Which Spider-Man Is Stronger: Tobey Maguire or Tom Holland?
Although Spider-Man started as a comic book character, he has made his way to live-action video several times. I remember seeing him appear on The Electric Company in the 1970s for a short skit; it was cool but a little odd. In the modern era of live-action Spider-Man movies, we had the Tobey Maguire version, followed by Andrew Garfield’s turn, and finally the Tom Holland version that appears in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. We got a chance to see all three in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which was great, plus a good excuse to answer the question of whether MJ could really hang on during one of Spidey’s swings.
But now it is time to ask an even tougher question: Which version of Spider-Man is the strongest? Let's compare the Maguire version in 2004’s Spider-Man 2 to the Holland version in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, since they perform similar actions: a test of strength that involves using Spidey’s webs to restrain a moving vehicle. Maguire’s Spider-Man stops a runaway subway train, and Holland’s uses webs to hold a splitting ferry together. (It would have been great to include Garfield’s version in this comparison, but there’s just not a scene that shows a similar feat of strength.)
Here's the situation in Maguire’s Spider-Man 2, which you can watch in this clip: After a battle with a bad guy, Spider-Man finds himself at the front of an out-of-control subway train. There are a bunch of people on the train, so he needs to save them. He attempts to slow the train by jamming his feet down onto the track, but that doesn't work. So he shoots some webs at the buildings on both sides of the track and holds on. The webs stretch and—spoiler alert—the plan works. Spidey stops the train.
If we estimate the force required to stop this train, that will also be an estimate of Maguire's strength.
Let's start with some physics concepts. Suppose I have an object with a mass (m) moving with a velocity (v). If you apply a force to this object, it will experience an acceleration based on Newton's second law, which states that the net force is equal to the product of its mass and acceleration (Fnet = m × a). In this case, that object is a train, and the force is the backwards-pushing force from Spider-Man's webs, which he is holding onto.
If I estimate the mass of the train and find the acceleration, I can calculate that force. We define acceleration as the rate of change of velocity. As an equation, it looks like this: