Spider-Man: Far From Home follows teenager Peter Parker (Tom Holland) across the pond as he hangs up his Spidey suit for a class trip to Europe. If the Peter of 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming longed for more grown-up, world-saving responsibility, this Peter is a bit more willing to hang on to his youth and spend a few weeks not stopping supervillains.
“Peter’s ready for a vacation at the beginning of this movie, to say the least,” returning director Jon Watts tells EW of the hardworking hero. “This film is about the world telling him, ‘It’s time for you to step up and grow up, kid,’ and he’s saying, ‘But I still want to be a kid and go on vacation.’”
Unfortunately for Peter, the forces of evil have other plans. His attempts to prolong his childhood felt relatable to Holland and Watts, and relatability runs deep in Spider-Man’s veins (not unlike a certain radioactive spider venom). After all, most of us have more in common with an awkward kid from Queens than a golden Asgardian god or a de-iced World War II supersoldier. When Homecoming hit theaters two summers ago, Holland waded through comments on social media to see what fans most connected with and what he should explore in the sequel. The overwhelming answer was Peter’s approachability.
“Everyone really enjoyed the fact that throughout [Homecoming], there’s always something you can relate to with him,” Holland explains. “So in this film, especially, we tried to tailor the script in a way so that we could hit so many different relatable scenarios, so that not a single person in the world felt left out watching this movie.”
Still, not all Peter’s problems are universal. Despite his desire to lie low and explore London, Prague, and Venice with his friends, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) recruits him to help battle a mysterious quartet called the Elementals, who can manipulate nature. Since Peter doesn’t want to expose his secret identity by gallivanting around Europe in Spidey’s tights, Fury lends him an all-black stealth suit. (“It kind of looks like Black Widow — maybe it was one of her suits and they just tailored it,” Watts quips.)
Fury also connects Peter with a new ally: Quentin Beck, a.k.a. Mysterio, a powerful magician played by Jake Gyllenhaal. “If Tony Stark was sort of the mentor in the previous films, we thought it would be interesting to play Mysterio as almost like the cool uncle,” Watts says.
Spider-Man and Mysterio spark a close friendship — as did Holland, 22, and Gyllenhaal, 38. “If you look at any interview I’ve ever done prior to this movie and someone asked me, ‘Who would you work with if you could work with any actor?’ I would’ve said Jake Gyllenhaal,” Holland says. “And when I found out it was him, I was stoked, but also really nervous. But Jake absolutely was more than I ever could have expected.” The only issue was “sometimes they would crack each other up, and we could not get through takes occasionally,” Watts says with a laugh. “It was a problem!”
A secret mission, a sleek black suit, an exotic European setting.… In some ways, Far From Home sounds more like a spy movie than a teen adventure. And on set, the cast and crew embraced that secret-agent vibe. “We were doing a bunch of shots that looked like they were out of The Bourne Identity or some exciting European action-travel movie,” Watts says. Eventually he got one of those small button-activated recorders that can capture and play back a sound, and whenever they nailed a take, Watts would blast the opening notes of Moby’s “Extreme Ways” — that’s right, the theme song to all five Bourne films.
“The button was a big thing for everyone,” Holland confirms. “It became a stupid running joke that got out of control,” Watts adds, laughing.
Hey, “Spider-Bourne” has a nice ring to it.
For more of our Summer Movie Preview, read it here, or pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly — on stands Friday, or buy it here now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.