When it was first announced that Spider-Man would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and getting another feature film, the news was met with enthusiasm and a little bit of hesitation. Which is understandable. After all, since 2002 Spidey’s been busy on the big screen.
From Tobey Maguire’s trilogy to the slightly-too-soon reboot in 2012 starring Andrew Garfield, we’ve seen no shortage of everyone’s favorite web-slinging superhero. Which leads us to his latest outing, starring Tom Holland as the over-eager, teenager Peter Parker.
So, how does this latest outing fit into the Spider-Man canon? And perhaps more importantly, how does it fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe?The answer, I’m happy to report, on both fronts is: quite well.
Not only does Spidey fit into the Avengers universe, but “Spider-Man: Homecoming” stands quite well on its own. But don’t worry, we still get to see plenty of the characters you’ve come to know and love on the Marvel B-Team.
The film, rather wisely chooses to forgo the Spider-Man backstory, and assumes that we all know it by now. Instead, we start with a quick recap of some major alien events of the last few Marvel movies, and are introduced to the film’s soon-to-be baddy, Adrian Toomes/Vulture (Michael Keaton). The down-on-his-luck contractor gets forced out of a high paying alien cleanup job after the Battle of New York by the newly formed U.S. Department of Damage Control, and decides to make lemonade out of lemons…or rather weapons out of alien technology.
Fast forward to the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” and we get to see the Peter Parker eye-view of the events of “Civil War.” It’s something akin to a puppy chasing a squirrel, so adorable. Two months later, and Parker is eagerly awaiting his next “internship” assignment from Mr. Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), leaving detailed messages on Happy Hogan’s (Jon Favreau) mobile, and seeking out criminals in Queens. Unfortunately and fortunately, crime seems to be low in Queens so the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is limited to giving old ladies directions.
The story is fairly simple, focusing on Parker’s obsession with proving that he can keep up with the Avengers, while still dealing with normal, teenage life. There are school clubs, field trips, and even weekend house parties in the suburbs. Its the first Spidey film to actually feel like a story about a teenager. When Parker finds himself trapped in a secure storage facility, he panics not because the bad guys are going to get away, but because he has to make it back in time for the academic decathlon in the morning.
The film is smart and funny, and with the story of the forgotten Toomes feeling surprisingly relevant. He’s a “bad guy” with understandable motivation, and as is the case with most of Spidey’s villains, he has a personal connection to Parker. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he’s played by Michael Keaton who helped create the beginnings of our current superhero movie renaissance.
It should come as no surprise that the star of the film is Spider-Man himself, although for the first time that title seems incredibly inaccurate. Shouldn’t it be Spider-Boy? We got a sneak peek of Tom Holland’s Spidey in “Captain America: Civil War,” but in “Homecoming” he makes the part all his own. No small feat, considering his competition. There’s always been a wide-eyed optimism to Peter Parker, but Holland’s performance truly capture’s his innocence.
“Homecoming” truly stands on its own, but is also a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the Stark “internship” and humorous Captain America cameo’s you won’t forget the big picture and plans for the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. And with a debut film of this caliber, well personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
…just for fun: