After his much-hyped appearance in Marvel's Civil War film, Spider-Man Homecoming sees the eponymous hero return to his origins as a local celebrity, helping everyday citizens and solving low level crime. It is hard to believe that this is the sixth Spider-Man live-action film and already the third time the series has been rebooted. This time around though they made a number of significant changes that improved the story. Firstly, Peter Parker is and actually feels like a high-schooler in this film, and played brilliantly by Tom Holland as a geeky underdog that you can get behind. The decision to make this part teenage drama, part superhero film, works well. In an over-saturated market where franchises are competing to outdo each other on scale, the only way to outwit the competition is to pull things right back to a small scale, character driven story. Arguably, the weakest elements of Spider-Man Homecoming are the CG fight or action sequences that most viewers will be so familiar with now.
From the beginning Peter Parker is shown to be a young kid who is excited about being asked to be in the Avengers, it is this disarming lack of pretence or arrogance that endears him to the audience. He messes up a lot as both Parker and Spider-Man and this is a great change from the usual stylish, invincible heroes we are used to. Films such as Logan and Deadpool have shown that audiences like variety and the influence of the second is clear here (though it is all kept child-friendly) as Spider-Man wanders around town in his suit, doing flips on request for fans. Starting from a position of weakness actually gives him room to develop as a character and a hero. The villain is also a down-to-earth, fairly reasonable, blue-collar type, who is just trying to make a living. One of the big problems of previous Marvel films has been the villains, either completely un-relatable superbeings, or with outlandish motivations that mark them out as simply cannon fodder for the protagonists. This time around Michael Keaton's Vulture provides us with a man who is forced by circumstance into making difficult choices, but we are getting a much more nuanced view of this world. It should be said this was something Marvel began with the second Avengers film (in particular the Sokovia Accords), and it is great to see them introducing more political commentary into their works.
The film is very much a Marvel property now, with the same type of humour, same type of action, and same type of set-pieces that we have come to know over the past couple of decades. Spider-Man Homecoming never quite breaks away from the sense that it is just a minor part of something bigger, but they did attempt to make it largely a standalone piece. An enjoyable film with a likeable protagonist. If it can be criticised for anything it is not going far enough to make it unique, especially in creating a Stark suit that effectively makes the character almost a mini Iron Man. As mentioned above, there will be a lot of familiar elements here to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this is a great addition to it. Hopefully, in future there may be a side-story with this character, but its certainly a decent start to his new iteration.