THR highlights who plays the superhero (this time around), why the new reboot matters and what the critics are saying.
Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into theaters on July 7 — right in the middle of a summer box-office season crowded with events films featuring pirates, knights, sci-fi adventurers and, of course, a handful of other superheroes.
It can al be a little overwhelming, so The Hollywood Reporter is highlighting five things to know about Sony and Marvel's standout offering:
Jon Watts directs the superhero reboot, starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Tony Revolori, Donald Glover and Jon Favreau. Robert Downey Jr. also appears as Tony Stark/Iron Man, and the villain Vulture is played by Michael Keaton. Unlike previous movies, Homecoming centers on Peter Parker in high school and showcases his youth and innocence.
"You've seen the billionaire, the scientist, the soldier. Now it's time to see the kid," he told THR. "Every decision we make on set is based off how would a kid react in this situation, so every fight scene we have is designed in a way that's almost child-friendly, so he never actually punches anyone."
Spider-Man: Homecoming is Holland's first starring role on the big screen. The young British actor first made an impression for playing Billy Elliot on the West End for three years, and later played supporting roles in J.A. Bayona's The Impossible, Robert Zemeckis' The Lost City of Z and Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea. He nabbed the role after a stunt-filled audition tape and learned that he got the part via Instagram.
But wait, wasn't there a Spider-Man movie recently? Yes, this reboot is the character's third franchise.
Sam Raimi directed Tobey Maguire in the first Spider-Man trilogy, which also featured Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, James Franco, Alfred Molina and Topher Grace, among others. The first one opened to a then-record $114.8 million in 2002 — becoming the poster child for the modern-day superhero blockbuster — and spawned two hit sequels in 2004 and 2007.
Sony then rebooted the franchise in 2012 with Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Field, Martin Sheen and director Marc Webb. But neither The Amazing Spider-Man nor its 2014 sequel matched the might of the first trilogy, so the studio scrapped a third film.
Yes, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the superhero's sixth film ever, but it's also the first one made with Marvel Studios, meaning it's officially part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That's why Holland showed up in last year's Captain America: Civil War and will also be in next year's Avengers: Infinity War.
Plus, a sequel has already been announced and is set to hit theaters in July 2019. Like this one, it'll keep Peter Parker in high school. "There's still a lot of unexplored territory," director Watts told THR's Heat Vision editor Aaron Couch. "To deal with the fallout of Infinity War and be a junior in high school, I think sounds like a pretty good movie to me."
At press time, the movie scored a 93-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Though THR's critic John DeFore called the movie "occasionally exciting but often frustrating," its heavy humor and light attitude is praised in other reviews. For example, Rolling Stone's Peter Travers says it's "as high school as a John Hughes comedy — think The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller's Day Off — in which teens talk like teens instead of old-school Hollywood cynics aching to sound young." And Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson echoed, "Homecoming is just such a summery good time."
The movie should cast a powerful web when swinging into theaters this weekend — it's predicted to fly past $100 million in North America alone. Sony puts the budget of Homecoming at $175 million, and is being more conservative and suggesting an $80-million domestic opening.
Homecoming will host Thursday night previews in 3,450 theaters before expanding into a total of 4,341 locations Friday, including 392 Imax cinemas and 601 premium large-format screens.