Yesterday it was announced that Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi have left the production of Spider-Man 4, opening the door for a younger actor to put on the blue and red spandex. But who can continue the success of the $2.5 billion franchise?

First let's discuss the new direction of the fourth movie. While it may seem odd that a "prequel" can be written, when Peter Parker is bitten by the radioactive spider in the first Spider-Man movie, there is a loophole.

Marvel has a separate timeline featuring Spider-Man titled "Ultimate Spider-Man." In this version Peter Parker is 15 when he is first bitten and becomes the titular superhero while still in high school. He doesn't have as much strength as the original Spider-Man due to his age, so he has to rely on his speed and reflexes. Also, don't be surprised if Samuel L. Jackson shows up, as his version of Nick Fury is from the Ultimate universe - he's signed with Marvel for nine more movie appearances, but just a cameo would work here.

The largest problem from the production will be getting an actor that's not going to "outgrow" them. Getting a young man to play Spider-man could be a problem if said star grows a foot during shooting.

On to the candidates!

Freddie Highmore: Physically he fits the bill perfectly and would still be an acceptable age to play the role by the time shooting begins. He's already shown skill with hiding his British accent in movies like Astro Boy, so that shouldn't take him out of the running.

Emile Hirsch: While he's 24, the 5'7 actor is slight enough to still play a teen (and we know there are much older actors that have played high school students in the past). The toughest problem with Emile is that he's largely a dramatic actor suited for mature roles - Speed Racer notwithstanding. Also, he's supposed to play Hamlet in 2011, so will he be available?

Josh Hutcherson: While he definitely could play the role, availability is also a problem with Hutcherson. He definitely likes to work, having 24 minor or major roles since 2002. He also already has four movies coming up, one of which he's the executive producer. But Sony should be able to convince him to squeeze in a huge role between Red Dawn and a possible Journey to the Center of the Earth sequel.

Chace Crawford: After Footloose, Chace should be available to keep clean-shaven (he's 24). But at that advanced age (do you feel old yet?), the possibility of sequels could be out the window.

Taylor Lautner: He's already tied to one huge franchise, so can comic fans - who have loathed Twilight and its fans for storming their conventions - accept a werewolf as one of comic's greatest characters?

Sony could also tap a relatively unknown star to headline the re-boot, but the studio is looking for a good return on investment after grossing $2.5 billion on the first three movies.

Let us know what you think - who should play a teenage Spider-Man?

Story by Casey Johnson contributing writer