Spider-Man: Homecoming grabbed a lot of headlines when Marvel Studios convinced Michael Keaton to star as the main antagonist of the film, the Vulture. The hiring process was a bit of a roller coaster, with Keaton rumored, then the rumors were shot down, and then he was back on the project. What should fans take from that long road to signing? While promoting The Founder, Keaton sat down with Deadline and discussed Marvel and his approach to blockbusters, and the interview sheds some light onto his thought process about taking a job like the Vulture.
First of all, Keaton has a lot of respect for the team at Marvel and their approach to their material.
[Marvel Studios] is one well-oiled machine. It is remarkable how they have got that whole thing covered in a really qualitative way…Just how efficient it is, in the best sense, and how it operates on a practical level. How organized they are about what they make and how conscientious they are about what they have. They’ve got really wonderful actors for one thing, but I guess that has always been the case. Batman always had great actors surrounding that character. We had Pat Hingle and all these terrific actors. They really get that script is important, and they really protect their lore and that culture and they see the enormity of it, on a capitalistic level.
Keaton hits on many things really quickly in that quote. First of all, he commends the studio for their ability to pump out good content regularly. Fans have benefitted from the system for years. Notice how easily Peyton Reed could fit into Ant-Man very late in the process and still produce a good movie. Also, the mechanisms for filmmaking at Marvel have allowed the studio to bring in new, relatively untested directors, like Taika Waititi or Jon Watts. Those filmmakers have great instincts from smaller pictures and can manage a major production because Marvel provides so much support. On a larger scale, Marvel also manages its business side in a way that has impressed the first big screen Bruce Wayne.
Keaton also talks about the actors, showing respect for the talent around him. He explicitly praises Tom Holland, and his ability to make an impression in a few moments in Captain America: Civil War.
A great kid, by the way. That doesn’t sound easy to do.
One of the more interesting things that Keaton goes into, is his general lack of knowledge about the source material. From the sound of things, he hasn’t bothered to even watch the previous MCU movies.
I haven’t seen any of those movies, though. I just haven’t. It’s not a judgment.
He had a similar approach to Batman back in the day.
Some of it was baked in already because he was doing the Frank Miller Batman. I didn’t know anything about the lore and to this day, I still don’t. Zero. I just saw it as an interesting character.
This approach to the comic books is interesting. Some of the MCU heroes, like Keaton’s co-star Holland, clearly love the source material and have pined for the job they now have. Others like Mike Colter just enjoy a good character, but don’t have much affinity for the origins of the character in other media. Keaton clearly hasn’t spent much time before shooting learning about Spider-Man or the larger universe, and if his history from Batman means anything, he probably won’t spend much time catching up now that it’s over. This probably allows him to approach the character in a fresh way, but also seems oddly ignorant of something that is a big part of his career.
Finally, Keaton was asked if he was ever envious of the actors who played flamboyant villains opposite him in the Batman franchise. Was Spider-Man: Homecoming a chance to finally have that spotlight himself? Keaton seemed to have never considered it.
Those three and everybody else were so great. I didn’t have time to be jealous or even think that way. I can’t remember if there was a time I thought man, they’re having a lot of fun and I’ve got to be the center of this thing. I just hoped what I was doing was working.
All in all, Keaton strikes the tone of a well-seasoned actor who just doesn’t get too caught up in the enormity of big blockbuster movies. He doesn’t show disdain for them, but he also doesn’t overthink how to approach them. “Just do your job well” seems to be the mantra. The interview may cast some light onto the back and forth during the hiring phase. He probably was interested, but not so interested that he wouldn’t walk away. In the end, Marvel did get him on board and he looks to be one of the best pieces to the next Spidey adventure.
What do you think of Keaton’s comments? Would you like the actors who take up MCU roles to be a little more devoted to the material, like so many of the fans? Or do you not care, as long as they put in a stellar performance? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Spider-Man: Homecoming staring Holland, Keaton, Marissa Tomei, and Roberty Downey Jr. is scheduled to hit theaters July 7, 2017.