Marvel Studios is known, among many things, for being geniuses when it comes to casting the perfect actors into their ideal roles. Even when it takes years for a match to come together, Marvel CCO Kevin Feige and his team have made it clear that one of the most important parts of their stories is having the talent that fits best for each individual hero.
This is already showing to be the case in Phase 4 with casting announcements of Hollywood veterans like Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight alongside newcomers like Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel. Even with fan castings galore, it will likely still be some time before fans see who will take up the challenge of playing the third iteration of the Fantastic 4.
In a new interview, two of the MCU’s iconic directors looked back on one of the biggest casting decisions that Marvel Studios has ever faced.
JOE AND ANTHONY RUSSO TALK THE MCU’S WEB-SLINGER
In a chat with GQ Magazine, MCU directors Joe and Anthony Russo took a trip down memory lane looking at the casting process for Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Joe Russo revealed that they were “meeting resistance from Sony,” although he and Anthony were “relentless in (their) pursuit of jamming him down the throat of the studio who owns this IP.”:
“We talked with Feige at Marvel about Holland and he got excited and then we went to Sony....And they were like, ‘Let’s think about it for a minute.’ We could tell we were meeting resistance from Sony. So we brought [Holland] back, brought him back, brought him back, and we were relentless in our pursuit of jamming him down the throat of the studio who owns this IP. It came down to a fight, yet Sony just kept dragging their feet.”
Even after the incredible success that Captain America: The Winter Soldier saw financially and critically, Sony still seemed to be “reticent, nervous” about taking a risk that could potentially cost billions of dollars in the long run.
“Look, we have a great relationship with Kevin. Winter Soldier was a big hit, doubling the box office from the previous film, then coming into Civil War Sony is looking at us going, ‘OK, so you guys have the Midas touch, here’s our [Spider-Man] IP.’ But, also, they were reticent, nervous, about handing off something that could ultimately cost them hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars down the line.”
In terms of the actual actor behind the Spidey mask, even though Peter Parker is usually a teenager in Marvel Comics, Sony was also hesitant to cast an actual teenager in the role. Anthony Russo recounted that there “was a distinct nervousness of casting a kid for such a prominent role."
“Sony’s reservations were: ‘Are we loaning it? Or are we giving it to them to help us reinvent it in a way that adds value for us?’ It was the first time Spider-Man had ever been cast as an actual teenager, right? Which was very important to us; there was a distinct nervousness of casting a kid.”
SPIDER-MAN FLOURISHING WITH MARVEL STUDIOS
Even though it’s understandable why Sony would be cautious about lending out their most prized possession, it seems like an all-around ridiculous way of thinking considering the history of the character and what fans were craving over five years ago.
Due to Sony owning the rights to use Spidey on screen, he was the most notable name missing from the first two phases of the MCU. Fans wondered for years what the franchise would be like with arguably Marvel’s most popular character, and the thrill of seeing him steal Cap’s shield upon his introduction in the second trailer for Captain America: Civil War.
The Russo brothers deserve a world of credit for being so persistent about Spidey’s inclusion, often saying that there was no way their second MCU movie would have worked without him. Clearly, the partnership ended up beneficial for both parties with Tom Holland excelling in the role since his 2016 debut.
Today, New York’s young protector is holding a spot as the top star in one of Marvel Studios’ most highly anticipated Phase 4 movies. After his first two solo outings grossed over $2 billion combined at the box office, Spider-Man: No Way Home is building up as possibly the web-slinger’s most grand-scale adventure ever.