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Spider-Man movies — and all superhero movies, really — tend to keep upping the stakes as the franchise continues.
Stopping a bank robbery won’t cut it anymore; next time, you’ve got to save the world. In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter Parker finds himself dealing with reality-altering spells and characters from across the multiverse (and across 20 years of Spidey film history). That’s a lot to put on a character whose whole deal is being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and one of the most relatable superheroes around. The stars of the films, Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon, are well aware of this potential disconnect.
“I mean, it’s tough,” Holland tells SYFY WIRE during the press junket. “It’s tough to juggle the stakes of these movies while also maintaining the everyday kids’ problems.”
Zendaya chimes in to call those “everyday kids’ problems” the “heart” of the movie, and Holland agrees with his co-star.
“The heart of these movies is our relationship as a trio,” he says. “Sometimes I feel with these bigger movies that the heart can get lost, so it’s our job as actors to make sure that that’s what comes across on screen.”
With No Way Home, especially, there’s a lot going on that could threaten to overshadow the relatable, human element of the movies. In addition to adding Doctor Strange to the mix, the film brings back villains from the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield Spider-Man films, and there are persistent rumors that the two former Spider-Men themselves, and even Daredevil from the Netflix series, will appear as well. Heck, Venom might show up, if Let There Be Carnage’s post-credit scene was any indication.
However, despite all these mutliversal guest stars, rumored or confirmed, Zendaya says that the movie still feels like it’s very much about this Spider-Man, in large part thanks to director Jon Watts.
“Jon is incredibly talented and great at finding a balance,” the actress explains. “He knows how to find the heart, remind us that Peter is just a normal kid, and this is very much his story.”
Well, it’s Peter’s story, but of course MJ and Ned are there supporting their friend. Far From Home ended with the reveal that J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) had told the whole world Spider-Man’s secret identity after Mysterio framed Peter for his murder. That truth has ramifications for Ned and MJ almost as much as it does Peter. Batalon, whose Ned spent the better part of two movies excitedly keeping his best friend’s secret, now sees what it means to have that secret exposed
“It is like having the best kept secret, because you know that if this gets out, you’ll probably be popular, but it’s unfortunate that you’d be popular in the wrong way — for this movie in particular,” Batalon says. “I think in high school, you’d think this were the coolest thing ever. If this were to be out, you’d be living the life of luxury. But, I think we’re more inclined to care as a person, so we want to make sure that he’s safe rather than famous.”
“I feel like it’s MJ’s introverted nightmare, people knowing who he is,” adds Zendaya.
There will, no doubt, be lots of excitement and theorizing when certain characters do (or perhaps do not) appear in No Way Home, and fans will be unpacking the implications for what it all means for the multiverse, the MCU, and the Sony-Marvel Studios partnership once the movie premieres. But, underneath all those admittedly interesting topics, the film’s three stars are in agreement that it’s their character’s friendship that gives the movie that special something, and that people will recognize — and appreciate — that heart.
“I think if you ask fans about their true fan-favorite moments, it will be scenes between the three of us where we’re just being regular high school students living very irregular lives,” Holland says.
Spider-Man: No Way Home opens in theaters on Dec. 17.