‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Producer Amy Pascal Explains How Spider-Man Came Home To The MCU [Interview]
Posted on Monday, April 3rd, 2017 by Peter Sciretta
Amy Pascal is one of the most powerful women in Hollywood. The former head of Sony Pictures was instrumental in making the deal that returned Peter Parker to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When I was on the set of Spider-Man: Homecoming, it seemed clear that her producer credit was not just a title – she was on set behind the monitor, playing a very active role in the creative decisions of the reboot.
But I was most surprised at how down-to-earth Pascal seemed, how honest some of her answers were and how self-deprecating she was about the previous Spider-Man installments (made under her leadership) that weren’t considered home runs. She realizes that this current situation, where Sony and Disney get to “share” Spidey, rarely ever happens in Hollywood, and seems very grateful to have been part of orchestrating it.
How The Deal Was Made To Bring Spider-Man to the MCU
Question: Let’s start at the beginning – How did Marvel and Sony come together to bring Spidey back to the MCU?
Amy Pascal: We made five Spider-Man movies. And we needed to do something different. And we tried doing a lot of different things as you all know and documented. But the thing that we hadn’t done was put him in the Marvel universe, and put him in a world where there are other superheroes. Because he was always the only superhero. And there’s only so many times that you can tell the story of, “I really want everyone to love me, and if I tell them I’m Spider-Man, they’ll love me…but I can’t tell them!” So, there are, we tried, we’ve told that story as many ways as I could figure out.
And Kevin [Feige of Marvel Studios] and I had been working together since the very first movie because he used to get coffee for [previous Spider-Man producer Avi Arad], if you can believe it. He was very good at getting coffee, though. He’s an even better producer, but he’s also good at coffee. So it felt like we needed to do something else and this felt like the right thing to do. And Kevin and I had been talking for a very long time about that.
And here’s the thing that I wanted, I emphasize for all of you because I think this is really important and I don’t think it will ever happen again in the history of the movie business: you have three studios that came together to have this movie being made. And no studio likes to share anything with anyone, let alone three studios.
And truthfully – there is nothing cynical I can find in this statement – everybody did it because they wanted Spider-Man to be great. Truly, it was because Spider-Man is great, the character is great, and people love him. That’s good for Disney. That’s good for Marvel. And that is certainly good for Sony. So, the fact that all these companies were willing to work together to make that happen, to make, you know, believing that everybody needed each other in order to have that happen. I think that’s pretty miraculous.
How Development Was Different
How did casting Tom [Holland] for this movie, with Marvel and Sony, differ from the previous times you were casting this character?
Well, there’s more people. It was…it wasn’t unsimilar because you’re looking at a bunch of boys who are really hopeful and wanted desperately to be chosen, and you’re whittling them down and whittling them down and feeling bad about it, trying to find some quality that you haven’t seen before. We just did it together. It’s been a miraculously smooth partnership between the studios.
Besides the fact that he is younger, can you compare this Spider-Man and Tom’s performance to the others?
Well, I love all my Spider-Men. And they all have different qualities that I think are really special. The thing that they all are is that they’re all fucking awesome actors. And each – whether it was Toby, or Andrew or Tom – they can act like crazy. And I think that’s been a really important thing. I think youth was really important? We tried to find somebody who wasn’t English, but, there you are…we wanted somebody who looked like Peter Parker. And somebody who we’d have empathy for. And who was trying really hard.
Can you think of any specific ways that the development of this film with Marvel was different from doing it independently at Sony?
Oh my God, they have a whole process that’s so fantastic. I’m a total Marvel groupie now. They are meticulous, they are relentless and one of the great things – I say this all the time – is you’re in a meeting with them, and they go, “Okay, it’s good – but how do we make it better?” I’ve never heard that before! They’re like, “How do you cut it?” That was like our line. So, this is like, “…okay. It’s really good. How do we make it better than this? How do we go tot he next place? How do we bless it?” That’s their favorite word at Marvel. “Are we blessing a scene?”
Was there a moment when you realized that the magic of the three studios was actually magic and not a disaster?
I think when we saw Tom, and it was unanimous from everybody that he had it, and everything fell into place. There was a…believe me, what we put the poor boy through hell. And a lot of other boys, too, who were also good. But once you saw that thing on film, just…everybody knew it. And you know, that’s the magic. And the script’s really good, and the dailies are really good, so so far everyone’s happy.
The Future Of Spider-Man
One of the things that nerds really care about is what happens with Spider-Man over time. What is the larger plan? Are there agreements? How many appearances can Spider-Man make over Marvel movies?
I think I’ll answer it this way: I think we found the right formula and I think everybody is going to want the right thing to continue. And I think that there’s a, as I said, there’s a surprisingly generous and cooperative thing, and if it works for everybody, then it’s going to work for everybody. The thing is – and I always felt this way – if you worry about the movie and you worry about the story, all the politics take care of themselves. They just do. Because when the movies work, there’s enough for more than everybody. It’s when you start making the other stuff first that you start to get in trouble.
You mentioned the animated Spider-Man films. Does anything in those films preclude inclusion in–
Nothing precludes anything. The sky is open right now. And I think that if we can keep this goodwill going, I think it’s going to be good for the fans and good for the journalists and the nerds and good for the companies.
There’s been a Venom movie in development?
There’s a Venom movie in development.
You talked about the importance of working with Marvel. What’s the decision not to work with Marvel on the animated thing?
They just weren’t part of it. It was something we were doing with Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and it’s a very different kind of take on it? It’s another realm.