Peter Parker isn’t really a superhero — at least not yet. In the latest installment of Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise, British actor Tom Holland slides on the red suit, but this time Parker is a baby-faced 15-year-old who is just trying to stay focused in high school while keeping his new alter-ego a secret from his anxious Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). There is no spider bite here. Parker is already radioactive, and quite frankly an origin story isn't actually necessary. Instead, Spider-Man: Homecoming, follows Parker in the aftermath of the events of Captain America: Civil War. Despite his notable role in the battle between Cap’ and Iron Man, nothing much has changed for the high school misfit. However, his desperation to prove himself leads him on the quest of a lifetime.
With Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) as his reluctant mentor, Parker finds himself stifled and confined to Queens, taking care of the petty crimes that occur in his neighborhood. Unfortunately, he doesn’t exactly possess that smooth Avenger flair that Black Widow, Black Panther and Thor evoke when taking down criminals. However, Parker’s innocence and naivety are what makes Spider-Man: Homecoming so charming. Holland’s Peter Parker is utterly relatable and accessible. Unlike the Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield helmed franchises, Holland’s Parker is something we haven't quite seen before. He has fears and uncertainties, and his desire to take on more than he can handle just might be his Achilles heel.
Though most of his days are spent attempting to solve petty crimes, Parker finally happens upon a real ATM heist that involves some super intense high tech weaponry. (Pay attention to this part of the film if you want to get the connection between Homecoming and the first Avengers film.) This is where a sensationally casted Michael Keaton steps in as the sinister and bat sh*t crazy Adrian Toomes aka Vulture. Batman fans will certainly get a kick out of this casting. With Vulture on the loose, and Iron Man not heading Parker’s warnings, Parker decides he must take matters into his own hands.
Deeply centered in millennial sentiments concerning opportunity and the desire to stand out, Homecoming is sharp and snarky. Parker toes the edge between manhood and adulthood, and I deeply appreciated the fact that director Jon Watts didn’t force the character into maturity. After all, the boy is just a teenager, so his habitual line stepping was completely in line with the narrative. Incessantly in Tony Stark’s ear about his “next mission,” the kid is constantly pawned off to Stark’s security chief, Happy Hogan. This is what makes Holland’s Spider-Man unique; he isn’t expected to save the day right away, and let’s just be honest, he wouldn’t even know how to do so if that was his assignment. Homecoming acts simply as Parker’s birthplace, and we’ll get to watch him grow in very real and profound ways as the franchise stretches across the years.
Homecoming’s inclusiveness and diversity also lend to its energetic tone. With Zendaya, Laura Harrier, Jacob Batalon and Tony Revolori rounding out the cast as Parker’s classmates, Michelle, Liz, Ned, and Flash respectively, many of whom have been white cast in previous films and the comics, Homecoming looks like it could be happening just outside of my window. Garcelle Beauvais, Bokeem Woodbine and Donald Glover are also rooted in the film in various surprising roles.
The film’s greatest weakness is that it might lack some of the glitz and glam that have been found in other Marvel franchises. (Except for that impressive gadget-loaded Spidey suit.) Unlike the Iron Man flicks or even Thor, Homecoming is beautifully realistic and airy.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the perfect superhero flick for millennials (or anyone who lives for a really good movie). Like Peter Parker, we're all just trying to figure things out. After fifteen years and three renditions of the Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel knocked it out of the park; the film is refreshing AF.
'Spider-Man: Homecoming' is out in theaters now.
Aramide A Tinubu has her Master’s in Film Studies from Columbia University. She wrote her thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger, and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami