Arguably the most popular of all the Marvel superheroes, Spider-Man has also seen the most remakes in recent cinematic history. This latest Spider-Man, first seen in Captain America: Civil War, is played by Tom Holland, an English actor known for playing the title role in Billy Elliot the Musical in London’s West End and Naomi Watts’s eldest son in The Impossible. He’s the third incarnation of the web-shooting hero since Tobey Maguire wore the red suit in 2002’s Spider-Man and more recently, Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012. At 21, Holland is the most age appropriate casting choice for the sophomoric spider (Maguire was 27 and Garfield 29).
This time, Sony Pictures have partnered with Marvel Studios, giving them creative control and allowing Spider-Man to exist as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It marks the first major directorial work of Jon Watts, who frames the story as a coming-of-age movie in the style of John Hughes (The Breakfast Club).
Picking up a few months after the events of Civil War, Peter Parker is struggling to balance life as a regular high school kid living in the friendly neighbourhood of Queens, New York City, and as a crime-fighting superhero. In between classes and lamenting his love life, Peter hangs out with his mentor, Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) who has built him a new-fangled, high-tech suit to wear. Peter wants to fight monsters with the Avengers, but Stark instructs him to stick to petty crime and stay out of trouble. Cue Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a blue collar family man whose New York salvaging company has gone bust thanks to a company funded by Stark. Toomes’s alter-ego is the Vulture – a supervillain in a mechanical bird suit made from extraterrestrial materials. Unlike your standard comic book villain, Toomes doesn’t want to conquer the world – he just wants to get what he feels he is owed.
As far as Spider-Man movies go, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before (aside from the hotted up Spider-Man suit doing some fancy new tricks). But Holland gives a dynamic performance in the titular role, and Keaton clearly relishes playing the part of the villain. With a tried and tested formula and an appeal that will stretch to a wide audience, Spider-Man: Homecoming is worth taking for a spin.