Spider-Man Homecoming is quite literally taking Tom Holland's Spidey back to school by placing a much younger cast than previous Spider-Man films in a believable high school setting. These are the teen film and cultural references that have inspired the new Spider-Man movie.
80s teen movies
According to Yahoo Movies, Holland stated that Homecoming director Jon Watts provided the cast with a list of films to watch before they began shooting the film to inspire the young actors. The list included Pretty in Pink (1986), Back to the Future (1985), The Breakfast Club (1985) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986).
Whether you were an 80s kid or not, you can’t deny that some of the best teen flicks were created during this era. The teen film has continued to today, but there’s something about American high-schools in the 80s that made stereotypes cool.
Spider-Man already occupies this mythology with Peter Parker being the nerd, Flash Thompson as the high school jock and bully and Mary Jane or Gwen Stacey as Peter’s high-school crush. Therefore, Homecoming will likely play on these archetypes more than usual to fit the 80s teen high-school film formula.
Back to the Future
After watching one of the films suggested by Watts, Tom Holland found that one teen character connected more with Peter Parker than the others: Marty McFly.
He told Yahoo Movies: “My goal was to try and kind of be our generation’s Marty McFly”, which we are assuming means he’ll try and save the world and be awesomely cool at the same time. Marty’s father, once Marty travels back in time, was of course bullied, like Peter, by Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson), but Marty eventually helps his Dad face up to being bullied.
Then Marty saves the day with an awesome performance on stage at the high-school dance. Will there be a high-school dance where Peter saves the day and miraculously turns up the dance on time? We hope so.
Michelle's 80s similarities
According to Jon Watts, Michelle (Zendaya) is similar to Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) from The Breakfast Club (1985) and Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) from television series set in the 80s Freaks and Geeks (1991). We are reading this as Michelle being book smart and not a damsel in distress type role, but also that there is something more interesting about her other than being intelligent.
Like Lindsay Weir, Michelle can probably stick up for herself and doesn’t let the fact that she’s a woman keep her from reaching her goal. But similar to Allison Reynolds, Michelle might be seen as an odd figure by the jocks and prom princesses, possibly not conforming directly to the weird/nerd stereotype but having a more complex personality.
Jon Watts' favourite teen flicks
In an interview with IGN, Watt’s revealed his favourite coming-of-age films are Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything (1989) and Almost Famous (2000), as well as Can’t Buy Me Love (1987) with Patrick Dempsey.
Seeing as he won’t give away his favourite superhero films in case they reveal too much about Homecoming, we are trying to find what about these films that can link to Peter Parker’s life in high-school. With the underlying theme of romance in many teen films and Laura Harrier playing Liz Allan in Homecoming, we have a feeling love will spark between nerd-by-day superhero-at-night Peter and the popular Liz Allan.
The protagonist of these films are always going through the ‘worst years’ of their life, so while Spider-Man is trying to defeat The Vulture he’ll also be struggling with girls, homework and popularity too.
Click here to book your tickets for Spider-Man: Homecoming, opening on 7th July.
Nadine Shambrook is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.