Holland brings levity and a youthful approach to everyone’s favourite superhero as he navigates high school, Tony Stark’s mentorship, and the villainous Vulture.
Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei
July 7, 2017
Tom Holland plays the friendly neighborhood web-slinger in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Exuberant and super friendly, the 21-year-old English actor is the third person to play Marvel Comics’ most popular superhero on the big screen since the turn of the century. The overeager approach to Peter Parker that Holland introduced in Captain America: Civil War offers a much different wall crawler than Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s angstier interpretations.
“I tried to bring a lot of levity to the character, so at every opportunity I got I was trying to crack jokes and be the wise guy,” says Holland over the phone. He beat out the likes of Asa Butterfield and Nat Wolff for the role. “I don’t think he’s very different from what you saw in the Captain America film. I had made such a distinct decision through my audition process and then in shooting Civil War, I feel like Marvel and I had really sort of figured out the direction in which we wanted to take Peter Parker and Spider-Man. So by the time we got to actually shooting Homecoming we were all very prepared to continue what we’d already started.”
Directed by indie film guy and TV satirist Jon Watts (Cop Car, The Onion News Network), Homecoming sees the now Avengers-tested 15-year-old, well, come home to Queens, New York, and high school. Echoes of 1980s John Hughes teen comedies reverberate through these parts of the film, although Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) remains Peter’s guide and enabler in the superhero department while villainy is provided by Michael Keaton’s Vulture and Bokeem Woodbine’s Shocker.
From our archives: Watch Zendaya and her costars in a 2017 interview for Spider-Man: Homecoming
“It was a real trip,” Holland says of working with such famous co-stars, which also includes Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei as Peter’s guardian Aunt May. “I’ve always been a huge fan of Robert and his movies, so the fact that I was in one of his movies was mind-blowing to me. He really was kind of a mentor on set because he’s the godfather of the Marvel Universe. If I ever had a question that I felt no one else could answer, he’d be the most logical person to go to. The amazing thing about Robert is he’s always there, ready to answer the phone and to help out.”
On Keaton, who’s crossing over from playing DC Comics’ Batman nearly three decades ago, Holland says, “We couldn’t have been luckier, you know? We really needed a heavy hitter to come in and play The Vulture and [the character’s real name] Adrian Toomes. Michael just is such a visceral actor who brings so much energy and life to a character. I think he really connected to this, too, because it’s kind of a different side to a villain that we’ve never seen before. Y’know, most villains are psychos or billionaire scientists or gods or monsters; Adrian Toomes is just a regular bloke who isn’t happy with what’s happening in the world and he’s standing up for himself. It’s a very interesting side to a villain.”
“It was very important for Marvel to bring Peter Parker back to a more age-appropriate time in his life. It’s very reassuring for kids to know that a superhero goes through everyday problems just like themselves.”
Peter’s motley assortment of teenage friends are just as crucial to Homecoming’s success. These include Michelle, a new character played by former Disney Channel star Zendaya, whose initial casting was met with some nasty pushback by bigoted fans who didn’t want Peter to have a mixed-race girlfriend.
From our archives: Tom Holland and director Jon Watts in a 2017 interview for Spider-Man: Homecoming
“Michelle is just kind of part of Peter’s group of friends,” Holland explains. “She’s definitely very weird and quirky, she’s incredibly clever and is a complete bookworm. She’s just sort of the perfect kind of fit into Peter’s friendship group. He’s got Ned [Jacob Batalon] who’s the funny, kind of happy-go-lucky guy, Flash [Tony Revolori from The Grand Budapest Hotel] is the flighty one and kind of a bully, then Michelle is kind of the girl in the background who no one dislikes but no one really knows that much about. Zendaya really did bring a fantastic energy to this character that no one’s ever seen before.
“It was very important for Marvel to bring Peter Parker back to a more age-appropriate time in his life,” reckons Holland, acknowledging that the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko comics often revolved around the lad’s high school traumas. “It’s very reassuring for kids to know that a superhero goes through everyday problems just like themselves.”
Are you ready for Avengers: Endgame?
First, get your tickets! Then, book some quality catch-up time. You’ll find all the MCU titles (not still in theatre) at the Cineplex store! Whether you should watch them chronologically or by order of release is one battle you’ll have to take on with your friends.