Spider-Man: Homecoming in theaters July 7.
For the past two decades, Spider-Man has gone through two franchises, neither of them ever had a connection to the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the MCU continuing to ride the giant wave of success, it’s easy to see why Sony may have wanted to be a part of it all. So the two worked out a deal to share the character, and Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man finally joined the MCU in Captain America: Civil War.
Now Spider-Man is ready to make his mark as a superhero in his own standalone film Spider-Man: Homecoming. Based on the title alone, the film and the character are returning to its comic book roots by having Peter Parker (Tom Holland) balancing his responsibilities as a high school student with his duties protecting New York City as the webslinging superhero.
During our chat with producers Amy Pascal and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, we learned about the significance of the deal between Sony and Marvel, why it was so important to have Peter as a high school student, and what makes Tom Holland the perfect Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
As aforementioned, Spider-Man: Homecoming would be the title character’s third franchise in two decades. While most would just roll their eyes that we have gotten three different iterations of the character, this reboot is different because now he is a part of the MCU. The wonderful thing about a character who has existed, like Bond, since the 60’s is that you can inhabit many different personalities from someone who ‘wishes they can be somebody else,’ said Pascal. She added that the producers were treated to a Marvel retreat where they dove deep into the source material as well as “looked into their own hearts and came up with a document of rules of what were the important touchstones.”
But Feige never saw Spider-Man: Homecoming as a reboot or an origins story. A lot of that was already established in Captain America: Civil War. So his approach to it was this is the first Spider-Man movie in the MCU. “So much of his interactions in the comics were with other heroes, and his contrast, to our point of him being relatable, there were all sorts of heroes in the 60’s in the Marvel comic book universe, said Feige. “Suddenly this kid who had to do his homework, and had to get medicine for his aunt, and had a curfew, was trying to interact with all these heroes, and that had never been explored before in a movie.” This makes the film feel entirely fresh, he added. So it was important to introduce him in Captain America: Civil War, that way when we see him in his next film it’s more about him than “how many other Spidey movies have there been?”
The film’s high school setting does separate itself from the older more mature superheroes of the MCU. However, Pascal doesn’t see it that way. “It’s not a high school story but high school is the backdrop,” said Pascal. “I think it’s made the movie really special. Plus, all these movies are getting really big, so it felt like a really good idea to make this movie different.”
Feige agreed. Besides the upcoming one, Feige says “there isn’t one that inhabits this sort of, exuberant youth and enthusiasm.
So this collaboration would not have happened had Sony and Marvel agreed to share the character back in 2015. But that doesn’t make the agreement any less unusual. Three different studios (if you’re including Disney) are sharing one character. “That was the most important thing, and you guys know a lot about studios, they are not big sharers,” said Pascal. “It is the first time that I can think of, and I have been in this business for far too long, that the studios all decided that the character was the most important thing and, if we could make a great Spider-man movie, it was good for all the companies, and all the success, all the stuff, there would be enough for everybody if we made the right movie.”
Both actually learned something from each other during the process of making Spider-Man: Homecoming. For Pascal, she learned “plussing.” “Kevin would get a scene and go, ‘OK, this is pretty good, but how is it gonna better?’ I think that when that is your attitude, that’s your approach, it’s just…good,” said Pascal.
“We treat Spider-man like he’s a real person,” said Feige. “Like he’s a real member of the family, a real person that we know and care about and want the best for.”
On the movie itself, both said to expect some pretty spectacular relationships. “Tom [Holland] sort of, elevates the other performers he’s working with and matches their style,” said Feige. He added, “I’m actually not sure which of those pairings will end up being the audience favorites because right now, I think it’s a tie.”
So the key to finding that chemistry was obviously finding the right actor to play the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. That’s where Tom Holland comes in. During the audition process, the final six actors came in to test with Robert Downey Jr, who was gracious with his time because he knew the importance of bringing Spider-Man into the MCU fold. “Robert [Downey Jr.] goes off book, almost instantly,” said Feige. “He knows the scene, and he begins to riff instantly. Tom, in a very sweet, very funny, very authentic way, began to riff back with him.” That took Downey Jr. off guard. Pascal spoke about how they needed a different Spider-Man, one that has never been seen before. She cites Holland playing Billy Elliot, who is best known for being an acrobat and a dancer. “This kid can move, and he can act in his movements, and that is very very unusual,” said Pascal.
In fact, Feige says there were even times where Holland was showing the stuntmen how to do a couple of the scenes. There were even times where he surprised his co-stars with his athleticism. “during that Chris Evans audition, the script says ‘Spidey flips into scene’ and Tom goes, oh, should I do that? And Evans goes like, ‘oh yeah, yeah you just flip into the scene, kid. No, you just walk into it.’ And he does it, standing flip, jump, flip, land. Even Evans was like, what? What just happened?” Feige recalled.
As for what he loves about Spider-Man, Feige says that anyone of us could be him. “Any one of us could have been randomly bitten by that spider, can put on the mask and be challenged to do the right thing even though it’s not always the easiest thing.”
While the two were unable to give out any huge spoilers, Feige says comic book fans should definitely watch when Spider-Man and Iron Man share a scene together. “There are villains in this film that we’ve never seen in any movie before that are very important to his canon,” said Feige. Pascal went back to the relationships that will be explored. She says that they are “complicated,” “layered,” and shows that “the characters are not archetypes.”