If you’re a fan of the sarcastic, angst-ridden Spider-Man, this second outing for Tom Holland as the web-slinger will irritate you like the insect bites that often come with summer. “Spider-Man:Homecoming” is Spider-Man giddy in geeky love and gallantly gee-whizzing and whining to get Tony Stark’s attention.
The movie begins in the aftermath of the end of the 2012 “The Avengers.” That’s the movie where Nick Fury, as the director of the peacekeeping organization SHIELD, recruits Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk and Thor to team up in order to stop the bad boy god Loki. Loki uses the Tesseract to open a wormhole above Stark Tower to allow a Chitauri fleet to invade Earth.
The originally contracted cleanup crew is Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is informed that Tony Stark’s U.S. Department of Damage Control. You might feel Toomes’ outrage for the Stark monopoly, but Toomes’ next actions will justify that measure. Toomes has overextended himself financially for this job; Embittered, he decides to keep the Chitauri technology, especially those glowing stones, and develop weapons to seel on the black market.
Eight years later, we have a movie made by Peter Parker that tells the story of how Parker was recruited by Stark into the Avengers eight years later when there was a split between Team Captain America and Team Ironman. (Full disclosure: I’m Team Ironman). Stark gives Parker a nifty new costume and the direct-line to Harold “Happy” Hogan (Jon Favreau). To his friends and Aunt May (Maris Tomei), Parker is on a Stark internship.
The internship involves Parker whining and waiting to be a more active Avenger while Stark feels he needs to get more high school time at the Midtown School of Science and Technology, and more training on superheroship. Instead, Parker spends his free time being your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and crushing on the captain of the high school academic decathlon team, Liz (Laura Harrier).
By this time, Toomes has become the Vulture who now steals alien technology to support his family. We know he has a daughter, one that greatly admires the Avengers. We will eventually meet her. Before that, Parker will try to get Ironman/Stark’s attention, Parker will try to discover the location and identity of the black market dealers and the Vulture will want to know more about this Spider-Man. Parker’s best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon) will learn Spider-Man’s true identity and become the guy in the chair helper and Spider-Man will do a speed version of training for the Stark technology behind his suit. He quickly gets into trouble and de-activated as a potential Avenger.
Of course, he’ll have to earn his cool costume back and prove himself to Stark/Ironman and along the way there will be heartbreak. All the angst here is the regular teenager type with Parker being the target of the verbal bullying by another classmate, Flash (Tony Revolori). Holland’s Spider-Man is so inexperienced, the crooks give him advice and his voice is sometimes so high they mistake him for a girl.
If you’re a Spider-Man purist and were already dismayed by Marisa Tomei playing Aunt May, this Spider-Man is not for you. If you can switch off your preformed concepts of what the Spider-Man universe should look like, then you can fun.
Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley’s story reminds us that superheroes are made like the rest of us, through trial-and-error and some training helps. Director Jon Watts provides plenty of visual humor although some of the CGI looks more like a video game than superhero reality. The real joy here is seeing Michael Keaton and thinking about his evolution from Batman (Tim Burton’s 1989 outing) to Birdman and now to a bad man birdman: the Vulture.
Keaton’s Vulture is both a practical blue collar man scraping by, a family man who cares for his kid and a man emboldened and desensitized by power. He’s not crazy; he’s your father, brother or uncle making the best of a bad situation until it begins to overtake is life.
The homecoming in the title refers to both a dance and a superhero finding his true home. This Spider-Man is superhero lite, the kid who needs a father and big brothers and for now will stay true to his theme song, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.