Jake Gyllenhaal finally got his chance to play a major role in a Spider-Man movie when he starred as Quentin Beck alongside Tom Holland in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Far From Home, but he came agonizingly close to suiting up as the web-slinging superhero himself in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 after Tobey Maguire was almost forced to drop out of the role.
Maguire initially signed a three-picture deal to portray Peter Parker, but after suffering some serious back injuries during the filming of horse racing drama Seabiscuit in 2002, there was genuine concern that he wouldn’t be physically capable of being strapped into a wire rig and getting thrown around the Spider-Man 2 set.
The studio started to panic, and they lined Gyllenhaal up as his replacement after being impressed by the rising star’s performances in the likes of Donnie Darko and Moonlight Mile. Of course, Maguire ultimately recovered well enough to throw on the spandex, and the end result was one of the most spectacular comic book movies ever made, with Spider-Man 2 still regarded as one of the genre’s finest efforts.
It must have been a blow to the young Gyllenhaal, though, who was only 22 years old when cameras started rolling on Sam Raimi’s second movie in November 2002, but these things have a habit of working themselves out in the end. Not only did he gain a reputation as one of the best actors of his generation and eventually get the chance to appear in the Spider-Man sandbox after a decade of actively avoiding big budget blockbusters, but Tobey Maguire could also make a surprise return in the MCU to put an exclamation point on his tenure as the first big screen Peter Parker for good measure.