Holland to play new Spider-Man

Tom Holland

New York - Little-known English actor Tom Holland has been picked to play the web- slinging superhero in the next Spider-Man film, which is due for release in July 2017, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios said on Tuesday.

Holland, 19, will play Spider-Man's teenage alter ego Peter Parker as a high school-age student in the yet-to-be titled film.

He follows in the footsteps of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who have portrayed the comic book superhero at older stages of his life in the five previous movies.

Holland played Naomi Watt's son in the 2012 tsunami drama The Impossible and recently appeared in the British TV miniseries Wolf Hall.

He began his career in the London version of the musical Billy Elliot and will appear in Ron Howard's upcoming drama In The Heart Of The Sea.

He was selected after a worldwide casting search to appear in the Spider-Man film to be directed by Jon Watts.

"We saw many terrific young actors, but Tom's screen tests were special," Reuters quoted Mr Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony Pictures Motion Pictures Group, as saying in a statement.

Watts has directed episodes of the satirical IFC show The Onion News Network, and the upcoming movie Cop Car, starring Kevin Bacon, according to the New York Times.

News of Holland's selection may disappoint fans who had said they wanted a black actor to play the next Spider-Man.

According to a 2011 leaked legal licensing agreement between Sony Pictures and Marvel, Spider-Man must be Caucasian, straight and male.

His various mandatory traits, including "does not have sex before the age of 16", are listed in the agreement. The disclosure was made in documents released by WikiLeaks last week, reported Variety.

But in print, Spider-Man will appear as bi-racial later this year, Marvel announced last week.

The relaunched Spider-Man comic series will feature Miles Morales, a half-black, half-Latino teenager from the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, as the superhero.

Holland is to make his first appearance as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, which is slated for release next summer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'Holland to play new Spider-Man'. Print Edition | Subscribe