In February 2015, Sony Pictures made a deal with Marvel Studios that paid off this weekend for them and Marvel movie fans in a big way. In its ninth year, the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally welcomed Spider-Man into its fold as a full-time member with “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which is estimated to have an opening weekend of $117 million domestic and $257 million worldwide.
The success of Jon Watts’ teenage superhero film is just as much a critical hit as it’s been a commercial one. On Rotten Tomatoes, it is tied with “Iron Man” for the highest Tomatometer score in the site’s history with 94 percent. It is also the first Spider-Man title to score an A on CinemaScore.
“Spider-Man is back and he is showing once again that he is the world’s best-loved superhero,” said Sony’s Domestic Distribution President Adrian Smith. “It’s a big win for Sony, our second-highest opening of all-time.”
Here’s a look at why “Spider-Man: Homecoming” has reached that mark.
In a way, the marketing for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” began with the first trailer for “Captain America: Civil War,” which ended with Iron Man calling on Spider-Man to swing onscreen for the first time and swipe Captain America’s shield. Once that film was released, the scenes of Spidey swinging with Iron Man and fighting the likes of Cap, Falcon and a giant Ant-Man became one of the most talked-about moments among audiences, while a post-credits scene showing Peter Parker discovering more of the new tech Tony Stark gifted him only further stoked anticipation for “Homecoming.”
Though “Spider-Man: Homecoming” arrived under much different circumstances than the last comic book movie hit, “Wonder Woman,” both films have one thing in common: they used cameos from movies released last year, “Civil War” and “Batman v Superman,” to introduce a new actor into a well-known superhero role and gave them a taste how they would portray the character. We will see a similar case next year with “Black Panther,” which has Chadwick Boseman going solo as the leader of Wakanda after playing a key role in the plot of “Civil War.”
2.) Tony Stark
Everyone has their favorite Marvel character but, suffice to say, Iron Man is the core of the MCU. The series began with him, and almost every major development in its overarching plot has been connected to him. By promoting Iron Man’s presence in “Homecoming,” Sony presented the film as a key chapter to the MCU saga that would further develop Spidey’s relationship to the Avengers.
The studio conveyed that message with a massive marketing campaign that boasted a promotional value of over $140 million. Promotional partners for the film included Dell, Pizza Hut and Audi, while its TV promotion was highlighted by custom spots aired on ESPN during the NBA Finals.
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3.) Teenage superhero film
But Sony didn’t just promote the familiar to Marvel fans. As many critics noted, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” shares similar traits — and makes direct references — to John Hughes’ teenage movies. This is a movie that is just as much about Spider-Man figuring out life as a high school superhero as it is about him trying to become an Avenger. To that end, Sony promoted the movie with clips of Holland’s Peter Parker interacting with his schoolmates Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Michelle (Zendaya). This further emphasized that the MCU version of Peter Parker would be quite different from the one portrayed by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, giving this reboot a fresh feel.
4.) Spidey sells
While Iron Man ushered the superhero film genre into its current form, it was Spidey who began the audience thirst for comic book movies in earnest. There were plenty of superhero movies that came before him, from Christopher Reeves’ “Superman” films to Hugh Jackman’s debut as Wolverine in “X-Men” in 2000, but when “Spider-Man” became the first movie to score a $100 million-plus opening in 2002, it proved that comic book movies were a hot commodity.
Without Spider-Man, there is no MCU, so his arrival in the series was always going to be a highly anticipated event. Combine that with a new vision for the character that counters the feeling of “we’ve been here before” that often fuels franchise fatigue, and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a winner that not only sustains interest in Spidey and next year’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” but in the stories to come in the years ahead.