Luca Guadagnino says Challengers’ Spider-Man scene wasn’t meant to be an easter egg

Challengers director Luca Guadagnino says the Spider-Verse moment in his new film wasn’t a nod to Zendaya’s movies.

This article will contain some spoilers for Challengers, so reader beware if you haven’t seen Luca Guadagnino’s new film…

Tennis isn’t for everyone – some people just want their Spidey fix. That’s what happens in one scene of Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers, where the daughter of Tashi (Zendaya) and Art (Mike Faist) asks to watch a Spider-Verse movie instead of tennis. But as the director explains, it wasn’t meant to be directly linked to Zendaya’s own Spider-Man movies.

As Guadagnino told Entertainment Weekly, those thinking that Spider-Verse moment in Challengers was an intentional easter egg are mistaken, as it was really just out of circumstances. “When you get rights for something to be used in a movie, it’s very complicated. Amy Pascal, our amazing producer, was of help there. I said, ‘Amy, can we use one of your catalog titles so it’s going to be easier to clear them?’ [Lily]’s a girl; she’s not going to choose to watch The Social Network or The Post, but maybe she’s going to watch a Spider-Man cartoon, so I said, ‘Why not Spider-Verse?’” Hence, the reference that fans have latched onto, to which Guadagnino said, “Now I realize that it sounded like an in-joke, which, you know, the unconscious guides us all the time.”

Fans have also pointed out something else that is pretty interesting: the key Spider-Man love interests have all starred in tennis movies: Kirsten Dunst – who played Mary Jane Watson in Sam Raimi’s trilogy – starred in Wimbledon; Emma Stone – who played Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel – played the legendary Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes; and of course Zendaya – who played MJ in the most recent outings – leads Challengers. An odd coincidence to be sure, but whoever wants to get cozy with Peter Parker next better start stringing their racket.

Challengers “stars Zendaya as Tashi Duncan, a former tennis prodigy turned coach and a force of nature who makes no apologies for her game on and off the court. Married to a champion on a losing streak (Faist), Tashi’s strategy for her husband’s redemption takes a surprising turn when he must face off against the washed-up Patrick (Josh O’Connor – The Crown) – his former best friend and Tashi’s former boyfriend. As their pasts and presents collide, and tensions run high, Tashi must ask herself, what will it cost to win.” You can read our own Tyler Nichols’ 7/10 review here.

Have you had a chance to see Challengers yet? If so, what did you think?

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