After an exhaustive casting process—their most laborious since they had such a hard time getting someone to voice Rocket Raccoon—Marvel announced they have found their new Spider-Man and he is the English child, Tom Holland. It’s a good choice—Holland was very memorable in The Impossible, and he’s been a favorite in the casting process for a while. An earlier rumor said Marvel favored someone else but after running down what happened to Asa Butterfield, widely believed to be the favorite a couple months ago, I was told that Marvel and Sony were always in agreement that Holland was a good prospect, and he emerged as their mutual pick after Butterfield was ousted earlier this summer. (Butterfield commented online about potentially being cast and Marvel axed him. They had previously booted another prospect for posting on his Instagram about auditioning. Marvel is not f*cking around.)
At nineteen Holland is old enough to not require parents on set, but he still looks young enough to convincingly play a high-schooler. Marvel is adamant that THEIR Peter Parker be an actual, proper child. It’s not a bad call—Peter’s allure is that he’s just a dorky kid who suddenly gets crazy powers but doesn’t overnight become cool. He’s still a dorky kid. And the Marvel Cinematic Universe is dominated by adult characters—it’ll make a neat contrast to see a young, baby-faced Peter keeping up with the older, grown-up Avengers. I don’t think anyone really wants a three-booted Spider-Man movie, but if they’re going to do it, they could at least make it look and feel different from the others. Making it overtly about kids is one way to do that.
Another way to do that would be to bring in an all new character as Spider-Man, namely, the biracial Miles Morales. I’ve wondered ever since Marvel and Sony announced their co-op deal what’s in it for Marvel, as they get no money up front or a cut of the stand-alone movies’ box office. Then a few days ago the internet was outraged when leaked emails from the Sony Hack revealed details of the licensing agreement between Sony and Marvel in which Marvel outlined exactly how boring and whitebread Peter Parker has to be. But it reads like Marvel boxing in Sony so they can’t graft the qualities of one character, like Miles, onto Peter Parker. I wonder if “what’s in it for Marvel” is the chance to make Sony amenable to opening up the “spider-verse” and letting Marvel bring characters like Miles Morales and Jessica Drew to the MCU as well.
Also Jon Watts, director of the upcoming B-movie Cop Car, which won a lot of fans at Sundance, will be helming the stand-alone Spider-Man movie for 2017. That guy went from making videos for The Onion to making violent revenge flicks, so it will be interesting to see what kind of sensibility he brings to a superhero movie.