Before Peter Parker swings back into theaters July 7 with Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man: Homecoming, the film’s cast and crew gathered for a press conference in New York City to answer questions about the film. The event, attended by CBR, featured stars Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori and Zendaya, plus director Jon Watts and producers Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige.
The conference started with questions from the moderator, who asked Pascal and Feige how excited they are to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“It was one of a handful of, ‘Well this will never be possible, but let’s dream about it,’ moments at Marvel Studios and now we’re sitting in front of all these people having made the movie,” Feige said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Pascal described it as incredible, explaining that it began with a lunch between her and Feige, and she can’t believe now the film is here. Watts directed this entry into the universe, and when questioned about the biggest challenge he faced in capturing a unique tone while staying true to the character of Spider-Man, he admitted he tried to approach it as “the biggest fan possible.”
“The opportunity to finally put Spider-Man where he belongs in the Marvel Universe really opened up the doors to so many new kinds of stories that we can tell so if anything, I felt like we were being as true as possible as anyone has ever been able to be about Spider-Man and how he fits into this world,” Watts explained.
How then does Holland feel, having the responsibility of playing a character as beloved as Peter Parker?
“The thing I had to remind myself most when I first took on this character was that Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man had such a huge impact on me as a kid,” Holland said. “He was my role-model growing up. He was my favorite character. I had to keep reminding myself that I’m going to have that same impact on kids of a younger generation so I really wanted to do them proud and to be a solid role-model for them and to make a young fresh version of a character we know and love.”
He had a lot of fun on the film, telling attendees that he and Watts asked themselves what it would be like if a 15-year-old had superpowers. “He would have the time of his life and when I made this movie, I had the time of my life, so it really sort of comes across on screen.”
Referred to as the godfather of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Downey Jr. commented on how so many miracles had to happen for everyone to be sitting together now.
“This turned out so well,” Downey said. “It really does come down to, as Kevin says, you have to see the movie and love it and I saw it, I was in it a little bit, and I saw it and I honestly loved it. That’s what’s exciting. They’re still really working.”
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Spider-Man film without Aunt May, but Tomei’s version is quite different from what audiences have seen before. Asked about this difference, Tomei revealed she originally didn’t know what Aunt May looked like. Once she realized, she saw the vision of how they were revamping things for the film. As for some of the younger cast members, Zendaya, who plays Michelle, called making a movie on this scale “incredible.”
“I’ve done a lot of things in my little career so far, but this is my first big movie so I was terrified and I suppressed it very well,” she said. “It’s amazing to be here. I think all of us still feel like it’s a bit of a dream and I don’t know when it’s going to feel real but it doesn’t feel real right now and I don’t mind living in this dream. I enjoy it here so I’m going to keep doing it.”
Harrier, who plays Liz, replied to a question about Spider-Man’s significance to people by saying he’s the most relatable since everyone knows what it’s like to grow up, be in high school, and have awkward moments talking to a crush.
“It’s harder to connect with these superheroes who are completely outside of our world,” Harrier explained. “Spider-Man is first and foremost Peter Parker, who everyone can relate to.”
As for challenges keeping to the mythology of Spider-Man while evolving things for 2017, Watts said it was all kicked off nicely by the Russo brothers in Captain America: Civil War.
“They set up this really great premise that Peter Parker is going to get plucked out of obscurity by Tony Stark, given this really high-tech suit and taken on a crazy adventure,” Watts said. “Then just dropped back into his regular life without another thought so to me the challenge was an opportunity. If Tony Stark built a Spider-Man suit, what could it do? That could be so amazing. There’s a little bit of a precedent in the comics with the Iron Spider suit that gets built, so we used that as sort of the inspiration for all the bells and whistles that Tony would put into this thing.”
The press conference then opened up to questions from the press, who first wanted to know what it was like for Holland looking back at his career thus far.
“I’ve been so lucky in my career,” he replied. “I feel like I’ve been in the right place at the right time at every turn. I’ve been so lucky that I’ve got to work with who I would consider the best of the best and learn from people, and every movie has been a very different experience for me and I’ve been able to play different characters without having to go too far.”
“Now that I’m sort of finding myself a little bit, I’m looking to go a little bit further, but this job since day one has been a roller coaster,” Holland continued. “It’s the job that keeps on giving. It has never ceased to amaze me. The fact that I’m here with these guys promoting this movie is insane and like Zendaya said, it does not feel real in any way possible. I read a comic yesterday which is based off of my face! What the hell! Nothing has sunk in. It really feels like I’m about to wake up and be very disappointed, but I’m very happy here and I can’t wait for you guys to see the movie.”
As for what Downey Jr. might want to take from the film’s set, he gave the unique answer of the movie’s mood board.
“You know why I think this really works? There’s something about the initial breaking the story and content,” Downey told reporters. “Whatever the mood board was for this movie, with all those different tones. It was just creatively inspiring, it’s really an inspired reinvention of this and what I would take is that moment where the creatives actually broke this story and said, ‘I think that’s it,’ because that’s ultimately what you wind up, if it’s executed correctly, what you see on the screen and that’s why I love movies. That’s why I’m a huge fan of movies and I always wonder how did they figure this out to entertain me this well? The mood board.”
With experienced superhero actors Keaton and Downey Jr. on the cast, the actors were asked what advice they’d give the younger stars. Downey Jr. said, “every day you wake up, everybody’s even. All of this status or experience, it’s all kind of a projection… It’s all about having your feet on the ground and realizing that you always start at zero mph every day.” Keaton replied that they’ve all impressed him.
When asked about his experience working with Wes Anderson versus a film like this, Revolori, who plays Flash Thompson, said it was wonderful working with Anderson.
“He’s amazing and fantastic,” Revolori, one of the stars of The Grand Budapest Hotel, said. “Working on a project like this is on a different level because you have so many fans and people who work so hard and put so much effort into it, you can’t help but want to do a good job and I’m very fortunate to be a part of it with a great cast and thank you to Jon, Amy, and Kevin for casting a 5’8” brown guy to play a 6’2” blonde guy.”
Looking to the future, regarding what they’d like to see Spider-Man overcome in the sequel or Avengers: Infinity War, Holland said he’s still getting over this first one, while Watts said he thinks about it one movie at a time.
“I do feel like now that Spider-Man is a part of this big crazy universe, we can definitely tell some new stories, that’s for sure,” Watts admitted.
Asked how the relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker has evolved, Holland answered that it’s more interesting from Stark’s point of view.
“You suddenly have someone to think about other than Tony Stark,” Holland answered. “He really cares about Peter and one of the reasons why he doesn’t want Peter to become an Avenger is because he doesn’t want the responsibility of something happening to Peter on his conscience. So it’s a nice sort of back and forth of me saying, ‘Look I’m powerful enough to be an Avenger,’ and him saying, ‘but you’re not ready to be an Avenger.’ So it’s a fun back and forth, like a big brother little brother, dad, son type situation.”
Finally, Holland discussed how his dance and acrobatic background helped him on the film, and how he mastered hanging upside down. “You can’t really master hanging upside down! It’s not something I’ve been prepared for.”
“But my dancing and gymnastics background was so helpful to this project because we were able to do things as Peter Parker that they probably hadn’t been able to do in the past,” he continued. “But that said, sometimes they would over estimate my skill set. Jon would be like, ‘Can you just back flip off that wall and land on that beam?’ I’m like, ‘No, Jon. I’m not that good!'”
Watts joked that he forgets Holland’s not actually Spider-Man. Everyone will be able to see Holland put these skills to the test and more when the movie debuts in theaters on July 7.
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