Product endorsements have long been a necessary evil in the world of entertainment. Audiences expect Groot to show up in a car commercial or Wonder Woman to hawk diet bars. Even if the products make no sense in the context of the movie (Groot has no use for a Terran car) or are an outright antithesis of the main character (imagine Diana of Themyscira thinking she needed to diet). Which is why the Spider-Man: Homecoming tie-in to the NBA Finals feels so different. Dare I say it? It’s kind of good.
Peter Parker lives in Queens, in a universe similar enough to our own. It’s perfectly reasonable he’d want to watch the NBA Finals. It’s also acceptable that Tony Stark would invite his latest pet project to the fancy NBA party. Combining those two things into what is basically a two-minute short film was a risk. It’s easy enough to slap Spider-Man’s face into an NBA commercial. But to take the time to write out dialogue, shoot footage*, book guest star talent, and hide Easter eggs? That kind of commitment takes money, the kind of money ABC might throw at the problem of ESPN shedding viewers. The result, however, is good enough that for a hot second I thought the NBA Finals were a subplot from Spider-Man: Homecoming that Marvel had simply lifted wholesale from the film to use as an advertising tie-in.
*Along with repurposed footage from the film.
Check out the first three installments below. The fourth will air during the NBA Finals on June 9, 2017.
A few fun tidbits hidden throughout: Happy asks Peter to bring him change, which is obviously not happening now. Happy also requested “Nothing fancy” which is the tagline of the saltine crackers Peter grabbed. Also, you know it’s a real Marvel experience when Stan Lee shows up for a cameo.
UPDATE: THE SAGA IS NOW COMPLETE.
Check out the final video from Spider-Man’s epic quest to watch the NBA Finals at Tony Stark’s party or check out the “extended cut” over on YouTube.