I sat in anticipation as the theater began to fill. Kids aged three to 43 filed in with their overpriced popcorn, candy and sodas to view the newest Marvel entry — Spider-Man: Homecoming. It had been a few years since the last reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield. It was even longer for me, last seeing Toby McGuire in his final go as Peter Parker. With that memory in my database, I hadn’t been the least bit interested in another installment.
But Spidey’s cameo in Captain America: Civil War peaked my interest. The subsequent campaign for his solo film sounded more promising, with a coveted bonus: diversity. Marvel Studios and Sony promised a true reflection of our bustling, multi-colored world. One that always existed despite media’s depiction of a paler place.
After the half hour of trailers, I sat concessions-free immersed into this familiar narrative. Luckily it was totally refreshing. Being the story has existed since the 1960’s, it felt as new and daring as it had been for me back in the early 2000’s. Now a new generation of fans could appreciate Peter Parker in a contemporary light.
When a dutiful construction manager (Michael Keaton) is shafted by Stark Industries, he takes matters into his own hands to provide for his family. Wanting to prove he’s more than Tony’s understudy, Peter (Tom Holland) makes it his mission to bring these thugs to justice. Simultaneously Parker is balancing life as a fifteen-year-old kid with crushes (Laura Harrier), bullies (Tony Revolori) and besties (Jacob Batalon, Zendaya).
The film is as much a superhero story as it is a high school dramedy. In hindsight its a coming-of-age tale. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is a brilliant mind at a school for the STEM gifted. As if perils of being a teenager aren’t enough, his hormonal sophomore year is compounded with the fact he’s now the newest member of The Avengers. A secret identity that places him and loved ones in danger’s cross-hairs.
Tom Holland perfects this balance with ease, charming viewers along the way. He has great comedic timing and holds his own in action sequences. When the time is right, he pulls the drama. Keaton is brilliant as the resourceful Toomes/Vulture. His goal isn’t pure evil, which makes his villainy a grey area.
Just as strong is Batalon who plays Ned, Peter’s best friend. As his first major role, Batalon isn’t just an ordinary sidekick, he’s the best man to the union that is Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Zendaya is perfect as nerd Michelle, the millennial MJ. A secret held tightly by Marvel, the reveal is a feel-good moment in the film. Fans cannot wait for her and Peter’s relationship to flourish.
Overall, Spider-Man’s return to the MCU is a fun, action-packed look at the future of the superhero film. One that looks a lot like the neighborhood in which you may reside.