Spider-Man comes home (to Marvel)

Donald Glover and Zendaya costar in SpiderMan Homecoming

Donald Glover and Zendaya costar in SpiderMan Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the sixteenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film marks the first time that the current Marvel Films team has been given the opportunity to create and produce a Spider-Man film the RIGHT way. Sony Pictures has screwed up twice trying to bring the web-spinner to life, with Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield doing the best they could with the material they had. Finally they allowed Marvel to do it the way it needs to be done, and the way Marvel Films has shown it can do with their other iconic characters in the Marvel stable, like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Ant-Man, Deadpool, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Avengers. In February 2015, Marvel Studios and Sony reached a deal to share the character rights of Spider-Man, integrating the character into the established MCU.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is directed by Jon Watts, with a screenplay by the writing teams of Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, Watts and Christopher Ford, and Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. The film stars Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, and Robert Downey Jr.

In the film, several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.

Tom Holland shines as Peter Parker / Spider-Man, a 15-year-old who received spider-like abilities after being bitten by a genetically-modified spider. Holland says, “This is a very different side to Spider-Man because you’re going to see a kid dealing with everyday problems that a 15-year-old deals with as well as trying to save the city.”

Michael Keaton is magnificent as Adrian Toomes / Vulture, a man with criminal tendencies who runs a New York salvaging company and has a suit consisting of mechanical wings forged from Chitauri technology. Director Jon Watts says “It’s fun to think that if Spider-Man is a regular kid who becomes a superhero, there’s got to be a bunch of regular guys who become supervillains, too.”

Jon Favreau reprises his role as Happy Hogan, the former head of security for Stark Industries and Tony Stark’s driver and bodyguard. Favreau also directed the first Iron Man film, and really jump-started the whole current MCU. Favreau stated that in the new film, Hogan is “looking after Parker. He needs someone to help him out.”

Zendaya is captivating as Michelle, one of Parker’s classmates, very smart, very intellectual, and always in her books. Michelle was not intended to be a love interest for Parker, with Zendaya calling her “very dry, awkward, intellectual and because she’s so smart, she just feels like she doesn’t need to talk to people… So she comes off very weird. But to me, she is very cool because she’s deep. She’s always thinking about something, always reading.”

The film has some amazing star power in small roles: Donald Glover as Aaron Davis, a lowlife; Tyne Daly as Anne Marie Hoag, head of the U.S. Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.); Marisa Tomei as May Parker, Peter’s aunt.

Robert Downey Jr. is his usual total badass self as Tony Stark / Iron Man, self-described ‘genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist’ with electromechanical suits of armor of his own invention, who is Parker’s mentor and is the creator of the U.S. Department of Damage Control. The inclusion of Stark was important due to the relationship established between him and Parker in Captain America: Civil War. Watts added, “You have to think about the implications of what he did in Civil War, which is pluck this 15-year-old kid out of obscurity and bring him to Germany to embark on this insane adventure. And then he just drops him off at the end of it while he continues his part of the story. There’s a lot of repercussions to that. Is it a first step towards Tony as some sort of mentor figure? Is he comfortable with that?”

Jacob Batalon plays Ned, Peter’s best friend, an avid video gamer. Laura Harrier plays Liz, Parker’s love interest and classmate, with a Type-A personality. Tony Revolori plays Flash Thompson, Peter’s rival and classmate. Revolori spoke about portraying Thompson, who is generally depicted as white in the comics, saying, “I know how important the character is to the comic-book fans, so I’m trying to do him justice.” Rather than being a physically imposing jock, Thompson was re-imagined as “a rich, smug kid” to reflect modern views of bullying; this depiction was largely informed by Holland’s visit to The Bronx High School of Science.

Additionally, Bokeem Woodbine plays Herman Schultz / Shocker #2, who uses modified versions of Crossbones’ gauntlets that shoot vibro-blasts, while Logan Marshall-Green portrays Jackson “Montana” Brice / Shocker #1, both of which are accomplices of Toomes. Michael Chernus plays Phineas Mason / Tinkerer. Kenneth Choi, who previously played Jim Morita in the MCU, plays Parker’s high school principal.

Hannibal Buress plays Coach Wilson, the school’s gym teacher, which he described as “one of the dumbass characters that don’t realize [Parker is] Spider-Man”.

Martin Starr appears as Mr. Harrington, a teacher who is also the academic decathlon coach. Selenis Leyva is cast as Ms. Warren, one of Parker’s teachers. Michael Mando and Garcelle Beauvais appear respectively as Mac Gargan and Doris Toomes.

Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance as Gary. Chris Evans cameos as Steve Rogers / Captain America, while Gwyneth Paltrow reprises her role as Pepper Potts. Jennifer Connelly provides the voice of Karen, the A.I. in Peter’s suit, and Kerry Condon provides the voice for F.R.I.D.A.Y..

“We want to play with Spider-Man in the high school years because frankly there’ve been five Spider-Man films and… there are so many things from the comics that haven’t been done yet,” says Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios. “Not just characters or villains or supporting characters, but sides to his character

Regarding the diverseness of the cast, Watts said that since the film is set in Queens, “one of [the] most diverse places in the world… I just wanted [the cast] to reflect what that actually looks like. Feige added that this would help differentiate the film from previous iterations, which had all “been set in a lily-white Queens”.

Spider-Man’s costume in the film has more technical improvements than previous suits, including the logo on the chest being a remote drone, an AI system similar to Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S., a holographic interface, a parachute, a tracking device for Stark to track Parker, a heater, an airbag, the ability to light up, and the ability to augment reality with the eye pieces.

Fandango indicated that Homecoming was the second-most anticipated summer blockbuster behind Wonder Woman. In June 2016, Sony and Marvel committed to making future Spider-Man films, and Sony slated a sequel to the film for July 5, 2019. Feige had stated that if additional films were made, an early idea Marvel had for them was to follow the model of the Harry Potter film series, having the plot of each film cover a new school year; the first sequel is intended to follow Parker’s junior year of high school, with a potential third film being set during his senior year.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the real Amazing Spider-Man that fans deserve. Tom Holland is so perfect for the role, his enthusiasm leaps through the screen, and his cast supports him marvelously. This is a great summer flick, and will keep you laughing and loving your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. See it now, before Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (my personal most eagerly anticipated film of the year) comes out July 21 — the next great must-see film of the summer (after Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming).