Ever since the 1960’s, the story of Spider-Man has been told the same way: a teenager is bitten by a radioactive spider, gets incredible powers, and now has to balance high school with being a super hero and taking care of his elderly widowed aunt.
In the third movie reboot, most of this familiar story still exists, except this time he has a sidekick, an Avenger who occasionally guides him and a younger-looking aunt.
Some purists may wonder about this new version of Spider-Man in the MCU, but if they give this super-hero/coming of age story a chance, they will be rewarded.
First off, Tom Holland is great as the still-growing Spider-Man. They take care of his origin story in one sentence, and look at how he’s still learning his job, despite past experience and what he did in Captain America: Civil War. He expects regular missions from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), or even test runs of the suit, but it doesn’t work out that way. He’s like any other 15 year old boy, eager to prove himself to a father figure.
However, he still has some problems with the super-hero job. Trying to chase down criminals in the suburbs is somehow more difficult than doing it in Queens, for example.
The movie does start with an origin story…for the bad guy, Adrian Toombs aka the Vulture (Michael Keaton). He had expected to do well reclaiming scrap and alien tech from the Battle of New York, until the government says it’ll take over damage control from now on. Not only that, the woman who tells Toombs the bad news is Tyne Daly.
Well, it doesn’t stop Toombs from reclaiming alien tech and using it for robberies, or even selling the weapons to other crooks. In fact, he’s done it for eight years and no one has noticed….until Spidey sees some crooks with Avengers masks using such tech to rob an ATM.
He tries to tell Tony about this, but he doesn’t seem to be interested. Neither does his right-hand man, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). So, Spidey/Peter does what he can to investigate what’s happening.
At school, he’s trying to navigate high school, including trying to get the attention of his crush, Liz (Laura Harrier) while another girl, Michelle (Zendaya), stays in the background, being snarky. He does have a best bud in Ned (Jacob Batalon), who finds out Peter’s secret by accident. Ned’s excited about it all, but he’ll play a bigger role later.
Peter’s also on the Academic Decathlon team, and its trip to DC almost turns deadly, if not for some quick thinking and strong webbing.
It isn’t long before Spider-Man has a few battles with the Vulture, who’s got a steampunk pair of wings that are very powerful. The Vulture sees what he is doing as a way to provide for his family and stick it to the fat cats. It’s also gets destructive, such as testing a weapon that splits a ferry in half. This guy plays for keeps. Michael Keaton is just perfect as the Vulture who is ruthless, but claims he has a legitimate reason for what he does. He’s the next logical step after that couple who used a Chitauri weapon to rob banks in the “Item 47” short.
As for Spider-Man’s relationship with Tony Stark, even Tony admits it’s a little like his relationship with his dad. If they had a more solid relationship, like maybe a hotline number in case of emergencies, Peter would have known Tony is concerned about what the Vulture is doing, which is why the FBI suddenly appears when Peter and the Vulture face off, leading to what happens in the ferry. Tony’s so angry he takes takes back the Spider Suit, and Peter thinks he’s nothing without the suit. Tony tells him if that’s true, he shouldn’t have it. That turns out to be the best advice in the movie, because it forces Peter to prove he is Spider-Man, suit or no suit.
The movie also gets into Peter’s relationship with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). They care about each other, and she certainly is worried about Peter when dangerous things happen. They do have good scenes at a Thai restaurant, and when she helps him prepare for the big homecoming dance.
Thing is, when he gets to his date’s house, the movie changes in a big way. It involves who greets him when he arrives, and it’s a genius move.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a great start to a new Spider-Verse that just may stick this time, especially when he’s expected to appear in Avengers: Infinity Wars next year. It’s a perfect combination of super-hero and teen angst with a great cast and good story. With more experience, Holland could be a major player once the MCU gets beyond Phase Four.
Some other facts:
Captain America appears in two PSAs on physical fitness and detention at school, even though one of the teachers claims “he may be a war criminal, now.”
Tony makes a big offer to someone, but it’s turned down. It still winds up benefiting him and someone else.
There’s a funny callback to the classic Toby Maguire–Kirsten Dunst kiss. See below:
Karen, the voice of Spider-Man’s AI in his suit, is not only an Oscar winner but is connected to the Vision.
The last five seconds of the film should be in the next Spider-Man movie, but what happens was inevitable.
The old TV theme is back in a new way, and hopefully will stay.
As for the post-credit scenes, a man makes an interesting decision, while the other is almost a PSA that might remind people of the end of another Marvel movie.