Spider-Man: Homecoming Details From Set-Visits Released


Numerous websites reveal new information about this summer’s new Spider-Man movie from touring the set, and how “different” this wall-crawler really is.

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Ever since Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios announced their collaboration on Spider-Man: Homecoming, they’ve been reluctant giving out specifics. Even the title of this sixth Spider-Man movie took awhile for them to reveal. But after the premiere of the reboot’s second trailer last week, and with the theatrical release just three months away (July 5, 2017), both studios have become more candid. This includes lifting a seven-month oath of silence off various entertainment news outlets they allowed exclusive access during production.

Last August, Sony allowed correspondents from IGN, Cinemablend, io9, Collider, Slash Film, Screen Rant, and Yahoo! Movies into Atlanta’s Pinewood Studios and on the set of the new film during it’s 46th day of shooting. While there, they met with actors Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) and Michael Keaton (Adrian Toomes/The Vulture), director Jon Watts, and producer Eric Hauserman Carroll, who provided them with numerous details about Homecoming and it’s production

Since I didn’t get an invite to the set, much of what these outlets are reporting is as news to me as it is to you. But from a commentator’s standpoint, one who’s also a Spider-Man fan, what we have learned makes me a little worried about the potential success of this film, or lack thereof. More specifically, these following tidbits. Needless to say, there are potential SPOILERS.

Notable Absences of Key Spider-Man Characters

You need not worry that this newest Spider-Man movie will rehash his origin, or have another scene showing the death of Uncle Ben. In fact, other than the occasional mention, it seems as though Ben’s death will have little bearing on the new film at all. As Jon Watts explained via Screen Rant:

"“I mean, we’re implying [Uncle Ben’s] dead. We have not at all, again, gone into trying to change [Spider-Man’s] origin story as far as I have been envisioning it. But we, just again, we thought that to keep this fun, light tone, as soon as they have to have their, like, ‘Let’s remember our dearly departed father figure’ – it derails that a little. And again, what we’re trying to tell is this sort of fun story of the kid who is doing all the wrong things for the right reasons. And once you do that, it stops becoming a sort of sun movie about a kid trying to be a kid. He’s mourning the loss of a parent.”"

That’s all fine and good, Mr. Watts, but you understand it’s the death of the Peter’s Uncle Ben, and his guilt over failing to prevent it, which motivates him being Spider-Man, correct? Just because the audience may already be familiar with Spider-Man’s origin from comics, cartoons, video games, and prior movies, it’s still important to set up what drives this Peter as Spider-Man within the context of this particular film. Besides, it would also add depth to the mentor relationship between Peter and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.).

But other characters who are definitely absent from this film include the Osborns, and J. Jonah Jameson. This also includes no Daily Bugle, either. The rationale given by Carroll via Slash Film was:

"“We toyed with it for a while, but again, we didn’t want to go down that road right away, and if we do do a Daily Bugle, we want to do it in a way that feels contemporary. Working in a newspaper while fighting crime and overachieving, it just felt like one of those things where like… maybe it’s in his future? Maybe it’s what he does in college or something like that. But for now, no.”"

Of course, since Holland also stated that this newest trilogy of Spider-Man films would each take place during one year of high school, starting with his Sophomore year during Homecoming, it looks like there will be no Jonah or Bugle for quite some time.

Credit: Columbia Pictures/Sony and Marvel Studios; from Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Watching John Hughes Films as Research

We’ve heard a lot during Homecoming‘s promotion about how the works of writer-director John Hughes inspired Jon Watts in the making of this film. What we didn’t know was just how extensive that influence would be. According to Collider, Watts made the younger cast members watch various coming-of-age high school flicks and shows. IGN quotes Watts saying:

"“I just wanted them to sort of get in the spirit of those movies, and know what was okay…To be goofy, and to be a teen. Those movies are, the John Hughes movies, and I love Say Anything. I made them watch Say Anything, which is a great one, but just being okay to be kind of a weirdo or being a little bit, I don’t know, sillier, I think. Getting everyone comfortable to do that, and to be awkward. I made them watch Freaks and Geeks too which was great.”"

Moreover, many of the sites, including Collider, describe Spider-Man involved in a “Ferris Bueller-inspired chase sequence,”  and that Watts used Ally Sheedy’s “Allison” from The Breakfast Club and Linda Cardellini’s “Lindsay” from Freaks and Geeks as the template for Zendaya’s “Michelle” character.

Holland took things a step further. Since Peter Parker also goes to “Midtown School of Science and Technology” in the film, Holland apparently went “undercover” as a high school student (via io9):

"“I had a fake name and I put on an accent, and I went for like three days,” said Holland. “I basically had to go to this science school and blend in with all the kids, and some of the teachers didn’t even know… but to be in a school where you can be free and let loose, and be with girls, it was so different. Like so different. It was a really great experience.”"

Now I applaud the dedication these actors have in wanting to portray themselves as authentic teenagers aside from them looking young enough to actually play as teenagers. But I wonder if Watts hasn’t taken his admiration with the works of John Hughes and other high school comedy-dramas too far, that he’s succeed in making a Spider-Man movie he thinks what a John Hughes directed Spider-Man movie might have been like. Because when a director tries to make their movie in the style of another director, it never works. It’s the same trap Marc Webb got himself into with The Amazing Spider-Man, in which he clearly tried patterning the film off of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

Peter Parker’s New Nickname

So instead of Flash (Tony Revolori) and the other kids at Peter’s school calling him “Puny Parker” in the movie, IGN claims that they’ll tease Peter by calling him “Penis Parker” instead.

Let me make myself clear: bullying is stupid, and has harmful, long-lasting psychological affects on kids. Nor is name-calling as clever as bullies may think. That said, when Flash called Peter “Puny Parker” in the comics, it made some sense given how Peter, unlike the muscle-bound jock Flash, was a scrawny, nerdy teenager. But “Penis Parker?” That only smacks of a screenwriter trying too hard to write for the PG-13 rating.

Here’s an idea guys: if you really want Flash and his ilk calling Peter something crude that also sounds like something actual teenage bullies would come up with, how about having them call Peter Parker, “Pee-Pee?” Sure, it’s not clever, either; but at least it has a some wit to it.

Credit: Columbia Pictures/Sony and Marvel Studios; from Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man has a “fear of heights”

That’s right, Spider-Man—the one superhero known for crawling up tall buildings and swinging on weblines high above the city—has a “fear of heights” in this movie. Or as described by Eric Carroll via Cinemablend:

"“Spider-Man starting out — he’s not irrationally afraid of heights, but he has the fear of heights that all well-balanced people do. So he’s going to work up to becoming the Spider-Man we know he will someday. But we will not see him swing down Fifth Avenue in this movie. We will not see him 40 stories off the ground acting like that is not the most terrifying thing he will do that day.”"

Granted, if you or I were in Spider-Man’s tights, as it were, we might also be a little apprehensive about swinging around skyscrapers, too. Except, if you really scrutinize what Carroll says, it falls apart for two reasons. One, doesn’t Peter still have spider-sense? You know, the tingling sensation which warns him of danger, including whenever he’s falling and thus automatically triggers his reflexes and agility? That’s how it’s works in the comics, anyway. And second, by the filmmakers own admission, this Spider-Man has been active for almost a year—more than enough time for Peter to get over his “fear of heights.”

On pure conjecture, it wouldn’t surprise me if the filmmakers added this “fear of heights” angle because of where they shot most of the movie. After all, it’s easier–and less expensive–to make downtown Atlanta resemble Peter’s Queens neighborhood, although the production would later film the rest of the movie in that location.

Even More Iron Man Toys in the Spider-Man Suit

Aside from what we’ve already seen in Captain America: Civil War and the Homecoming trailers, the Tony Stark designed Spider-suit has a lot more gadgets. As described in Collider:

"The suit has a heater, it lights up, the Spider-Man logo gives him surveillance data, there’s an airbag, and there’s a web that can tase people."

Io9 goes into even further depth about the functions of Peter’s suit. It apparently has a tracking device installed by Tony, and that he also placed the suit on a “training wheels protocol.” During the film, Peter deactivates this protocol, allowing even access to more functions. This includes Iron Man-style features such as an “augmented reality” display, and a JARVIS-like Artificial Intelligence. As described by Carroll via Screen Rant:

"…[the suit] starts talking to [Peter], and he goes, ‘Oh, this is weird.’ And he starts asking it stuff, but he’s not super slick or Tony Stark smart, who invented the OS and did all this. He’s a kid. So he’s like, ‘Um, how do I get to where that thing is?’ And it’s like, ‘Um, I don’t know. Pretty much drive? How are you going to get there?’ And he’s like, ‘Um, if I didn’t have a car, let’s just say, how would I get there?’ And it’s like, ‘Well, if you walk…’ And he’s like, ‘No, OK, alright… I guess just give me directions and I’ll figure out the HOW I’m getting there.’”"

Credit: Columbia Pictures/Sony and Marvel Studios; from Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Sony, I realize you’re trying make this Spider-Man different from the other movies. I also understand that Peter’s high-tech costume, as indicated by your most recent trailer, ties into his main character arc. But you don’t do this by making Peter Parker into “Teen Tony.”

Even if the point is to show Peter’s trying too hard in emulating Tony, that he learns over the course of the film to be a hero on his own terms, you’re still giving prospective moviegoers the impression that this new version of Spider-Man is an Iron Man rip-off. Bad enough we’re already getting this aplenty in the Spider-Man comic books.

Which leads me to a common thread about these new details: that in their attempts at making this Spider-Man film “different,” Sony, Marvel Studios, and the filmmakers have made a Spider-Man only in the most superficial sense. Sure, this Spider-Man is still Peter Parker, who still lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), who still has arachnid-like super powers, who’s still created his own webshooters, and who still has to balance his life both in and out of costume. But everything else? It feels like this could apply to any generic teenage superhero.

Hopefully I’m wrong, and that when Spider-Man: Homecoming does come on in theaters, it will be a very good Spider-Man film in spite of these changes. I just wonder if Spider-Man, the character fans are familiar with, hasn’t gotten lost in the meantime.

Sources: Cinemablend, Collider, IGN, io9, Screen Rant, Slash Film, and Yahoo! Movies