As Spider-Man: Homecoming sits atop the box office leaderboard and the film's star, Tom Holland, watches his stardom skyrocket, the team behind the film have a pretty surprising TV show to thank: Freaks and Geeks. OK, the 17-year-old show doesn't deserve all the credit, but it definitely warrants recognition in terms of bringing Spider-Man back to the MCU and the movie's subsequent success.
#FreaksAndGeeks never got a fair opportunity to grow on network TV. The teen dramedy only lasted one season but it sure left its mark, and is now considered one of the best TV shows of all time and certainly a cult classic. And here it is, nearly two decades later making an impact on current pop culture.
John Francis Daley Co-Wrote The Script
Fans of the superhero genre want more than wild action scenes and vivid special effects, they need a worthy script. The movie's screenplay, which is being praised for a mix of humor and heartfelt emotion, was co-written by Freaks and Geeks star John Francis Daley. Fans of the one-seasoner (later considered a cult hit) will remember Daley as Sam, the baby-faced younger brother in the Weir family and member of a group of awkward "geeks."
If you get and Freaks and Geeks vibes while watching Homecoming, particularly from the school's social structure and Peter's awkward encounters, you aren't imagining it. Daley has shared that he used his Freaks experience as influence for the school's setting and diverse group of intellectual students.
Daley and his writing partner, Jonathan Goldstein, have shared that they only had three days to come up with a screenplay pitch for #Marvel. A task that they knocked out of the park, which would go on to give Peter Parker his best material to date. #TomHolland was seemingly born to play Daley's version of Spider-Man and the young actor will continue to grow and thrive in the role for years to come.
Martin Starr Plays A Role In The Movie
Another member of the "geeks" played a fitting role within the movie, but unlike Daley, Martin Starr contributed in front of the camera. Starr played fan-favorite Bill Haverchuck, the quintessential '80s nerd sporting oversized glasses and oozing awkwardness. In Homecoming, Starr plays Mr. Harrington, one of Peter's teachers and the coach of the school's decathlon team. Mr. Harrington chaperones the students to a trip to DC, where plans go awry and Starr exhibits his familiar deadpan humor, leaving fans wondering if this is a grown-up version of Bill Haverchuck.
It is also important to note that this is not Starr's first appearance in a Marvel movie, as he had a non-speaking cameo in 2008's The Incredible Hulk as Amadeus Cho. He wasn't the only Freaks cast member to appear in a previous Marvel movie.
Fellow Freaks And Geeks Alumni In The Marvel Universe
Linda Cardellini, who played Sam's older sister Lindsay on the show, has a role in the MCU with Peter Parker. The actress plays Laura Barton who was revealed in Avengers: Age of Ultron to be the wife of Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner). It is unclear if we will see another appearance by Clint's wife, but nothing is out of the question with the impending merge of characters for Infinity War.
Just two years after starring in Freaks and Geeks, #JamesFranco joined Sam Raimi's Spider-Man film as Harry Osborn. Franco would go on to reprise his role in the following two films in the trilogy and eventually became New Goblin before sacrificing himself to save Peter. The trilogy predates the MCU, but the show's ongoing connection to the character of Spider-Man is interesting. Believe it or not, Franco also had a major impact on Spider-Man's inclusion in the MCU.
Spider-Man Can Credit His MCU Appearance To James Franco And Seth Rogen?
For years, Marvel President Kevin Feige worked tirelessly to get Spider-Man out of the grasp of Sony to no avail. Feige was consistent in approaching Amy Pascal, who was the head of Sony, regarding a Sony-Marvel partnership. Then, in late 2014, the infamous Sony hack occurred, rumored to be a retaliation move by the depiction of characters in James Franco and #SethRogen's upcoming film The Interview.
The consequences of the hack led to Pascal stepping down while also agreeing to a deal with Marvel to share the rights to Spider-Man. Rogen was a prominent character in the short-lived NBC series alongside Franco, so is it possible their controversial film ultimately led to Spider-Man's introduction into the MCU? Sure looks that way.
It is still too early to determine if any of the above mentioned alumni will have any roles in upcoming MCU projects, but it would make sense for Marvel to follow a similar formula with actors and writers reprising their roles. The brilliant connections would also make for a few more fun cameos in the future, as well as the opportunity for clever Easter Eggs — something Marvel certainly wouldn't shy away from.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is now playing in theaters!
What do you think of the Homecoming connection with Freaks and Geeks? Tell us in the comments below!