Director Jon Watts and star Tom Holland on the great responsibility of doing justice to the iconic Marvel hero
To read more from EW’s Summer Movie Preview, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, or buy it here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
In 2002, Jon Watts (Cop Car) was a sophomore at NYU and could look out his window to see the bright lights on the Brooklyn Bridge. They were particularly brilliant because Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was being filmed. “It was all lit, we could see it from our dorm window. We went down and shot one of our projects nearby,” Watts says. “It looked pretty well-lit for a student film.” He laughs. “To now be on the other side and be the one making a Spider-Man movie feels pretty surreal.”
His movie about our friendly neighborhood webslinger sees a tonal shift — more wisecracks, more high school — that hearkens back to the ’60s-era comics. “We’ve seen the Marvel Universe from the very dramatic penthouse perspective of Tony Stark; now we see what it looks like on the ground through the eyes of a 15-year-old,” Watts says. Holland (The Impossible), 20, says that his time on the set of Captain America: Civil War was great training. “I was able to see how professional Chris Evans behaves, how Robert Downey Jr. is always on time and always prepared — it gave me a blueprint of what to do and how to act.”
Watts says that he and Holland both felt the with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility of it all when it came to undertaking such a big studio project and beloved property. “We were in the same boat,” says Watts. “We were really in it together.” With such acting heavyweights as Downey and Michael Keaton involved in this film, Watts had to remind himself a movie is still a movie. “Every once in a while there’d be a moment when you sort of accidentally step back from the situation and realize who you are talking to,” he says with a laugh. “I had to ignore it and go back to work. They’re such great actors and they have doing it so you’re able to have fun with them.”
After finishing production — with hometown locales such as the Staten Island Ferry — Watts says this was the biggest surprise in shooting a massive Marvel movie: “It’s still just one frame, one shot at a time. At the end of the day, it’s still just two hours, it’s still the fundamentals of storytelling even though the names are bigger and the budgets are higher. The same things that are important to a small movie are just as important on a big one.”
Spider-Man: Homecoming is out July 7.