Spider-Man Sixth time's the charm

Artwork by Tan Zhuo Hui

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best Spider-Man film to date. Easily, and by a Manhattan mile. It 1. addressed the issue of Spidey in the suburbs, 2. finally casted an actual kid to play Peter Parker, 3. picked up just where we left off.

Explaining Spidey’s recruitment into that cacophonous battle in Captain America: Civil War in a nauseating but typically teenage-ish manner through Parker’s camera lens, and then jumping right into his “Stark internship” spared us all that we’ve already seen. We know he gets bitten by genetically fucked up spider, we’re aware his uncle got shot, and we’ve seen him get beaten to a pulp by bullies; Homecoming didn’t bother with the gimmicks.

I get it – it must’ve been challenging to portray a superhero’s formative years as he battled puberty and perpetrators, but they’ve finally got it right.

“…Tom Holland wore the role of an adolescent web-slinging crime-fighter so well, that you’d forgive him for being an annoying little shit for most of the movie.”

I’ve stood up for Tobey Maguire in arguments I never wanted to be part of. Maguire vs. Garfield was a debate we could have all avoided, but had to live with regardless. And now with Tom Holland’s antics added to the mix, I’m certain we’re on to a winner.

Tom Stanley Holland. Previously only recognised by some for holding the title role in Billy Elliot the Musical in London’s West End, he carpe-d the fuck out of the diem with what will have to go down as his breakthrough role as Peter Parker. It adds up too; for a kid playing a kid who does ballet brilliantly, and exercises his free time by free-running across his familiarity of the London landscape, you can’t not think that he was meant to be our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.

Stan Lee himself gave esteemed praise to Robert Downey Jr. by declaring the latter “was born to be Iron Man”, and Ryan Reynolds was so Deadpool, he took a hot green dump on his time as the Green Lantern. Not many other superheroes (if any at all) have embodied their roles as well as the two, but Tom Holland wore the role of an adolescent web-slinging crime-fighter so well, that you’d forgive him for being an annoying little shit for most of the movie.

And of the movie, I’ve read articles and heard murmurs on Iron Man’s involvement; Esquire left little to anticipation with a headline booming “Spider-Man: Homecoming Would Have Been Better Without Iron Man”. …really?

Tony Stark’s imprints were found scattered all around Homecoming, and crucially so, can I just say? Tobey Maguire had Uncle Ben’s words reverberating throughout the three movies, Andrew Garfield had Captain Stacy haunting his errands, and now for a change, Tom Holland’s got Tony Stark keeping Spidey’s raging testosterone in check. And really? I couldn’t complain. Besides, this was meant to set the tone for The Avengers, so if I had to sit through Uncle Ben getting shot again, I’d have flipped.

Homecoming looked like a project that eliminated ambiguity that came with the other five films, and that showed with the other cast members that surrounded Tom Holland. Michael Keaton as a baddy with mechanical wings with the Vulture proved to a decision that came with levels. From a ruminating Batman, past the prime of one Birdman, to a super-powered egomaniac, Keaton showed up as the bête noire a Spider-Man film desperately lacked.

The peripherals were supported by the unassuming Zendaya, or as her “friends call her” in the movie, MJ. Jacob Batalon did as well as Peter Parker’s (only) friend should, and the character of Flash Thompson was finally portrayed by an all-talk persona in Tony Revolori, a far cry from Flash’s bicep flexes that terrorised both Maguire and Garfield. One thing you’ll notice and smile at is… diversity. Parker’s love interest in Homecoming is black, as is the “new MJ”, his high school nemesis is Latino,  his best friend and many other students in his high school are Asian. It’s not quite something to throw confetti over just yet, but it’s a provocating thought for the future of casting.

The only real family in Peter’s life went from Aunt May to just May, played by the foxy Marisa Tomei. Captain America: Civil War co-writer Stephen McFeely insisted they were trying to make Peter “as naturalistic as possible…That’s partly why his aunt isn’t 80 years old; if she’s the sister of his dead mother, why does she have to be two generations ahead?” That is fair play.

Donald Glover, though. I’ve expressed my admiration and love for the all-rounded artist, and despite my dissatisfaction at the minimal screentime he got, the tease of the Prowler and Miles Morales was enough to have me looking ahead.

I’ve never been big on comic books, nor the comic books that revolved around the superhero universes. Heck, I had to Google the implications of Miles Morales and the origins of the Vulture and the Scorpion, but much like yourselves, I find myself excited for these movies like a child dizzy on lemonade.

That’s what movies do, no? They offer an escape. For about 120 minutes, I left my responsibilities outside the theatres so I could give Peter Parker some company. Some support, some affiliation, some encouragement. Granted, I was as excited for Homecoming as I was for the five previous Spider-Man films that came before, but this one left me reeling.

“Your friendly, neighbourhood Spider-Man” went from a tagline to a reality. Parker’s friendship with the bodega cat, his thrill at being rewarded with just a churro, and his final decision to keep his feet close to the ground all showed that both Spider-Man the superhero, and now Spider-Man the franchise are focussed more on saving the neighbourhood first, before attempting to save the world. I’ll say it’s finally safe to assume that after six fucking tries, Spidey has finally come home.

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