Born in 1996, eh?

I'll give them this… Sony and Marvel took their time, they did the hard work, and they made a careful and considered decision here that they're going to hopefully be happy with for many years to come.

They better be, because Tom Holland is their new Spider-Man, and if they've ever truly gambled as a studio with this particular property, now is the moment.

Sure, the various Spider-Man related films so far have earned the studio something like $4 billion so far, so it's not like they just announced they're spending $300 million on an out-of-focus musical about a dancing heroin needle, told entirely in Dutch and semaphore. But Tom Holland is a young actor, relatively unproven in terms of box-office, and with several of the roles that won him the role still unreleased. I guarantee that both "Wolf Hall" and "In The Heart Of The Sea" just became much more interesting to a big chunk of potential audience members, and when they are available to be seen, I suspect people will be watching Holland's work very closely.

"Cop Car" also just a huge signal boost thanks to the announcement that Jon Watts, the director of the film, has been signed to direct the first of Sony's upcoming Spider-Man films, whatever it's finally called. He won't be the the first person to direct Holland in the costume, though. Joe and Anthony Russo get that pleasure when Holland swings into action for the currently-shooting "Captain America: Civil War," with Watts in place to direct the stand-alone film that Sony will be releasing on July 28, 2017. I didn't see "Cop Car" at Sundance, but it sounds like he pitched hard to get the job, and if Kevin Feige is convinced this is the guy, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

The reason this is a gamble is because they've already screwed up the reboot once on a creative level. I'm sure there are people who like the two Marc Webb films, largely because they like the cast, but those are terrible films that will be justifiably forgotten, the Sony equivalent of Fox's lousy Elektra movie.

The thing Holland has on his side is youth. He's the youngest actor to play the role so far, and he's the first one who is going to look like a genuine kid when we see him. Putting him next to the Avengers is going to make Robert Downey Jr. look positively ancient, and it's going to create a really interesting dynamic. Holland's playing one of the most beloved and recognizable characters in pop culture, and if he clicks with the public, it's a role he could easily play for the next decade or more.

I have no doubt there will come a day where Miles Morales will appear in a live-action movie as Spider-Man. Today is not that day, and it wasn't going to be. Sony's got to clean up the mess they made of this property before they can move forward and start experimenting, and today's announcement puts a ton of pressure on not just Holland but Watts, and it's going to be interesting to see how the public reacts when we next see the webbed on the bigscreen.

"Captain America: Civil War" is in theaters , 2016.


A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.