As Spider-Man: Homecoming was shooting back in August 2016, the political climate in America was at fever pitch. It was in this environment that Michael Keaton spoke in between shots with his co-star Tom Holland. As the veteran returned to the superhero realm many years after Batman Returns.
With topics like income inequality and class warfare at the top of the agenda with the media and voting public, Keaton saw a number of parallels between his character Adrian Toomes and that of the working class. Neglected and forgotten, Toomes would venture into the darkness to become Peter Parker's nemesis. But filmmaker Jon Watts wanted to mold the villain around more relatable attributes that Keaton could personify.
Toomes Taken To By The Wealthy Vultures
Although it is impossible to justify masked vigilantism for villains who wish to watch the world burn, Keaton argues that there are events that led Toomes down a path that is not that unrealistic to see unfolding.
"The approach that Jon (Watts director) has chosen a really interesting one, and kind of risky," remarked Keaton. "Which was appealing because he’s somewhat of a victim. He takes things in that he feels like a victim, and some of it is justified actually. He believes that there’s an upper echelon of society of people who are getting away with a lot and have everything. And there’s a whole lot of folks who are working hard, and don’t have much. Does that sound familiar to anybody, given the political climate? Which I think is an interesting way to go about this."
Almost acting like a case study against Tony Stark, Keaton explained that he had all the entrepreneurial spirit of Robert Downey Jr.'s hero but none of the luck or foresight.
"He runs salvage. He’s a working guy. He’s built this business, this company. He works hard. And they took it from him."
Keaton: This Guy Is Not Your Average One-Dimensional Villain
The A-typical supervillain always has evil motives from the get go as they look to push the envelope to their advantage. But with potential children in the mix and a genuine axe to grind with those that did him wrong, Keaton says that director Jon Watts gambled on creating a menace that could be sympathized with.
"I don’t know if it makes him sympathetic because you got to see him in the full picture. In fact, I have to see in perspective. These movies are difficult to act in, in a sense that you’re kind of imagining where you are in this big giant machine of a movie... When I talked to Jon, and he started talking about the character, I found it an interesting way to go, and kind of a gutsy way to do it, instead of probably going down a path that other directors and villains have gone down before."
Stepping foot on the set of a superhero movie for the first time since 1992, why was it so long between drinks for the actor to delve into this world again?
"The thing about me not doing superhero movies, that’s not true at all," he quipped. "Movies are movies. You just go. Honestly, it wasn’t working out at the time schedule-wise, because I did The Founder. And there will probably be a little promotion for that. And I’m starting to work on American Assassin. And we thought The Founder was coming out now, and then Harvey wanted to move it more toward awards season, December. I guess that’s what that means. So, no. If something’s good and it works in my life schedule or work schedule, I’m open to it."