So overly ambitious is the Marvel universe, it’s nice to see a comic book movie just a wee bit grounded like ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’. Oh, spandex is still prominent, fists still fly and things still blow up – but somehow, things are more……calm.
Y’know, for now..
It’s the second reboot for the Spidey franchise, but because this edition is firmly under the Marvel banner, things are done right….from that familiar red mask to his fashionable webbed booties. Briefly introduced in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man handles himself exactly as the character did in the comic books – he’s a nerdy high school student, almost too pumped about his Spidey powers and frustrated that mentor Tony Star/Iron Man won’t allow him to let loose. He’s also the first Avenger to wrestle with a really, really BIG adversary; teen angst.
Under the watch of director Jon Watts and a full team of scriptwriters, ‘Homecoming’ boasts a tale that cleverly weaves its way into the ongoing saga of all things Marvel. A pre-credits flashback finds a group of blue collar workers in the Big Apple, cleaning up the mess left from the massive battle in the original ‘Avengers’ movie. Their boss, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is told by some snooty government types that their services will no longer be required, leaving him on the financial hook for the operation. After punching out one of the suits, he secretly scoops some of the alien technology and, eight years later, is robbing ATM’s with the futuristic weapons.
Enter Peter Parker a.k.a. your friendly neighborhood you-know-who. Merely 15-years old and still adjusting to being a superhero, he faces the usual problems of most teens (high school bullying, romantic crushes, etc.) and some most don’t (trying to win the respect of Iron Man). When Spidey starts thwarting the crime spree of Toomes (who, thanks to those alien toys, designs a winged costume and takes to the sky as the menacing Vulture), he not only clashes with an adversary that puts his powers to the test – he runs the risk of making a ton of rookie mistakes, thus seriously putting his future as a full-time Avenger at risk.
This is good stuff. For a movie sufficiently stocked with action, ‘Spider Man: Homecoming’ has a near ‘breezy’ appeal. Tom Holland is so perfect as Spider-Man, he makes Tobey Maguire’s run as the web-crawler seem mawkish in comparison. As for Keaton? For a guy whose most famed role was as a point-eared superhero from another neighborhood, he playfully grasps the snarl of being a bad guy, balancing that balance of psycho and charm like few can.