jon watts behind the scenes of Spider-man: Homecoming

Directing the Civil War

What was it about Jon Watts that made him the right choice for you?

Well, I loved Cop Car, and so did Kevin. We both did. And one of the things I loved about Cop Car was that with very little money, he was able to tell a story through action. And there’s a lot of directors who are very, you know, successful action directors, that don’t always tell the story through action. And action having a beginning, middle and end. And that you don’t have like, a movie, and then an action scene, and then a movie, and then an action scene…and what we saw in Jon was somebody who actually knew the whole thing. Plus the performances that he got from those little boys I thought was really something. Plus, he like, scared you and he made you feel hopeful, and he surprised you when that lady gets shot, and he did all the things with, like eight-thousand dollars that people can’t do with eighty.

How important was it to get Tom into Civil War to introduce the character?

That was always the idea, from the very start. TFrom the very start, it was always about putting him in Civil War. And it was always about the suit…that’s what the movie is always about.

Spider-Man Homecoming Trailer Breakdown

Making Things Different

Did Michael Keaton take any convincing to come back to comic book kind of stuff? I know talks broke down at one point.

Are you kidding? Are you joking? He was the person that we wanted from the time that we knew we were doing this character and he took from the time he decided it to the time we closed the deal, yes.

You have such a deep rogue’s gallery of villains–

Sometimes too many!

What’s your opinion about recycling those villains, bringing somebody back?

Well, here’s the thing: we’ve recycled a lot. Um, I think there are certain characters I don’t think there’s anything more to say about them right this minute? And also, you’re not doing a story on this, but we’re also doing this animated movie, and that has a lot of characters in it, too. Very different, because it’s animated. But I think we have to try to be really fresh with it. I mean, I don’t know how many more times we can do – at least for now – I don’t know how many more times we can do the Green Goblin. I’ve certainly tried to do it fifty.

One of the things that stands out about the movie is that it’s a different villain, there’s no Daily Bugle, Peter’s younger – everything is totally different from all five of those movies. Is that something you also all decided from the beginning?

From the very beginning. From the very beginning, the idea was to cast somebody who was a kid who had that kid sensibility, who you felt had the weight of the world on him and only a kid could feel like a kid. You know? No matter what. And that’s what we wanted. We wanted to get that feeling this time. And we did from the very beginning want it to take place in high school. I mean, the other movies take place in high school, too, but not in the same way that we’re doing it in this movie.

Spider-Man Homecoming Trailer Breakdown

The Supporting Cast of Students

Can you talk about the choice for this film, surrounding Peter with this big supporting cast, as opposed to the other movies where it’s usually just him and one other character?

Well, that was one of the points of putting him in the Marvel universe. He lives in a world where, you know, New York City, where you have the Avengers and the shiny tower and all the Gods…and he lives in Queens. You know? And he sort of lives off the scraps of what they’re doing in Manhattan. And so the idea was to populate the movie with enough of both, but, also just about getting really good actors. You know? And our director came in and said, “I want the world to look like high school. I don’t want it to look like a Hollywood high school movie. Because, we’ve all seen those. I want it to look like what a high school would look like today. With a lot of nerdy kids. Because it’s a school for smart kids. You know, with their paints all up here. That really looks good.” But, he wanted it to reflect the world that we live in, and I think that was something…and you know, he’s like, younger than we are…well, maybe not like Kevin, he’s like four. To me. And he said things like “cliques are not the same as they used to be,” “you can’t have the rich kid clique and this clique.” Kids hang out in gangs. He brought a whole other modern sensibility to it that I think is really fresh.

I grew up in Queens, and this is the first Spider-Man movie where the faces in the hallway look like the faces in the hallway I grew up with. How important was it for you to break up that white mass of faces in the previous five films?

I don’t want to sound like we were trying to be politically correct, because that would be a drag, but…it was really important. Because it’s the world that we live in. And we don’t live in that other world anymore. And we needed to catch up with the way the world really is and people who go to the movies and people want to see themselves and…it was too long. Too long. But, we did.

One of the things I noticed from the Comic-Con clip was that Michelle’s relationship with Peter was really, really interesting. She was sort of like, picking on him – and then in high school, when you like someone, you sort of give them a hard time. Can you tell me about Michelle’s relationship with him?

Well, Peter has lots of girls around him in this movie, and in this movie, the story is about him and Liz. But Michelle and Ned are like his two friends who are similar and come from similar backgrounds. But obviously, Zendaya is something great.

When we…actually, can I tell you something really embarrassing? When Kevin and I looked at her screen test…oh god, maybe I can’t say this…we didn’t know who she was! There was this girl, she was the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen and we were like looking at it and she was so fine and so smart and savvy and poised and she had no make-up on…and we just looked at it after we shot it and we were like, “She’s really fine.” And they were like, “She’s really famous.” But she’s been blowing us away every day.

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Please note: This interview has been edited down from a longer transcript and the questions have been rearranged for clarity.

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