Much has been made of this new adaptation's resolve to stay away from things in Spider-Man's history that have been covered in previous versions (Uncle Ben's death, the spider bite, the Osborns). Well, there's no Osborns and there doesn't need to be. But there is one line where Peter says something like "with all my aunt has been through", alluding to Uncle Ben's death without saying so outwardly. Would it have been horrible for them to say "my uncle died" for those in the audience who never saw the other versions, to reinforce why Peter is so cautious about causing his aunt anymore stress, an important part of this story? With all the men in this movie commenting on newly-younger Aunt May's appearance, would that have resulted in more "so, she's available" jokes? And what about that grandma taking her little grandson to see "Spidey-Man" who has never seen the Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield versions?
Well, there are a lot of things in this film that are either reimagined (like when Ultimate comics first came out) to be more modern and realistic and it all works very well. That is, if you shut off your nostalgia radar and get happy that Spider-Man now gets to interact with other superheroes (except for the X-Men and the others owned by 20th Century Fox). Remember the 'Spectacular Spider-Man' cartoon series, where Peter was going to a school for smart kids? And they had to explain that Flash Thompson got there on a football scholarship, because he's a dumb jock and why would he be at the same nerdy school as Peter? Well, that lame explanation will help you understand why Flash Thompson is a snotty rich kid and not a jock in this version. He's still Peter's rival. He bullies him by mocking him in front of his peers, not by physically dominating him. No slamming him up against the lockers or anything like that. But he still fills the same role. Same with other Spidey side characters you may remember, such as Betty Brant and Liz. Familiar yet modern.
Much has also been made of the high school element of this new version feeling like a John Hughes movie. Well, a humorous reference to one of the best 80's teen comedies of all time (with the actual movie playing in the background) will cement the fact that this was intentional and also very well done.
The rest of the story is about Peter Parker, after helping Iron Man in 'Captain America: Civil War', wanting to join the Avengers with Iron Man/Tony Stark telling him he's not ready. He's figuring out how to be a hero, helping people any way that he can and Tony suggests that he continue being a "friendly neighborhood spider man", meaning stopping low-level crimes in his neighborhood. But when really high-tech weapons (with connections to the aliens from the first 'Avengers' movie) show up on the streets of New York, Spider-Man sees this as a chance to prove himself. This is a really good, funny superhero origin story with great performances. Since the focus is away from the spider bite thing, this "origin story" is about Spider-Man becoming a hero after getting said powers. Because just getting super powers doesn't make you a hero and this movie explores something that the other versions just fast-forwarded, using the "Spidey becomes a wrestler" storyline from the comics. How does someone become a hero?
'Spider-Man: Homecoming' really works as a stand alone movie, with the nods to other films being very slight and not that important to the story, other than where the weird weapons come from. Mostly just jokes, like Cap doing instructional videos for Peter's gym class (and detention). The film references the one-story Avengers facility shown in 'Civil War' and 'Ant-Man' and shows Tony Stark moving things out of Stark Tower into that new headquarters. So, that's when the story takes place (somewhere between those two films) and you will hear references to Wakanda (because February 2018), but the rest is focused on Spidey. With Tony Stark in the Obi-Wan mentor role. Robert Downey Jr. is great once again, as is Tom Holland as Spidey. Marissa Tomei is a good actress for this new version of Aunt May. And Michael Keaton is amazing as Vulture. Michael Keaton is great period and should be in more movies. The supporting cast of teenage classmates are also filled with good actors.
So, a great Marvel stand alone movie with ties to the MCU that doesn't weigh it down. I give this movie 4 thwips out of 5.
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