In Marvel Comics' Spider-Man universe, high school-era Flash Thompson has been portrayed as a stereotypical jock-type bully who won’t leave Peter Parker alone. In Spider-Man: Homecoming , however, Flash has taken on a slightly different form. Played by Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel), this version of Flash has been updated as more of a rival whose money can’t help him best Peter in the classroom, leaving him to become more of a cyber bully than a physical threat.
CBR spoke with Revolori about how the new, highly anticipated film changes Flash into a modern day foil for our young hero during the film’s press junket in New York City. In our interview, he also talked about why his character dislikes Peter in the first place, what it’s been like joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how he turned the negative fan response to his casting into fuel for him to be the best Flash Thompson he can be.
CBR: Were you familiar with Flash Thompson before this role, or did you have to research him after receiving the part?
Tony Revolori: I was familiar with the character. I knew basics of who he was and what he did and, of course watching the Spider-Man movies of old, what he was. Joe Manganiello played him perfectly, and Chris Zylka as well. So I knew of him, but I definitely delved deeper and figured out more of his backstory and what happens to him in the future and everything. It was fun to research and think about, but I realized that this is also the high school version of him and none of that stuff has passed, or probably will ever come to pass, so in my mind I just tried to make it as fresh of a Flash as I could, which I hopefully succeeded in.
It is a different Flash than we've seen in past films. Can you talk a bit about those changes and why this update is fitting for Spider-Man: Homecoming?
I think it's less about fitting for Spider-Man: Homecoming and more fitting into nowadays culture. We have social media bullies, and that's kind of what Jon [Watts] and I talked about making him. If you met a social media bully and that was an actual person, what would he be like? Why would he be like that? I kind of tried to make him that, as opposed to a jock. We wanted to make him more contemporary and more of a rival instead of an actual bully. I tried to come up with a fresh take on it, and hopefully people will enjoy it.
What is it about Peter Parker that catches Flash’s attention as a rival?
He pisses me off! The thing is I feel most of all, which I very connected to Flash with, is my brother is, bless his soul, a genius. Picks up guitar and can play any [song] he hears after like five minutes, can after three months of living in any place pick up a language. He's truly very, very well gifted, and for me, it didn't come that way. It was very hard. I had to study and work very hard. I'm dyslexic and I have ADHD, I think. So, I was never as good as him, and I feel like I connected with Flash. Flash works very hard to be as smart as he can, and sure, he has his dad paying for him to be at the school, but it was more about how, for Peter, it comes so easily. He's so smart and it's effortless, and why do I have to work so hard when I should be more successful than him? I think that's 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? He doesn't realize how much of a douche he is when he talks about his money and Audi and crap like that.
Knowing about Flash, his background and trajectory, how would you like to see the character evolve if you get the chance?
It would be amazing -- Amy Pascal, if you’re listening! I'm a junior in this film, so I'd be a senior in the next one if they ask me back. I would love to take it. I don't know how it would happen, but evolve it towards the Army time that he had. I know a couple of veterans who are very close friends of mine, and telling them about this character... some already knew really loved that aspect of the character, and I would love to do that. Hopefully portray something that is inspiring to these veterans, and also evolve Flash as a character from being someone you kind of dislike to being someone you actually think, "This person’s nice, I really hope something good happens to him." That's where I'd love to take the character, but we'll see.
With this being your first Marvel film, what was it like joining this larger universe?
It didn't even feel real until the moment you just said that right now, to be honest! Truthfully, sure, I knew Iron Man was in it and all these things, and I love Robert Downey Jr. The first Iron Man is my favorite Marvel movie to this day, but until you said that right now, I didn't realize there’s the potential of all these other limitless things. Maybe Flash takes an impromptu trip to Wakanda, or something like that! That's so amazing and interesting, and it's insane and it's crazy -- I'm so excited, but also extremely nervous because these movies are held to high regard by critics and fans alike. I think it's such an interesting concept and prospect to be in these films. I hope I'm called back, and I hope I can continue this relationship with them.
What was the most challenging part of joining the film?
I’m not what the character was in the comic books. I'm not, and we can say that clearly and easily -- and there's still people who will hate that fact. It was very disheartening to receive hate mail and death threats and things like that. It's hard, but then I realized they love this character so much... this is just their passion, and I am passionate about things myself, being sports or movies or things like that. I understand where they're coming from. Maybe they went about it a wrong way, but I took it all as constructive criticism. What can I do to do it right? Then I did what I had to, to be the Flash that they could be happy with, and sure, they won't be happy with it anyway. But I gained 60 pounds for the role, and I did what I had to. I think that was one of the hardest things in the beginning, to be in that bubble of all this hate, and then just trying to walk out of it unscathed.
What was it like working on set with the rest of the cast, all of whom are coming into this Marvel world together? What was the atmosphere?
It was great. It didn't feel like we were shooting a Marvel movie or Spider-Man movie because we were all in high school. It felt like we were just shooting a small, little indie with a great cast, and we were just having fun until the bigger set pieces. But even then, we had already started at the high school, so it just continued feeling that way. When I saw the trailer and the movie, I was like, "Oh, my God, this is a Spider-Man movie!" I wasn’t on set for the ferry or all these other things, so when I got to see that I was like, "This is a Spider-Man movie. There's action in it. That's right." It was great! It was so much fun, and I love the cast, and I love the crew -- I just had a blast.
Spider-Man: Homecoming will be released July 7.