As the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe instalment, Spiderman: Homecoming reintroduces us to Peter Parker, as Tom Holland takes on his new role as the webbed hero. First brought to us in Captain America: Civil War, we meet Peter in his youngest cinematic reincarnation yet, as a 15-year old who has already accessed his powers and heroic inclinations. Meeting Peter while he is already well into his Spiderman career is a welcome difference from the previous two film collections we have experienced, where we were repeatedly reminded of the tragic events that began Peter's career (the spider bite, the death of Uncle Ben, Spiderman's entry into fighting crime). With Holland as the youngest actor to take on adolescent Peter (Holland is 21, Tobey Maguire was 27 when he began the Spiderman films and Andrew Garfield started the Amazing Spiderman franchise as a 28-year old) it is easier to see him as a typical teenager dealing with high-school problems.
With the previous two incarnations of the web-slinger receiving vast criticisms over the years, with many slating the third instalment of Maguire's Spiderman trilogy and others stating that Garfield's Spiderman was a good effort but never truly captured the audience's love, it is nice to finally see a depiction of Spiderman that most have seemed to love so far. From the opening scene that features Peter filming his experience in Civil War and shows his teenage excitement and the blossoming relationship between himself and his new mentor, Tony Stark (Iron Man), you instantly feel how authentic this take on Spiderman will be.
With our entrance into Peter's life, we see a perfect representation of what Spiderman should always be - an understated expression of a superhero fighting local villains who also has to deal with typical teenage drama. From Peter's awkward crush on a pretty and smart girl in his school, to pressure from teachers and classmates (including the frequently used bully Flash Thompson being strangely reincarnated from a stereotypical jock to Peter's nerdy rival with Tony Revolori's performance). We also get to see the hilarious friendship between Peter and his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), which is nice to see as usually, Peter's friendships revolve around his romantic interest (insert MJ or Gwen Stacey) as well as his complicated friendship with Harry Osborn. All of these relationships, along with Zendaya's interesting and shocking entrance as Michelle aka MJ through her strange interactions with Peter and his group of friends, we are given a more realistic view of what it is like to be a teenager away from Peter's heroic problems.
As well as this lighthearted approach to viewing Peter's school life, we also get to see Spiderman's parts of the film in a way that isn't over the top. We find in Michael Keaton's performance as The Vulture a villain who just wants to make money from the people who have wronged him in life (Tony Stark and the government apparently). He has no master plan to end the world as we know it, he simply wants to find ways to use the objects that he steals as revenge from Stark to make money to provide for his family. His intimidating and multi-dimensional performance as both Peter's nemesis and *SPOILER ALERT* love-interest's father means that we can see an interesting exchange of power and understanding between the two characters that goes beyond fist-fights in the sky.
An interesting comparison between the beginning and end of the film also perfectly shows Peter's growth in his approach to taking on becoming Spiderman, as he begins the film ready to drop all of his life commitments to become an Avenger and take on a serious role in his "Stark internship", while at the end he learns the importance of balancing his two lives and finding a way to be a superhero while also keeping up with his school and home commitments. The film delivers easy laughs with serious moments that bring this Spiderman film together perfectly without having over dramatic angst and life-changing storylines for the characters involved. While the use of two of the main female characters as simply a doe-eyed love interest who is whittled down to a pawn that can be played between Spiderman and the Vulture, and an Aunt who exists as a familial presence and the product of uncomfortable jokes from multiple male characters towards Peter is very disappointing, it is a slight disappointment compared to a very successful portrayal of Spiderman that finally feels like it has hit all the right notes, and creates the beginning of a perfect relationship for the future roles of Spiderman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.