The partnership between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios is something fans have been clamoring for - so that everyone's favorite Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man could share the screen with other Avengers - since Iron Man introduced the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. With the global success of the MCU, and Sony’s rebooted The Amazing Spider-Man 2's failure to launch its own shared universe, the partnership is welcome news for those who've been unimpressed with the web-slinger’s recent Marvel-less outings.
Tom Holland (Locke, Wolf Hall) is set to pick up the Spider-Man mantle when the character is reintroduced in next year’s Captain America: Civil War. Then, in 2017, the actor will star in the as-yet-untitled reboot, rumored to be The Spectacular Spider-Man, from director Jon Watts (Cop Car).
“There are only so many times you can kill Uncle Ben. I love the idea of making a coming-of-age high school movie. We’re really going to see Peter Parker in high school and get deeper into that side of it. He’s just 15 now.”
There’s been rampant speculation regarding the age of Peter Parker in the MCU, though we’ve known for some time that we’d be getting a younger version of the character. While previous iterations of Spider-Man, in both Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man series, have stuck to the comics template by having Peter gain his powers in high school, he was always shown as an older teen, on the verge of graduation. Now that he’s been confirmed as being 15, we can expect that we’ll see an immature Spidey full of teen angst - one who's been playing the superhero game for a year already, rumor has it.
It’s an interesting move for Marvel, but one that isn’t out of line with the character’s history. Spider-Man has often been portrayed as a high schooler trying to balance life as an awkward teen and as a masked superhero. Framing the story as a coming-of-age saga provides Marvel with a wide variety of possible storylines from which to cull for their movies and present us with a side of the character we’ve never seen on the big screen.
The confirmation that Spider-Man would not be given a traditional introduction was also welcome news. While Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has previously assured audiences we won't have to sit through our third Spider-Man origin story in 15 years, hearing it straight from the director’s mouth is a reassuring win for the franchise. Presenting Spider-Man as an already established absolute serves as yet another way the series can be opened up, narratively speaking.
While we won’t know exactly what kind of Spider-Man we’ll be getting until the character is introduced in Civil War, Watts went onto assure that the 19-year-old Holland will be perfect for the role, citing both his presence and his athleticism.
“Tom was pretty perfect. He’s very athletic. He can actually do a backflip! If he didn’t already capture the spirit of the character, with that on top the kid is Spider-Man.”
Spider-Man’s presence is, of course, a welcome addition to the MCU, and it’s nice to know that his director has such faith in his abilities. Still, it’s unknown how his introduction will be handled, especially considering Spider-Man’s pivotal role in the Civil War comics. While the character was given a not-so-subtle tease in Ant-Man earlier this year, it might be difficult to capture the character’s importance without a proper solo introduction. Assuming that everything goes well for Spidey next year, however, it will be interesting to see just how Marvel handles a coming-of-age story within the MCU.
Captain America: Civil War opens on May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot – July 28, 2017;Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and Inhumans – July 12, 2019.