Barring the existence of Spider-Pig, we've seen not one, not two, but three different Spider-Men leaving their glistening webbing all over the silver screen.
The two films starring Tobey Maguire (we never speak of that third emo movie) featured a Peter Parker that was faithful to his dorky 1962 teenage roots. Sporting a haircut only a mother could appreciate and glasses the size of binoculars, it seems that too much of Spider-Man's alter ego seeped into this soft-spoken version of the hero.
This was the polar opposite of Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man, who was a lot cockier but still didn't utter any curse words past that PG-13 rating. Though this Spidey was far funnier and didn't complain as much about his dead uncle, the focus on him and his now deceased girlfriend made his two movies feel like a romantic comedy with a penchant for spandex.
It goes without saying that the "Homecoming" portion of Spider-Man: Homecoming has little to do with the upcoming dance that takes place in the movie. After years of trying to get Marvel's most iconic hero under their bosom, Marvel Studios has finally gotten the chance to make the film everyone has wanted since the Marvel Cinematic Universe went absolutely bonkers with superhero movies.So here we are: on the advent of a Spider-Man that is clumsier, chattier, and far younger than he has ever been. In fact, almost everything Marvel Studios does is an effort to distance Homecoming from the rest of Spidey's illustrious movie career.
Going to class, struggling
with girl problems - these things make for one of the more relatable films in a
universe full of intergalactic issues. When you realize that Peter Parker is
crafting a Lego Death Star at the same time a giant space tree keeps repeating
his own name, it paints a picture that much closer to home.
Gone is the pointless need to keep referencing Uncle Ben - the only comic book character that actually manages to stay dead. Apart from a brief mention of his passing, most of Peter's normal life revolves around his questionably attractive Aunt May and his trials as a high school sophomore - something we only got a glimpse of in his past incarnations.
Tom Holland's version of the web-slinger is unique in that he takes on a Peter Parker that is new to the whole superhero thing. Audiences may have gotten a glimpse of this during Captain America: Civil War, but Homecoming drives the point home that this is a Spider-Man who isn't entirely sure of himself.
When compared to
seasoned manly men like Iron Man or Thor, who are funny either on purpose or
for their lack of understanding respectively, this Spider-Man is the butt of so
many jokes because he just doesn't know how to go about things. He fumbles when
interrogating criminals. He constantly trips over and falls when swinging
around the city. And he almost always manages to ruin his chances of looking
like a legitimate superhero.
Speaking of Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. thankfully takes the backseat and serves as more of a father figure than a hero for Spidey to sidekick with. Though his face may be plastered all over the promotional material, this is a Spider-Man movie. So Spider-Man is who we get.
That isn't to say Peter Parker gets any less screen time. Where past Parkers were portrayed as lonely nerds with baggage heavier than Santa Claus' pack on Christmas Eve, the Peter in this movie has found a confidant in his best friend without a surname, Ned. Though Jacob Batalon is pushed to the sidelines by the bigger actors, his role as Spider-Man's backup and moral support help anchor Peter to his teenage life when fighting against the Vulture and his nest of tattooed minions.
Michael Keaton plays a very up-to-date version of the ageing villain. Usually portrayed as a cranky old Birdman, Adrian Toomes comes off as a working man who just wants to provide for his family. This doesn't justify what he does, but it helps make him relevant in an age where being bad for the sake of being bad just doesn't work anymore.
If there are any problems with the film, they stem from the rather weak characters that make up the rest of Peter's high school life. Though Marvel Studios manages to veer away from white washing, the roles his classmates fill are stereotypes that don't really add anything new to the experience.
Flash Thomson is
just another bully except a bit smarter. Michelle "MJ" Jones is the silent
creative type who is no doubt going to play a bigger role in the future. And after
experiencing both a strong Mary Jane AND Gwen Stacey in past movies, having to
deal with high school senior Liz being just another pretty face seems like a step
down for Spider-Man's romantic tastes.ÃÂ
Spider-Man: Homecoming takes a break from the
intergalactic destruction that Marvel Studios is known for and tackles a new
topic: that of a superhero who isn't quite there yet. It's simple, different,
and just like Spider-Man's introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe,
feels just like home.
But these minor nuisances don't distract from what is otherwise a movie about growth. If you've seen the trailers, the plot may feel a bit straightforward without delving too deep into all the Avengers crap that littered his last appearance. And that's a good thing.