A major Marvel hero spotted around town a couple years ago, swinging from lamp posts and jumping between rooftops, is about to reveal his purpose in Vernon.
Residents may have heard about or even seen Spider-Man in town while crews were filming the star and 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. The film was set to debut last November, but was cut off due to closure of theatres from COVID-19.
But now the local fan film will premier Nov. 17 at the Vernon Towne Cinema with three showings, 5:30, 7 and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are 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 (2020) showings at the Towne Theatre but then COVID hit. So we couldn’t do the 400-person showing we wanted for charity,” 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.
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.