Writing partners Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley has talked about their decision to highlight Peter’s struggle to master his powers – resulting in some nail-biting scenes in Spider-Man: Homecoming, including the Washington Monument incident. In the sequence, Spider-Man finds his (high) schoolmates trapped in the building’s elevator, prompting him to climb the structure from the outside in an effort to save them. However, rather than feeling heroic and brave, the young hero is overwhelmed by just how tall the building is. This alone makes for a fresher take on a familiar superhero scenario.
Goldstein and Daley, who only had three days to create their Homecoming pitch, explained that they were set on depicting this version of Spider-Man as someone who has yet to fully understand the extent of his skills set. While Homecoming skips the traditional origins story for Spider-Man (though there are references to his origins in the film), it’s made clear that Peter has only been handling his superpowers for a matter of months – something that explains his inexperience when he suits up in the movie.
In an interview with THR, Goldstein and Daley explained how important it was for them to show the evolution of Peter’s state-of-mind in becoming a real superhero. Goldstein pointed out that highlighting his struggles and fears makes it more believable – given that Peter is still a young teenager, who was accidentally gifted with extraordinary capabilities:
“We wanted the movie to focus on him coming to terms with his new abilities and not yet being good with them, and carrying with him some real human fears and weaknesses, like a fear of heights, because nobody ever dealt with that before. You just sort of assumed, “He gets bitten by a spider, he’s totally comfortable on top of tall buildings,” but why did that have to be the case?”
Daley further explained that by building up Peter/Spider-Man in this way, it allows him to have a better character trajectory in the long run – something that is more interesting than just presenting him as a fully-fledged superhero in the MCU, from the get-go:
“Also, when you start small, it gives you such a place to go. Even within the context of this movie, I don’t think you would feel that fear of heights or even the vertigo the audience feels in that scene if you establish him as swinging from skyscrapers at the top of the movie. We really wanted to dive into the evolution of this character and spend some time in those early stages, because even though it isn’t this origin story where he’s bitten by a spider, which we’ve seen a million times, it is sort of an origin story of him finding his place in the Marvel Universe.”
Throughout Homecoming, Peter’s amateurity is played up to comedic effect – from his Ferris Bueller’s Day Off-inspired backyard run to Aaron Davis (Donald Glover) giving him the pep talk about upping his interogating game. Seeing how he continues to grapple and push forward despite his struggles, provides the opportunity for a greater narrative pay-off to Peter’s arc in Homecoming.
Peter’s inexperience in Spider-Man: Homecoming is also on par with what Marvel is actually going for the third incarnation of the iconic character – young and still a little bit naive. His over-eagerness to prove himself to Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) almost costs him his life multiple times, but Peter eventually learns his lesson about the real essence of being a hero. Where he goes from here (with his next onscreen appearance in Avengers: Infinity War) will be all the more interesting to watch, for it.
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