From a creative standpoint, Spider-Man is deep in middle age, debuting in Marvel Comics some 50-odd years ago. Even as a cinematic hero, Spidey is hardly a newbie, with seven films and three different sets of actors portraying the web-slinger since 2002.
But the latest iteration, “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” is very much a product of teenage angst. Its hero, Peter Parker, is a 15-year-old high school sophomore played by Tom Holland. He’s a pretty typical kid: he’s a nerdy brain on the academic all-stars team, pines for an unattainable senior girl (Laura Harrier) and has a close circle of like-minded friends, chiefly fellow geek Ned (Jacob Batalon).
Except for one thing: he’s also secretly Spider-Man, who sneaks off from school and the Queens apartment of his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) to fight low-level evildoers.
After getting a taste of Avengers action at the behest of Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Peter is eager to leave his dull school life behind and join the super-team full-time. But the invitation seems to have gotten lost in the mail, though Stark did give him a super-suit with a bunch of cool features to help him along.
Michael Keaton plays the villain, who’s not really at the center of the story. He plays the Vulture, aka blue-collar contractor-turned-criminal Adrian Toomes, who parlayed some of the alien technology that fell on Manhattan a few years ago into a thriving underground enterprise. He and Spider-Man run afoul of each other’s activities, with the professional antagonism eventually taking a decidedly personal turn.
Directed by Jon Watts from one of those screenplays-by-committee, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” can be rather uneven at times, with cockeyed action scenes and a little too much silliness for its own good.
But it energetically takes the hero back to his roots, without rehashing old creations myths. (Does anybody need to see that radioactive spider bite thing ever again?)
Holland may just be the best Spider-Man yet, giving us a teen in turmoil who just happens to be able to bench-press a bus.
Bonus features are quite expansive, starting with “The Spidey Study Guide” with all sorts of wiki-style info and clues about the web-head. There are also 10 deleted scenes and seven making-of featurettes, ranging on everything from storyboarding to creating the film’s oft-amazing stunts.
There is also a production photo gallery, a gag reel and more of those hilarious “Rappin’ with Cap” fake public service announcements featuring Chris Evans as Captain America, which were briefly glimpsed in the film.
Movie: 4 Yaps
Extras: 4 Yaps