REVIEW | ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ puts the extra in the ordinary

July 6, 2017 - 5:38 PM
Tom Holland as the friendly neighborhood teenage webslinger in 'Spider-Man: Homecoming.'

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” takes what is essential to the Spider-Man character, this time a teenager who has to juggle ordinary life with being a superhero.

This core value reverberates throughout the film that even his villain, The Vulture, is not some crazy mad scientist or psychopath with ambitions for world domination. The Vulture is a much more grounded villain. He’s just a working man who got stepped on by a corporate superpower and forced his hand.

This seems to be the pervading theme resounding in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” This is a superhero movie about the little guy, the common folk.

In high school, Peter Parker maybe a genius, but he’s an outsider and bullied by the tough, rich kid. He’s the geeky sophomore who likes the beautiful and intelligent senior. But Peter Parker is far from common. He has super powers.

We’ve seen him already in “Captain America: Civil War” and the film takes off right after his appearance in that film. His being 15 years old is made very clear in how he reacts to the world around him and that it is invariably a part of having powers of his own.

But after his short stint fighting with Iron Man in Berlin, Peter Parker has been set aside to the benches, to be a “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man,” as Tony Stark tells him. And that’s not what a 15-year-old with super powers is going to want to do. The film captures very meticulously the feeling of a teenager with a passion. The whole world is moving along at its pace and it’s not fast enough for a kid who knows what he wants and wants to play in the big leagues.

Director Jon Watts is sure to make Peter Parker’s regular life, the ordinary world, just as filled and as textured as his superhero life. It’s this push and pull that forms the character, that allows us into Peter Parker’s head and heart. And that’s where the film really shines.

More than anything, this is a coming-of-age story but it just so happens that our hero can stick to walls, lift a bus, and shoot webs from a gadget he designed on his own. All the superhero stuff, while fun and exciting, is really just the setting for a story about a boy who has to find his place in the world.

Tom Holland is awkward, innocent, enthusiastic and really brings to life the youthfulness of Peter Parker and holds the whole concept of the film together.

Opposite him is Michael Keaton, as the Vulture, who is an ordinary man as well but has also been pushed to the very brink. He’s the opposite of Peter Parker because he is the cynical version of the common man. But like Spider-Man, he’s also very resourceful and brilliant. They are pretty much the same character but at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a breath of fresh air. Gone are the big conspiracies and global threats to mankind found in previous films. This one is simple and is not afraid to be simple.

The Vulture just takes advanced technology from the wreckage of the aliens from the invasion we all saw in the first “Avengers” to sell to criminals. He does this to earn money after a major corporation left his company in debt. The motivations are very simple and yet they resound so strongly.

In fact, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is full of these very down-to-earth issues and handles it subtly. There are jabs made to large corporations beating out the smaller players. There are jabs made to the older generation and how they underestimate the younger generation. There is an amazing sense of diversity in this version of New York: people of all races are seen and it doesn’t feel false.

Of all the superhero movies out there, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the most relatable. Despite it not being as heavy or angsty as the previous franchise run “Amazing Spider-Man” ended up becoming, it still packs a wallop.

Fun and enjoyable, and part of a larger world now, Spider-Man finally feels right. In putting the focus on the ordinary and the everyday, the film becomes extraordinary. And that feels like what Spider-Man should be about.