I understand your hesitation about a new Spider-Man. It is Sony’s third attempt in six movies since 2002, and The Amazing Spider-Man duo did not exactly set the world on fire. But remember way back in 2004, when Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 was being hailed as the greatest superhero movie of all-time? (Superman: The Movie has a little something to say about that claim.) Well, several superior Marvel movies have swiftly pushed Spidey’s acclaimed second adventure down the ranks. Now, the lovable, wise-cracking wall-crawler from Captain America: Civil War gets his own mostly solo feature. (Iron Man does show up a lot, as does Chris Evans’ Captain America, in several PSAs taped for educational use.)
The version of Spidey brought to life by star Tom Holland, director Jon Watts (Cop Car) and a boatload of writers (six are credited) is truly spectacular. He’s fun again! He’s no mopey billionaire, nor a sullen teenager. He is a smart kid with superpowers who sneaks out, under the nose of the youngest, prettiest Aunt May yet (Marisa Tomei), to save people around his Queens neighborhood. When Peter discovers Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) dealing Chitauri-powered weapons, he sees the perfect opportunity to show his super-mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) what a great addition the webslinger would make to the Avengers.
Fortunately, audiences get to see the same amazing audition. Gone are the labored recreations of Spider-Man’s storied origin—a radioactive spider bite remains the cause, but is briskly glossed over—and even the backstory of Toomes’ Vulture is brief but complete, opening the film with a rare burst of sympathy for this wayward working-class family man. One of Homecoming’s best bits amusingly fills in the gaps of Peter’s introductory trip to fight Captain America’s wayward team in Berlin, a move that smartly shows why Pete’s everyday life and “crime-fighting” seem so drab.
In getting their biggest icon back (sort of), Marvel successfully integrates a significant player into its extended universe, and now that Sony is following the Marvel blueprint, Spider-Man swings better than he has since fighting Doc Ock way back in aught-four.