Marvel Studios Countdown: 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Cast Reveals Spidey's Early Years

Marvel Studios Countdown: 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Cast Reveals Spidey's Early Years

Jul 11, 2016

Thanks to Captain America: Civil War, and the performance of Tom Holland as Peter Parker, there’s positivity over the prospect of yet another Spider-Man reboot. Marvel Studios is at the helm this time too, working with Sony to create a worthy Spider-Man franchise, instead of dangling “world building” threads that have no dedicated plan or pay-off. Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2 may have gotten some things right, but they did a poor job aping Marvel’s formula. Marvel’s connectivity is more about planting small seeds that grow later; the Marc Webb Amazing Spider-Man films suffered from dead-end plot points with the intention that maybe someone would somehow get around to explaining them later, to the detriment of efficient and satisfying storytelling.

Next July, almost exactly one year from now, we’ll be treated to Spider-Man: Homecoming - a title that nods to Marvel’s first-time cinematic creative control of the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler and to the high school event that feels like a dry run for prom. In fact, besides Holland and Marisa Tomei as Peter’s Aunt May, the cast has snowballed into an unexpectedly strong ensemble, with several cast members obviously filling high school appropriate roles.

Angourie Rice (The Nice Guys) was just added, and she’ll join Zendaya, Logan Marshall-Green, Tony Revolori, and Abraham Attah, alongside “grown ups” like Michael Keaton, Bokeem Woodbine, Martin Starr, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, and - no big surprise - Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. They’re likely saving any formal announcements on who’s playing who for SDCC, but let’s look at Peter Parker’s comic book roots to start guessing.

Canonically, Peter Parker attended Midtown High, an all-American high school in Queens, New York created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Other creators who’ve spent a lot of time exploring Spidey’s high school years include Kurt Busiek and Steve Oliffe of The Untold Tales of Spider-Man, a series that expands upon Lee and Ditko’s early years, and Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley of Ultimate Spider-Man, an “alternate world” Peter Parker specifically created so that Marvel could do modern teen stories with the character while the original Peter Parker was an adult.

A lot of the things we associate with Peter Parker’s high school days like Gwen Stacy or Harry Osborn, didn’t come until a couple of years into the original run of Amazing Spider-Man, when Parker attended Empire State University. In high school, Parker was basically alone, tormented by a group of bullies which included Flash Thompson. Flash was a jock with a chip on his shoulder, who went from being Peter’s tormentor, to friend, to fellow superhero, over the character’s long history. Flash has never been a notable character in the films, with only obligatory appearances played by Joe Manganiello and Chris Zylka. Homecoming should likely flesh out the bully as an actual character to match his comic counterpart.

Flash traveled with his own clique, most notably Liz Allan, another Spider-Man supporting character who’s managed to stick around over the decades. Liz could be just as harsh to Peter as Flash was, but she had a real soft spot for Spider-Man. Liz was Parker’s first love interest, though unrequited. She became an afterthought to Peter once he started dating Daily Bugle co-worker Betty Brant. Liz eventually married Harry Osborn (which didn’t turn out so great when he became the second Green Goblin). We wouldn’t be surprised at all if Liz Allan and Betty Brant were part of the Homecoming cast.

Bendis transplanted Osborn, Stacy, and Mary Jane Watson into Peter’s high school years, and some of the Spider-Man cartoons have done this as well. Chances are Homecoming will also bring in some of these familiar faces instead of waiting until Tom Holland is ready to do Spider-Man in college. Harry Osborn was previously brought to the screen by James Franco and Dane DeHaan, and neither actor quite matched the comic book counterpart.

Spider-Man fans really want to know if we’re going to get Gwen Stacy again (brought to life recently by Emma Stone) or Mary Jane (played by Kirsten Dunst in the original trilogy). One thing the films haven’t done, though Spider-Man 3 had Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen, is embroil Peter Parker in an anxiety-inducing love triangle. Could be fun for us, not so much fun for Spider-Man, but that’s the trick - what’s bad for Peter Parker is what’s typically great for Spider-Man stories.

The movies can do anything they want with the comics as inspiration, so there’s a slim chance that Miles Morales (who would become a worthy Spider-Man in his own right) and his bestie Ganke Lee could be part of the Midtown High crew. It feels unlikely, but anything’s fair game with a reboot. Sony will be looking to expand the Spider-Man films with spin-offs, so they could be stuffing every nook and cranny with characters who can lead their own films, including Morales.

With the kids, the Midtown High faculty, the Daily Bugle staff, and whoever the villains might be (Vulture seems to be the front-runner), there are plenty of roles for the cast to fill. Marvel is determined to make this the best Spider-Man movie ever, and they know the expectations for that are sky high. Civil War was a nice tease of what’s in store, and July 2017 can’t get here fast enough.

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