'Spider-Man: Homecoming' is a coming of age story

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” may very well be the best film version of the character to date. It presents a fun, unique, and character-driven interpretation of the popular teenage superhero. In similar fashion to previous Marvel films like “Iron Man” and “The Avengers,” “Spider-Man” has a light, comedic, comic book-like tone, a solid cast, and impressive special effects that provide a family-friendly experience suited for just about any audience.

The film follows the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” after Tony Stark/Ironman introduces Spider-Man (Peter Parker) to the Avengers during a team dispute. When Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) tells Peter (Tom Holland) he is not ready to be an Avenger, Peter resumes his high school studies and takes up a fake internship with Mr. Stark in order to continue training as Spider-Man, a secret from his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).

Meanwhile, former NYC salvage company owner Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) uses Chitauri, alien technology left over from the Battle of New York (“The Avengers” film) to fund a criminal enterprise and build a suit of armor that leads him to become the Vulture, one of Spider-Man’s greatest enemies in the comics. Trying to navigate his teenage years and impress Mr. Stark becomes even more difficult when Peter finds himself compelled to take on this new threat.

The producers wanted to set this version apart from previous “Spider-Man” films and made it clear that this would not be another origin story. Certain storylines such as Peter acquiring his powers (spider bite), losing his parents or his uncle are not included, as most viewers are already familiar with these, and aside from Peter, Aunt May, and Flash Thompson, the film is not meant to include or reference characters who have appeared in previous adaptations.

This version is more of a coming-of-age story with a younger, more awkward and goofy kid in Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The film spends more time developing the characters. Instead of constant action, it’s a whole lot of high school drama balanced with Peter’s quest to be the best hero he can be. The teenage crushes and attends homecoming dance. His personal life drama grows a bit tiring early on, but overall, makes for quality development of Peter’s character.

For those who are confused over why there have been multiple Spider-Man films with different actors over the years, it breaks down like this: the Spider-Man character is a part of Marvel Comics. Some time ago, Sony Pictures acquired the film rights, to which they made their own Spider-Man trilogy with Tobey Maquire as the title character, followed by two (separate) films with Andrew Garfield, in the hopes of creating their own superhero universe. More recently, Sony and Marvel struck a deal to introduce Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and subsequently create this new reboot.

As I watched “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” I couldn’t help but think of it as a teenage version of “Deadpool” with Ryan Reynolds. Instead of extreme violence and over the top crude humor, “Spider-Man” presents youth-appropriate comedy in a similar gimmicky, sometimes cheesy style. The film intertwines Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Tony Stark/Iron Man in an appealing way, with Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan character playing a big part. As to be expected, the film also features several Easter eggs that involve additional Spider-Man material as well as further connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and associated characters.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is currently receiving mostly positive reviews, and a sequel is already in the works. It is likely we will see Spider-Man in next year’s “The Avengers: Infinity Wars” before a solo sequel is completed. Check out the new film this weekend and decide for yourself whether it was worth another reboot.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence, some language and brief suggestive language. Running time is 2 hours and 13 minutes.

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