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Marvel/Sony picks a Spider-Man actor in Tom Holland and a director in Jon Watts

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After what seems like one of the longest casting processes in a while, Marvel and Sony have settled on the next actor to play Peter Parker and his superhero alter ego Spider-Man. The search literally took months, involved names both expected and unexpected, but finally concluded yesterday. Putting on the costume will be young Tom Holland, while stepping behind the camera will be Jon Watts. Not familiar with either of those names that Marvel Cinematic Universe godfather Kevin Feige saw fit to hire? Fear not, as I’ll give you the rundown on who they are below, along with who they beat out for their plum new gigs in each case.

First up, I should remind you where the character has gone before. We’re getting our third incarnation of Spidey, with Tobey Maguire as Peter in the first three films that Sony put out (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man 3), all of which were directed by Sam Raimi. Money and a sapping of creative energy led to a scrapping of Spider-Man 4 for what was expected to be a younger reboot, this time led by Andrew Garfield in the tights and Marc Webb at the helm. That only lasted for two movies (The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2) before they went back to the drawing board again. Instead of pursuing The Amazing Spider-Man 3, Sony reached an agreement with Marvel to let the character join their cinematic universe in a partnership between both corporate giants. That got us to where we are now.

Alright, so let’s talk about Holland a bit. He’s an up and coming actor, mainly known for an excellent supporting turn a few years ago in The Impossible. He even got some awards buzz for that role, so he’s clearly got acting chops. Who did he beat out to play the web head? The main contender seemed to be Asa Butterfield, though along with Butterfield and Holland, the actual finalists were Judah Lewis, Matthew Lintz, Charlie Plummer, and Charlie Rowe. At one point Nat Wolff seemed to be in the running as well. Rumors had it down to just Holland and Rowe in the last few days, so Holland obviously managed to put himself over the top. Now, he’ll be high school student Peter Parker, but more importantly, he’ll also be teenaged superhero and future Avenger Spider-Man.

As for Watts, he’s an initially surprising pick by Marvel and Sony, but it makes more sense if you look at who Feige usually picks to direct something within the MCU. By and large, he opts for younger filmmakers with some skill at handling comedy, so while Watts just got on the industry’s radar back at the most recent Sundance Film Festival with the gritty thriller Cop Car, he’s also been a part of The Onion News Network in the past, so he can likely handy humor as well as action. Watts beat out the likes of Jonathan Levine, Ted Melfi, Jason Moore, and the filmmaking team of John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein. At one point, Drew Goddard was supposed to get this gig, and while he would have been an excellent choice, it sounds like Watts is no slouch himself.

Initially, we’ll be getting a taste of Spidey next year when he appears as part of the giant ensemble in Captain America: Civil War. That’s currently filming as you read this, so Holland will be on set before too long, shooting a few scenes for that 2016 release. Then, he’ll be heading off with Watts to make their stand alone Spider-Man reboot. This version will see the hero in high school for a while, presumably building up to him joining The Avengers, possibly for the upcoming mega films Avengers: Infinity Wars Part I and Avengers: Infinity Wars Part II. Honestly, would you expect any less out of Marvel? Sony has a say in the matter too, but they mostly (or should I say hopefully) are riding shotgun now to Feige and his immersion of the character into the MCU.

Hopefully this has given you a Cliff Notes version of what to expect from your friendly neighborhood web-slinger. We have Holland in the title role, Watts behind the camera, and a creative team that will likely slide into place pretty quickly. Captain America: Civil War is less than a year away, so on May 6th of 2016 you’ll be getting your first look at Holland as Spider-Man. Then, it’ll be just over a year longer of a wait until Holland and Watts unleash that first new adventure on us. That stand a lone flick has a release date of July 28th, 2017. Essentially, in a little more than two years time, we’ll have a firmly established Spidey in the MCU. Not only is Marvel thrilled at this event finally coming to fruition, but you should be too…

Stay tuned for more on Spider-Man in the coming months and years!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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