Let the web-slinging begin. Marvel announced on Tuesday that 19-year-old British actor Tom Holland, star of 2012’s tsunami drama The Impossible, HBO’s Wolf Hall, and the stage phenomenon Billy Elliot: The Musical, will take over the role of Peter Parker in the next Spider-Man, due in theaters in 2017.
“We saw many terrific young actors,” Tom Rothman, Sony Pictures Motion Pictures Group Chairman, said in a statement, “but Tom’s screen tests were special. All in all, we are off to a roaring start.”
Added Amy Pascal, who is a producer on the new film: “Sony, Marvel, Kevin and I all knew that for Peter Parker, we had to find a vibrant, talented young actor capable of embodying one of the most well-known characters in the world. With Tom, we’ve found the perfect actor to bring Spider-Man’s story into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
Though Holland is four years older than 15-year-old Peter Parker in the original comic, he’s still much closer in age to the character than the two recent movie incarnations. Tobey Maguire was 26 when he was cast in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002) and Andrew Garfield was 27 when he signed on for Marc Webb’s 2012 The Amazing Spider-Man.
In an unexpected twist, Marvel also announced that Jon Watts will direct the upcoming film. Watts’ credits include stints on the parody site The Onion News Network and the R-rated thriller Cop Car starring Kevin Bacon, which premiered at this January’s Sundance Film Festival.
“As with James Gunn, Joss Whedon, and the Russo brothers, we love finding new and exciting voices to bring these characters to life,” Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said. “We spent a lot of time with Jon and find his take and work inspiring.”
Perhaps too excited about the role to contain his energy, Holland had as recently as two days ago been posting arcrobatic back flip and front flip videos to his 12,000 Instagram followers—a number that flew upward by several thousand in the hour after Marvel made their announcement.