Welcome home, Spidey.

On the big screen, Spider-Man has had a bit of a tumultuous ride. For the character, there have been really high highs and really low lows… so much so, in fact, that things were looking grim for Sony there for a while. They didn’t seem to know what to do with the character and his gallery, and after a couple of failed attempts, seemed to be floundering. Spider-Man is the only character that the studio holds the rights to, so they needed to make sure that they had something viable and usable, and preferably something they could build a cinematic universe on.

Enter Marvel Studios.

It’s been a long-time dream of comic book fans to see Spider-Man back in the fold and on the big screen with the Avengers. Nerd tears were shed back in 2015 when it was announced that Sony had finally made a deal with Marvel Studios to bring Peter into the MCU. And make no mistake about it, Spider-Man: Homecoming is an MCU film. And a solid one at that.

There is no radioactive spider bite and no tearful goodbye to Uncle Ben. The film picks up where we last saw Peter, in a delightful little montage (because I avoided the later trailers, I wasn’t spoiled by this bit), at the airport in Germany during the Captain America: Civil War battle. But just as Peter thinks he’s hit the big time, he’s sent back to the minors and expected to just go about his everyday teenage life back in Queens. Which includes attending high school and all the stuff that comes with it when you’re a nerdy teenage boy.

This is where the film really shines. John Watts has done a fantastic job of balancing the everyday stuff with the superhero aspects of Peter’s life, and how these things weigh on the character. And the idea that Peter is going to—and does—make mistakes give the story a real world feel, with consequences and all. Previous iterations of the character had a tendency to gloss over this aspect of Peter’s life, but this film dumps you head first right into the deep end of all that teen angst. It’s a refreshing change to recent superhero fare.

What really makes this film stand out, however, is both its hero and its villain. Michael Keaton shines as Adrian Toomes, also known as the villainous Vulture. Toomes has agency, motivation and a credible backstory, which is rare for a Marvel villain. He’s also rather terrifying, and that’s never a bad thing in a bad guy. But that only adds to the incredible performance by Tom Holland. He is both the quintessential Peter Parker and Spider-Man and seemed to be born to play this role. His brings a real naivety and vulnerability to the character, which is something that was lacking in previous iterations. It’s going to be fun to see him grow with this role, and there is no doubt that he will easily be considered the perfect Peter when all is said and done.

Overall, the film is what I wanted in a Spider-Man film and is the perfect vehicle to bring the character into the Avengers fold. While no means perfect, it still captures the magic and wonder of the character and the world he lives in, growing pains and all. Sure, it’s fun to see him interacting with the rest of the Avengers, but it’s these smaller, neighbourhood stories that truly bring the character to life. Hopefully we’ll get a few more before Spider-Man takes over the Avengers, because we all know that’s where this is headed. Just maybe not so soon.

8.5/10 STARS

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