Last week Marvel and Sony officially announced their groundbreaking decision to introduce actor Tom Holland into the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The casting process took several months and over 500 potential actors until they chose Holland. Naturally, I was disgusted by the backlash this news had in the general media. Many outlets expressed concerns of yet another incarnation of the webslinger, or the fact that he was too young (and many even claiming him to be too white). Let’s have a little blog intervention here, helping to explain why exactly this news matters – as many are clearly numb to the idea. There are 4 major reasons that I’ll be discussing in the following editorial, and you can scroll through them at your whim.
1) The Amazing Spider-Man movies were terrible. I really shouldn’t have to explain this area. The series was riddled with flaws. Every single villain was connected to Peter’s father or OsCorp in some fashion, the films were littered with plotholes, Andrew Garfield’s ever changing New York accent, and never have any two characters had less chemistry together on camera than Peter Parker and Harry Osborn. These are, of course, my personal complaints, and other critics (far harsher ones) will present lists of issues they had with the series. It just never captured the magic like Sam Raimi’s original trilogy. To this day, Spider-Man 2 is considered one of the best superhero films on the market. Even head Marvel Producer Kevin Feige agrees with that.
It was clear from the offset that Sony’s primary drive with originally rebooting their hit franchise was to contractually keep their paws on it, without giving much heed to quality control. And after the huge success of the Avengers’ shared universe, Sony actually planned to expand their franchise into a cinematic universe, starting with Sinister Six film. I think we’re all very happy that’s no longer happening.
The Spider-Man franchise was dying from the inside out due to re-used plot elements, stale villains, and nothing notably new. A big shake-up was necessary.
2) Tom Holland is really young. Like, really young. The british actor is only 19 years of age, making him the youngest hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Why is this important? Because they’re actually making him a high school kid again, as per his comic book origins. He shouldn’t look like a 28 year old man playing a 17 year old teen. This is hugely important, not only for Spider-Man, but for casting just about anywhere. How many shows or movies have you seen where a high school student is clearly portrayed by an adult? Teens can act too! Give them the chance to. Holland’s casting should honestly be praised. He’ll be able to play the character for a longer period of time as well, as he’ll age far less than other characters cast.
And sure, Tom Holland being 19 is perhaps a year too old when it comes to American high school casting, but the general ballpark age is still there, and it’s noted. For once we’re actually going to have someone who looks like the Peter Parker of our comics, age and all.
3) Spider-Man is coming to the MCU! As great as Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is, the absence of the company’s biggest and most profitable character was a sore spot. Now we can finally include our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in all the fun. This could never have happened with Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of the webslinger, and the direction the Amazing Spider-Man films were headed just didn’t work with the evolution of the MCU. It would never have felt genuine.
Sony and Marvel needed to work together from the ground up to come up with a new iteration of the character that fit seemlessly with the superhero strewn New York cityscape they already have going on. And they have. We’ll most likely see Spider-Man show up in several MCU films, beginning with Captain America: Civil War next year, but he’ll get his own film in 2017, directed by Jon Watts. Marvel’s guiding hand should lead the character to new heights.
And Tom Holland has already worked with Robert Downey Jr. while screentesting for the role. According to some reports it was his chemistry with the older actor that ensured him the role. If you can keep up with Downey, and can impress both Sony and Marvel, you’ve got the in. And that’s exciting.
This also allows Marvel characters not directly related to the Spider-Man franchise the ability to interact within the Sony-produced Spider-Man movies. And any Spider-Man characters not directly related to the outside Marvel universe (including villains) are now optional and viable villains for other MCU films or shows. So much to love on this front.
4) Tom Holland is already Spider-Man. Seriously. Have you seen some of the parkour/gymnastic stunts the guy is capable of? He can feasibly do his own stunts, and likely will do some, although Marvel and Sony will undoubtedly cast stuntmen to aid him. Check out some of his Instagram videos below, a good tease at our young new Spider-Man: