Last fall, as “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was getting close to wrapping up, we visited the downtown Atlanta set. Tom Holland, who stars in the title role, was just finishing up after a long and hot day of filming, and director Jon Watts wasn’t quite ready for us. So we just cooled our jets in the temporary little mini-city Marvel set up until it was go-time.
Marisa Tomei, who was in Atlanta to reprise her role as May Parker, greeted folks on the production team with hugs and handshakes. Then Holland popped out of his trailer.
“This is our 56th day. I have had three days off. I don’t know why I thought this movie was going to be really easy to make, but I’m exhausted,” he rattled off, wiped out and yet still energetic. “It’s been pretty tough, but it’s a dream come true.”
“Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the latest in a growing string of Marvel movies to film in Atlanta, is out on Friday. The Georgia Department of Economic Development clocks its economic impact north of $66 million.
Holland’s role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man debuted in “Captain America: Civil War,” which coincidentally filmed a memorable market scene just across the street from where “Spider-Man” was rolling that night.
“For me, ‘Civil War’ was so daunting and terrifying and it went so quickly,” he said. “It was very intimidating, being on set with these huge actors. To see people of that caliber have that much dedication was a real inspiration to me. I had so much fun. I whizzed through it.”
“Spider-Man: Homecoming,” on the other hand, puts him front and center. Headquartered at Pinewood Studios Atlanta in Fayette County, it filmed on location at spots including Piedmont Park, the Georgia World Congress Center and Grady High School, and deals with teen drama in addition to all the superhero stuff.
“I think one of the reasons why Peter Parker is so popular is everyone has been through that. Everyone’s tried to talk to a girl, had to do homework,” he said. “I’ve been through all the things I’ve been through on-screen. Bringing him to life has been a real honor.”
The movie is set in New York but was mostly filmed here. (Insider tip: There’s a scene where Peter runs down an alley, frantically ripping off his sweater to get into his Spider-Man uniform. That happened near Slice and Sidebar on Poplar Street in downtown Atlanta.)
Jacob Batalon plays Peter’s buddy Ned, and he and Holland quickly bonded. The chemistry you see between the classmates reflects their friendship off-camera.
“It’s almost gotten to the point where it’s hard to work together because we can’t quit laughing,” Holland said. “You know how when you laugh so hard you feel like you’re going to die? There’s this one scene where he’s eating chips …”
Both guys dissolved into hysterics.
“My favorite day was when we were doing the gym scene,” Batalon said after catching his breath. “I have a line where Tom starts laughing so hard he’s crying.”
“Stop laughing!” Holland protested. “It’s not funny!”
Holland, who visited young patients at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta during his time filming “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” has been back for Marvel’s upcoming “Avengers: Infinity War.” A “Spider-Man” sequel is reportedly in the offing.
After watching Holland do take after take after take getting into his Spidey suit, we marveled at how streamlined the process had become. And what will they do with the costumes once Marvel moves on?
“I would love to have one, wink wink,” Holland mused. “You know, put it on a mannequin?”
(It just so happened he was in the process of buying a new place at the time and may have had decor in mind.)
For now, Holland’s excited to headline a Marvel movie as his “Spider-Man,” “Captain America” and “Avengers” co-stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron-Man) and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America) have done.
“We’ve seen the god. We’ve seen the billionaire. We’ve seen the soldier,” he said. “Now it’s time to see the kid.”