire shed the children-friendly, fun-loving Spider-Man image, and instead took on the role of a US Marine captain who is captured in Afghanistan and feared dead. On his return, he shows signs of severe post-traumatic stress disorder which can not only destroy him but also the lives of his wife, played by Natalie Portman, and brother, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. The performance of Tobey Maguire was widely appreciated, and gave a good glimpse of his versatility as an actor who can challenge himself with serious psychological roles. He even received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. The movie in itself though did not do too well at the box-office earning only $43 million worldwide as against its production budget of $26 million.
The Details (2011)
Once again, Tobey Maguire disappeared for sometime before re-emerging in the comedy movie The Details which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2011. It had a limited US release only in late 2012, and that tells you a lot about the movie. It was pretty much a disaster, directed by Jacob Aaron Estes who hasn’t directed any other movie since then. In it, Tobey Maguire played one part of a young couple, the other being Elizabeth Banks, who suffer from a raccoon problem and their way of handling it is supposed to result in a ‘darkly comic and wild chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity and murder’. No one bought into the movie’s premise, and it was as mundane a film as Maguire could have chosen to make people forget that he ever was Spider-Man.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Tobey Maguire did become part of something bigger and grander with Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby which released in the summer of 2013. Maguire played Nick Carraway who, throughout the course of the film, describes his encounters with the millionaire Jay Gatsby. The Great Gatsby, made on a production budget of about $100 million, was a success at the box-office earning $351 million worldwide. However, Maguire did not really shine in the movie. It was Leonardo DiCaprio who stole the limelight and received special praise from even those who did not appreciate the movie much. As for Maguire’s supporting role, it came across as reserved, lacklustre, falling flat in front of DiCaprio’s persona. This was always going to be the difficulty when someone has a supporting role in a DiCaprio movie, but then there are others like Jonah Hill who have been able to match the high standards. Tobey Maguire was definitely lagging behind in The Great Gatsby.
Labor Day (2013)
In Labor Day, which released in film festivals in 2013 and then had a US release in early 2014, Tobey Maguire had a brief appearance as the older version of the child of Kate Winslet’s character. The movie, which also starred Josh Brolin, flopped at the box-office and got negative reviews from most of the critics. So it was probably for the better than Maguire had a small role in it, which ain’t worth talking about.
Things could turnaround for Tobey Maguire with Pawn Sacrifice that has had positive buzz from the early reviewers. Let’s hope Spidey finds his web-shooting skills once again!