Properties like Spider-Man come with an enormous amount of pressure, due to the sheer amount of history behind the character in both comic book and live-action movie form. With the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, director Jon Watts has inherited the blessed (although some would also argue cursed) mantle of taking on a live-action Spider-Man movie, and fans’ Spidey Senses will be maxed out to judge his film when it debuts in July.
Watts appears to be taking a back-to-basics approach with Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) – who of course, made his auspicious debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: Civil War. For his first movie as a headliner in the MCU, Watts insists that the key to his Spidey story is originality.
In an interview with Deadline at CinemaCon 2017, Watts said:
“The challenge is to figure out how to make this new and fresh and feel vital. That is why you go to the movies, to see stories you haven’t seen before and that is what we are trying to do with this. The best coming of age movies get you into the head of the main character and make you feel the way they do. I wanted to keep it in his world, on his level.”
Unlike directors Sam Raimi and Marc Webb’s iterations of the webslinger, Watt’s Spidey is a greenhorn at age 15. Watts believes Holland easily taps into the character’s sensibilities with a youthful spirit, even though he’s 20 in real life:
“Tom embodies the character so perfectly, the sincerity, and the enthusiasm and the intelligence, and he can do a back flip.”
While Holland is a relative newcomer, Watts also had the benefit of working with seasoned screen veterans in the film like Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei. Keaton, of course, is particularly admired in the superhero genre because of his expectation-defying performance in Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, and Watts says the actor’s experience on Spider-Man: Homecoming, where the Birdman Oscar nominee takes flight as Adrian Toomes/The Vulture, proved to invaluable:
“He’s a fantastic guy. I had an absolute whirlwind working with him. He gave me very solid advice from his time on working on Batman and it really did influence the rest of the shoot.”
Watts’ enthusiasm for Spider-Man: Homecoming seems quite sincere, given that the film is the first big commercial project for the Cop Car filmmaker. Thanks to Holland’s scene-stealing debut in Captain America: Civil War, Watts no doubt benefited by the comfort of knowing he has the right actor in place to play the coveted role of Spidey, and the inclusion of Downey and Keaton in the movie no doubt solidified the filmmaker’s confidence. For this new beginning to the character, Homecoming seems to have found the perfect home for Spidey and a director with fresh ideas in Watts.