Picking Up the Spare: Marshall, Spider-Man: Homecoming and More


There’s a new poster that arranges the members of the cast in a courtroom. This is selling it as a straight procedural drama, free of any historical context.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

TV spots promoting the home video encourage the audience to make the movie part of a “family movie night,” emphasizing the all-ages nature of the story.

Transformers: The Last Knight

Caterpillar is running ads promoting a sweepstakes to win a custom industrial-strength toolbox.

The Dark Tower

The exact same approach used to sell the movie theaters is being used to sell it on home video if TV commercials like this are any indication. How’d that work out again?

The Florida Project

Another feature profile of director Sean Baker appeared on Wired where he talked about the freedom and constraints that came with having a much bigger budget than he did on his previous films.

Blade Runner 2049

The movie’s overt product placement has come under some criticism, which as this post points out, may actually be because of the organic, natural way brands were worked into the original movie.

Only the Brave

TheWrap has a feature on how the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots went from the pages of GQ to the big screen.

Picking Up The Spare: The Big Sick, Spider-Man: Homecoming, War For The Planet Of The Apes

The Big Sick

  • Michael Showalter has started doing more press as the movie has expanded to more theaters, including this “The Late Show” appearance where he talked about that as well as “Wet Hot American Summer.”

Spider-Man: Homecoming

  • I’m honestly not 100% certain these are official, but these posters that reference 80s John Hughes movies and acknowledge this movie’s own high school story are…not bad.

War For The Planet Of The Apes

  • There was a big feature interview with Harrelson that dropped just after I finished the marketing recap column where he talked about being part of this movie as well as various other topics.
  • Director Matt Reeves later talked about some of the technical issues and hurdles he had to surmount to shoot the movie on an accelerated schedule.

Slanted Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (Spoilers!)

Spider-Man: Homecoming opened this past Friday and marks Sony’s sixth Spider-Man solo film and third attempt at a Spider-Man franchise. Spider-Man has had a bit of a sketchy history when it comes to big screen adaptations of the character, so where did this latest crack at the story of Peter Parker rank among the rest? Well, it may be far from perfect, but the film winds up being the best and most faithful adaptation of the Spider-Man mythos to date.


Continue reading “Slanted Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (Spoilers!)”

Spider-Man: Homecoming (After the Campaign Review)

One of my biggest problems with the campaign for Spider-Man: Homecoming was the presence of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man/Tony Stark. The inclusion of that character, coming via the corporate agreement between Sony and Marvel that Spider-Man now lived in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, seemed to be the main selling point in the campaign. That wasn’t fair, I felt, to the character of Spider-Man/Peter Parker himself, who seemed to get pushed to the background in his own movie. Turns out it wasn’t fair to the audience, either.

There’s a great Spider-Man story lurking in Homecoming that is only allowed to come out when Iron Man isn’t on-screen. More specifically, there’s a great Peter Parker story here that is exponentially more interesting than either the hangdog version of the character played by Tobey Maguire or the insecure version played by Andrew Garfield. Tom Holland, playing the character in this second attempt at rebooting the franchise, nails what it is that scores of people love about Parker, especially the stories that take place when he’s still a high school student. He’s funny, loyal to his friends, loves his Aunt May (played by Marisa Tomei) without it being either weirdly guilt-ridden (Maguire) or oddly antagonistic (Garfield) and is an exemplary student at an elite New York high school. And all that while donning a costume and taking on crooks and thieves during his every spare moment.


Let’s stop a moment to address two points of contention that have been brought up repeatedly in discussions of this movie:

First, while Tomei is certainly the youngest actress to take on the role of Aunt May to date, that’s fine. She’s approximately 30 years older than Holland’s Peter, which is generationally-appropriate. Rosemary Harris was great as May in the first three movies, but I always had questions about how someone that old could still be Peter’s aunt. Sally Field in the two Garfield-starring movies was also good but still had 40 years on him. I have more issues with that pairing and what it says about how Hollywood wants guys to act way younger and women to act way older than I do with the Holland/Tomei pairing.

Second, Holland is still playing five years younger than he actually is here. The fact that Homecoming works in large part because it takes place in high school but that’s not going to last long. Not only will Holland be aging in real life, but by the time they make a sequel he’s going to be pushing 25, so will Peter still be a senior at Midtown Tech? This is the core problem with making superhero movies: In the comics it can take Dick Grayson 20 of our years to graduate college, but when you’re relying on human actors you have to be a tad more realistic.

While Tony Stark was in the movie more than I believed he would be, the marketing still included snippets from almost every scene he appears in. If his total on-screen time encompasses seven scenes that add up to 15 minutes, the trailers show clips from six of those scenes and seven minutes from those scenes. So on that front, the campaign was pretty accurate in selling the volume of Iron Man they could expect to see.

The consequence of that focus, though, is that Peter’s story was pushed almost completely to the background. There are a few scenes of him interacting with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon, who steals his scenes) and the other students at Midtown Tech and definitely enough to give you the idea that Peter is a brilliant kid who crushes on the cute girls but who’s bored of living his conventional life. That’s the extent of it, though. There’s nothing in the campaign to show anything beyond him wanting to be an Avengers-level superhero.

That’s very different from what’s presented in the movie. The character growth may not be huge, and Peter spends a lot of time talking about wanting to be an Avenger or trying to get in touch with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). But there’s also a much more depth to his relationships with Ned and the rest of the students, as well as with May, who’s barely seen in the marketing. Holland is fun and loose as Parker and that makes the character more appealing than he’s ever been on screen. Also helping is the jettisoning of much of the traditional Spider-Man mythology, including Uncle Ben’s death, the “with great power…” theme and more. All of that suddenly seems like a weight that kept the character down.

Also helping the movie move along is Michael Keaton as the primary bad guy, Adrian Toomes/The Vulture. His character arc through the movie takes him from disgruntled city contractor to all-out super villain in a surprisingly believable way. Keaton brings his own personal brand of gravitas and grit to the performance, helping us to sympathize with the villain even as we hope Spider-Man takes him down. There’s a moment near the end where the Keaton of Mr. Mom and My Life shows up. He’s charming and funny and as welcoming and friendly as can be. Then, when things take a turn, the Keaton of Pacific Heights and The Merry Gentleman appears and we remember that as funny as he can be, Keaton can also be terrifying.

All told, the campaign does nothing to mislead the audience, specifically in this case about how much of Iron Man to expect. But while that might be fine, it does the movie a disservice by not fully showcasing how charming and fun Holland is as Spider-Man/Peter Parker and the compelling story featuring *that* character that is here as well.

Picking Up the Spare: Despicable Me 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, A Ghost Story

Despicable Me 3

  • Universal/Illumination not only sponsored selfie lenses on Snapchat but also were the first advertisers to take advantage of that app’s new “World Lenses” augmented-reality ad unit.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

  • Turns out this is the latest movie to feature lots of shots from the trailer not making it into the finished film. There are various reasons for that, some of them around how shots were created just for the trailers or various sizzle reels, which walks right up to the line of “false advertising” in my opinions.
  • Some details here on how Donald Glover finally got involved in a Spider-Man movie (aside from that one “Community” gag) and what it might mean for future films.
  • Nerdist has an exclusive look at one more poster, this one inspired by the cover of Amazing Fantasy #15, with Spidey carrying one of the crooks from the movie.
  • The augmented reality feature of the movie’s official mobile app was covered in-depth here.

A Ghost Story

  • The internet’s big takeaway from this interview with A Ghost Story star Rooney Mara? That she’d never had pie before shooting the movie.
  • The store A24 setup to sell sheets in New York City got more coverage in the LA Times from Steven Zeitchik.

Baby Driver

  • Director Edgar Wright got one more music-themed promotional move in, this time creating a Spotify playlist of what he’s listening to now.

Comparing Spider-Man: Homecoming’s and Wonder Woman’s Poster Campaigns

“Marvel vs DC” is an easy narrative that’s picked up both fans and critics. Goodness knows there’s been plenty of opportunity to have that discussion, either in comic shops or theater lobbies, where films based on comic book characters are squaring off against each other.

Today I’m going to focus on something that hasn’t been endlessly debated already but which came into focus in the last month. Namely, the massively different approaches taken on the posters for the two most recent comic book movies, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

If you look at the posters for Wonder Woman, many of which were created by either Concept Arts or BOND, you’ll see a sleek, simplified approach. Each poster went for one specific message while also carrying over some brand consistency. So a series of posters emphasized character traits like “Courage” and “Power” while others conveyed those characteristics simply by posing star Gal Gadot in various ways. They all tied together through the use of red, orange and blue, using visuals that reflected the light, clearly telling the audience the movie would have a brighter tone than previous DCU films. Each one was striking for its minimalism, something that may have been equal parts intentional and simply the result of not having a whole cast of heroes that needed to share the spotlight.

Contrast that with the overly-busy posters for Spider-Man: Homecoming. The designers here seem to have been given the direction to leave nothing off. Every poster, even the early ones, make it clear that Spider-Man is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s done either (relatively) subtly by just putting Avengers Tower in the background of the New York City skyline or overtly by including Iron Man and/or Tony Stark. And it’s not just that the character shows up here and there. Just like with the trailers, Stark/Iron Man is everywhere. By my count, there were eight domestic U.S. posters and six of them feature either Iron Man or Avengers Tower. All sense of understated design thinking is discarded on a couple of the posters that seem to have been created by someone pasting photos from Google Image searches together. It’s a very colorful campaign, but it’s also as subtle as an elephant with a sinus infection.

I’m not going to expect the less artistically-minded approach taken in Spider-Man’s campaign to impact its box office at all. But it’s notable how this is being sold as a movie that literally has *everything* the audience might be looking for, as compared to Wonder Woman’s posters that sold an image of a strong, confident solo woman superhero who stood out on her own. That shows a completely different mindset on the part of the studio, one that’s more committed to selling an attitude and style versus one that just needs to make sure it hits all its contractually-obligated beats.

I know which one I prefer.

Spider-Man: Homecoming – Marketing Review

Spider-Man is back in theaters in this week’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. After an extended cameo in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, this is Tom Holland’s second outing as the web-slinger and his first in the character’s own movie. Well…kind of his own movie. The corporate cooperation that began with Civil War continues here. Sony, which owns the theatrical rights to Spider-Man, is essentially loaning him out to Marvel Studios, which manages the highly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. So Sony gets to use the successful platform of that behemoth to help launch their third go-around at Spider-Man, while Marvel gets to incorporate Spidey into their big event movies.

Continuing the story set up in Civil War, Peter Parker is enamored with the tech genius Tony Stark (played again by Robert Downey Jr.). Stark provides him with a high-tech suit to help Parker fight local neighborhood crime as Spider-Man. The stakes get considerably higher when Spidey crosses paths with, and gets on the wrong side of, The Vulture (Michael Keaton). That conflict threatens everything that Peter holds near and dear and could upend the life he leads as a seemingly unremarkable high school student.

Continue reading “Spider-Man: Homecoming – Marketing Review”