Spider-Man: Homecoming star Tom Holland is responding to recent criticism by one-time Mary Jane Watson actress Kirsten Dunst. The actress, who starred in three Spider-Man films opposite Toby Maguire, sees the current iteration of the web slinger as nothing more than a cheap cash grab by the studio.
Following several aborted attempts to get a movie off the ground in the 1990s, Sam Raimi’s 2001 Spider-Man was an important component in the 21st century superhero movie renaissance in which we still currently live. Along with Bryan Singer’s X-Men, Raimi’s Spider-Man was both a critical and financial smash, proving that superhero films could be made with earnest artistic intent and with important things to say. After an even more universally loved sequel, Raimi’s trilogy ended with the disappointing Spider-Man 3. Sony rebooted the series a few years later with Andrew Garfield starring as Peter Parker, but that version of the character never quite took off with audiences or critics. The third time has been the charm, however, as Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was an instant hit when he debuted in Captain America: Civil War, and is currently enjoying solo success with Homecoming.
Dunst was less than enthusiastic about the new Spidey. In an interview with Variety, she expressed her belief that the Spider-Man movies exist for no other reason than cold, cynical profit at this point.
“We made the best ones, so who cares? I’m like, “You make it all you want.” They’re just milking that cow for money. It’s so obvious. You know what I mean?’”
When asked about Dunst’s comments by Movie’n’co UK, Holland made a diplomatic defense of his Spider-Man.
“You know, she’s entitled to her own opinion and I’m not one to judge at all. I definitely am not doing this movie for the money. I mean, it’s a job that I think anyone would do regardless of what you were getting paid, you know? All I know is I had the greatest time on this movie and I absolutely loved it and, you know, if she doesn’t want to go and see it, I don’t really care. I don’t dislike her in any way for what she said and she’s entitled to her own opinion, so it’s all cool.”
Dunst isn’t wrong — studios spend millions of dollars on comic book tentpoles because they want to make money. Yet in an era where comic book movies are capable of everything from the powerful feminist manifesto of Wonder Woman to the bleak western pastiche of Logan — not to mention the incredibly fun John Hughes-esque high school hijinks of Spider-Man: Homecoming — these reboots and continuations can prove to be more than just meaningless cash grabs. Holland’s measured response is classy — hopefully he’ll feel the same way when Spider-Man gets rebooted again in a decade.
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