Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Marisa Tomei
Spider-Man is back for his third incarnation, this time being played by young Brit, Tom Holland. As you probably know, Marvel got a hold of their original property, snagging the rights back from Sony who had made a mess of the work over the years (remember the Amazing Spider-Man 2?). This time out, Peter Parker, fresh off a stint helping the Avengers, impatiently waits his turn to save the world. Tony Stark is holding him back, he feels. Treating him like a kid. All he needs is a chance to show what he can do. In comes Adrian Toomes, an abnormally powerful weapons dealer played by Michael Keaton, and Peter sees his opportunity for a seat at the Avengers’ table. This was an all around good film; not a great film, but one that perfectly manages the right mix of high stakes action and adventure movie fun. Here is a list of the things I liked about Marvel’s Spider-Man:
- Tom Holland-Great Peter Parker. Great Spider-Man. I look forward to seeing him again in the inevitable 7 or 8 future appearances. He’s likeable. Convincing as a young man, because he is one (Andrew Garfield was pushing 30). Awkward. Clever. Everything you’d want from a protagonist in a teen comedy.
- Fun and Fancy Free: The newest Spider-Man, more than any Spider-Man film before it, feels like a movie about teenagers. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield had the weight of the world on their shoulders. Tom Holland lives in a world with Captain America, Iron Man, Black Panther, etc. He wants more to deal with as opposed to his predecessors who wanted less. The result is this film is light and fun in a way that older Spidermans couldn’t be; especially the ill-conceived Amazing Spider-Man movies.
- Smells Like Teen Spirit: I mentioned that this felt like a movie about teenagers. Well that comes complete with petty romances, school bullies, uncool friends, awkward moments. In this case, I love the clichés. While battling black market deals on world domination weapons, Peter also struggles with his crush on Liz, the pretty and popular senior girl on his Academic Decathlon team.
- The Vulture-This could have been the worst part of the film. A vulture? As great and as dominant as Marvel has been, villains are definitely their weakness. They haven’t had anyone to rival The Joker for example from DC. They tend to go for big, abstract villains rather than compelling character based baddies, which is what they did here. Casting Michael Keaton signaled a good direction, and he is excellent in the film. Compelling, real, intimidating, even relatable at times. His Vulture is truly more of a family man who saw an opportunity and took it. He’s ruthless rather than diabolical, and a big part of why the movie works.
- No Origin Story-We all know by now that Peter Parker was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. That Peter makes a mistake that leads to his Uncle’s death. That the guilt Peter feels is one of his chief motivations. That he was bitten by some kind of spider that endowed him with these unique abilities. The last Spider-Man decided to recycle those plot lines, and it was a major drag. I don’t think anybody’s favorite part of a superhero story is his origin (unless we’re talking about Unbreakable). No need to retread here. When the movie, begins Peter Parker is already Spider-Man, and he knows how to use his abilities. Get on with the film. They do.
- Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime-Spider-Man gets a sidekick. That’s new. His name is Ned. He’s Peter’s best friend. He obviously knows his identity, and by the end begins to aid Peter with his elite computer skills. He’s also terrific comic relief during adding to the teen comedy vibe throughout the picture.
- Diverse Cast-Alright so Peter Parker’s still white. Fine. But his love interest: black. Best friend: Filipino. MJ: mixed. School bully: Hispanic. I approve. Plus Donald Glover is in the movie as a kind of nod to the popularity of his campaign for the Spider-Man role.
- The Adults- The veteran supporting cast definitely bolster the film without stealing the show from the young actors. Downey Jr., playing a more responsible Tony Stark, is a witty source of wisdom as opposed to earlier movies’ reliance on fortune cookie sayings from Aunt and Uncle. Marisa Tomei is a much more realistic Aunt to Peter Parker, and the film finds the humor in this attractive version of Aunt May. Jon Favreau, Bokeem Woodbine, Jennifer Connelly round out the cast, and I’ve already told you about Michael Keaton.
- Her, the Sequel-Peter gets his own version of JARVIS, and its the understanding voice of an attractive older woman (Jennifer Connelly). This makes the middle sequences where we basically are leaning about his abilities and functions way more entertaining than the instruction video it could have been. It also highlights the sheer number of abilities new Spider-Man has thanks to the suit.
- Surprise, Surprise-I won’t tell you what it is, but there was a pretty clever surprise towards the end of this film that I have to include on this list. It raised the stakes; both dramatically and comically. You’ll see.