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Early Roles That Spider-Man Actors Want You To Forget About

It's truly amazing to think that one of the biggest superheroes ever put to the page took nearly 40 years to make it to the big screen, the first time in Sam Raimi's 2002 big-budget blockbuster "Spider-Man." But after making his debut, the wallcrawler made up for his absence, with eight solo superhero movies and three Marvel team-up adventures in the span of just two decades. 

During that span, the web-slinger was rebooted twice, with three young stars getting the chance to play Peter Parker. Just about every member of Spider-Man's robust rogues gallery has appeared, and through three film series, some of Hollywood's biggest stars have contributed their talents, while other young stars have made the character's from the Spider-Man family the most iconic roles of their careers.

But each and every one of them has made films in their career they'd like you to forget, films that don't stand the test of time. Marks on their resumes, they'd rather we not assemble a list of their worst... but who says we need to listen to them? Here's a list of roles that "Spider-Man" actors want us to forget about.

Tobey Maguire in Return of the Red Baron

The role of Peter Parker in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" was one of the most coveted roles in Hollywood in the early 2000s, and a number of rising stars were on the shortlist list including the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Josh Hartnett, and Jude Law. But Tobey Maguire beat them out after a string of strong performances in well-received films like "Pleasantville," "The Cider House Rules," and Ang Lee's "Ride With The Devil." But when Raimi was looking at him for the role, he definitely wasn't looking at his 1994 family movie, "Revenge of the Red Baron," the perfect example of a film that an actor wants everyone to forget once he becomes a Hollywood star.

Produced by notorious B-moviemaker Roger Corman, the movie stars Maguire as a misbehaving teen named Jimmy. Jimmy is sent to live with his cranky grandfather, played by screen legend Mickey Rooney, who at this point in his career was relegated to doing low-budget b-movies like this. While there, Maguire learns that his grand-pappy was the WWI ace who shot down the infamous Red Baron, who, as bad luck would have it, has returned from the dead. Looking for revenge, the spirit of Baron Von Richthofen himself has inhabited an old marionette and matching tri-plane modeled after the famous villain. 

If it sounds like a terrible idea for a movie, that's because it is, and the cheap production and bad acting didn't help. It's actually remarkable that Maguire survived this one.

Kirsten Dunst in Luckytown

Though she didn't quite play a comic book-accurate version of Mary Jane Watson, Kirsten Dunst managed to put her own spin on Peter Parker's love interest. Starting out in Hollywood when she was just 8 years old, Dunst already had more than two dozen movies under her belt when she starred in "Spider-Man" in 2002. She'd appeared in a number of hit television shows too, including "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "ER." Of everything she did before "Spider-Man" though her biggest dud of a role came in the 2000 indie crime drama, "Luckytown."

Regrettably, Dunst is the lead here, playing a teenager named Lidda who leaves her Oklahoma trailer park and heads to Las Vegas to meet the father she never knew, who's also a professional gambler. While on her way through, she picks up a handsome young card shark named Colonel who she inexplicably falls in love with, and who it turns out is involved with some shady characters. Now she finds herself caught up in his nonsense, putting her in the middle of a gangster's revenge plot while also trying to connect with her deadbeat dad.

Unfortunately, this is one clunker on our list whose biggest problems actually stem from the "Spider-Man" star. Dunst gives a woeful, amateurish performance that borders on camp, while the story itself is a haphazard mélange of clashing ideas. Ultimately "Luckytown" offers nothing in the way of thrills, suspense, or intrigue, all ingredients necessary for even the most basic crime drama.

JK Simmons and Denis Leary in Love Walked In

Here we get a double feature: an abominable trash heap of a movie that features not just one but two veterans of the wall-crawler's big-screen outings. In this case, it's "Love Walked In," which starred Denis Leary (who played Captain Stacy in "The Amazing Spider-Man") and J.K. Simmons (who no one could forget was J.Jonah Jameson in the Sam Raimi trilogy). 

A 1997 erotic thriller, a genre defined by groan-inducing flops, "Love Walked In" is a double feature itself, as it tells two parallel stories. The first puts Denis Leary in the role of piano player Jack, who tours with his singer wife Vicky. But when Vicky is lusted after by a wealthy older man (Terrance Stamp), his own wife offers Jack a huge payout if Vicky will seduce her husband so she can divorce him and get rich. Second, Jack is also somehow a crime fiction author, and so between scenes of Jack and Vicky, we're treated to a dramatization of Jack's latest novel, a storytelling device that is probably meant to be clever but just winds up forcing us to watch two bad movies instead of one.

With a plot ripped from a daytime soap and contrived story beats that turn it into something closer to a comedy at times, it's hard to tell what the makers of "Love Walked In" were even trying to do. Leary himself — known for his snarky stand-up at the time — was terribly miscast, and the movie's bizarre dual storytelling device just makes the whole thing a total mess that we wish hadn't been vomited onto celluloid.

Willem Dafoe in The Bullfighter

Willem Dafoe rose to fame in the 1980s off the back of films like "Platoon" and "The Last Temptation of Christ." In the early 2000s, he became the choice to play Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin after John Malkovich turned down the role in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man." But even though he wasn't the director's choice, he proved the right one, making Osborn a suitably sinister, vile villain that he would return to in 2021 for the multiverse crossover adventure "Spider-Man: No Way Home." But while the Green Goblin may be one of the best roles in the actor's long career, he has a few others he'd like to bury, including his part in the 2000 indie bomb "The Bullfighter."

A mix of Western, crime drama, and action-adventure, with some supernatural elements, the movie is a mishmash of styles. It tells the story of a bullfighter named Jacque (Oliver Martinez), who is being pursued by a group of mysterious assassins after he gets mixed up in the murder of a mafia kingpin's daughter. While fighting to survive an onslaught of enemies, he also finds out that he's a Knight's Templar, and his girlfriend is pregnant with... a prophetic baby. It all makes just as much sense as you'd imagine.

We can't understand why Dafoe would be a part of this one because it's absolutely dreadful even on paper, but he's not the only one. Look out for directors Guillermo Del Toro and Robert Rodriguez in bit parts too. But with too many ideas — and not enough good ones — this is the worst of Dafoe's career.

Thomas Haden Church in Goosed

For six seasons, Thomas Haden-Church starred as the dim-witted airline mechanic on "Wings" before leading his own sitcom, "Ned and Stacy." After transitioning to films in the early 2000s, his star-making turn in "Translation" got him noticed, and he'd take the role as a "Spider-Man" baddie in Raimi's threequel, playing the amorphous Sandman. Full of pathos and sympathetic villainy, Church impressed in the role. But before he was a movie star, he did a few films that impressed no one, including the 1999 comedy "Goosed."

Starring Meg Tilly, the film follows flighty femme fatale Charlene, who goes to a psychic for love advice and discovers to her astonishment that she'll soon be meeting her new man, a doctor named Steve. But comical mix-ups arise when she sets out to speed up her fate and goes looking for Dr. Steve herself. In Church's defense, his role in "Goosed" is small, playing one of the many possible Steves. He doesn't get star billing and doesn't appear in the trailer, so many may have actually forgotten he's in this one. However, we're going to remind everyone he was in this comically unfunny farce of a flop.

Little better than a bad, thinly-written sitcom episode, the cast is an awkward collection of mismatched talents, with Tilly, Damon Wayans, Joan Rivers, and Antonio Sabato Jr., among others, all unable to make any sense of the material. Thankfully for Church, this list is the first time anyone has thought about it in 20 years.

Rhys Ifans in Rancid Aluminium

When "Spider-Man" was rebooted in 2012, director Marc Webb cast Welsh actor Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors, an eccentric scientist who develops a formula to regrow a lost limb. Unfortunately, it turns him into a human reptile, and drives him insane, enacting a plan to turn the entire population into lizard people like himself. For all the film's flaws, Ifan's over-the-top performance as the mad doctor Curt Connors isn't one of them, and not a role the actor regrets. Not so for the 2000 crime drama "Rancid Aluminium," a film widely regarded as one of the worst UK films of all time (see, e.g., this take at Wales at the Movies).

Attempting to be a gritty crime drama, it introduces beleaguered Pete (Ifans) a man in dire after inheriting a friend's company. Pete turns to his friend Sean (Joseph Fiennes) for help, only to get mixed up with a group of Russian gangsters. Already in too deep, he draws the ire of the vengeful kingpin (Steven Berkoff) who doesn't take kindly to Pete romancing his daughter Misha. 

Savaged by critics and laughed at by audiences, "Rancid Aluminium" has become little more than a cinematic punchline. In their review, The Guardian called it "a terrible mess," saying "the plot is all over the place, eventually incomprehensible, and very, very boring." Over the years it has grown an infamous reputation as a modern-day equivalent to all-time groaners like "Plan 9 From Outer Space," surely making this a debacle Ifans would love us to forget.

Jamie Foxx in Held Up

In the 2014 "Amazing Spider-Man" sequel, Sony secured the services of Oscar- and Grammy Award-winner Jamie Foxx to play the deadly villain Electro. A bumbling, nerdy everyman who is turned into a powerful, crazed criminal, Foxx impressed, but the film was a disappointment. This, of course, was nothing new for the highly-respected actor, whose earlier career as a comedian — long before he'd turned dramatic actor — saw him in a number of big busts. His worst was the 1999 comedy "Held Up," a film that he definitely doesn't want us talking about.

Chronicling a bad day in the life of the successful business Mike (Foxx), we see his girlfriend Rae (Nia Long) leave him high and dry when he blows all their money on a vintage car, which is promptly stolen by a punk kid. Stuck at a convenience store in a backwater town, Mike gets involved in a robbery gone wrong and winds up confused for a crook. When the real culprits take hostages, Mike is caught in the middle but remains steadfast that he can get his girl Rae back. All he has to do is survive a police shoot-out, escape a group of armed gunmen, and make it to the airport before her flight takes off.

Despite being a solid comic actor and one of the best dramatic ones, too, the film isn't funny and plays on plenty of stereotypes and contrived cliches. Reviewers blasted the film at the time for being a big misstep for the rising star Foxx, who somehow managed to dodge the dud and go on to bigger and better box office hits.

Michael Keaton in The Squeeze

Star Michael Keaton was best known as "Batman" in the classic 1989 film, but still didn't mind suiting up as a super-villain in "Spider-Man: Homecoming." The film that launched the web-slinger into the MCU, Sony has been trying to get him back into Spidey films with a post-credits appearance in the much-maligned "Morbius." But before both of his comic book roles, Keaton starred in one of the worst '80s action comedies, "The Squeeze." 

A film from director Robert Young, whose most memorable movie might be the original 1988 television miniseries "The Bourne Identity" that nobody remembers exists. This one, whose theatrical poster features the awkward crushing of the World Trade Center, sees Keaton playing Harry Berg, who uncovers a plot to rig the state lottery through the complex use of magnets. He's paired with Rae Don Chang as a collection agent who happens to be on his case, falls in love with him, and helps him expose the conspiracy. It's a silly story by design — it is an action-comedy after all — but it's all so utterly flat, including the so-called action.

Critic Roger Ebert put it best in his review at the time, calling it "a non-movie held together only by the intrinsic appeal of Michael Keaton and Rae Dawn Chong, its stars. They are given nothing to work with here. Nothing," while describing the debacle as "two talented actors in an idiotic screenplay."

Marisa Tomei in Zandalee

As the "Spider-Man" film series' went on, it seems Peter Parker's Aunt May got younger and younger, starting with 75-year-old Rosemary Harris in 2002, 66-year-old Sally Field in 2012, and finally the 51-year-old Marisa Tomei, who was more than lively enough to play a superhero herself. With a much more active role in the story than her predecessors, Tomei proved the main character this time around, and a highlight of the well-received box office blockbusters. But with a career stretching back to the early 1980s, the actress has had her fair share of forgettable roles, too, with her biggest the 1990 comedy, "Zandalee."

Alongside Nicolas Cage — who would wind up in films far worse than this one — "Zandalee" is another erotic thriller, and yet another cringe-inducing one. You'd think Hollywood would learn its lesson with the genre, but alas, it keeps churning out bad, uncomfortable sex dramas. This one is about an unfulfilled wife named Zandalee who seeks the pleasure of Johnny, an old friend of her husband. But when she breaks it off, it sets a chain of events that lead to tragedy.

A laughable attempt at a psychological thriller, Tomei plays a one-time date of the jilted Johnny, serving as a blemish on her filmography that she'd love to forget. In a retro review from the AV Club, they noted how only its all-star cast saves the movie from being a total train wreck, saying that while terrible if it had been anyone else it would have been "insultingly stupid."

Tom Holland in The Edge of Winter

With Marvel's unprecedented deal to share the character of "Spider-Man" bringing him into the MCU, young actor Tom Holland landed the role. Just 19 years old when he landed the role ahead of his first appearance in "Captain America: Civil War," he was the youngest actor ever to play the wallcrawler in live-action. At the time, he'd had just a handful of roles under his belt, but there's still one from those early days he probably looks back on with at least a little bit of embarrassment: the 2016 drama, "Edge of Winter."

Filmed around the same time as "Civil War," Tom Holland starred alongside "Suicide Squad" hero Joel Kinnaman as a father and son duo. Holland is Brad Baker, who along with his brother Percy spends a wilderness weekend together ahead of their move overseas. But while roughing it, troubles emerge — personal and practical — as Elliott begins to go slowly insane, testing the bonds between father and son.

It sounds like a promising drama, the problem is that it's a complete waste of all the talent on film. Kinnamen, who so impressed in the TV Series "The Fall," and Holland, who'd soon become one of Tinseltown's brightest young stars, are given poorly written and confusing characters. Additionally, the tone of the film completely flips midway, from a heartfelt family drama to a borderline horror movie, which makes it far less interesting than it could have been. While definitely not the worst film on this list, we can't imagine it's high on Holland's list of proud performances.

Emma Stone in Movie 23

Looking to their rebooted "Spider-Man" series, Sony opted not to repeat the romance between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Instead, they cast actress Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man's first true love in the comics. A hot up-and-coming star who cut her teeth on comedies like "Superbad" and "Friends with Benefits," the superhero series brought Stone even more attention, and she'd go on to star in serious dramas and award-winning fare, even earning herself an Oscar in the process.

Along the way though, Stone found herself knee-deep in the foul-smelling vulgar schlock shocker, "Movie 43." Thankfully she wasn't the only one whose career is marred by this movie, with the likes of Chris Pratt, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, and Kate Winslet all appearing throughout. A collection of cringe-inducing, juvenile vignettes that are ostensibly comedic, "Movie 43" is barely even a movie, and watching it you'll be more shocked by the fact that such respectable stars lowered themselves to this tripe than anything meant to genuinely amuse the audience.

It's so difficult to imagine anyone finding the movie even slightly funny. Roger Ebert refused to even give it any star rating, giving it only a thumbs down, calling it "the 'Citizen Kane' of awful" YouTubers Redlettermedia meanwhile was so lost in how to talk about the film that they gave only a sarcastic review of fake sketches that weren't in the movie. Certainly, everyone involved should want us to forget this one.

James Franco in Whatever It Takes

Complicated actor James Franco seems to always be mired in controversy these days, but in the early 2000s he was one of Hollywood's "it" boys on the rise. Star of the cult high school sitcom "Freaks and Geeks" alongside Seth Rogan, Linda Cardellini, and Jason Segel, Franco nabbed the role of Peter Parker's best friend Harry Osborn in "Spider-Man," reprising the role twice on his way to becoming an A-List leading man. But before all that, he'd starred in a low-budget indie romantic comedy, "Whatever It Takes," that was so bad nobody remembers it.

The film is a modern-day retelling of "Cyrano De Bergerac," centered on a pair of friends, Ryan and Chris (Shane West and James Franco) who each have their eye on a high school classmate. Ryan needs help wooing Ashley, and he gets it from Chris, just like in the classic story. Unfortunately, this version is more creepy than romantic, something that becomes all the more uncomfortable in hindsight.

But even all that aside, it's a bad, boring, and predictable teen romance that's mean-spirited and borderline misogynistic, with nothing going for it other than it being a footnote in Franco's career. While "Whatever it Takes" may not be the only movie he regrets in his filmography, it may be the one he wants everyone to forget.