When the Amazing Spider-Man first debuted in “Amazing Fantasy” #15 back in August 1962, many readers instantly fell in love with Peter Parker. Young readers especially found themselves drawn to the young genius who also was his high school’s social pariah. With just enough teenage drama combined with superheroics, many fans felt they had a character they could relate to.
From love triangles with Betty Brant and Ned Leeds to romances with Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson to his struggle to stay ahead of villains like the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus, the web-slinger’s early days were like an ’80s teen superhero movie before the ’80s or teen movies. Were this another time and place, it would have made sense to have John Hughes — known for classic films like “The Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles” — direct or at least be involved with a “Spider-Man” movie.
In a recent interview with Fandango, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” director Jon Watts discussed how Hughes was one of his primary influences for the film, particularly in relation to Peter’s character and the high school setting. Asked if the film includes direct nods to Hughes, Watts said, “Oh, yes. Definitely. So many.”
“It’s not so much a specific reference – although there are plenty of those, but they’re Easter eggs and I don’t want to spoil them,” he added. “There’s one very direct reference that no one will miss, too. Don’t worry, it’s not Peter Parker dancing in the library and breaking glass or anything. There’s no dancing in this movie. Again, it’s that sincerity — that’s the main thing John Hughes always captured. He always took his characters seriously even though they were 15, 16 or 17, and I wanted to do the same thing. Tell it from their perspective, try to get in their heads and tell you how they feel. As opposed to looking at it as an adult looking back at high school.”
As for his favorite Hughes movie, Watts said, “Of the high school movies… he didn’t direct it, but I like ‘Pretty in Pink.’ She’s from a poor family; Harry Dean Stanton is her dad. I really like that other-side-of-the-tracks kind of a romance. I love ‘Ferris Bueller,’ too. We have a little bit of ‘Weird Science’ in our movie for sure. There are so many great John Hughes movies covering so many different genres. You can pull so much from him.”
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” follows the events of “Captain America: Civil War.” The film, described as “a coming-of-age story,” finds Peter attending his high school for gifted kids, trying to impress his new benefactor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and also dealing with a pesky arch enemy, the Vulture (Michael Keaton).
Directed by Jon Watts (“Clown”), written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein (“Vacation”) and starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Zendaya, Donald Glover and many, many others, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” swings into theaters on July 7, 2017.