It’s still kind of hard to believe that Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios are sharing the character of Spider-Man. Comic-book properties are among the most valuable IP’s in any studio’s arsenal, and while Sony was suffering diminishing returns with each successive Spider-Man movie, the films weren’t total bombs by any means. But by some miracle, former Sony head and producer Amy Pascal and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige were able to come to terms on a deal that sees Marvel producing and having heavy creative input on a series of standalone Spider-Man movies, distributed by Sony, while Marvel is able to use the same iteration of the character in its Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But hammering out the contract details of the deal was only the beginning. Early this year, Marvel and Sony had to get to work on finding their new Spider-Man, as well as a director to helm the first standalone film. Under Feige’s guidance, the two set out with a vision of telling high school-set stories in a new standalone trilogy, with the aim of casting a teenage actor in the role that can grow with the character. The younger age also has an advantage when it comes to the MCU films, as a teenage Spider-Man adds some nice variety to the current stable of beefy, thirtysomething Marvel superheroes and heroines.
However, even if they found the right Spider-Man, they needed a director with the right skillset to make this first Spider-Man film stand apart from Marc Webb’s recent reboots and Sam Raimi’s original films. What ensued was a simultaneous casting and director search, which resulted in 19-year-old actor Tom Holland—whose credits include The Impossible and TV’s Wolf Hall—being cast as Spider-Man, and young director Jon Watts—whose filmography ranges from Onion News Network episodes to the recent Sundance thriller Cop Car—being set to take the helm of the first standalone film.
But what did the process look like on the inside? Steve recently spoke with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige at the press day for Ant-Man, and the executive explained who chose Jon Watts to direct the film and why:
“It was myself and Amy Pascal and Tom Rothman, and also Jeremy Latcham and Louis D’Esposito at Marvel where involved in that. We met with a lot of people and came down to a couple of very, very, very good finals candidates. Jon just—we really liked his movie Cop Car, we met with him four, five, or six times, and each time he had more and more interesting things to say. And at Marvel, it always comes down to ultimately, “We can make a movie with this person for two years, we could spend almost every day with this person for two years. Let’s go.”
We recently learned that the testing process for the actors involved having them read opposite Robert Downey Jr. in Atlanta, where Marvel is currently filming Captain America: Civil War, in which Spider-Man is expected to make his first appearance. Feige discussed the lengths to which they went to keep those readings secret:
Collider: What kind of scene was the screen test between Tom [Holland] and Robert [Downey Jr.], was it real dialogue or was it just written for the screen test?
FEIGE: It was a combination, it was mainly written for the screen test though. Which is what we usually do, so if people like you get your hands on them…
I don’t post spoilers.
FEIGE: That’s true. So they’re usually just bespoke for a test with different names and things. So they call each other different names [laughs].
One of the things that I think everyone is really looking forward to is the banter between Spider-Man and Iron Man. Could you tell immediately tell, ‘Oh, Tom can do it. This is what audiences want to see”?
FEIGE: That was part of it. When we’ll see that, I don’t know, but that was part of it.
Steve also asked Feige who’s writing the new Spider-Man film and when we’ll get to see the costume, but the Marvel Studios president replied to both questions with a simple, “To be announced.” Fair enough, but it will be interesting to see when we’ll get our first look at Holland as Spidey. Will he be part of the marketing campaign for Civil War, or will Marvel try to keep his appearance in the film under wraps until release? We’ll find out early next year, I’m sure.
Look for more from Steve’s interview with Feige on Collider soon, and peruse the links below.
For a refresher on all of Marvel’s confirmed releases, see below. And for a catalog of all upcoming superhero movie release dates, click here.
- Ant-Man – July 17, 2015
- Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016
- Doctor Strange – November 6, 2016
- Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017
- Untitled Spider-Man Reboot – July 28, 2017
- Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017
- Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 – May 4, 2018
- Black Panther – July 6, 2018
- Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 – May 3, 2019
- Inhumans – July 12, 2019