You know the story – boy gets bit by radioactive spider, boy becomes your friendly neighbourhood web-slinger. But while other Spider-Man movies have been origin stories, romances and tragedies, none have been a coming-of-age tale. And that’s very much what Spider-Man: Homecoming is about. This time around, Peter Parker is a 15-year-old, nerdy, excitable high school student.
When Sony and Marvel first approached director Jon Watts, he says it was “perfect timing because I had been working on my own high school coming-of-age movie that I wanted to make, so I had been watching all kinds of high school movies and I’d been writing this stuff so I was able to sort of speak to that genre and come up with some ideas and apply things I’d already been working on to how they would apply to Spider-Man.”
Homecoming sees Tom Holland’s Spider-Man – who made his debut in Captain America: Civil War as Tony Stark’s new sort-of protégée – take on Michael Keaton’s Vulture while learning what it really means to be a superhero. It’s a grounded, fun take on the MCU.
“We’ve seen the penthouse version of this world, and this is now the ground level version,” Watts explains. Watts took the same approach when getting Keaton on board to play the Vulture. “I think he really liked the idea of building this ground level villain who starts as a regular guy and becomes something more than that. That was always the idea – if Peter is a ground level superhero, then let’s show what a ground level supervillain might look like.”
Watts giggles with glee whenever he’s asked about Keaton’s performance. “He’s so great. It’s so fun to watch him be a bad guy. And when it’s him versus Peter Parker, you feel like Peter doesn’t really stand a chance.”
Holland’s Spider-Man is also joined by Zendaya as Michelle. “She’s like my Ally Sheedy from Breakfast Club,” Watts says. “I wanted to have a weirdo, smart outsider to put the pressure on Peter, who is trying so hard to keep his identity secret.”
The film boasts an enormous cast of high school characters. “I wanted to make sure I was building this ensemble cast of the kids in the high school and the teachers too where we could go somewhere with that… It had to have that sort of depth where we can tell a completely different story in that same world and it would still be compelling.”
Perhaps most potentially intimidating of all for Watts was the presence of both Robert Downey Jnr and Jon Favreau in the cast – the men who essentially launched the MCU with Iron Man. But Watts was genuinely thrilled to have them on board. “Jon did everything possible to help me out and to have the director of Iron Man – with Iron Man! – it couldn’t be better. Jon’s such a great guy, just overall. In every way.”
Spider-Man: Homecoming is in cinemas from 5 July. Get all the latest superhero news with every issue of SciFiNow.