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The beginning of Spider-Man: Homecoming may look familiar — the Avengers knocking the stuffing out of each other on a tarmac in Berlin, a clash of titans we witnessed in last year’s Captain America: Civil War. But this time, we’re seeing the action from a unique perspective — through the eyes (and iPhone lens) of a 15-year-old. Of course, this is not just any teenager. It’s Peter Parker a.k.a Spider-Man. And this Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland, is not a dude worried about danger, or grappling with larger existential questions about great power and responsibility. Peter simply can’t believe his good fortune: that he has these amazing abilities, that he’s in this heady company, that he has a new souped-up suit. Here is a kid who is ready to have a good time. The same can be said for Spider-Man: Homecoming (in theaters July 7), which has put the youthful fizz and pop back into the adventures of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and provides vicarious thrills like never before. “The fact that Peter Parker is 15 allows me to have fun with it,” says Homecoming director Jon Watts (Cop Car), who also co-wrote the screenplay. “Yes, there’s a lot of drama and conflict, but more than anything, it’s about, ‘If you were that age and could do what he can do? That would be really fun.”
In this week’s cover story, we delve into how Marvel and Sony studios worked together to bring Spidey back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how a young director and even younger star made one of the most fun and nimble (and New York-iest) superhero movies we’ve seen. Back in 2002, Sony’s Spider-Man, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire, had been an industry revelation: the first film to surpass $100 million in its opening weekend. But a decade later, the webslinger seemed to peter out (pun intended). A 2012 reboot and it’s sequel, both starring Andrew Garfield, met with declining box office and critical shrugs.
At the time of the first Raimi film, Marvel was not yet its own studio and Sony owned the rights to the character. But as the years passed Marvel became a culture-shifting behemoth. With Iron Man in 2008, Marvel Studios launched a cinematic universe populated by many of its most famed characters — but no Spidey. In 2014, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios and then Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal sat down for lunch and ended up building a bridge for Spidey to cross. “I said, ‘Forget the two different corporate giant studios involved,'” Feige says. “Wouldn’t this be cool?'” Guess what? It was.