[UPDATE: Asa Butterfield was never handed the role of Spider-Man but was rumored to be a strong contender. As it turns out, Butterfield has lost the role of the superhero to the lesser known Tom Holland, whose prominent acting appearance has been in the TV series Wolf Hall. The following article may thus be seen as one highlighting the roles of the talented Asa Butterfield, the actor, but not the next Spider-Man.]
Sony and Marvel had created quite a stir when a few months back they announced the plans to bring Spider-Man into the world of Avengers. Gradually the studios came out with additional bits of information on this big news, smartly playing to the gallery. What we knew so far was that Spider-Man would be even younger this time, a high school student to begin with, and his first appearance would be in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, before he gets a standalone film. After names of many young actors got linked to this role, the “chosen one” was finally announced a couple of days back. The name of Asa Butterfield will no longer be obscure, though if you do love the world of Hollywood, then it would not be an unheard name at all.
18-year old Asa Butterfield made his debut in front of the camera in 2006 for the TV movie After Thomas where he had a bit-part role. A similar minor role followed in 2007’s Son of Rambow. But leading roles have followed since then for Asa Butterfield who has grown as an actor quite wonderfully at such a young age, that his latest casting as Spider-Man is hardly surprising. If you have seen any of these films, then you probably would agree.
The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas (2008)
Asa Butterfield was cast in one of the leading roles in The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas. He played the young son of a Nazi officer working at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II who befriends a Jew of a similar age group. Director Mark Herman has said that they came across Butterfield early on in the audition process and found him to be outstanding, but cast him only after auditioning hundreds of other boys. Butterfield’s performance was universally acclaimed, even though the movie got mixed reviews. His performance won him a nomination for Best Newcomer at the British Independent Film Award.
The Wolfman (2010)
Asa Butterfield had a minor role in The Wolfman, as a young Ben Talbot, who is remembered in a flash back scene by his brother played by Benico del Toro. Nothing much to talk about here.
Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)
At the age of 12, Asa Butterfield played the eldest of the Green children in Nanny McPhee Returns, with Emma Thompson returning to play the role of the magical nanny. Even with the presence of big established names in this movie, Asa Butterfield was one of the child actors who shone and got recognised for his performance. The movie earned largely positive reviews and was a box-office success.
Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is probably the time when we could have picked out Asa Butterfield as a star in the making. He played the lead role of Hugo Cabret, an orphan living in the walls of a train station in Paris, who embarks on his own interesting adventure. He was nominated for a number of Young Actor awards for his role. Along side Chloë Grace Moretz, he made one of the best pairings of the year. The softness in his eyes, mixed with a tinge of mischief, shone throughout the film, something that we would love to see in a young Spider-Man too!
Ender’s Game (2013)
Ender’s Game was supposed to be the next big thing for Asa Butterfield, playing the lead role of Ender Wiggin who is recruited to lead a battle against an alien race. The movie was based on the novel series written by Orson Scott Card, and would have launched a few sequels, if things had worked out at the box-office. But they didn’t. The high-budget movie flopped, but not before Asa Butterfield had had enough media coverage about him, which cannot be a bad thing in the movie industry, right?
X+Y (or A Brilliant Young Mind) (2014)
Asa Butterfield starred in the recent British film X+Y playing the role of a socially awkward teenage English mathematics prodigy named Nathan who finds confidence and learns to make friends when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad. The movie has been shown in many film festivals, earning great reviews, though it hasn’t been released in the theatres in North America yet.
It has been a short career for Asa Butterfield till now, but a fruitful one already where he has embarked on serious and challenging roles. Playing Spider-Man will of course put him on the map in Hollywood, but if he sets his goals right and puts in his quota of effort, then this actor has loads of talent to impress us with performance beyond the web-slinging superhero. Good luck to him!