The folks behind “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the second reboot of the web slinging comic superhero following franchises lead by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, wisely decides not to rehash the Peter Parker’s origin story. We know he’s an orphan being raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben when a bite from a radioactive spider caused mutations in his body, granting him the superpowers of super strength and agility.
Been there, done that twice before.
Instead, it picks up the story a few months after “Captain America: Civil War’s” epic airport tarmac battle. After that taste of big league crime fighting with the Avengers, 15-year-old Parker (Tom Holland) returned to normal life as a high school student in Queens, New York, living in a small apartment with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).
Mentored by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) he’s slowly figuring out what it means to be a superhero at night while and Peter Parker, a scrawny science nerd by day. “I am a kid,” he says, “but a kid who can stop a bus with his bare hands.” When he ‘s not fighting crime he’s acting like a teen, building a 3803-piece Lego Death Star with his best friend or getting shy in the presence of his crush Liz (Laura Harrier). He likes Liz but Liz loves Spider-Man. What to do?
It’s just one of many problems Parker encounters as his ambition to become a full-fledged Avenger puts him on a crash course with Vulture (Michael Keaton), a villain with wings and a bad attitude.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is easily the best web tale since 2004s “Spider-Man 2.” Director Jon Watts channels John Hughes in the high school scenes, Sam Raimi in the action scenes. There’s comedy and a more light-hearted tone as Parker comes of age as a crime fighter and hormonal teen. Holland finds the right mix of the character’s vulnerability and arrogance, nerdiness and impulsiveness. Together they spin a new web that is the most diverse entry in the Marvel Universe to date and one of the most entertaining.
There are new Spidey toys—his suit now speaks to him à la Jarvis in “Iron Man” for instance—but while cool, the effects aren’t the things that give “Homecoming” a recommendation, it’s the movie’s sense of fun and humanity. It’s a fantastical story about real people. Parker is simply a teen coming to grips with the changes in his body and even the villain is essentially a working class guy who wants to provide for his family. He’s tired of being pushed around so he’s pushing back. By going back to basics Watts grounds the movie in the comic book lore that made the character popular in the first place. He’s not the tortured superhero we’ve come accustomed to seeing on the big screen, instead he’s a regular teen in extraordinary circumstances. How regular is he? Sometimes his crime-fighting escapades are spoiled by after school detention.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is over two hours long and, like all other superhero movies, features a CGI heavy climax, but somehow doesn’t feel bloated. It also features the best last line of any Avengers movie and, for once, an after credit scene that is worth waiting for.