Ladies, gentlemen, and entomologists — meet your new friendly neighborhood Spider-Man: Tom Holland
The three-headed monster of Marvel, Disney, and Sony today confirmed that the 19-year-old Brit, best known for his roles in The Impossible and the TV miniseries Wolf Hall, will be assuming web-slinging duties for a standalone Sony movie to be directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car) that will hit theaters on July 28, 2017. As expected Holland’s Spidey will make his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in next year’s Captain America: Civil War.
Holland beat out a quintet of actors for the coveted web-head role. The half-dozen finalists auditioned in Atlanta on the Civil War set on May 30 so Marvel could presumably screen test the candidates opposite the other superheroes currently working on the film, due out May 6, 2016.
“For Spidey himself, we saw many terrific young actors, but Tom’s screen tests were special,” Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony Pictures, said in a statement. Former Sony studio boss Amy Pascal, who will co-produce the upcoming Spider-Man films, called Holland “a vibrant, talented young actor capable of embodying one of the most well-known characters in the world.”
Holland first gained notice playing Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts’ older son in the 2012 tsunami drama The Impossible. His next major Hollywood film is the Ron Howard-helmed In the Heart of the Sea about the ill-fated whale ship that inspired Moby-Dick, which co-stars fellow Marvel hero Chris Hemsworth and arrives in theaters on Dec. 11.
Marvel and Sony announced in February that the vaunted wall-crawler — the comic publisher’s most popular, most iconic character — would rejoin the fold for a series of MCU team-up movies. In exchange, the Marvel braintrust would provide creative juice for the stand-alone films after Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man franchise with Andrew Garfield struggled both critically and commercially.
Holland’s Peter Parker will go back to his high-school roots, but without redoing an origin story we’ve already seen play out with Garfield and Tobey Maguire.
The casting news comes just days after Wikileaks released more material from the Sony hack, including one document that states that Spider-Man/Peter Parker is “not a homosexual (unless Marvel has portrayed that alter ego as a homosexual).” It is “mandatory” that Parker is Caucasian, too. The memo dated back to 2011, before the launch of the first Garfield film. Coincidentally, on Monday, Marvel announced that its “Ultimate” version of Spidey, the alter ego of the half-black, half-Latino Miles Morales, was going to be part of the publisher’s main continuity, coexisting with Peter Parker. Considering the wording of the contract left wiggle room to alter the character based on any comic reboot, some fans got their hopes up that Morales might be the basis for the new movie hero, but today’s announcement — indeed the entire casting process — belied that notion.
“Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s great characters, beloved around the world,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said. “We’re thrilled to work with Sony Pictures to bring the iconic web-slinger into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which opens up fantastic new opportunities for storytelling and franchise building.”
We’ll see if Holland's web-slinger, unlike Garfield's, manages to stick around to build that franchise, but Rothman is all in on his new hero. “All in all,” he said Tuesday, “we are off to a roaring start.”