Warning: Spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming are discussed in this intro and interview.
With Spider-Man: Homecoming now playing around the world, it’s finally time to post my spoiler-filled interview with director Jon Watts. During the conversation, Watts talked about what he learned from early screenings, the deleted scenes, how they decided on the final after-credits scene, if he’s coming back for the sequel, the final scene with Aunt May discovering Peter Parker was Spider-Man, and a lot more. In addition, Watts revealed some of the cool extras coming on the Spider-Man: Homecoming Blu-ray like more Captain America PSAs, more of Peter Parker’s behind-the-scenes journey at the beginning of the film, and more with Martin Starr as Peter’s teacher Mr. Harrington.
As most of you know, Spider-Man: Homecoming takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War and features Peter Parker trying to adjust to life back in High School while trying to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The film also stars Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Michael Keaton, Bokeem Woodbine, Donald Glover, Hannibal Buress, Abraham Attah, Tony Revolori, Michael Barbieri, and Angourie Rice. For more on the film, read Matt Goldberg’s review.
As a long-time Spider-Man fan that grew up reading all the comics, I’m happy to report Spider-Man: Homecoming is everything I wanted it to be and so much more. Not only does it have a great script, fantastic action, and perfect casting, it captures what it would really be like to be 15 years old and fighting crime without enough life experience. Also, while Marvel makes some great movies, I think we can all agree the weak link is some of the antagonists. That’s not the case with Michael Keaton’s Vulture. He’s a great three-dimensional villain where you can understand his motivations and empathize with what he’s trying to do. Trust me, there is no way you see Spider-Man: Homecoming and walk out disappointed.
Check out what Jon Watts had to say below.
JON WATTS: Thank you.
WATTS: Yeah, did you?
Yeah, it’s so great.
WATTS: Are you a Spider-Man fan?
I am, yeah. I had a very good time with this film.
I want to start with an editing room questions first…What did you learn from friends and family screenings that impacted the finished film?
WATTS: That’s a good question. Well, the first thing that you learn is… Okay, that is gonna work. Because the biggest thing you’re trying to establish, first of all, is the tone of the movie, and that’s the… You have an idea of what the tone should be when you’re making it, but it really is so many different ingredients that you’re collecting on set and you’re just trying to find the right balance in the edit. I was really lucky, my editor is Dan Lebental who did Iron Man and Ant Man, and so he knows this world. He did Thor, too, I think. The biggest thing in the director’s screening was just, “Oh. Okay, good. This works. People like the tone. People like the humor.”
Who did you have in that first screening?
WATTS: First, we screened for the Marvel and Sony gang, and then you have just a focus test screening and see what people think. And the film’s not substantially different from the director’s cut, honestly. Like, most of it was in place and then it just became a matter of tweaking things to make sure everything was clear and… Yeah, it was a fun process. Like, I’ve never been able to do this before.
Yeah. Well, you had a little more money to spend.
WATTS: Yeah, and being able to have a captive audience to try different things out on. I used it almost as like an experimental process, where you would just try slightly different timing on a punch line or different set up and things like that to see what played better. It’s like building a ride.
Absolutely. How long was your first cut compared to the finished film?
WATTS: I think my first cut was a little bit shorter than the finished film.
Oh, so they said to you, “You need to add back to it.”
WATTS: Yeah, I’m pretty ruthless as an editor so it wasn’t like the four and a half hour director’s cut. Like, I wanted to get the director’s cut as close as possible to what I thought the finished movie should be. As opposed to it being just everything.
Obviously fans love seeing extras, so did you have a lot of deleted scenes or no?
WATTS: No. There’s very few deleted scenes. I’m trying to think ’cause we put them all together on the DVD for the DVD features, but no, nothing… No big scene was cut out, it was more just figuring out how long or how short it should be. There was maybe like one or two quick check ins with Michael Keaton that were redundant, and there was one check in with Aunt May that was redundant that we got rid of, but-
You’re talking about three to five minutes of deleted scenes or are we talking shorter or longer?
WATTS: What I’m very excited about for the deleted scenes is that I had all these great improv actors and they all built their own characters, especially Martin Starr, who plays Mr. Harrington.
He’s so awesome.
WATTS: He’s so awesome, and I would just… You need him to say one line or do like a reaction shot or something like that. That’s all you really need for the scene, but because he’s so good I just let it play out and I have a whole story that’s just about him and his ex-wife and how much he loves being a teacher and it’s like this whole other movie that is happening parallel to Spiderman Homecoming. You know, you want all of your characters to be so fleshed out that they have their whole own life, and he would just… He just prepared his own sort of story arc, and so as we were editing we just had a separate timeline of the Mr. Harrington story.
Wait, so is that like a whole thing on the Blu-ray?
What is it exactly? Do you have like a separate movie almost of him?
WATTS: Yeah… Well, I mean it’s like five minutes long, but it’s like its own little… It unintentionally led to it being its own little short film.
That sounds awesome just because he’s so great in the movie.
WATTS: He’s so great.
Getting back to my thing-
WATTS: Sorry, it’s a total tangent.
I loved his character. Do you think it’s like three to five minutes of deleted scenes or more?
WATTS: Let me think. That’s probably like five minutes. There’s more Captain America videos than what you see in the movie… So we have a lot more of those. There’s an extended Donald Glover scene, which is nice, people will like that. Yeah, there should be quite a bit.
I want to talk about the Captain America stuff anyway: How many of those other PSAs are on the Blu-ray?
WATTS: So many. We put it together like it was the actual DVD that they show at the school, so it just is clicking from one to another to another.
WATTS: ‘Cause I just wrote pages of them ’cause I had Chris Evans for however amount of time, so I just feed him… I think we had a teleprompter actually, so he was just… It’s was like Captain America just showed up and had to do this stuff for the government.
Right, it’s great.
WATTS: He’s just reading it off the scrolling thing and be like, “Are you sure you want me to say this?”