Marvel’s newly-anointed Spider-Man rubs black grease from his face as he talks with STACK last year on the Atlanta set of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Tom Holland has been filming a dramatic scene with Michael Keaton’s Vulture, who crash lands in a fiery explosion on a set built to resemble a beach on Brooklyn’s fabled Coney Island amusement park.
In the scene, he’s still wearing his homemade Spidey suit rather than the new shiny version created for him by Tony Stark when Holland’s Peter Parker debuted in last year’s Captain America: Civil War.
“I couldn’t possibly tell you the significance of the different suits,” Holland tells us slyly while chatting under the watchful eye of Marvel bosses. “It’s a very important sequence for us, and it’s one of the first moments we really see Peter without his mask on, or Spider-Man without his mask on, and it’s where you see the contrast between Spider-Man and Peter. And you see him make a very important decision in a very drastic environment, and that decision is what shapes him to becoming one of the most powerful superheroes in the MCU.”
In many ways, Holland’s youthful Spider-Man comes closest to the original teenage comic-book version, given that over the last two decades, actors who hardly qualified for teenage status – Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield – have portrayed Spidey.
Holland’s own real-life enthusiasm echoes that youthful exuberance. “It’s been a real dream come true, you know?” he says, going on to outline the daily pinch-me situations he finds himself in while starring in a movie which bears his name.
“I had a very strange situation today where Michael [Keaton] asked me to punch him, and I was thinking to myself, ‘I’m not going to punch Michael Keaton, that’s just, I’m not going to do that’. And he was like, ‘Punch me, come on!’ And I sort of punched him in the chest, I kind of, like, didn’t really mean it, I didn’t want to hurt him, and he was like, ‘No, hit me!’ So I gave him a good cracking, and it was just before one of the takes, and that is actually very useful as an actor, to have physical contact with someone. I don’t normally like being punched, but apparently Michael does.”
Holland’s parents are in the room as we chat, clearly delighted that their son – a boy who loved to dance – has made it all the way from the UK to swinging in webs in one of the most highly-anticipated movies of Marvel’s superhero universe.
“The dance training and then Billy Elliot, all helped me to this point,” he says. “And I still don’t quite believe it,” says Holland.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is in cinemas on July 6.