Spider-Man: Homecoming, with Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr, Marisa Tomei. Directed by Jon Watts.
THE latest Spider-Man reboot is an enjoyable superhero action film which gets a lot of things right about the character, although there are also unnecessary deviations.
The reboot makes sense in that the intent was to take Peter Parker back to his roots as a high school teenager, a brand new superhero on the block with a lot still to learn before maturing into the hero with the motto: “With great power comes great responsibility”.
A fresh start also made commercial sense for Marvel Studios as they wanted to incorporate Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This version of the hero (Tom Holland) was first introduced in Captain America: Civil War as Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr) “secret weapon”, a thrilling surprise for audiences.
A major plot thread in Spider-Man: Homecoming is Parker’s desire to be a member of the Avengers
Unlike DC Comics, which has a single studio, Warner Brothers, producing all its films and keeping the heroes in the same universe, Marvel had characters farmed out to various studios – Spider-Man to Sony, the X-Men to 20th Century Fox and Hulk to Universal Pictures, for example.
It was the first Iron Man movie that established the MCU, which gradually incorporated Captain America, Thor and the rest of the Avengers. Getting the rights to Spider-Man was a coup for Marvel Studios they could now have him interact with the Avengers.
A major plot thread in Spider-Man: Homecoming is Parker’s desire to be a member of the Avengers, eagerly and impatiently waiting for a call from Stark/Iron Man for the next Avengers mission.
He desperately wants to be a superhero, but his life is also complicated by keeping his alter ego secret, even from his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and the usual troubles of adolescence, like school and falling in love.
Spider-Man’s heroic feats are limited to stopping bag-snatchers on the streets of New York, tying them up with his sticky webbing. It is when he confronts several ATM robbers that he encounters something beyond the usual criminal element, as the men are armed with anti-gravity weapons and destructive lasers that destroy a nearby shop.
The baddies get away, but while attending a party in the suburbs with his best friend, Parker, who brought his Spider-Man suit along, spots flashes in the distance and encounters more of the gang with strange weapons.
Fighting with and pursuing the baddies, Spider-Man draws the attention of their boss, The Vulture (Michael Keaton), who easily beats him in battle.
The Vulture’s origins as a villain are refreshing. He doesn’t aspire to be a world-conqueror, or even a mob boss – he’s just a regular guy trying to support his family who compromises his conscience to make money.
Another deviation was in changes made to well-established supporting characters in the Spider-Man comics
We find out early on he had a salvage company which was cleaning up the city of all the alien war debris from the first Avengers movie. But he becomes embittered and goes underground after the US Department of Damage Control takes over.
Although Stark/Iron Man has a big supporting role in this movie, thankfully it is still left to Spider-Man to save the day, prove himself a hero and make a tough choice at the end.
As enjoyable as it is as a movie, fans of the comics might be irritated with the idea of having inventor/tycoon Stark as Spider-Man’s benefactor, as Spider-fans know how capable young brainy Parker was when he invented those web-shooters all those years ago.
Another deviation was in changes made to well-established supporting characters in the Spider-Man comics, like turning sports jock bully Flash Thompson into a science quiz nerd who’s not that bright, and a groan-inducing twist right at the end that future love interest “MJ” is a different character altogether.