Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley are no strangers to making high-profile movies with big stars. After all, the writing and directing duo are behind such films as Horrible Bosses, Vacation, and the upcoming Game Night, starring Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, and Kyle Chandler. Even so, when they were brought in to work on the story and first couple of drafts of Spider-Man: Homecoming, they quickly learned they were in a whole new league.
“It’s incredible,” says Daley (whom you might recognize from playing Sam on Freaks and Geeks). “It’s almost like a television model on steroids. When you’re dealing with such incredible budgets on these movies, it’s truly world creating.”
As the two set about creating the world of Peter Parker, they knew exactly what kind of mood they wanted to establish. “We went in with a very John Hughes-ian sort of take on the material that Marvel had given us — a laundry list of villains, friends of Peter Parker,” adds Goldstein.
Though there are four other writers credited on Homecoming (including director Jon Watts), Goldstein and Daley say the film hews closely to most of their original ideas. “It’s a coming-of-age story on every level,” Daley says. “This is about a kid who doesn’t really know how to use his powers yet. I don’t think you could get away with a back story for Captain America where he doesn’t fit in with the Avengers.”
After a bit more prying, here are our three favorite facts gleaned about Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The code name for the script and production was …
The Summer of George! Remember the classic Seinfeld episode at the end of season 8? These guys sure do: All the Homecoming scripts, production schedules, and anything else you could think of were branded Summer of George instead. The moniker was appropriate for a movie that is, in part, a love letter to New York City, and it didn’t tip off anything Spidey-related. “When you work on a Marvel movie, there’s a hell of a lot more secrecy, that’s for sure,” says Goldstein. “We had a private email server so that we could pass scripts back and forth and not worry about getting hacked. People take it very seriously.”
Where was Uncle Ben?
Some fans have wondered if the Homecoming version of Peter Parker ever had an Uncle Ben, the influential father figure we’ve seen die in both previous Spider-Man film franchises. Wonder no more: There definitely was an Uncle Ben. The line in Homecoming about Aunt May and “all that she’s gone through” is a subtle reference to her late husband.
Goldstein and Daley toyed with including a more overt Ben moment. “We did talk about there being a scene where [May] references him directly,” Daley says. “It was when [Peter] was getting ready for homecoming and the wardrobe she was giving Peter was all Uncle Ben’s clothes. It was a nice moment, but we also knew that it veered away from his arc. If you’re going to talk about someone’s death, you don’t want it to be a throwaway.”
Aunt May could date!
Goldstein and Daley had independently come up with the idea of a young, vibrant Aunt May being played by Marisa Tomei, not knowing Marvel had come up with the same idea. “We loved the idea of a cool aunt,” says Goldstein. “In an early draft we actually even had her dating a guy, and part of her relationship with Peter was this inappropriate frankness. It didn’t make the cut, but I could see in the sequel she could get a boyfriend. She doesn’t have to be a mourning widow.”