Tom Holland may be the third actor to play the Web-Slinger in a major Hollywood blockbuster, but he was the first to win the part by winning over his superhero costars with an acrobatic audition.
In a recent interview with EW, "Captain America: Civil War" directors Joe and Anthony Russo and headliner Chris Evans discussed Holland's first reading for the role, and the way Holland's gymnast background made him uniquely suited to play the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Spider-Man.
According to Captain America himself, Holland's screen test set him apart from rivals for the role, right at the jump. The actors were gathered for a reading, and as Evans explained, "As the scene opens, [the script] says 'Spider-Man flips in and lands.' And Tom was really like, 'Should I do that?'"
Holland, a standout gymnast who made news before the role became official by posting videos of himself doing all manner of flips to Instagram, was apparently eager to strut his Spider-stuff, but Marvel executives in the room blanched, for fear of injury to the young actor.
"Marvel doesn't want to see this kid break his neck, so everyone from [the studio] was like, 'Don't! Don't!" Evans said, explaining that Holland was eventually egged on by Joe Russo. "And he did it -- and stuck it!" Evans said.
It was an impressive enough feat to even discourage the Star-Spangled Avenger, who joked that by displaying such real-world talent, "He bummed me out."
Joe and Anthony Russo went on to describe the way that the audition inspired Marvel mainstay Robert Downey Jr. to take on a mentorship role with Holland, championing his value to the franchise and taking particular care to work with the young actor during the first scene that the two characters of Tony Stark and Peter Parker meet.
According to Joe Russo, during rehearsal of that pivotal "Civil War" moment, Downey worked with Holland to arrange blocking and to "help Tom create a very star-making performance in that scene just by working through the logic with him."
Now, fans worldwide have their chance to see what the Russos, Evans, and Downey did, as Holland's Spider-Man can be seen in Marvel's epic thirteenth onscreen installment, along with a horde of other heroes. But before the "thwip" came the flip.
"As important as it is to capture the essence of the character on an emotional level, there's an incredible physicality to these characters," Joe Russo explained.
Tom Holland's Spider-Man can be seen in theaters now, in the Russo's "Captain America: Civil War," and he will return in "Spider-Man: Homecoming," due in theaters July 6, 2017, from Marvel Studios and Sony.