[SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading if you don't want to know anything about this movie. Still here? Okay, but you've been warned.]
Spider-Man, perched on playground equipment, talking with Iron Man.
That was just one of the crazy-cool images we saw while taking a storyboard-filled tour of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and its production office. Lead by Eric Carroll, Marvel's Director of Development, Moviefone and several other outlets were gathered in one big conference room and pitched most of the film's three-act structure.
And the verdict was that this may be both the best Spider-Man movie ever and one of Marvel's best efforts.
"Homecoming" marks Tom Holland's first solo film as Spidey, under the Disney-Marvel-Sony pact. It finds Peter Parker struggling through high school while also dealing with the new-found pressures of being Queens' friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The movie pits Holland's part-time Avenger against the Vulture (Michael Keaton), as Keaton's character seeks to settle a score following the events of "The Avengers" that turned huge chunks of Manhattan into a battleground for Loki's alien army.
On set, we spoke with Holland, Keaton, director Jon Watts, and producer Amy Pascal -- here are the highlights:
1. Sadly, we did not get to see the suit in action. But we did see a quick (and not very revealing) scene set in a warehouse of some sort, involving Keaton and Holland (above). The former is rocking a cool aviator jacket, addressing the latter as he sneaks into the joint. Here, Spidey shows up in a homemade, baggy sweatpants-looking costume. (The new trailer features parts of this sequence.)
2. Keaton's character, Adrian Toomes, has been described by the actor as "kind of a dark mirror, a kind of darker version" of Tony Stark to a degree. He's middle-class to the core, and seemingly not a fan of folks like Tony who are on the receiving end of many generous silver platters. (We did not learn how Toomes comes in possession of an Iron Man face shield, as we all saw in the recent trailer.)
3. Keaton plays a blue-collar man called in as clean-up crew post-"Avengers," (and yes, Damage Control exists in this universe, Marvel fans) and finds himself in possession of alien tech. That leads to what looks like significant aerial kick-punching in the film's back half, in between some very funny, and heartfelt, scenes depicting Pete's high school relationships and how he deals with this idea that Manhattan has the Avengers, while this side of the river has him.
4. After the film opens with Toomes showing up to a landmark site from the Battle of New York, and being turned away by the Department of Damage Control (DODC), we cut to Happy (Jon Favreau) setting up Peter in Berlin, following his introductory "Civil War" battle. Peter was expecting to be in the fight for much longer than he was, so he has some time to kill. As of the set visit last year, the plan was to show him killing time in Berlin in the Spidey suit, playing tourist during the opening credits.
5. Timeline-wise, the film takes place about five months after "Civil War."
6. Peter has been operating as Spidey for less than a year when Iron Man finds him in "Civil War." (We learned that there was a line cut from "Civil War" telling us that Pete has spent four to six months fighting crime in the city.)
7. The goal is to keep Peter and his friends in high school for as long as possible in future films, following a similar model to that of the "Harry Potter" movies. "We want to do a fun and different take," Carroll revealed.
8. When we meet Peter, he is starting his sophomore year in high school.9. There are a few variations of the Spidey suit in this film, with the aforementioned baggy, homemade version (above) being the one Pete wears during one of his first encounters with Toomes.
10. Holland revealed a little about his character's arc this time around: "The basic script and the arc for my character has remained the same. I think the arc for Toomes and the Vulture has changed quite drastically from the first draft I read, which, I think for the better."
11. When asked about director Jon Watts' process, Holland said that he "keeps everything fresh, and if there are ever changes [to the shoot], we all are well notified beforehand. I mean, there's only been a couple days where we come in and I've learned the lines for the scene and he's like -- "that's not in the movie anymore, it's a different scene."
12. Stark had a role in making the DODC. It is this role that sets Toomes off, as he thinks it is unfair that Stark can call himself a hero after selling weapons and building the DODC to clean up the messes he and the Avengers make.
13. Toomes is a family man, and we will meet his family at some point in the film.
14. Both Carroll and Keaton touched on Toomes being a "businessman" and having sort of a "Tony Soprano mentality." The villain just wants his shot at the good life -- even if it means taking lives. Starting with our hero's.
15. Vulture, in this Spidey universe, is Peter's first real supervillain.
16. Logan Marshall-Green appears as a member of Toomes' crew. (And, as glimpsed in the trailer, it looks like Donald Glover might play a Shocker-like character.)
17. Hannibal Burgess plays a character who has the "unfortunate job of running the Athletics Dept. at a school for smart kids." (This should yield some of the film's funnier moments.)
18. Spidey's origin story is well-documented on the big screen, so it won't get a re-tread here.
19. However, the film will have nods to that origin but never show it in full. Why? Because, like you, the filmmakers are aware of how tired that it is. They wanted to avoid flashbacks, Carroll pointed out, because it "would feel familiar" and they wanted to avoid that trope unlike "certain Batman movies."
20. The film's codename is "Summer of George," a direct reference to "Seinfeld."
21. When it comes to Spidey's suit, there will be a mix of CG and practical. The costume has moving eyes, and there is more practical effects with the suit than the filmmakers expected.
22. The new suit from Stark could feature a familiar operating system: Jarvis.
23. At first, the Jarvis voice surprises Peter because he doesn't know it is part of the suit. And the suit does have holographic interface, but Peter isn't as smart/adept with it as Tony is. A fun gag in the film finds Pete asking the suit the best way to get to an important destination, and the suit responds with "By car or walking...?"
24. As of production, they were referring to the OS as Jarvis, but not official. No voice cast had been locked down yet.
25. Despite the high-tech suit, the film strives to keep its wearer grounded. "Pete makes web fluid," Carroll said, and the shot of him doing it will be a practical effect. (Sweet!)
26. Arguably the suit's coolest feature is its variable web controls. We figuratively (and almost literally) drooled over this aspect, which is set up during the end-titles stinger in "Civil War" when Pete's web shooter casts a Spidey symbol on the wall orbited with interactive icons. This is an interface for web shooters, and here, Pete can adjust spread with fingers and scroll thru web ball options. (The new trailer shows this at work, with Pete launching a special web ball -- similar to one he used in the comics.)
27. The Spidey symbol can be adjusted big or small to determine target size and web size.
28. The suit also has a heater, and it can light up at opportune times.
29. The black spider logo on the chest (as seen in the second trailer) can float off its mount and give Peter surveillance data for his HUD -- which, initially, startles him because he didn't quite know the suit can do that. (A cool thing about the movie is that it keeps the audience at ground-level with Spidey; we learn what the suit can do when he does, so we are never ahead of our hero.)
30. Yes, the suit comes with an airbag. Moving on...
31. Different webs can be tasked for in-the-field functions. For example, multiple webs can be shot out of one wrist at one time.
32. Another good comedic beat in the film: Pete will have to use a 15-year-old computer to help analyze a piece of alien tech.
33. As fun and action-packed as the film will be, all of the stunts and spectacle are thread through emotional and thematic tentpoles. The movie, according to Carroll, is about the "acceptance of who you are" and "finding your place in this coming-of-age story."
34. Spidey appears more than Peter in the movie.
35. "Homecoming" provides another MCU stepping stone, leading to the events of the upcoming "Infinity War" films. To that end, the emphasis is less on "super" characters and more on the real world ones, the people closest to Peter, like Aunt May and his friends at school.
36. Somewhere near the film's mid-point, there will be an epic action sequence set in and around the Washington Monument (above). Pete's friends are in D.C. for a science fair, bad stuff goes down, and Peter has to rescue them. But Peter's attempt to save them inadvertently puts other aspects of their lives in jeopardy, typical Spider-Man style in that our hero can't catch a break.
37. Tony Stark appears in four or five scenes.
38. Stark's suit will either be the same one from "Civil War" or one with a slight upgrade. (Though, according to Carroll, "our Consumer Products friends would prefer if it is a new one.)
39. Future "Homecoming" sequels fall in with overall MCU slate for Phases Three and Four.
40. There is no mention of OSCORP in this film, or nods to previous Spidey films.
41. And fans will not see the Daily Bugle in the movie, but maybe it will factor into future films. (Think more "college years.")
42. As of now, the MCU can play with any character from Spidey's deep bench, hero or villain, in future films. (Let's hope that means we get a badass Doc Ock in the future.)
"Spider-Man: Homecoming" swings into theaters July 7.