Laura Harrier explains why Peter Parker’s love interest, Liz, is *not* a damsel in distress in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

When we first meet Liz, the object of Peter Parker’s affections in Spider-Man: Homecoming, she appears like every other love interest who has ever graced a “typical” teen film: She’s gorgeous, popular, and completely out of Peter’s league. But Liz, played by talented newcomer Laura Harrier, is immediately more than meets the eye — and it’s about time we started seeing more ladies like Liz up on the big screen.

Harrier recently sat down with HelloGiggles to talk about her *huge* role in the latest Marvel movie, and the importance of depicting strong, intelligent, women on-screen — something Liz, as captain of the Midtown School of Science and Technology Decathlon Team, embodies throughout the film. Having Liz serve as more than the de-facto “love interest” was one of the best aspects used to inverse the stereotypical teen movie model — something Homecoming leans into hard, and then turns on its head.

"[It] was really important to me that she felt like a fully actualized well-rounded human being," Harrier explained to HG. "I just really wanted to avoid that trap of so many movies before this of [the love interest] being this one-dimensional girl that's there for the boy, damsel in distress, I just really didn't want her to go that direction, and neither did Jon [Watts, the director]. We really wanted to drive home how she's intelligent, and driven, and very academic, and has a complete other storyline, too. There's so much going on in her life and Peter is just part of her life, he's not the whole story."

Because this film often doubles as both a teen movie AND the newest edition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s significant time spent exploring Peter’s world as Spider-Man and how he’s navigating high school like every other fifteen-year-old. This allows viewers to actually get to know Peter’s classmates —  like Liz, the sardonic Michelle (Zendaya), and the snarky Flash Thompson (Tony Ravolori).

Peter’s evolution as Spider-Man aside, one of the most important takeaways from the film is that each character is unapologetically themself. Harrier told HG that something she hopes that viewers, especially younger women, take away from the film is that being yourself is the best way to navigate life.

"I feel like this movie is a lot about being true to yourself and not shying away from the person that you are," Harrier continued. "Liz is really smart, and driven, and organized and I think there's so much pressure from society and people around us for women to stay smaller and not be outspoken and not become into our full potential. She doesn't do that and I hope that other young women can see that you can be smart, and beautiful, and independent, and all these things aren't mutually exclusive, and be a love interest and to have a relationship with someone, they're not mutually exclusive of each other. I think that every character has a version of that and hopefully they'll take that away."

We seriously can’t wait to see what Harrier does next, because we promise we’ll be watching! Spider-Man: Homecoming hits theaters on July 7th!

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