Far From Home spoiler interview

Spider-Man: Far From Home has to answer some huge questions posed by Avengers: Endgame, tell its own Spider-Man story, and advance the relationship between Peter Parker and MJ. Those aspects are all expected elements of a post-Endgame Spider-Man film, but this superhero sequel also has plenty of surprises in store. We caught up with director Jon Watts for an in-depth, spoiler-heavy discussion about all of the film’s biggest and most shocking revelations, including the fantastic mid-credits cameo, that mind-bending post-credits scene, and much more.

One of my favorite aspects of Spider-Man is when he has to rely on his intelligence to get out of tough spots. His web shooters don’t work, or in the comics he runs out of money to make webbing just when he has to face off against a bad guy. Before we dive into spoilers, how important is that aspect of the character for you?

I always want to try to put him in situations where he has to use his brains. In Homecoming, he has this super high-tech suit that Tony gives him and he’s relying on that and that’s doing a lot of the work for him. That was a big part of that story, but this time I wanted to try to strip those things away so we could see Peter Parker use his brains – not only to build his own suit, but also in the third act to figure out a way to take down Beck with his little MacGuyver bomb.

OK, so let’s talk about spoilers. First up, I loved how you chose to show what happened when people returned from The Blip. Were there any other ideas on the table for depicting what that might look like?

There were so many ideas, honestly. So many crazy things happened in Endgame and they don’t address them, and we just had this long, long list of all the things that we wanted to see. We could only have so many. But the one I really wish we could have put in was, it was going to be my dog’s cameo. I wanted to see my dog blip out and then pop back into life. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time. That’s the second time my dog’s been cut from these movies.

Oh, bummer.

I know, but you’ve gotta be ruthless in the editing room. You can’t make exceptions, even for your dog.

Fans who know Mysterio from the comics may have expected that he wasn’t quite what he seemed here, but the specifics of Quentin Beck’s past in your movie are unexpected, with the flashback to his interaction with Tony Stark. Your Spider-Man movies have been really interesting opportunities to complicate Stark’s legacy by exploring the stories of people he affected.

Yeah, especially in the wake of his death, you have to start really evaluating that legacy, because he wasn’t a perfect guy. Not by any means. At the end of his life, he made this incredible sacrifice to save the world, but along the way, he definitely made a lot of mistakes and no doubt created some enemies. To me, that’s really interesting to explore that and the complications of that. And also to look at, in this time of tragedy, to see how someone like Beck can be opportunistic about it. While the rest of the world is dealing with the fallout, this guy sees it as an opportunity, which I think is a fascinating way to tackle Tony’s legend.

For me, this entire film feels like an indictment of fake news, and even though Mysterio seemingly dies at the end, he manages to twist the knife one last time by framing Peter and revealing his identity to the world. This is your second Spider-Man movie, and the second one that ends with a big revelation about Peter’s identity. Is that a purposeful reflection of the ending of the original Iron Man, since Peter is Tony’s protege?

Yeah, if the movie keeps asking this question of ‘Who’s going to be the next Iron Man?’ and Spider-Man is finally shaking that legacy and starting to finally chart his own path and step up in his own way, I thought it would be really ironic to rob him of that opportunity to reveal himself of the world. In this movie that’s all about exploring truth and self-deception, it felt like an interesting ironic twist for Mysterio to essentially win by making Peter’s biggest secret public knowledge.

Do you really think Mysterio is actually dead?

It’s Mysterio, so who knows?

(Laughs) I figured as much.

He definitely seemed dead.

Right. There’s another big reveal in this movie: Nick Fury was actually a Skrull the whole time. Two questions there –

Only two?

(laughs) How long has Talos been impersonating Fury before this film begins, and can you talk me through the decision to have a Skrull play Fury in your movie?

In my mind, Talos has only been Fury from the beginning of this movie. That was real Nick Fury at Tony’s funeral…unless someone else tells me otherwise. I don’t want to get in too deep with that stuff. After I saw Captain Marvel, and really seeing so much more of Nick Fury’s origin story, it only made sense for us in this sort of con man story that we’re telling, to keep that on the table as just one last opportunity for a big reversal that makes you watch the whole movie in a different way.

It must have been an intentional thing, too, for Beck to be able to fool Fury: it’s not really Fury, it’s Talos. Because Fury has been set up as this ultra-intelligent badass guy who would be able to snuff out something like this instantly, but it makes more sense when you view it through that lens.

Nick Fury’s superpower is suspicion. He’s suspicious of everyone. So the question was always, ‘How could Fury be fooled by Mysterio?’ And the answer was right there as soon as I walked out of the first Captain Marvel screening.

At what part of the development process was that for you? When you saw Captain Marvel, where were you in the writing? Was that a late game revelation, a final puzzle piece for you?

There are Nick Fury/Skrull stories all over the comics. So that was always something in the back of my mind. But until what we really knew what was going on with Captain Marvel, that’s when it made sense to actually go for it. It’s something you shoot and you’re not sure if you’re going to use it until you put it all together.

Can you tell me about J.K. Simmons returning to the role of J. Jonah Jameson? Was there anyone else you considered for that part?

Never! It was him or nothing. We knew we wanted to do that, and we knew we wanted him to be responsible for this big reveal at the end. It all just came down to whether or not he would want to do it. It’s just such an iconic performance, it was impossible to imagine it as anyone else.

That was awesome. Did he spark to it immediately? What were the conversations like there?

I think at first he was like, ‘Wait, what? What are you talking about?’ Once we actually pitched him the story and how it all fit in to the context, he was completely excited to do it. It must have been very surreal for him to just step back into this role after so many years. But he was amazing. As soon as the cameras started rolling, he was J. Jonah Jameson.

I spoke with the filmmakers behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse when that movie came out and I asked them if they had the chance to play the Spider-Man video game that came out on PlayStation last year. I was going to ask you the same thing – I assume you were pretty busy making this movie, but I wondered if you had any chance to mess around with that game any.

Yeah, I was playing it on the weekends when I wasn’t shooting. I just realized that was an insane thing to do. I was like, ‘I can’t work on Spider-Man all week and then go home and play Spider-Man.’ I was like, ‘I need another game. This is too much Spider-Man for me. I need to take a break on the weekends.’ It’s an amazing game.

The reason I asked because J. Jonah Jameson in that game is very much like the Jameson that appears in your movie. I was wondering if that was a direct inspiration.

No, I think he just gave such an incredible performance in the Raimi films that it’s just unparalleled. It was perfect, so you couldn’t have anyone else.

I noticed your name as a songwriter in the credits, I believe for a song called Euroflash. What’s the story there?

That’s right. I also wrote a song for the last movie. I did a little bit of soundtracking for Flash’s shitty techno music. That’s all me.

(laughs) Awesome. Talk to me about the hologram sequence, the really trippy scene with zombie Iron Man. That’s a visual on a whole different level for these Spider-Man movies. What was that experience like, and how were you able to get your vision across to the visual effects team and everybody involved to make that come to life?

That sequence is one of the reasons why you pick Mysterio as your villain, so you can do a sequence like that. Creatively, it’s kind of daunting because you can do anything. Really, anything is possible. So what you have to do is, first of all, come up with an emotional entry point for what Mysterio’s trying to do, what he’s trying to accomplish, and how Peter feels about that. You start with that as a through line, and you let the visuals come out of that emotional storytelling. So that’s how we developed that, and it was fun. It’s a lot of concept art and you build small sets with different elements and combine that with motion capture and CG and it becomes one of those sequences where every part of the team gets involved.

The idea of Mysterio having a team of people who also were affected by Tony Stark in some way is really fascinating to me – the idea of Guterman as the story guy, etc. Beck is essentially a director making a movie for the world. What sort of meta-narrative stuff were you interested in playing with there?

Yeah, I don’t get why everyone keeps calling him a villain. He’s just a director! I don’t understand it. No, he’s essentially putting on a show. He’s putting on a show for Peter to try to con him, and he’s putting on a show for the world. It’s a collaborative process, and you wouldn’t just do it all alone, you’d have to have a crew behind you. Mysterio very often had a crew in the comics, and I always liked that idea, and this is a way to take that as an inspiration and get a very different kind of group of henchman than you would normally see. You have Guterman as his writer, and you have Janice trying to get the wrinkles out of the cape. It’s not your typical group of goons.

And the idea of flashing all the way back to the first Iron Man to that guy that Obadiah Stane screams at, was that an idea that somebody at Marvel had, or were you guys mining the mythos and looking for opportunities?

We started with the idea that Beck’s illusions would be part of Tony’s B.A.R.F. technology. Those two things really went hand in hand for how he’s creating these illusions. But then using that as a jumping off point, we just started going deeper and re-watching the Iron Man films and thinking, ‘Oh, who else would be affected by Tony’s death? Who else along the way might end up as a part of Beck’s crew?’ and that one was pretty obvious. It jumped to the forefront as soon as we started going back and watching the films.

There’s this one line where Fury and Maria Hill are walking down the sidewalk or something, and they say something about the Kree having sleeper cells.

Yeah! You picked that up? Oh, that’s amazing.

It was so fast, and I feel like a lot of people are going to miss it, but I feel like it’s one of those things people are going to want to go back and see it a second time for. What sort of seeds are you trying to plant there?

If you go back with the knowledge that they’re not who they seem to be, if you go back and watch the movie a second time, there’s a lot of lines like that, that reveal a little bit more about who they are. Same thing with Beck’s illusions. When you watch the Hydro Man battle and the Molten Man battle knowing that it’s all fake, there’s a lot of details in there that you would definitely miss the first time through that you may pick up on [subsequent viewings].

*****

Spider-Man: Far From Home is in theaters right now.

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