This year (yes it’s 2016 already; I know, I don’t know how that happened either), we will see our third big-screen iteration of Spider-Man in 15 years in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War. The Marvel Studios sequel will introduce young Tom Holland‘s portrayal of the character, who follows in the footsteps of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, but this time in a wholly unique situation. Thanks to a fairly unbelievable agreement reached between Marvel and Sony Pictures, Spider-Man will share the screen with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe characters, making his debut in Civil War before getting his own feature film next summer.
The prospect of seeing Spider-Man interact with Tony Stark or Thor in and of itself is pretty fantastic, but since audiences are already incredibly familiar with the character, Marvel Studios aims to make this iteration of Spidey stand out from the Maguire and Garfield iterations. We already know one way they’re doing that is leaning hard on the aspect of a high school-aged Peter Parker, acting as a solid foil for the thirtysomethings that populate the MCU, but during a recent interview with Comicbook.com, Civil War directors Joe and Anthony Russo elaborated on what sets the MCU Spider-Man apart:
“We took a very personal approach to the character,” explained Joe Russo. “We had thought back to the things that excited us about him as a character when we were younger, and one of the most important components of that was that he’s a high schooler burdened with incredible powers and responsibility. That really differentiates him from every other character in the Marvel universe as opposed to other superheroes. For us, it was extremely important that we cast somebody very close to the age of a high school student. The previous films had adults playing a high schooler. We wanted more of an authenticity to the casting. We were very specific about that. We wanted an energy and charisma from the character, an energy, but also an insecurity that would make him fun to watch in contrast to the confident superheroes.”
That authenticity extends to Peter Parker’s living situation as well, with Joe Russo revealing that the MCU Parker will have more realistic accommodations:
“It was also important to us that the actor that was cast feel contemporary because the other films that portrayed where he lived is more… they honored the comic books in terms of the choices. But you go look at the home that Tobey Maguire lived in in [Sam] Raimi’s Spider-Man was… those were very expensive homes. We wanted to relate it to the reality… A character growing up with his aunt in New York, a single income family… Where would they live? What would that look like? Where could they afford to live? We asked ourselves all those questions. We try to take a very logical and realistic and naturalistic approach to the character. Again, in combination those are all of the things that we try to do, and of course, to bring our own touches, too.”
And while we assume that Spidey only figures briefly into Captain America: Civil War, Anthony Russo explained that the character’s introduction had to be fitting in tone with a Captain America movie:
“We’re bringing Spider-Man into the movie in that universe, now, in that specific tonal stylistic world. I think underscoring everything Joe was saying about your question in terms of how were we thinking about the character in relation to past interpretations of the character, part of our choices were all so colored by the specifics of the world what we were playing in with these two Captain America movies, meaning Winter Soldier and Civil War. It’s a very specific tonal world. It’s a little more grounded and a little more hard-core contemporary. That was also coloring our choices a lot about the character on Spider-Man.”
While stressing that they hold Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-Man movies in the highest regard, Joe Russo added that Raimi’s portrayal of the character was very in line with the comics in terms of tone and color palette, whereas the Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man will fit into the “feeling of naturalism” that permeates the Captain America movies and the MCU as a whole.
While the cast of Civil War is jam-packed, Spider-Man is probably the character that fans are most eager to see. The Russos were tight-lipped about the specifics of his role in the film, but I’m incredibly curious to see how Spider-Man figures into the MCU in terms of character dynamics—especially with an actor as talented as Holland in the role. But the tease may make the wait for the new Spider-Man movie, directed by Cop Car helmer Jon Watts, that much more agonizing.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters on May 6, 2016 while the untitled Spider-Man reboot is slated for release on July 28, 2017.