Tom Holland defends superhero movies ‘I do think they’re real art’

Spider-Man: No Way Home is getting a “for your consideration” Oscar campaign. It’s not a bad idea, and The Hollywood Reporter notes that No Way Home has a higher critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes than other Best Picture contenders like Belfast, King Richard and Licorice Pizza. THR has quotes from Tom Holland and some bigwigs, like Kevin Fiege and Amy Pascal, talking up No Way Home to the Academy. No Way Home has surpassed $1 billion, making it the biggest opening of the pandemic and the best box office since 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker. It hasn’t even opened in China yet! So the Academy would do well to acknowledge a superhero film, if only for Oscar ratings. If NWH gets a Best Picture nomination it will be the second superhero movie in history to be nominated in that category, after Black Panther. Here’s some of what Tom told THR:

“You can ask [Martin] Scorsese ‘Would you want to make a Marvel movie?’ But he doesn’t know what it’s like because he’s never made one,” asserts Tom Holland — who has played the title character in the three most recent Spider-Man films, having previously established himself in the 2012 Oscar-nominated film The Impossible — in reference to journalists’ and filmmakers’ often condescending attitude toward superhero films. “I’ve made Marvel movies and I’ve also made movies that have been in the conversation in the world of the Oscars, and the only difference, really, is one is much more expensive than the other. But the way I break down the character, the way the director etches out the arc of the story and characters — it’s all the same, just done on a different scale. So I do think they’re real art.”

[From THR]

I didn’t see No Way Home yet, but I asked my 17-year-old son what he thought of it. (There are no spoilers here.) He enjoyed it, but said that the multiverse premise seemed cheap and like a way to add crossovers to pander to fans. He wants to see more new ideas in Marvel films. I sort-of agree with Tom that these films are art that should be recognized by the Academy, but I also understand the perspective that the Best Picture category is not where they belong. Maybe superhero movies are Jeff Koons level modern art that should be judged on a different level. This is why the technical categories exist. However The Irishman got a nomination and that movie was a bloated de-aged CGI mess. Scorsese deserves to be called out for trashing comic book movies when he was promoting that interminable clunker. P.T. Anderson gets it and understands the value of these films.

In other Tom Holland news, his official Instagram account liked a post by LadBible quoting a study allegedly showing that shorter men have more sex than men over 5’9”. We’ve seen Tom dance, I’m sure he has all sorts of moves and that he is full of energy. He’s too young for me to think about him like this. I’m just over here shipping Zendalland.

Screen Shot 2021-12-26 at 4.21.54 PM



Photos credit: Instar

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

43 Responses to “Tom Holland defends superhero movies ‘I do think they’re real art’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Bettyrose says:

    I haven’t seen Tom Holland in a movie yet. Is he more appealing in live action? It’s kinda exhausting having the hero stories of bland
    white guys told over and over. But I agree that it paves the way for more diverse and unique stories to be told on the big screen. Meanwhile, over here in tvland the diverse and unique stories are being told in such abundance I don’t have room in my life for Hollywood’s little boy fantasies.

    • Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

      Tell me you’re a judgemental gatekeeper without saying it out loud ….

      • Bettyrose says:

        Huh? My comment on Holland is a tad judgmental, I own that, but if anything I’m standing outside the gates looking in saying “super hero movies don’t speak to me” while the gatekeepers continue to deny me entrance to this club. – I’m also acknowledging that diversity is starting to walk thru those gates but much more slowly than on streaming services. Which part of that is not accurate?

      • Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

        Im sorry, I probably took that as much harsher than you intended. But your comment about the bland white boy superheroes and little boy fantasies struck a nerve that has just been pinched and prodded a lot.

        It is absolutely fair to say that the earliest films of the MCU focused on certain archetypes of characters. But the stories are loftier and more nuanced than I feel like you gave them credit for. Iron Man, for example, deals with the sins of our parents, trying to create a better world, the state of war-for-profit, and the character himself, although downplayed in the MCU, represents trying to triumph over addiction. He was also built up as the tough, smarmy rich dude and then we got to see how the powerful cool guy suffered with post traumatic stress and panic attacks.

        I’m not going to hold up Daredevil as a good movie, but, it was a big deal to me to see a blind superhero. The Netflix show, the first season at least, was also fantastic.

        You are entirely right thag diversity wasn’t really at the forefront of the MCU at least (while DC hit diversity earlier but,in my opinion, has poorer overall films), but that is also becoming an outdated complaint as the guy quashing that got kicked out and we’ve seen more inclusive stories, while again trying to tell *good stories*. But please don’t dismiss even films like Spiderman or Iron Man or Captain America as bland white boy fantasies. If you dont *like* them, that is fine. Just don’t dismiss them out of hand.

    • observer says:

      I didn’t read that as a gatekeeping comment. You have to know something about (and usually be possessive of) the subject matter in order *to* gatekeep.

      They absolutely are standing outside the gates and that’s fine, so am I (sort of). I haven’t seen a superhero movie since 2016 (except for Deadpool 2, doesn’t count in my opinion though since we’re talking about art that isn’t predicated on humor). So I can’t contribute but I can observe…

    • Eleonora says:

      Marvel has done lots of comic books with main characters that were not white, particularly in the last decade.

      Many of these had small audiences and were cancelled.

      If people don’t show interest in the source material, its harder to sell them as movies.
      So, I hope people complaining about lack of diversity in the movies, also support the comic books that do have diversity. Many of them have excellent stories.

      One success story is Ms Marvel, which will get a Disney + series soon.

  2. Piratewench says:

    I’m with Martin Scorsese on this one… I’ll never understand how adults can sit through these movies. My husband likes them and I try sometimes… it’s like watching a cartoon or something and I can’t get into it at all, I feel like I’m watching a silly kids show every time. Not exactly art to me.

    • Kath says:

      Could you be any more condescending? I can be an adult and absolutely enjoy superhero films, fantasy and yes, animated movie. They can offer entertainment, moving stories and great character arcs. Don’t be so pretentious as to think that depth can only be found in certain categories you find acceptable

      • Piratewench says:

        Everyone who loves these movies finds it so condescending that some adults find superhero content, which was originally MADE for children, to be childish. If you enjoy it, good, join the majority of America in watching it and loving it.
        The only ones I’ve seen with depth are the Batman Dark Knight movies. This is just my opinion and I think you’ll be alright…

      • Eleonora says:

        @PIRATEWENCH, things like discrimination, genocide, totalitarian states, political prisoners, abuse etc have been themes in super hero stories for decades.

    • Kath says:

      I’m not from the US, try again.

      • Piratewench says:

        Lol ok Kath, I don’t really care where you’re from. Enjoy it with whatever compatriots are at your disposal.

    • Bettyrose says:

      Piratewench – this is my story too. I did read comic books as a kid and I enjoyed the first wave of super hero movies as a novelty but as I said above the non stop reboots don’t speak to me at all. And let’s be honest that because these films cost so much they are tailoring them for a guaranteed audience: men reliving childhood fantasies and children (with to their credit increasingly important female characters so girls get some representation too). But I watch them with my male SO. Although less and less as they get released with more frequency.

      But I was blown away by Dark Knight. That was more than a superhero movie. It stood on its own merits outside the nostalgia magic.

      • better.than.scrubs says:

        As a middle aged woman, I diasagree completely that superhero movies (the MCU in particular) doesn’t appeal outside the boy-men and children. The stories have the exaggerated melodrama and comedy of your average Shakespearean plot or ancient Greek play. I love the overarching themes of love, betrayal, loyalty, power, sacrifice, revenge, purpose, fear, anger, and honor.
        Tommy H could be my biologic child, but he is adorable and a fierce dancer and smoking hot. Lucky Z.

    • observer says:

      The most horrifying thing an adult can forget is how to access the delight of their inner child.

      • Bettyrose says:

        I read the comics because my dad still had his entire collection from the early sixties and I wasn’t given much access to television. But even as a kid in the 80s the comics were just light entertainment for me. Not a primary source of “joy.” In fact, they largely instilled in me a need to over throw the patriarchy. I didn’t have words for that as a kid, but well into my adult years I still would mentally associate abusive relationships with Mr Fantastic and Sue Storm (read the original comics if you’re not familiar with that abuse narrative). Yeah the adaptations have come a long way from the outdated source material but the reason that we’re discussing this at all is because the men who grew up on these comics and had the power/money to parlay them into Hollywood franchises were nostalgic for a time that wasn’t so great for a lot of people.

        But like I said above, I understand that the success of these films finances newer more representative films. But those newer more representative stories are made because people are out here creating a demand. So conversations that hold super hero films accountable have value.

  3. Jayna says:

    My adult nephew, who is a film buff, loves all genres of film, said the movie was one of his favorite Spiderman movies. He loved it.

  4. Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

    Joker was nominated for Best Picture as well, it was a comic book movie (although def not a super hero one)

  5. T3PO says:

    I fully agree with Tom Holland on this one. These movies still portray human stories of struggle, redemption, judgment, love, death, etc. It’s just done on the backdrop of fantasy. I watch my Oscar nominated movies each year. Some are great, some are boring, and rarely do I ever want to watch them again. And let’s be real, a lot of movies had their nominations because some very bad people had a heavy pull. Shakespeare in Love was great fluff, Shape of Water was artsy kink, Avatar was escapism. Why leave out the genre of fantasy.

    • Laura Bee says:

      Well said!

    • The Recluse says:

      People giving these Marvel films such short shrift are doing them a disservice. The best ones explore some serious themes. I still remember an essay someone published, can’t remember whether it was in WAPO or not, but it was about Wandavision. Basically, pointed out that many of these Marvel films deal with issues like loss and PTSD in substantial ways. This latest Spiderman film did the same thing: it was about dealing with consequences and still trying to do the best thing in the face of loss and trauma. It was very good.

      • Fortuona says:

        Just finished watching Hawkeye and that was all about loss ,a Superhero going deaf and featured a fully deaf character who has lost a leg played by a deaf actress who has now got her own show

  6. isabel says:

    I thought it was just a good movie. Acting was really great. Story had some heft. I’ve seen it twice now and I had so many feelings the first time. It’s honestly kind of cool to be part of a community in that theater experience

  7. Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

    Why do we have to be arbiters of taste at all? Some people really enjoy superhero movies, they find them moving, inspiring and compelling. That’s fine. They’re not for everybody. I’m not for making people feel ashamed of what they enjoy.

  8. Scrambled Eggs says:

    I’m with Holland here. I’m tired of all this “gatekeeping” about what art is. Just because they are not extremely depressing films where you come away believing that humanity is a waste of space, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have artistic merit. Maybe it’s not high art, but so much work goes into these films, so much talent from acting down to sets, that it just rings of snobbery to me to dismiss them (and not to say that Scorsese actually slammed them, but other directors have really taken shots). Dickens is considered high literature now, but it was sold-by-chapter stories for the masses when it came out. I’m sure there was tons of sneering about it back then.

  9. SophieJara says:

    I did not understand what Zandaya saw in him, granted I’m more of a Jason Momoa / Winston Duke kind of person. But then I finally watched his Lip Sync Battle and Tom Holland can absolutely 100% get it.

    • Bettyrose says:

      That’s the info I’m here for. I’ll check that out.

    • Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

      Tom Holland dancing to Umbrella on LSB is cool and all, but to get the whole experience you gotta watch Zendaya doing Bruno Mars and Tom Holland cheering her on like she is the most incredible thing ever. It’s extremely cute.

  10. JayBlue says:

    All movies are art, that’s literally what they are. The elitist mindset on this topic is incredibly childish. Regardless of what genre you prefer, work goes into these movies, and honestly, some of the morality tales that the marvel movies involves is miles deeper than most oscar nominees nowadays. (see iron man 3 and captain marvel in particular for their take on the western villianisation of others/terrorists and how governments spin it for their own gain. Iron man has always been about the evils of war profiteering)

  11. mina says:

    I agree with him. I used to watch a lot of Oscar buzz movies while I was in college, a lot of classics and drama. As I grow older I found myself liking more action movies and comic movies my preferred genre. Life is just too messy and chaotic and I just want to watch a movie that takes me out of this mess for a couple of hours. I got tired of paying for a movie that would make me cry.

    • Laura Bee says:

      Ironically, Spiderman NWH did make me cry.

      • The Recluse says:

        It was emotionally moving that’s for sure. I hadn’t even watched any of the previous Spiderman iterations and I got a kick out of the major cameos and they brought something important to the plot where Holland’s character was concerned.

  12. J says:

    I have a film degree. I’ve seen all of the Marvel films and have enjoyed the sheer majority of them, but wouldn’t call them ‘real art’. They’re entertaining. Some are mediocre, some are terrible, some are really good (eg Black Panther, Wandavision). Actually, some of the better ones I might call ‘real art’, but definitely not the majority. They are appealing to the broadest possible audience base and it really blands out the storylines and character development (eg the main characters are hardly ever in any true danger, so the stakes are low despite all the action). I totally agree with Martin Scorcese and others who criticise these films, particularly because they are dominating the film industry right now. It’s fine to like them…I do! And I don’t even think they’re pretending to be anything they’re not. But the audience often goes on about them as if they’re high art and gets offended when the movies are criticised. In my mind, Marvel is like a hawaiian pizza from Dominos (very popular here in Australia). Delicious! Is what it is! Classic! Crowd pleaser! But would I put it in the same level as an artisan Italian wood-fired pizza? Nope. I know people will disagree but that my two cents.


      This is very strange to me because I thought Hawaiian pizza was actually a very divisive “love it or hate it” situation.

      You didn’t really define what “real art” was in your comment, but I guess you touched on what it isn’t. Also when you said the stakes are low… many characters would like to have a word.

      • J says:

        Substitute Hawaiian for any plain, standard pizza you can order then. Meatlovers. My point was that Hawaiian pizza is very popular (my fave) but you probably won’t find it on the menu at a fancy Italian pizza restaurant, they are aimed at different ‘audiences’. And you can like both, or neither.

        I would generally define Marvel as low stakes. Occasionally the stakes are high. A few characters died in Endgame, yes. But in most Marvel movies, you know the hero isn’t going to die. I go into a film like Shang Chi or a show like Hawkeye for the ride, but I don’t ever think the hero is in any serious, true danger. That’s part of the enjoyment for many people, they go on a journey that doesn’t necessarily have a super dark ending.

        Again, I like the movies. I just agree with Scorsese (I think it was) who say they’re like theme park attractions (and I love theme parks). And I disagree with Marvel fans who disagree with that opinion; I think they overstate the quality of the films. But on the other hand I get that they feel defensive because something they enjoy is being criticised and they are being made to feel somehow uncultured for liking them.

    • Fortuona says:

      Yet James Cameron chose to have a go at them whilst doing Avatar 2 throught to 5

  13. Krystina says:

    Art is still art, even if *you* don’t think so.
    Not one person alive gets to dictate what is, or is not art.
    I think mobster movies are crap. That doesn’t mean they’re not art.
    I hate the Mona Lisa. That doesn’t make it not art.
    Enough with the f’ing gatekeeping.

    • Isa says:

      I agree. There are films, songs, paintings, statues, that do nothing for me. But I understand they do for other people. And I know they’re creating something I could never. They’re telling a story, they’re creating a vision, they’re making people feel things. I agree with Tom.

  14. “Maybe superhero movies are Jeff Koons level modern art that should be judged on a different level.”

    Comparing them to “work” by Koons?! Ooooh, them’s fightin’ words.

    • Sof says:

      Well, yes, I studied art and hate Koon’s work. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just not for me.

      Cultural snobbery is really bothering me lately: Liking or disliking some form of art doesn’t add to your personality. You can like Lars Von Trier’s or Wes Anderson’s or Paolo Sorrentino’s work but it doesn’t make you a superior being. You can also like Marvel movies or romcoms and, again, it doesn’t mean you are stupid.

  15. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    So how much is the painting of a Campbell’s soup can worth? Or a Piet Mondrian? Everyone’s art is mostly subjective, and it commands whatever attention people give it and idolize it and agree to pay for it. Arguing semantics is silly. Superheroes are part of our culture. Like it or hate it. I wouldn’t pay five dollars for a painted can of soup, but I couldn’t bottle the happiness superheroes gave my boys growing up lol. Perspective is a funny thing.