That Time Tom Holland Saved The Spider-Man Franchise With A Drunken Phone Call

Marvel fans currently are patiently waiting for the arrival of Spider-Man: No Way Home, a multiversal adventure that pulls threads from the previous Spider-Man franchises and allows villains from the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb era to interact and oppose the MCU’s Peter Parker (Tom Holland). It’s an example of the massive-swing storytelling that the MCU is growing accustomed to in Phase Four, which already has messed with the fabrics of time (Loki) and reality (WandaVision). But in a delicious twist of fate, this story probably wouldn’t be playing out the way we now expect it to if Holland didn’t “save” the franchise with a late-night phone call in a British pub.

It’s the stuff of legend now, a story that likely will only grow more colorful as it’s told and retold by Spider-Man fans over the years. I know I’ll never tire of hearing it. It begins during a time of upheaval in Spider-Man’s cinematic history. Despite enjoying a temporary “marriage” that allowed the webslinger to participate in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time, Sony and Disney broke off their partnership over money, and Holland was facing a future outside of the MCU. And as he explained to CinemaBlend during the recent press events for Spider-Man: No Way Home:

I was pretty drunk, because I was really upset that I wasn’t going to be the MCU anymore. (laughs)

A few days prior, Tom Holland had put in an ask to then-Disney CEO Bob Iger, so he could simply thank him for the opportunity to play Spider-Man in the Marvel universe. Disney and Sony were breaking off their agreement to share Spider-Man between franchises, because they couldn’t agree on a fair profit-sharing model. Holland didn’t care about the financials. He wanted to keep delivering the best possible Spider-Man movies, and believed the way to do it was by partnering with Marvel. 

Holland was out at a pub trivia night with his family when Bob Iger finally called him back, though. And the way he tells it, he was a few pints in, and almost didn’t answer. But his father convinced him to pick up the phone, Holland did, and he passionately spilled his guts on why Spider-Man needed to stay in the MCU. Holland told CinemaBlend:

We spoke about my passions for the character. I think I spoke about the importance of Spider-Man in the MCU, and what I can offer and what I can bring to the table. I think that really resonated with him and he really heard how much I love this character and how much I believe in him. And I think through that conversation, he then opened up a bigger conversation between himself and Tom Rothman and Tony Vinciquerra, and they were able to make a deal.

Holland tries to downplay the significance of his impact to this Sony-Marvel deal being saved. But if he doesn’t answer that phone call, and isn’t able to sway Bob Iger to renegotiate with Tom Rothman, then the multiverse movie that we are getting this week likely doesn't happen. Holland has already said that director Jon Watts pitched him on a Kraven the Hunter storyline that could have made up the sequel. Maybe Sony would have done that on their own, and we would have met Aaron Taylor Johnson’s Russian tracker earlier than expected. 

But co-star Jacob Batalon chimed in as Holland tried to deflect credit and admitted:

You kind of set it on the path.

That’s fair to say. All of the dominoes have to fall in very specific ways for us to get to a point where Spider-Man: No Way Home is even possible, the greatest of which is three major studios in Sony, Disney, and Marvel continued to agree to play nicely and share their valuable “toy” for another movie -- and beyond. And the moment that the road took a left turn towards what sounds like an incredible movie seems to trace back to the phone call that Tom Holland took while in a pub, buzzed and bummed but ready to save Spider-Man from potential disaster.

Spider-Man: No Way Home opens in the UK on December 15, and then in the States the following day. Do you have your tickets yet?

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.