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John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein had a whopping three days to pitch Marvel on their version of Spider-Man Homecoming. The writing duo behind comedies Horrible Bosses and Vacation were tasked by Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige and company to conceive a superhero movie that blended action and John Hughesian teen comedy.
“We had our first general meeting with the Marvel guys on a Thursday, and that following Monday we were supposed to go in and pitch not only as writers but directors,” Daley said. “So we were putting together two different pitches in a very short amount of time. And what is pleasantly surprising is that so much of what we pitched on that Monday is still in the movie.”
And of course there are plenty of aspects that changed as the story evolved. From the conceptual phase to various outlines and drafts, here are nine ideas for Homecoming that never saw the light of day.
(Warning: ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ spoilers ahead!)
1. The original script opened with Peter’s cellphone footage.
Daley and Goldstein said the most dramatic changes made to their story between the original pitch and final product had to do with placing more emphasis on Vulture (Michael Keaton). That included the insertion of the prelude, sets eight years before the action, which introduced Adrian Toomes as a blue-collar disaster cleaner-upper. “What was added was the whole Vulture prelude origin story, which totally makes sense,” Daley said. “It helps you empathize with this villain character, which is always great. I thin our intention was always to keep him not a terrible guy.”
2. Peter was almost a social media influencer.
In updating the plot for the Snapchat generation, the writers’ initial pitch had “Peter has sort of a new version of his Daily Bugle, anonymously [posting] these YouTube videos of him doing various stunts as Spider-Man and also saving the day. And filming it with a GoPro camera and just racking up the money that he gets off the number of views that these videos get,” Goldstein revealed. Added Daley: “But it was also a priority to incorporate the events of Civil War in the beginning in the movie, so we thought we to combine those two ideas.” In the end Peter uses his cellphone to capture the behind-the-scenes action of Civil War‘s big battle scene, which we see during the opening of the movie as noted above.
3. Aunt May did react when she walked in on a scantily clad Peter and Ned.
The fact that May (Marisa Tomei) doesn’t bat an eyelash when she bursts through the bedroom door to find her nephew (Peter Parker) in his underwear with another guy (Jacob Batalon) is commendable, a subtle sign of progress. But regardless of whether or not she approves, you think she’d have some reaction to what would appear to be some hanky-panky between the two. And she did in the script. “She said, ‘No judgment,’ or something like that,” Goldstein acknowledged. “I think they just wanted to stay away from any allusions to anything going on. It is a curious thing that she doesn’t register it.”
4. Ned’s one burning inquiry about those webs.
Daley and Goldstein were impressed by the amount of goofy and/or irreverent humor from the script that survived the final cut. They point to the plethora of questions Ned peppers Peter with after discovering his buddy’s true identity. “The only one that we had that they cut was, ‘Do the webs come out of your body?’ And Peter’s like, ‘I’m not a monster!'” Daley recalled. (This of course, was a nod to Sam Raimi’s original trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, where webs did in fact sprout from Peter’s bod.)
5. Vulture was originally going to be Peter’s science teacher.
“We tried to figure out an organic way to connect [Peter’s] school story with his superhero story,” Daley said. So the story’s central villain would infiltrate Peter’s high school, where he’d also be secretly crafting this suit. “I think he was still stealing from Damage Control, but we had a different way into it,” Daley explained. Ultimately, though, “we were like, ‘No, let’s separate him fully from the school — or at least so it seems. And that’s I think when we decided to make it the love interest’s dad.”
6. Liz’s party was originally at Peter’s apartment.
The film has a handful of ’80s teen movie references, and could’ve had one more. In early versions of the script, the house party where Peter and Ned scheme to show Liz (Laura Harrier) and friends that Peter “knows” Spider-Man was going to take place at his modest Queens flat instead of her lavish suburban house. “And what happens is he starts to change in his bedroom, about to make his grand entrance, and he sees something criminal going on outside,” Daley said. “And all the cool kids from school burst into his bedroom while he’s gone and just start going through all his s–t.” They find all the toys he still plays with, action figures, Lego, etc. “That’s very Hughesian, like the characters Anthony Michael Hall used to play,” Goldstein noted. “The kid who’s too old to still be doing this stuff.”
7. Peter got even more comeuppance on Flash.
Peter finally takes his bully (Tony Revolori) to task in the film’s third act, when, in disguise as Spider-Man, he carjacks Flash’s fancy ride. In earlier versions, he took it a step further. “Spider-Man says to [Flash], ‘I need your car. We then had him say, ‘And your pants,'” Goldstein laughed. “[Flash is] like, ‘Why?’ And [Peter says], ‘Give me your pants!’ So he takes off his pants and gives them to him, and Spider-Man just throws them like a mile away, takes the car and drives off. Just to get some revenge.” Added Daley, “He’s still kind of a petty kid.”
8. Peter came closer to announcing to the world that he is Spider-Man.
Daley and Goldstein talked about a version of the ending where Spidey would have a Tony Stark moment at Avengers HQ in the film’s final minutes. “That scene with the press behind the door, that started off as a more clear opportunity for Peter to say to the world, “I Peter Parker, am Spider-Man,'” Goldstein explained. “And he decides not to do it and walks away. It’s still that, but it had been set up that if he could just tell the world who he is, he would get all his problems solved and be loved by everyone.” Chimed in Daley: ” What he realizes is that there is a virtue in being a secret identity and how he kind of has the advantage in many ways over his other superhero buddies.”
9. There was a send-up of Spidey’s favorite motto. Because it’s not a traditional origin movie, the writers didn’t have to worry about shoehorning in the franchises’ greatest hits, including the line “With power, comes great responsibility.” But they did initially put a twist on the adage. “At the end when Happy (Jon Favreau) is in the boy’s room in school we had him say, ‘Oh yeah, Tony wanted me to tell you, “With great power comes… something, I forgot,”‘” Goldstein recalled. “It was a little too meta.”
Spider-Man: Homecoming is now in theaters. Watch Tom Holland talk about the film’s ending:
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