Spider-Man: Homecoming is a 2017 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man, co-produced by Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios, and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. It is the second Spider-Man film reboot and the 16th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Jon Watts from a screenplay by the writing teams of Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, Watts and Christopher Ford, and Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker / Spider-Man, alongside Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, and Robert Downey Jr. In the film, Peter Parker tries to balance high school life with being Spider-Man while facing the Vulture (Keaton).
In February 2015, Marvel Studios and Sony reached a deal to share the film rights for Spider-Man, integrating the character into the established MCU. The following June, Holland was cast as the title character, and Watts was hired to direct. This was followed shortly by the hiring of Daley and Goldstein. In April 2016, the film’s title was revealed, along with additional cast, including Downey in his MCU role of Tony Stark / Iron Man. Principal photography began in June 2016 at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayette County, Georgia, and continued in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York City. The other screenwriters were revealed during filming, which concluded in Berlin in October 2016. The production team made efforts to differentiate the film from previous Spider-Man films.
Spider-Man: Homecoming premiered in Hollywood on June 28, 2017, and was released in the United States on July 7, as part of Phase Three of the MCU . Homecoming grossed over $880 million worldwide, becoming the second-most-successful Spider-Man film and the sixth-highest-grossing film of 2017. It received praise for the light tone, its focus on Parker’s high school life, and the performances, particularly of Holland and Keaton. Two sequels have been released: Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) and Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). A new trilogy of live-action films from Sony and Marvel Studios is in development.
Following the November 2014 hacking of Sony’s computers, emails between Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal and president Doug Belgrad were released, stating that Sony wanted Marvel Studios to produce a new trilogy of Spider-Man films while Sony retained “creative control, marketing, and distribution”. Discussions between Sony and Marvel broke down, and Sony planned to proceed with its own slate of Spider-Man films. However, in February 2015, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios announced that they would release a new Spider-Man film, with Kevin Feige and Pascal producing (the latter through her company Pascal Pictures). The character would first appear in an earlier Marvel Cinematic Universe film, later revealed to be Captain America: Civil War (2016). Marvel Studios would explore opportunities to integrate MCU characters into future Spider-Man films, which Sony Pictures would continue to finance, distribute, and have final creative control over. Both studios have the ability to terminate the agreement at any point, and no money was exchanged with the deal. However, a small adjustment was made to a 2011 deal that gave Marvel full control of Spider-Man’s merchandising rights, in exchange for a one-time payment of $175 million to Sony and paying up to $35 million for each future Spider-Man film rather than receiving their previous five percent of a Spider-Man film’s revenue—Marvel could now reduce their $35 million payment if the co-produced film grossed more than $750 million. Marvel Studios still received five percent of first dollar gross for the film. Lone Star Funds also co-financed the film with Sony, via its LSC Film Corporation deal, covering 25 percent of the $175 million budget, while Columbia Pictures officially served as co-producer with Marvel Studios. Sony also paid Marvel Studios an undisclosed producer fee.
Marvel had been working to add Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe since at least October 2014, when they announced their slate of Phase Three films, with Feige saying, “Marvel doesn’t announce anything officially until it’s set in stone. So we went forward with that Plan A in October, with the Plan B being, if [the deal] were to happen with Sony, how it would all shift. We’ve been thinking about [the Spider-Man film] as long as we’ve been thinking about Phase Three.” Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, producers for The Amazing Spider-Man series, were set to serve as executive producers, with neither director Marc Webb nor actor Andrew Garfield returning for the new film. Sony was reportedly looking for an actor younger than Garfield to play Spider-Man, with Logan Lerman and Dylan O’Brien considered front-runners. In March 2015, Drew Goddard was being considered to write and direct the film, while O’Brien said he had not been approached for the role. Goddard, who was previously attached to a Sony film based on the Sinister Six, later said he declined to work on the new film as he thought he “didn’t really have an idea” for it and struggled with the idea of working on a new film after spending a year working on the Sinister Six film and being in that mindset. The following month, while promoting Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Feige said the character of Peter Parker would be around 15 to 16 years old in the film, which would not be an origin story, since “there have been two retellings of that origin in the last [thirteen years, so] we are going to take it for granted that people know that, and the specifics”. Parker’s Uncle Ben is still referenced in the film, but not by name. There was some discussion to include a direct reference to Ben when Peter is getting ready for his homecoming by the revelation that his wardrobe consisted of Ben’s clothes, but the writers desisted because they felt that the moment veered away from Parker’s character arc and made Ben’s death feel like a “throwaway line”. Later in April, Nat Wolff, Asa Butterfield, Tom Holland, Timothée Chalamet, and Liam James were under consideration by Sony and Marvel to play Spider-Man, with Holland and Butterfield as the front-runners.
In May 2015, Jonathan Levine, Ted Melfi, Jason Moore, the writing team of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, and Jared Hess were being considered to direct the film. Butterfield, Holland, Judah Lewis, Matt Lintz, Charlie Plummer, and Charlie Rowe screen tested for the lead role against Robert Downey Jr., who portrays Tony Stark / Iron Man in the MCU, for “chemistry”. The six were chosen out of a search of over 1,500 actors to test in front of Feige, Pascal, and the Russo brothers—the directors of Captain America: Civil War. Lintz would later be cast as Bruno Carrelli in the Marvel Studios Disney+ series Ms. Marvel (2022). By early June 2015, Levine and Melfi had become the favorites to direct the film, with Daley and Goldstein, and Jon Watts also in consideration, while Feige and Pascal narrowed the actors considered to Holland and Rowe, with both screen testing with Downey again. Holland also tested with Chris Evans, who portrays Steve Rogers / Captain America in the MCU, and emerged as the favorite. On June 23, Marvel and Sony officially announced that Holland would star as Spider-Man and that Watts would direct the film. The Russos “were pretty vocal about who [sic] [they] wanted for the part”, pushing to cast an actor close to the age of Peter Parker to differentiate from the previous portrayals. They also praised Holland for having a dancing and gymnastics background. Watts was able to read the Civil War script, talk with the Russos, and was on set for the filming of Spider-Man’s scenes in that film. He was able to “see what they were doing with it” and provide “ideas about this and that”, including what Parker’s bedroom and wardrobe looked like “so that my movie transitions seamlessly with theirs”. On joining the MCU and directing the film, Watts said he was excited to explore the “ground level” of the MCU, a world where characters like the Avengers exist but have only been depicted in previous films at “the Penthouse level of the Marvel world”.
Before getting the job of director, Watts created images of Nick Fury as Parker’s mentor in the story in early “mood reels” saying, “I don’t know what the situation would be, but that would be a person he’d want to get in trouble with.” Feige said the films of John Hughes would be a major influence and that Parker’s personal growth and development would be just as important as his role as Spider-Man. He noted that “at that age, in high school, everything feels like life or death”. He also said that the film hoped to use one of Spider-Man’s rogues that have not been seen in film yet, and that filming would begin in June 2016. In July 2015, it was reported that Marisa Tomei had been offered the role of May Parker, Peter’s aunt. It was also revealed that Daley and Goldstein, after missing out on the director role, had begun negotiations to write the screenplay, and were given three days to present Marvel with their pitch; both confirmed shortly after that they had reached a deal to write the screenplay. The pair had proposed a take on the character that was “diametrically opposed” to the previous Spider-Man films, creating a laundry list of all the elements seen in those films and actively trying to avoid re-using them. They chose to focus on the high school aspects of the character rather than the “drama and weight of the tragedy that leads to the origin of Spider-Man”. They felt this would differentiate him from the other MCU superheroes as well. Daley said the film was about Parker “finding his place” in the MCU, with the writing team wanting the film 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”, such as a fear of heights when he has to scale the Washington Monument. Daley noted, “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.” The writers also wanted to avoid the skyscrapers of Manhattan because of how often they were used in the other films, and instead wrote the character into locations such as “the suburbs, on a golf course, the Staten Island Ferry, Coney Island, and even Washington, D.C.” One of the first sequences they pitched was “seeing Spider-Man attached to a plane 10,000 feet up in the air, where he had absolutely no safety net. … you’re familiar with the sort of areas he’s been in, [so] why not turn it on its head and make it something different that people haven’t seen before?” The pair conceded that the film took a more grounded, “low-stakes” approach than previous films, which avoided having to explain why the Avengers were not helping, since a world-threatening problem would logically require the “big guys”.
Marvel encouraged Daley and Goldstein to express their own sense of humor in the script, with Daley saying, “When you’re seeing the world through the eyes of a fun, funny kid, you can really embrace that voice, and not give him the cookie-cutter one-liners that you’re so accustomed to hearing from Peter Parker.” Inspired by their experiences working on sitcoms, the writers also looked to create “a network of strong characters” to surround Parker with in the film. In October 2015, Watts said he was looking to make the film a coming-of-age story to see the growth of Parker, citing Can’t Buy Me Love (1987), Say Anything… (1989), and Almost Famous (2000) as some of his favorite films in that genre. It was this aspect of the film that had initially got Watts interested in directing it, as he had already been looking to make a coming-of-age story when he heard that the new Spider-Man would be younger than previous incarnations. Watts re-read the original Spider-Man comics in preparation for the film, and “came to a new realization” about the character’s original popularity, feeling that he introduced a new perspective to the comics that had already established “a crazy spectacular Marvel Universe … to give a regular person’s perspective on it”. He felt that this was also the responsibility of this film since it had to introduce Spider-Man to the already established MCU. Specific comics that Watts noted as potential influences were Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. In December, Oliver Scholl signed on to be the production designer for the film.
- Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man:
A 15-year-old who gained spider-like abilities after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal were impressed by Holland’s performances in The Impossible (2012), Wolf Hall (2015), and In the Heart of the Sea (2015). Holland took inspiration from previous Spider-Man actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, but also hoped to deliver something “new and exciting” with his take on the character, the first to focus on Parker as “dealing with everyday problems that a 15-year-old deals with as well as trying to save the city.” Holland attended The Bronx High School of Science in the Bronx for a few days to prepare for the role, where other students did not believe he was cast as Spider-Man. Holland felt this would carry over well to the film, where other characters do not suspect Parker of being Spider-Man. It took 25 to 45 minutes for Holland to get into costume, depending on if he had to wear a stunt harness underneath the suit. Holland initially signed for six MCU films, including three Spider-Man films.
- Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes / Vulture:
A salvager-turned-arms-trafficker after his company is forced out of business. He uses a suit with mechanical wings forged from Chitauri technology. Toomes is revealed to be the father of Liz, Parker’s love interest. Director Jon Watts wanted him to be a “regular guy”, closer to John C. Reilly’s Nova Corpsman Rhomann Dey from Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) than other MCU villains like Thanos and Ultron, to go with Spider-Man as a “regular kid who becomes a superhero”. This helped avoid Toomes drawing the attention of the Avengers, and provided someone that Parker would be able to defeat while still learning to use his abilities. Keaton said Toomes was not completely villainous, as “there’s parts of him that you go, ‘You know what? I might see his point.'” Co-producer Eric Hauserman Carroll likened Toomes to “the dark Tony Stark”, a “businessman with a family. He wants to look out for his kids … He doesn’t have these big delusions of grandeur where he wants to take over the world, or replace the government, or even defeat the Avengers or anything. He just wants his shot at the good life.” Keaton was not hesitant to portray another comic book character after playing Batman in Tim Burton’s 1989 film and its 1992 sequel.
- Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan:
The former head of security for Stark Industries and Tony Stark’s driver and bodyguard. Hogan is “looking after” Parker in the film, with Favreau saying that Parker “needs someone to help him out”. Favreau previously portrayed Hogan in the Iron Man films, having also directed the first two of those, and described returning as just an actor as fun, allowing him “to maintain the relationship with the MCU … Especially when the filmmakers are taking care of you, and taking care of the characters and the story.”
- Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts: Tony Stark’s fiancée and the CEO of Stark Industries.
- Zendaya as Michelle:
One of Parker’s classmates, also known as “MJ”. Zendaya, calling her awkward but intellectual, said that “she just feels like she doesn’t need to talk to people” because of her intelligence. She added that it was “refreshing” that Michelle was weird and different, feeling that “a lot of young people—especially young women—can relate to that.” Watts likened the character to Ally Sheedy’s Allison Reynolds from The Breakfast Club (1985) or Linda Cardellini’s Lindsay Weir from Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000). The character is not a direct adaptation of Mary Jane Watson, but was given the initials “MJ” to “remind you of that dynamic”, with the writers “plant[ing] the seeds in this movie” for comparisons to Watson, but also making her “wholly different”. Feige added that Michelle is “not obsessed with” Parker like Watson is at times in the comics, “she’s just observant”. Her full name, Michelle Jones-Watson, was revealed in the sequel Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021).
- Donald Glover as Aaron Davis:
A criminal looking to purchase weapons from Toomes. Davis is the uncle of Miles Morales, an inheritor of the Spider-Man mantle, in the comics. Glover voiced Morales in the Ultimate Spider-Man television series, and campaigned to portray Spider-Man in a film in 2010. Watts was aware of the campaign, and as soon as he was hired he asked Feige about casting Glover. The role was designed as “a surprise treat for fans”, with Davis mentioning his nephew to set up Morales potentially appearing in a future MCU film. Watts insisted Glover accept the part, assuring him that if he declined the offer, he would have scrapped Davis from the film.
- Jacob Batalon as Ned:
Parker’s best friend, who is a “complete gamer”. Batalon described him as “the quintessential best guy, the best man, the number two guy, the guy in the chair” for Parker. Marvel used Ned Leeds as a basis for the character, who does not have a last name in the script or film, but essentially created their own character with him. Carroll said that Ned and other characters in the film are composites of several of their favorites from Spider-Man comics, notably Ganke Lee, who is Miles Morales’ best friend in Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man. He is given the last name “Leeds” in the sequel Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), which was confirmed in No Way Home.
- Laura Harrier as Liz: A senior, Parker’s love interest, and Toomes’ daughter, with a “type-A” personality.
- Tony Revolori as Flash:
Parker’s rival and classmate. It was noted that the character is generally depicted as a white bully in the comics; the Guatemalan American actor received death threats upon his casting. Revolori worked hard “to do him justice”, as he is an important character to the fans. Rather than being a physically imposing jock, Flash Thompson was re-imagined as “a rich, smug kid” to reflect modern views of bullying, by crafting him more into a social media bully and rival for Parker opposed to a jock; this depiction was largely informed by Holland’s visit to The Bronx High School of Science. Revolori said that Flash has to work hard to match Parker’s intelligence, which is “one of the reasons he doesn’t like Peter. Everyone else seems to like Peter, so he’s like, why don’t they like me like they like him?” Revolori gained 60 lb (27 kg) for the role.
- Bokeem Woodbine as Herman Schultz / Shocker: An accomplice of Toomes’ who is the second person to use modified, vibro-blast shooting versions of Brock Rumlow’s gauntlets.
- Tyne Daly as Anne Marie Hoag: The head of the U.S. Department of Damage Control.
- Marisa Tomei as May Parker:
Peter’s aunt. First reports of Tomei’s casting caused backlash on social media, with comic book fans opining that the actress was “too young and attractive to portray the character”, especially after the character had previously been depicted by actresses older than Tomei. Regarding the casting, Captain America: Civil War (2016) co-writer Stephen McFeely said that, for the MCU, they were trying to make Peter “as naturalistic as possible…That’s partly why his aunt isn’t 80 years old; if she’s the sister of his dead mother, why does she have to be two generations ahead?” Carroll added that the creative team was looking for more of a “big sister” or someone closer in age to Peter Parker in the casting process. After researching the character, Tomei did make “a case to age me up, but no they didn’t do it”. Tomei felt there was a “blank slate” from which she could develop the character, and talked to Watts about May being “a community organizer or invested in the neighborhood” to indicate where Peter’s values come from.
- Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man:
A self-described genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist with electromechanical suits of armor of his own invention who is Parker’s mentor and the creator of the U.S. Department of Damage Control. Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group chairman Tom Rothman noted that, beyond the commercial advantage of featuring Downey in the film, the inclusion of Stark was important due to the relationship established between him and Parker in Captain America: Civil War. Watts noted that after Stark’s actions in Civil War, introducing Parker to life as an Avenger, there are “a lot of repercussions to that. Is it a first step towards Tony as some sort of mentor figure? Is he comfortable with that?” Co-writer Jonathan Goldstein compared Stark to Ethan Hawke’s father character in Boyhood (2014).
July 7, 2017
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