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Spider-Man Homecoming director Jon Watts and star Tom Holland both dropped by Las Vegas on Monday to share a new trailer from their upcoming Sony and Marvel film with the audience at CinemaCon, ahead of the trailer’s release online Tuesday.
The film, which hits theaters July 7, stars Holland as Peter Parker, who’s navigating high school while also getting used to his flashy new powers and Tony Stark-designed suit.
Ahead of Sony’s presentation, Holland and Watts sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to talk about shooting the new Spidey film, what makes their take different and what Holland did when he got an injury on set (hint: he enlisted the help of a good friend).
How did you pitch your take on Spider-Man to get the job as the director?
Watts: I went in to Marvel for a general meeting, and then they were talking about how they had teamed up with Sony and they had this opportunity to bring in Sony to the Marvel universe. They were leaning toward it being a high school movie, and I had been wanting to make a high school movie. I’d been watching every coming-of-age movie that there is because that’s a great excuse to not start writing, doing “research.” I was really about to speak to the subject about what I liked about coming-of-age movies, and we had this shared language. I was so excited about it that I was overflowing with ideas.
After Captain America: Civil War came out, did you pay attention to what fans were saying about your new take on Spider-Man?
Holland: People kept saying don’t pay attention to the comments, but I found it impossible not to. I think I was lucky that the majority of people were saying really nice things. I was a little nervous about the release, and I was over the moon with the response I got.
How would you describe your Peter Parker to people who’ve seen the previous big-screen versions?
Holland: Different to the previous two. I felt very strongly about the question about what would happen if you gave a 15-year-old superpowers. I think the answer would be he would have the time of his life. Yes, he would probably stop crime, but have so much fun doing it. We really tried to convey that he’s enjoying his superpowers. More often than not in superhero movies, the powers are a burden to the superhero but in our case, they’re the complete opposite.
Have you talked to Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield about playing Peter Parker?
Holland: I haven’t been in contact with them but they said really nice things about me online, which was a lovely thing to hear. I met Andrew at the BAFTAs recently and he was lovely. I’m a huge fan of his, especially the past couple of years, all the work he’s been doing. He wished me good luck. I was really happy to meet him.
What are you most proud of with this film?
Watts: I think it has a unique, surprising tone that’s different from the others, and different from the other movies in this universe. I’m pretty proud of the tone we struck. It’s fun. It’s able to go from a very small story, and really emotional small stakes and just get bigger and bigger until it’s on a massive scale without ever losing sight of the story we were trying to tell.
Holland: I’ve never worked harder on anything in my life. It was a nonstop job and I felt so passionate and proud of what we were creating. I’m so proud that I was able to give my best, and I’m so grateful that I didn’t get injured. I did a lot of stunts. At the very end, I fell down some stairs, and tweaked my ACL just a little bit.
Did you need to take a few days off?
Holland: It was right at the end, so I managed to get through it. The funny thing is, I think one of my last shots of the movie was me chasing a bus, and I couldn’t do it. My best friend Harrison was my assistant while we were out there so we dressed him up like me and had him run. So Harrison has a little cameo in the movie, which is great.
What was your own high school experience like?
Holland: I went to an English high school, which is very different — it’s all boys, suit and tie. But I enrolled for three days in a high school in New York as a research exercise. I had a fake accent, a fake name. It was fun. The Bronx School of Science is a school for genius kids, and I’m definitely not a genius. A lot of the students and teachers were confused as to why I was there so they would test me, and fire off questions at me. It was a little embarrassing, but very informative.
The new Spider-Man suit has a spider-drone that comes out of the center emblem. How did you come up with new gadgets but stay loyal to what comic book fans know and love about Spider-Man?
Watts: There’s a precedent for it in the comic books because Tony Stark builds Peter a new suit. Tony Stark is a very bells and whistles kind of guy. We had that set up in Civil War. That was one of the fun brainstorm meetings: What could be in that suit? We made a list of all the neat things that Tony would put in there for Peter to discover or keep him safe. At one point, we just realized “what if that little spider could crawl out and move around and do surveillance?”
Holland: Our little drone has 10,000 things it could do. I think we found its proper use in the movie. It’s funny — he has a little relationship with the drone, like a little sidekick.
There’s already a release date for Homecoming 2. What’s going on with that. Are you directing?
Watts: I’ve gotta finish this one first — one at a time. There’s still a lot of VFX work to do in post. Talk to me on 7/8/17.
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