PHOTO BY VALERIA CHERCHI
Spider-Man might be a consummate New Yorker, but Peter Parker’s next outing, Spider-Man: Far from Home, has him slinging webs a long way from his Forest Hills, Queens, backyard. “We wanted to get him out of his hometown and put him in a place where he wouldn’t be comfortable,” says director Jon Watts, who also helmed 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. “We really wanted to test him in this movie.”
The latest sure-to-be blockbuster, which opens July 2, finds Parker (Tom Holland) and friends on a school trip to Paris, Prague, London, and Venice. The Floating City, in particular, offers a great setting for both romance (as Parker works up the nerve to confess his feelings to his crush, MJ, played by Zendaya) and the unveiling of one of the villainous Elementals. “One of the threats is a giant water creature,” Watts explains, “so it was hard to argue with Venice.” The aquatic baddie makes a splashy entrance, rising out of the Grand Canal in front of the 428-year-old Ponte di Rialto (pictured). “Basically, this is an image of Peter’s vacation being ruined,” Watts says, laughing.
While Spidey’s Venetian visit may be more chaotic than the average tourist’s, Watts says that filming in the logistically challenging city was surprisingly hiccup-free. “All of the equipment, the actors, the crew, arrived on boats,” he notes, “but we were so prepared when we got there that it was the smoothest part of the entire shoot. It was easier to shoot in Venice than in New York City.”
More complicated was blending the CGI with real-life locations. “The water you see is digital,” Watts says. “The bridge and all the buildings behind it are real, but the people on the bridge are people that we shot in LA, scaled down, and inserted. And then, inevitably, there were people wandering around in the background who had no idea that they were being filmed for a movie that day. When we had to hold up foot traffic, some of the locals would get really mad and start yelling at me in the middle of a take—which led to a lot of great bloopers.”