Spider-Man: Homecoming is already getting rave reactions from folks lucky enough to see it early, and now the film’s stars have taken to New York City to shed some more light on it.
At the movie’s official press conference on Sunday (June 25), actors Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori and Michael Keaton were joined by director Jon Watts and producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal to talk the joys, challenges and funny behind-the-scenes stories that came out of Spider-Man’s big Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. Here’s what we learned.
Tom Holland on great power, great responsibility
When asked about how he handled the responsibility of taking on the role of Spider-Man, Holland cited his biggest inspiration: original Spider-Man actor Tobey Maguire.
“Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man had such a huge impact on me as a kid and I had to keep reminding myself that I was going to have that same impact on kids this generation,” said Holland. “So I really wanted to do them proud and to be a solid role model for them and also make a young fresh version of this character we know so well.”
Jon Watts on making Spidey’s suit
Homecoming features the most high-tech Spidey suit we’ve seen in a movie yet. But according to Watts, developing Peter Parker’s new duds was easy to do after Spider-Man’s introduction in last year’s Captain America: Civil War.
“[The Russo brothers] set up this really great premise that Peter Parker is going to be plucked out of obscurity by Tony Stark and given this high-tech suit, ” said Watts. “So we thought, if Tony Stark built a Spider-Man suit, what could it do that could be so amazing? There’s a bit of precedent in the comics with the Iron Spider suit, so we used that as the inspiration for all the bells and whistles that Tony would put into this thing.”
Keaton on playing Vulture and going from superhero to supervillain
Michael Keaton is already getting huge praise for his portrayal of Adrian Toomes (aka the Vulture), a villain whose plight to provide for his family in rough times has proved especially relatable.
“I’m not really familiar with a lot of the lore, so for me I was trying to catch up. I just felt the simplicity of making this person approachable. [He] has a legitimate gripe and a legitimate argument. It's timely – let’s not talk about why it’s timely,” said Keaton to a laughing crowd.
Keaton is no stranger to superhero films, having taken on the iconic role of Batman in the 1989 Tim Burton film. So which did he prefer – hero or villain?
“I think actors tend to be drawn towards villainous characters,” said Keaton. “Its cliché, but that when you delve into dark side it gets interesting. It’s more iconic and you make a whole lot more dough being the big lead guy, but they’re both fun.”
How Homecoming changes Iron Man
Holland touched on the ways that Homecoming affects the character of Tony Stark, and the fun dynamic it created between himself and Downey Jr.
“He suddenly has someone to think about other than Tony Stark,” said Holland. “One of the reasons he doesn’t want Peter to become an Avenger is because he doesn’t want the responsibility of something happening to Peter on his conscious. It’s a fun back and forth – like a big brother/little brother, dad/son situation.”
Holland on how being a dancer helped him embody Spider-Man
Holland has a background in dancing and gymnastics, which made it a bit easier to slip into the spandex of Spider-Man and try some new things.
“We were able to do things as Peter Parker that they probably [couldn’t] do in the past,” said Holland. “But sometimes they would overestimate my skillset. Jon would say, ‘could you just backflip off that wall and land on that beam?’ I’m like no, Jon, I’m not that good dude!”
Marisa Tomei on being a younger, hipper Aunt May
“I didn’t know what Aunt May looked like until after I signed up” said Tomei to big laughs. The veteran actress later understood the contrast between her portrayal and what we usually see in the comics, but according to Tomei, it all makes sense in this universe.
“She’s his aunt by marriage so she can really be any age,” said a smirking Tomei.
Jacob Batalon on bringing comedy and friendship to Spidey’s world One of the breakout stars of Homecoming is Jacob Batalon, whose portrayal of Peter Parker’s best friend Ned Leeds brings a huge dose of charm and humor to the film. According to the actor, the dynamic between Parker and Leeds wasn’t one they had to fake.
“Tom and I really enjoy each other, so it was easy to translate that into what you guys saw,” said Batalon.
“Thank you Jon, Amy and Kevin for casting a 5’8” brown guy to play a 6’2” blonde dude” said Tony Revolori, a Latino actor who portrays perennial Spidey bully Flash Thompson.
“When you see film there’s not a line of exposition to explain why I look the way I look,” Revolori continued. “That’s the kind of diversity we need in Hollywood right now.”
When asked about the inspiration behind the film’s diversity, producer Amy Pascal simply said "reality," which was met with huge audience cheers.
On making a movie teens can relate to Homecoming puts a big focus on the everyday trials of Peter and his high school friends, who, according to the actors, send an important message to today’s teens.
“The coolest version of yourself is yourself,” said Batalon. “We’re nerds and we love to be smart and that’s okay.”
“We all know what it’s like to go through growing pains and have awkward moments talking to someone you have a crush on,” said Harrier, who plays Peter’s crush Liz. “It’s hard to connect to these superheroes that are completely out of this world. But Spider-Man is first and foremost Peter Parker, who we can all relate to.”
Few characters embody this fearlessness to be themselves like Zendaya’s
Michelle, whose deadpan delivery and rebellious nature was partially inspired by The Breakfast Club’s Ally Sheady.
“I love that she says what everybody’s thinking, and she just doesn’t care,” said Zendaya. “It was fun playing that dry version of myself."
Who was the biggest clown off set?
Shocking no one, the cast said that Batalon was the biggest jokester both on and off set.
“The thing about Jacob is he was done filming, and he just moved in with me for like 6 weeks,” said Holland to big laughs.
“You were talking as if you didn’t want me there,” joked Batalon.
Watts and Holland on the future of Spider-Man in the MCU
Naturally, several attendees asked about Spider-Man’s future adventures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“I’m still getting over the first one, I haven’t thought about the second yet,” said a laughing Holland.
“I really try to think one movie at a time,” said Watts. “[But] I do feel that now that Spider-Man is part of this big crazy universe we can definitely tell some new stories.”
When asked for a tease of the future, Holland had the perfect response:
“Not with Kevin Feige here.”