Before Tom Holland, there was Andrew Garfield. Before Andrew Garfield, there was Tobey Maguire. Before Tobey Maguire? There wasn't really anyone who had brought a live-action Spider-Man to mainstream audiences. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back novelization writer Donald F. Glut and Nicholas Hammond portrayed the character in an unauthorized 1969 short and a 1977 television series, respectively, but Maguire was the first to bring him to the big screen in Sam Raimi's films. Interestingly, Jake Gyllenhaal almost shared these bragging rights.
Yahoo writer Kevin Polowy mentioned Tobey Maguire's reported injury on the Seabiscuit set, saying he heard Jake Gyllenhaal was in the running with a number of other actors to potentially replace Maguire in Spider-Man 2. Here's Gyllenhaal's response:
I heard the same thing. The truth of the matter is, in the end, [Tobey Maguire is] Spider-Man. There are so many roles in my career where I was up against another actor, or there was something happened that possibly could've happened but didn't happen but maybe it would have. Eventually my belief is when an actor's played a character, particularly in a movie, the character's theirs, and that's that. But yeah there was talk, he hurt himself and there was talk. There was a slew of actors [possibly up for the part], and I was one of them.
Ultimately, of course, Tobey Maguire did play Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2. Behind-the-scenes, his back injury from Seabiscuit was seen by some as a negotiation tactic. Sony wasn't having it, and started looking for a new Spider-Man. That's reportedly when Jake Gyllenhaal and other actors had their numbers called. Maguire eventually returned for the Sam Raimi movie and then Spider-Man 3.
While many have called Far From Home the best Spider-Man film ever, others had more measured criticisms. Still, the prevailing sentiment seemed to be that while it's lacking in certain areas, it's an incredibly solid entry in the franchise.
Given the fact that director Jon Watts still isn't sure how the Tom Holland trilogy will end, it seems that, in some respects, Marvel is along for the ride just as much as we are. No doubt they've still got some kind of plan, though. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige won't have it any other way. But the fact that there doesn't appear to be as solid of a direction this time around isn't concerning as much as it's unusual.
Regardless, I still trust Marvel and look forward to what they have planned. The MCU has very few duds so preemptively dismissing their newer films isn't necessary.