Through Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, the revamped take on Marvel's wallcrawler has made an obvious effort to dodge reusing characters from previous Spider-Man movie franchises. Aside from the absolutely necessary Peter Parker and Aunt May characters, names such as Ned Leeds, MJ, and Flash Thompson are among the few to reappear on the screen, but this time around being reinvented versions of the characters. Meanwhile, newcomers to the movies like Vulture and Mysterio are becoming fan-favorites with their respective cinematic debuts. For producer Amy Pascal, this is an exciting opportunity to explore pockets of the Spider-Man characters which hadn't been used in the past.
"I think that they're the great thing about what Stan and Steve did, is that they are characters that can be reinterpreted," Pascal said. "It's 1962, it's a long time for something to remain fresh, and yet it's been able to. I think that's because just like all of the artist who did all of the various spectacular, amazing, ultimate, everything have been able to reinterpret these kind of classical characters. We're able to do that, too." While Zendaya's Michele, who is now referred to as MJ, shows similarities in role to the popular Mary Jane character, she is very much her own character re-imagined for today's cinematic experience and standards.
As it turns out, Pascal was not always a comic book reader but her line of work in such a genre forced her to dive in head first. "Oh, you think I was born a comic book nerd? I was not," Pascal laughs. Back in 2002 when the original Spider-Man was released, Pascal was serving as a Chairman at Sony Pictures and helped launch what was the biggest movie ever, at the time. "Avi Arad, when he first brought Spider-Man to Sony, which was in the late '90s, I'm like, 'I like that Peter Parker character,' because I could relate to Peter Parker. I understood him. He's just a normal kid with the same problem, money problems, love problems, family problems, the same stuff that everybody has. I could completely relate to him."
Still, it is time for the filmmakers to dig deeper than what has worked before. "There is like, 800 characters," Pascal notes. "How many iterations of these comics have there been? Sometimes you have to dig a little bit to find something that's resonant because we have to find characters. All the villains in these movies always have to be a reflection of what Peter is going through. So, we have to first figure out what story do we want to tell about Peter, and then we decide which villain and what interpretation of that villain is going to make sense for where Peter is at at this point in his life."
Enter: Mysterio. As Peter Parker is in need of a mentor following the early loss of Uncle Ben and the more recent loss of Tony Stark, Jake Gyllenhaal's Quentin Beck steps in from another dimension to fill that void, yet another character remix of sorts for the cinematic adaptation. "In our movie, he comes from another universe," Pascal notes. "So, it's a different version of Mysterio than most people who read the comic books know. However, his reputation in the world is that you can't always believe everything he says, and I think that we live in a time where that might be resonant."
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is no less excited to have Gyllenhaal in the role of Mysterio than anyone. "Jake is somebody that we have wanted to work for many, many, many, many years," Feige said. "Everybody knows the story, that he almost took over for Toby [Maguire] in Spider-Man 2 when it looked briefly like Toby wasn't going to do it. And finally, this was the role. This was the role that he was, thankfully for us, willing to do. And now of course, it's perfect, and you can't imagine any other role."
Of course, Spider-Man: Far From Home arrives on the heels of Avengers: Endgame. Not only was this film one of the biggest of all-time (with its eyes set on the all-time record) but its narrative impact on Peter Parker ripples throughout the entirety of Far From Home. After Spider-Man: Homecoming dealt with the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, collaborating with Marvel Studios on the heels of Endgame wasn't any more difficult. "It wasn't more difficult, it's the same challenge," Pascal said. "The movie has to stand on it's own. It has to work whether there is a movie before it or after it. People have to like it just for what it is. Then, in this movie where they were finishing off their saga, the third iteration, and this was the next one, so in a way, we had a lot of freedom because it was going to be the next wave."
Spider-Man: Far From Home hits theaters on July 2.