What the Hell Happened to Tobey Maguire?
Despite negative reviews and angry fans, Spider-man 3 broke the record set by Spider-man 2 for the biggest opening weekend of all time. That record was eventually broken by The Dark Knight in 2008 and has since been topped several times. Bad word of mouth made Spider-man 3 the least successful of the three Spider-man movies starring Maguire. But it was still a big enough hit to warrant another sequel.
The studio had been considering rebooting the Spider-man franchise, but they approached Raimi about making one final movie. The proposed Spider-man 4 was given a release date of summer 2011. Raimi kicked around ideas which reportedly included John Malkovich as the Vulture, Dylan Baker’s character finally becoming the Lizard and Anne Hathaway as Felcia Hardy who may or may not have been the Black Cat.
Once again, Raimi was up against a tight deadline and couldn’t come to an agreement with the studio over what a new Spider-man movie should be. So rather than repeat what happened on Spider-man 3, Raimi walked away:
It really was the most amicable and undramatic of breakups: It was simply that we had a deadline and I couldn’t get the story to work on a level that I wanted it to work. I was very unhappy with Spider-Man 3, and I wanted to make Spider-Man 4 to end on a very high note, the best Spider-Man of them all. But I couldn’t get the script together in time, due to my own failings, and I said to Sony, “I don’t want to make a movie that is less than great, so I think we shouldn’t make this picture. Go ahead with your reboot, which you’ve been planning anyway.”
That’s ultimately what Sony decided to do. In 2012, the series was rebooted with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. And then in 2014, a sequel followed. Sony had plans to turn the Spider-man franchise into something like Marvel’s Avengers series. But the box office failure of Amazing Spider-man 2 put an end to those plans. Rumors actually circulated that Raimi and Maguire might return to the series. Instead, Sony reached a deal with Marvel to jointly reboot the character again.
Maguire had been dating Jennifer Meyer since they met while Maguire was filming Seabiscuit in 2003. In 2004, Meyer’s father was instrumental in keeping Maguire’s career on course after he nearly got himself fired from the Spider-man series. In 2006, Maguire and Meyer got engaged. Later that year, Meyer gave birth to the couple’s first child. In 2007, following all of Maguire’s promotional requirements for Spider-man 3, they tied the knot in a ceremony in Hawaii. Two years later, they would have a second child. Maguire was a family man now and that was going to inform his career choices going forward.
In 2008, Maguire had a very funny cameo appearance in the action-comedy, Tropic Thunder. The movie starts off with a series of fake trailers which introduce the characters and tell us what types of movies they are known for. Ben Stiller’s character stars in a mindless action movie sequel. Jack Black’s character is in a Nutty Professor-ish low-brow comedy. And Robert Downey Jr’s character is in an art house movie about two gay monks. Maguire plays the Gyllenhaal to Downey’s Ledger in the obvious Brokeback Mountain satire.
The bit about Maguire winning MTV’s Best Kiss Award is accurate. He and Dunst won for the upside-down kiss in the original Spider-man. Maguire was a last-minute replacement and he was only available to be on the set for two hours. He said he agreed to do it as a favor to Stiller and Downey. Downey felt like the bit was a karmic pay-off to their scenes together in Wonder Boys.
In 2009, Maguire co-starred opposite his would-be replacement, Jake Gyllenhaal in the thriller, Brothers.
Maguire played a war hero who is about to be sent on his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan. Before he leaves, he welcomes home his brother played by Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal has just been released from prison after robbing a bank. Word comes back that Maguire’s helicopter was shot down and all the marines on board are presumed dead, but in reality he has been taken prisoner. Believing her husband to be dead, his wife, played by Natalie Portman, begins a relationship with her brother-in-law. Things get complicated when Maguire returns from war alive, but scarred by his experiences.
Originally, Maguire wanted to play the screw-up and Gyllenhaal was going to play the war hero. But director Jim Sheridan did not find Maguire convincing as a bank robber, so the two actors switched roles. The switch-up worked well enough to score Maguire a Golden Globe nomination. Maguire said the nomination was a pleasant surprise:
I had no expectation about getting a nomination, but I was watching nonetheless. My wife and my son got really excited. I was sort of surprised — I was like, ‘Oh, wow.’ And I couldn’t hear the latter part of my name.
Critics were divided on Brothers. Many dismissed it as a cliche-ridden soap opera. Others felt that the performances overcame the material enough to recommend the movie. This split is reflected in the movie’s score at Rotten Tomatoes. Currently, Brothers holds a decent 63% approval rating at the site. But if you narrow the results to “top critics” the approval rating plummets to 39%.
Brothers was a disappointment at the box office. It opened in third place behind The Blind Side and The Twilight Saga: New Moon both of which had been in theaters for three weeks by that point. It ended up barely recouping its production budget in the US.