When Spider-Man: Homecoming was first released, I was somewhat reluctant to view it. We had already lived through Spider-Man being played by Tobey Maguire in Sam Raimi’s trilogy (2002-07), and Andrew Garfield’s two films as the superhero in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and the sequel in 2014 (AKA the not-so the Amazing Spider-Man). It just felt like there was nothing new that could be done with the character, and that maybe his crime-fighting days could be finally over.

The last Amazing Spider-Man films had left a bad taste in my mouth, and although it was fun to see Spider-Man make an appearance in Captain America: Civil War (2016), I still felt a little concerned. Did Tom Holland have it in him to hold a movie on his own? Would we see yet another origin story of how Spidey got his superpowers, yet again? Which baddie would Spider-Man face up against, and would it be a bad CGI sandman? And, come on, what was up with that bad poster that looked like someone had just learned how to use photoshop?

Luckily, Spider-Man: Homecoming was an absolute delight to watch. It captured everything that a good Spider-Man film should be: fun, entertaining and didn’t take itself too seriously. Spider-Man: Homecoming also managed not to go the same route as The Amazing Spider-Man and didn’t repeat the whole origin story. This was a film that helped to rebuild all the damage that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 had caused to the franchise. This film felt fresh and modern, for the very first time Peter Parker actually came across as a real, believable High School student and not some late twenty-something actor trying to pass himself off as a teenager (sorry Tobey!).

The film begins with the clear up of the Battle of New York. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his salvage company are contracted to clean up the city, but their operation is taken over by the Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.), a partnership between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and the U.S. government. Enraged at being driven out of business, Toomes persuades his employees to keep the Chitauri technology they have already scavenged and use it to create and sell advanced weapons.

Eight years later, Peter Parker (Holland) is drafted into the Avengers by Stark to help in the events that take place in Civil War. Parker is keen to become a full-time Avenger, but Stark tells him that he isn’t ready yet. Parker quits his school’s academic decathlon team to spend more time focusing on his crime-fighting activities as Spider-Man. He encounters a run-in with Toomes’ goons, Jackson Brice aka Shocker and Herman Schultz (Bokeem Woodbine) selling weapons to a local criminal.

Parker encounters the Vulture who drops him in a lake, where Spider-man nearly drowns after becoming tangled in a parachute built into his suit. He is rescued by Stark, who is monitoring the Spider-Man suit he gave Parker and warns him against further involvement with the criminals. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

What makes Spider-Man: Homecoming such a delight to watch is the fact that its a film very much of its time. This is a Spider-man film for the Generation Z audience, with their memes and Snapchat (I sound like an old woman, I know!). Parker’s old foe, Flash is now a know-it-all rather than a jock, the young cast is multiracial, Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is younger and has more of a role, and Peter’s love interest is the captain of the academic decathlon team, Liz (Laura Harrier).

The film shows Parker as an ordinary teenager, who is very much a geek like so many of us are. The film opens with an amusing montage of camera phone footage of the Civil War battle from Parker, which also includes Peter bouncing around an airport hotel room to the irritation of Tony Stark’s glum sidekick Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Holland’s Spidey is shown as a kid who is way over his head but has a good heart. He’s not a brooding, serious superhero, but someone who is relatable because he’s so down-to-earth and he’s simply trying to do his best.

I am not the biggest fan of comic-book films, I find myself to be more of an occasional watcher, dipping in here and there. However, I find Spider-Man: Homecoming to be a great film which anyone can watch whether they be a diehard Marvel lover, or like myself. Spider-Man: Homecoming is relatively self-contained, even though it does take place in the Marvel universe. The storytelling and character development are just as impressive as the special effects and the action set pieces. I can say that I am fully optimistic about the sequel Spider-Man: Far From Home which will be released in July this year.

 

 Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Zendaya,Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, 

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