A major Marvel hero spotted around town recently, swinging from lamp posts and jumping between rooftops, is about to reveal his purpose in Vernon.
Over the last year or so, residents may have heard about or even seen Spider-Man in town. That’s because the red-clad character has been making a movie featuring our hometown landmarks.
Spider-Island is a non-profit fan film produced by Five Star Productions in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon. Spider-Island debuts Nov. 26 at the Vernon Towne Cinema with three showings, 5:30, 7 and 8:30 p.m. But COVID-19 restrictions means each showing is limited to 50 tickets, available at spiderisland.eventbrite.ca.
Vernon’s own Mitchell Vanlerberg is the man not only behind the movie but the man behind the mask, as he plays Peter Parker — a.k.a. Spider-Man.
“I came up with the idea in 2018, that year the co-creators of Spider-Man passed away,” Vanlerberg said of writers Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. “I kind of wanted to make like a love letter for Spider-Man.”
Soon after, Spider-Man started making his appearance around town. He took a splash at the 2019 Sunshine Festival as a subject of the dunk tank and could also be seen in back alleys, a local watering hole, on the Nixon Wenger rooftop and scaling the sides of buildings. While most scenes were shot in Vernon, a few trips to Vancouver and Kelowna were needed to get a bigger-city feel as the movie is based in New York.
Along with writing and producing the film, 23-year-old Vanlerberg was also tasked with adapting some super-human skills.
“It was a five-month process to get into shape to be Spider-Man,” said the true Vernonite, born and raised, Hillview Elementary graduate and Vernon Secondary class of 2015.
He also enlisted the help of his dad to operate the camera equipment, as well as some friends.
David Scarlatescu, who many may know as the face behind The Fig, also plays a part in the film, as the news anchor. But he has also played a large role behind the scenes.
“Originally, the movie was supposed to be done for April or May showings at the Towne Theatre but then COVID hit. So we couldn’t do the 400-person showing we wanted for charity,” Scarlatescu said.
So far, ticket sales are going well, with the two earlier showings almost sold out.
“If it sells out quick and it’s popular then we’ll talk to the theatre about doing it another day,” Scarlatescu said.
While there is copyright around Marvel, films like this can be made with the stipulation that there is no money made.
Mental health seemed a timely thing to support.
“With everything going on right now mental health is at an all-time risk,” Scarlatescu said, adding that the movie is something to give people hope, a common theme in Marvel films.
The main theme of the movie follows more of a moral dilemma for Spider-Man.
After four years of being Spider-Man, he wants nothing more than to get rid of his powers and just be normal again. However, residents of Manhattan mysteriously receive similar spider powers and Parker now has a choice to finally get rid of his responsibility to the city.
“The responsibility aspect of Spider-Man, doing the right thing, is at the core of the movie,” Vanlerberg said.
Currently working for a small e-video company, Learn to Flourish, Vanlerberg ultimately hopes to see his name on some larger credit rolls as a film director.