It likely will take years before Andrew Garfield separates himself from the shadow of Spider-Man. Nowadays, we can look at Michael Keaton, for example, and think of movies like Birdman, Spotlight and the upcoming The Founder, and not just see The Batman. But Garfield is currently linked to his two Amazing Spider-Man movies, even though he's now admitting that the time he spent on the saga broke his heart just a little.
Andrew Garfield participated in Variety's ongoing Actors on Actors series, which dominates the trades during awards season, and he sat across from Arrival star Amy Adams to discuss their roles in subsequent, massive superhero tentpole blockbusters. Adams, of course, plays Lois Lane in the DCEU films, but asked Garfield about his experience playing Spider-Man, where he admitted:
There's something that happened with that experience for me where story and character were not actually top of the priority list, ultimately. And I found that really, really tricky. I signed up to serve the story and to serve this incredible character I'd been dressing as since I was 3. And then it gets compromised, and it breaks my heart. I got heartbroken a little bit.
I think it's fair to admit that "story" and "character" were not top priority as Sony attempted to build a massive world with the Spider-Man rights that the held onto. Rumors of Sinister Six films and Venom spinoffs got in the say of telling a coherent story over the course of two Amazing Spider-Man movies, which themselves got distracted by subplots involving Peter Parker's parents, and the rise of a new Green Goblin. There was a lot of world building, before there was proof that anyone was interested in this new world.
And yet, it wasn't all a disaster, as large parts of the Amazing Spider-Man movies DID work. And even Andrew Garfield explains to Amy Adams in the conversation:
I'm loath to judge that experience and paint it as a whole. But there were great things about it. I got to work with incredible actors and a really great director. I was very young --- 25, 26 --- and I felt young. I'd only done a few films, and I was feeling in the right place. I felt guided into it, and I knew it was the right thing for me to do. I learned a lot about what feels good and what doesn't feel good and what to say yes to.
But it wasn't meant to continue. Spider-Man, as we all know, was recast, and Tom Holland's ready to play him in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the first Spidey movie made in a joint partnership between Sony and Marvel.
I personally hate that this happened to Andrew Garfield. Those of us who saw him read that impassioned letter at Comic-Con knows that he loves the character, and honestly wanted to do right by Spidey. He has amazing projects on his radar, from Silence to the current Hacksaw Ridge. But we'll always wonder what might have been if story and character were serviced properly.