When Marvel finally got the rights to Spider-Man back, the biggest challenge ahead of them would be casting the perfect Peter Parker. The Spidey suit has been worn by both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who each brought their own take to the character, but neither fully lived up to the high expectations that audiences had always craved for the youthful web slinger. That is until Captain America: Civil War came out and Tom Holland flew onto the scene, making his official debut as Marvel’s new Spider-Man. People went nuts. Literally, people in my theater were screaming with excitement. I was one of those people.
Even with only a little amount of screen time, Holland stole the show with his quippy and confident portrayal of Parker and people instantly wanted more. Marvel had finally found their Peter Parker and everyone was on board.
Now that Holland’s individual MCU installment, Spider-Man: Homecoming, is clearly shaping up to be a huge hit, I thought that it would be great to look back at his impressive 5 year film career and the roles that helped shape him to perfectly fit the role today. He’s worked with some brilliant directors and actors so it’s not a surprise that at the age of 21 he is already shaping up to be one of Hollywood’s leading men.
The Impossible (2012)
Holland’s stunning feature-film debut was in the critically acclaimed The Impossible in 2002. The movie followed a family vacationing in Thailand when the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami hit in 2004 and their fight to reunite in the chaotic aftermath. At the age of 16, it was a dramatic and challenging role for Holland who played Lucas, the young and tenacious son of Naomi Watts’s character, tasked with pushing away all fear and doing whatever it took to get his mother to safety.
Watts had this to say about working with Tom during a press junket for the film back in 2013.
“Tom Holland and I had a couple of moments where we came together and I could just tell how wonderful he was and what a beautiful instrument he had… It was just easy to work with him, that was one of the greatest highlights for me: discovering a friendship with Tom off-screen and this beautiful relationship between mother and son on-screen.”
The film was a brilliant debut for Holland and even garnered him some Oscar buzz. From this movie alone it was clear that Holland was going to have a very promising future.
How I Live Now (2013)
Holland took on another supporting role in the following year’s How I Live Now starring Saoirse Ronan. In the film, Ronan is sent from American to England to live with her Aunt Penny and cousins, of which Holland plays Isaac. Soon after she gets all settled in a nuclear bomb explodes in London sending her and her cousins into the woods to fend for themselves. Holland was praised for his gripping performance along with some of the other young actors in the film.
The film was another chance for Holland to show his dramatic range and depth. It currently holds a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In the Heart of the Sea (2015)
In his last major film before Captain America: Civil War, Holland starred alongside his Marvel comrade Chris Hemsworth in Ron Howard’s historical thriller, In the Heart of the Sea. According to the IMDB summary, In the Heart of the Sea is a recounting of a New England whaling ship’s sinking by a giant whale in 1820. Holland played Thomas Nickerson, a young crew member aboard the Essex. He would later be the one to tell Henry Melville the events that happened on the ship, which would eventually become the story you know today as Moby Dick.
In addition to working under Ron Howard and alongside Hemsworth, the film also starred Cillian Murphy, Frank Dillane, Benjamin Walker, and Michelle Fairley. The cast were all put on highly restrictive diets for the film and also had to do some pretty rigorous filming.
“Ron was adamant on making everything as authentic as possible,” Holland said in an interview during the film’s press tour. “He had a prosthetic whale head built and I had to cover myself in vaseline and clamber in. They threw a bucket down first and I banged my head on it.
The worst part was trying to get back out again because it was so slippy. I’d get half way up and slip right back in again. Eventually, they’d throw me a rope and drag me out. It was like being born, over and over again, all night long.”
Holland had known that he was cast as Spider-Man during much of the press tour for this movie, which makes looking back at old interviews where he raves about Hemsworth’s Thor highly entertaining.
The Lost City of Z (2016)
Tom’s most recent role on the big screen was in The Lost City of Z alongside Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, and Robert Pattinson. The film was met with critical acclaim and holds an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Lost City of Z is based on the true story of British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett (Hunnam), who disappeared in the 1920s while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon. Holland plays Jack Fawcett, the son of Percival, who embarks on the journey with him.
Both Pattison and Hunnam has been known to be very methodical actors and when asked about getting the chance to work with Hunnam, Holland said, “Charlie was the hardest working person I have ever worked with in my life. Period”
Over the years, Holland has really built a portfolio of films that show incredible range and depth. He’s gotten to sort of grow up with and be molded alongside such amazing talent. Even in the MCU, he has been, in a way, mentored by all of the Avengers by having starred in Civil War prior to his own solo film. He clearly chooses every movie with thought and that is part of what makes his filmography so impressive- his dedication to the craft and doing good work. Holland is going to do great things in Hollywood and it’s going to be a wildly entertaining ride watching him do so.
Having studied Media & Writing at James Madison University, I always knew that I wanted to do some type of creative writing, but being able to write about zombies, Starks, and superheroes on a daily basis for Fan Fest is my actual dream. While I probably shouldn’t be as proud as I am to be so similar to Nick Miller, I do hope to one day write my own “Pepperwood Chronicles’.