There’s an oft-quoted exchange in Captain America: Civil War where a teenage Peter Parker is swinging around as Spider-Man during the airport battle and his extreme youth is exposed:
Spider-Man: Hey guys, you ever see that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back?
War Machine: Jesus, Tony, how old is this guy?
Iron Man: I don’t know, I didn’t carbon date him. He’s on the young side.
You know the one:
It was a line that elicited a laugh and drove home just how much of a baby Peter Parker is when compared to the rest of hte Avengers. Honestly, who hasn’t seen The Empire Strikes Back by now?
Turns out the answer to that is Tom Holland. Tom Holland is who.
That scene was inspired by a real-life interaction after directors Joe and Anthony Russo discovered Spider-Man actor Tom Holland had never seen any of the OG Star Wars trilogy and were reminded of just how very, very young Holland is. Remember, at the time of his casting, Holland had only just turned 19, at least 10-20 years younger than any other Avenger sharing screen time with him. It was Holland himself who inspired them to start their Pizza Film School YouTube series they revealed to Fox 5 DC‘s Kevin McCarthy:
“We were stunned. We adore Tom, but I’ll tell you, getting to know Tom, Tom is a young man. He is a very young man. [Empire Strikes Back] is twice his age. We’ve since gotten him to invest some of his time watching some older films, hence the Pizza Film School. Holland needed to go to Pizza Film School [laughs].”
Joe laughed when recalling the grief they gave Holland for it. “I think we’ve since busted his chops enough that he’s seen it,” he laughed. “I think he’s seen the [original] Star Wars trilogy at this point.”
Anthony Russo added that there was a benefit to it, though, with them realizing his youth could actually tie right into the character he was playing:
“I have to tell you, I actually got really excited when he said he hadn’t seen it because the idea was so novel to me and unexpected. I was like, ‘This is fantastic!’ Tom is a guy whose sensibilities we really admire and value, and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, we get to tap into his sensibilities and they’re unaffected by Star Wars.’ I’m like, ‘What is that? What does that mean?’ I was very excited by that.”
I’d imagine there is something fun about being able to work with the completely blank slate of youth. Holland doesn’t have to act with a feigned innocence or to pretend that it’s all new and exciting to him to play Spider-Man; it is all new. Just as Peter Parker does, Holland wears all his emotions on his sleeve; it’s part of what makes him so earnest and endearing in the role. His youthful enthusiasm is a much-needed foil for the world-weary older Avengers, who have been jaded by the things they’ve seen and done.
The third Spider-Man movie in the MCU has a release date set for November 5th of next year. It’s a long time to wait to see Spidey swinging on our screens again, but at least we have real-life Peter Parker Tom Holland to keep us entertained in the meantime.