After the deal between Marvel and Sony was announced back in February, the rumors seemed to immediately start up regarding who would be cast, and who would direct the untitled Spider-Man film set to release in 2017.
For a while there, it seemed as though Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods), who worked on Daredevil before leaving the show for Sony’s Sinister Six, was on board to write and direct the film. Of course, this was before the leaked Sony e-mails began to showcase the strained relationship between Goddard and Marvel.
In the press release announcing Tom Holland as the new Spider-Man, Marvel also announced that new-comer Jon Watts would be directing the still untitled solo film set for 2017. For many, this was a strange choice. With options like Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies, 50/50) and Ted Melfi (St. Vincent), both of whom have directed movies that have been watched and enjoyed by many fans, choosing Watts as the director just didn’t make sense to many fans. Unlike Levine and Melfi, Watts’ only feature film credit, Cop Car, has only been seen (so far) by those lucky enough to catch it on the festival circuit and it won’t hit movie theaters until August 7th.
While Cop Car hasn’t been released just yet, most of the people that have been lucky enough to see it have had nothing but good things to say, and the film is currently “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes with 13 reviews. Sure, that may not seem encouraging, but Marvel has done a rather good job at bringing in the right directors for their projects. (Admittedly, there has been an exception or two.) Look at James Gunn who went on to direct one of the biggest hits later year – Guardians of the Galaxy. When he was announced as the director, fans were put off by his prior film credits. He’d directed two films Slither and Super, both of which were far from box office hits, and he’d written the screenplay for the 2002 Scooby-Doo film. Nothing that honestly proved that he’d be able to deliver as great of a superhero film as he did. Same goes for Joe & Anthony Russo, who directed the excellent Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Their biggest credits prior to The Winter Soldier were You, Me and Dupree and the television show Community, and yet, they managed to deliver one of the best Marvel films to date.
When it comes to hiring the talent behind the cameras, Marvel tends to think outside of the box when bringing in directors for a majority of their films, and Jon Watts is another example of that. He is far from a household name, and his only feature film has yet to be released, and yet he has been given the reigns to one of the biggest superhero franchises ever. So how did he come to land the gig?
Speaking to Kevin Feige during press for Ant-Man, Collider was able to ask him who ultimately decided on Watts for the job and why.
“It was myself and Amy Pascal and Tom Rothman, and also Jeremy Latcham and Louis D’Esposito at Marvel where involved in that. We met with a lot of people and came down to a couple of very, very, very good finals candidates. Jon just—we really liked his movie Cop Car, we met with him four, five, or six times, and each time he had more and more interesting things to say. And at Marvel, it always comes down to ultimately, “We can make a movie with this person for two years, we could spend almost every day with this person for two years. Let’s go.”
What’s interesting about this answer is that, shortly after Watts was announced as the director, many trades began to chime in with rumors that they’d heard regarding the hiring process for Spider-Man. Variety stated that Levine and Melfi took themselves out of the running, having grown tired of the process, leaving Watts as the only remaining option. Where as, The Hollywood Reporter stated that Feige was the one that ultimately chose Watts to direct the film.
It’s easy to forget that, unlike with the rest of the MCU where Feige more than likely gets final say, the deal with Sony makes it so that he’s only one of many voices in the hiring process. This is the likely reason that casting the role of Spider-Man took so long. These are two separate companies, with various people, all coming together to decide on castings and hirings that will not only effect Sony’s Spider-Man franchise, but also the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So they needed to be in agreement, and they needed to be sure that they brought in the right person, and from what Feige has to say – it sounds as though they did.
Feige also went on to tell Collider that the material used for Holland to audition alongside Robert Downey Jr. was written specifically for the audition. He also promised there will be banter between Iron Man and Spider-Man, and that they’d even written that into the audition script.
Collider: What kind of scene was the screen test between Tom [Holland] and Robert [Downey Jr.], was it real dialogue or was it just written for the screen test?
FEIGE: It was a combination, it was mainly written for the screen test though. Which is what we usually do, so if people like you get your hands on them…
One of the things that I think everyone is really looking forward to is the banter between Spider-Man and Iron Man. Could you tell immediately tell, ‘Oh, Tom can do it. This is what audiences want to see”?
FEIGE: That was part of it. When we’ll see that, I don’t know, but that was part of it.
While there currently isn’t a writer attached to the new Spider-Man film, Feige assured Collider that announcement was to come. Given the team they’ve assembled so far with Holland and Watts, it’ll be interesting to see who they bring on to work on the screenplay.
And just because I thought it was neat, here’s a fun little video from the folks over at IGN, where the cast of Ant-Man gives advice to Tom Holland regarding Spider-Man.
The as of yet untitled Spider-Man movie is set to hit movie theaters on July 28th, 2017.
As always, for all things Spider-Man, be sure to follow along here.