When Marvel first announced that Spider-Man was going to officially join the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with yet another reincarnation of the mutant teenager, the world let out a groan of exasperation. When Sony announced its intention to reboot the mutant teenager with Andrew Garfield in 2012, many wondered why the character still wasn’t part of the MCU. In reality, Sony Pictures still holds distribution rights to the character, but in 2015, Marvel Studios and parent company Disney announced they had reached an agreement with Sony to introduce Peter Parker to The Avengers dominated MCU. This new Spidey, played by British actor Tom Holland, made his debut in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
Spider-Man was the only comic book character I grew up with. There is something so unapologetically honest about the character and how donning the Spider-Man suit allows him to become uninhibited. There are multiple facets that define the Spider-Man character. Tobey Maguire’s original Sony Spidey nailed the intelligence and awkwardness while Garfield’s 2012 Peter captured the character’s humour. However, it wasn’t until Holland donned the red and blue costume that the entirety of Spider-Man came to be, not only because of his ability to marry the various layers of the character but also because at 21years old he’s the only actor cast in the role who can pull off being a high-school student (Maguire and Garfield were 27 and 29 respectively when their first Spider-Man films were released).
Tom Holland’s performance is wonderfully accompanied by a cast of talented young actors and seasoned veterans who provide an intellectual parallel for the millennial mindset.
Picking up a few months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, the latest Marvel feature is by no means an origin story. The filmmakers know the audience is already aware of how Spider-Man came to be and so we are spared the tragic backstory most superhero flicks open with. Instead, director Jon Watts takes audiences on a coming of age journey, perfectly marrying the genres of teen-movie and superhero-action due to the humour and character development in Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley’s screenplay. The film is an honest depiction of teenage frustration, paralleling the life or death feeling of everyday high school activity with the real life or death situations Peter is thrust into as Spider-Man.
Holland’s performance is wonderfully accompanied by a cast of talented young actors and seasoned veterans who provide an intellectual parallel for the millennial mindset. Michael Keaton’s performance as Vulture reminded me why I loved Spider-Man so much as a kid. The stories and the characters are always so well developed, giving even the villains a semblance of humanity and vulnerability often ignored in the comics and the cinematic adaptations. Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s villain is flawed and human, showing audiences, especially the slightly younger demographic that Spider-Man tends to draw that there is no such thing as pure evil in the world, just situations that often make us reach for unsavory opportunities.
Spider-Man Homecoming brings a level of believability to the character that hasn’t been much explored in previous film adaptations. Elements such as the suit, designed for Peter by Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, and the protagonist’s desire to discuss his alter-ego, make Spider-Man feel real and relatable to teenagers growing up in the social media generation.
This Spider-Man is as close to perfect as a superhero film has got.
Marvel has also managed to capture a realistic glimpse of the world. Set in Queens, Spider-Man Homecoming shows the diversity of New York and modern day America. Peter is the only white kid in his academic decathlon team and the film showcases background actors of different sizes, shapes and ethnicities. It’s refreshing given how many recent films have been criticized for white-washing not only principal casts but also extras. The film also places great emphasis on academic achievement surrounding Peter with equally intelligent characters and promoting STEM fields for women thanks to the introduction of classmates Liz (Laura Harrier) and Michelle (Zendaya).
In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Marvel finally creates a superhero film for the millennial generation. Unlike other films within the MCU and superhero genre in general, Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t rife with cliches and offers an intellectually stimulating and politically charged narrative undercurrent. The film’s humor is refreshing, never relying on cheap laughs through nerd jokes or comments based on race, sexual orientation, gender or physical appearance.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is as close to perfect as a superhero film has got.