Elizabeth Banks Aimed For Kirsten Dunst’s Role in Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man Trilogy Before She Landed Another Smaller Role Instead

Elizabeth Banks’ near-miss casting in a titular role in Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man landed her a different role instead.

elizabeth banks, kirsten dunst, tobey maguire's spider-man


  • Elizabeth Banks initially aimed for the role of Mary Jane Watson in Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy.
  • Despite her aspirations, Banks lost the role as it later went to Kirsten Dunst, who starred alongside Tobey Maguire.
  • Banks ultimately landed a smaller role in the films and her versatile talent made an impact in the Spider-Man universe.
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Considering Marvel and DC’s vast universe, there are several characters who are yet to make onscreen appearances. But among the few who made their way to the silver screen and TV shows, Spider-Man became the most renowned and appreciated superhero. Thus, when the character first appeared onscreen under Sam Raimi’s direction, several actors tried their luck during auditions.

Elizabeth Banks as Betty Brant in Spider-Man
Elizabeth Banks in Spider-Man | Marvel Studios

One among the crowd of A-listers who hoped to crack the audition for a leading role in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was legendary actress Elizabeth Banks. According to reports, Banks auditioned to play Mary Jane Watson in the original Spider-Man movie. Unfortunately, as the role went to Kirsten Dunst, the actress had to settle for a smaller role in the franchise.

Elizabeth Banks Recalled Auditioning for Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man 

There’s no denying that Marvel and DC movies have often witnessed a wave of auditions, where not just newcomers but even A-listers tried their luck for a breakthrough. Similarly, The Hunger Games actress Elizabeth Banks had once auditioned for the role of the leading lady, Mary Jane Watson in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man movies.


Despite being a newcomer in the industry back when Marvel was looking for actors to appear in their first live-action Spider-Man movie, Elizabeth Banks recalled appearing for an audition. Speaking with Variety to celebrate Spider-Man’s 20th anniversary, Banks vividly recalled the audition and what went wrong, that let her miss the big-time opportunity.

Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man from Spider-Man (2002)
Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man (2002) | Marvel Studios

I was brand-new in the business when the audition came across my desk. I auditioned for Mary Jane Watson, actually. I remember being told to wear flat shoes. I wore my hair in, like, pigtails probably or something ridiculous, to feel like I was in high school.

After Elizabeth Banks lost the role of Mary Jane Watson alongside Tobey Maguire‘s Peter Parker, the part went to Kirsten Dunst, who appeared throughout the Spider-Man trilogy. However, despite losing the titular role in the franchise, it did not end Banks’ journey with the Spider-Man universe.

Elizabeth Banks Went on to be Cast as Betty Brant in Tobey Maguire’s Movie

Although she originally auditioned to play Mary Jane Watson in the Spider-Man trilogy, Elizabeth Banks later landed a smaller role in the movies. Losing the titular role in the films, Banks, who was a relative newcomer in the industry, settled for the smaller role of Betty Brant in the franchise. While the lead role would have offered her a definite breakthrough, being a part of the Marvel Universe also served its purpose for Banks.


Elizabeth Banks’ character Betty Brant worked as a secretary for J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) in The Daily Bugle. The actress thereafter made brief appearances in all three films in Sam Raimi‘s original Spider-Man trilogy. While it is fascinating to wonder how Banks would have looked as the MJ to Peter Parker, it certainly would have changed the career trajectory for both Kirsten Dunst and her.

Elizabeth Banks as Betty Brant
Elizabeth Banks as Betty Brant | Marvel Studios

Meanwhile, as Kirsten Dunst became a titular part of the Spider-Man franchise for playing the role of the iconic MJ in the first-ever live-action Spider-Man movie, Elizabeth Banks went on to venture from acting to becoming a prominent producer and director in Hollywood. Banks embodied iconic characters like Gail Abernathy-McKadden in Pitch Perfect.

The original Spider-Man trilogy is available on Disney+. 


Written by Krittika Mukherjee

Articles Published: 1706

Krittika is a News Writer at FandomWire with 2 years of prior experience in lifestyle and web content writing. With her previous works available on HubPages and Medium, she has woven over 1600 stories with us, about fan-favorite actors, movies, and shows. Post-graduate in Journalism and Honors-graduate in English Literature, when this art enthusiast isn't crafting your next favorite article, she finds her escapism in coffee, fiction, and the Wizarding World.