Perth Supanova: Six Things We Learned about Spider-Man: Homecoming from director Jon Watts

Jon Watts is a young filmmaker who landed the gig of a lifetime – a Spider-Man film. But not just any old Spider-Man film. His upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming will be the first Spidey flick set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is due to a deal struck between Marvel and Sony a couple of years ago. No doubt the success of this particular Spidey flick will determine whether that deal changes for the better or for the worse. So, no pressure, right?

Jon Watts is presumably right in the middle of promoting the film, so he couldn’t make it to li’l ol’ Perth Supanova personally. But he did answer some skype Q&As at Sydney’s Supanova. Which we got to see a video of. That sounds headache-y, but the video quality and sound was good. So were the questions.

Here are six things we learned

1. A Young Peter Parker?

One fan, well past teenage-hood, asked with some consternation why this Spidey will be a 15 year old? Watts said that, in thinking of what to do for this film, he went right back to the source: the 1960s comic books written by Stan Lee & drawn by Steve Ditko, where Peter Parker was just your average neurotic 15 year old. In those comics, the first supervillain he faced was the Vulture, which is the case for his film too. But aside from adhering to comic book lore (which is an amorphous, fickle thing) Watts felt that following a young boy was a fresh approach for an MCU film. Which brings us to…

2. From the Ground

Spidey might be able to swing and bounce around New York’s skyline like it’s a playground, but this film will be a little more…grounded. Your average MCU protagonist is usually a wealthy and witty engineering genius, a god from a fantastic realm, and even the more straightforward Avenger is the handsomest, best Captain alive. Watts said that an excitable kid wanting to be part of that bigger, more fantastic story happening right outside his friendly neighbourhood in Forrest Hills, Queens, was where he found the emotional heart of Spider-Man: Homecoming.

3. Where it Fits

It’s no secret that a couple of Marvel films have suffered in order to do heavy lifting for the next instalment (Iron Man 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron). But Watts faced little of that kind of pressure in bringing Spider-Man to the MCU fold. All that was asked of him was to get Spider-Man and his world right. Phew!

4. Tom Holland is the Best

Tobey Maguire is the best Peter Parker and Andrew Garfield is the best Spider-Man. But if Watts’ word is anything to go by (he admits his bias) Tom Holland is your man who can do both. And besides, in real life he can do all those crazy spider-y parkour moves as well. His real-life excitement at getting the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man also greatly paralleled Peter Parker’s excitement at being a fledgling superhero.

5. Improvisation

Much of the success of Iron Man (the film that got this multi-billion dollar enterprise rolling, let’s not forget) can be attributed to the cast’s knack for improvising during dialogue scenes. That same approach is taken with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Watts, also a co-writer of the screenplay, said much of the script was jettisoned in favour of improvising and ad-libbing.

6. Indie v. Blockbuster

Watts said that being the director of a small-time indie is way more stressful. More stressful than heading a blockbuster with a world’s worth of expectation on its shoulders? Well, yep. Watts said that on his smaller films, he had to “basically do a bit of everything”. But on the Spider-Man: Homecoming set, he was aided by what he called “A world-class crew”. It seems that to secret to Marvel’s success is the same reason the Avengers themselves are unbeatable – they make for a terrific team.

For more on Supanova, head to supanova.com.au. Spider-Man: Homecoming hits Australian cinemas next week, Thursday 6th July.