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  Spider-Man: Homecoming Working Class Superhero
Year: 2017
Director: Jon Watts
Stars: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyne Daly, Abraham Attah, Hannibal Buress, Jennifer Connelly, Chris Evans
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Eight years ago, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) faced a professional disappointment when his company, which had been hired to clean up after an alien attack on New York City, was denied any future contracts when the job went to Tony Stark's corporation after it was decided it was too risky for anyone other than him to take care of such dangerous material. Toomes was bitter, but when one of his employees pointed out they still owned alien technology they had not given back, he had a brainwave, and has spent the intervening years developing weaponry with it that will make him a substantial profit when he sells it to those as unscrupulous as he is. Meanwhile, a certain fifteen-year-old Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has ambitions of his own...

By the time Spider-Man was rebooted for the third time with this movie, it was a point where the moviegoing public would have to accept that a certain number of franchises were going to be recycled ad infinitum, and at the forefront of those would be the comic book characters. Spidey had been played by three stars since the beginning of the millennium not so long before, but his previous Andrew Garfield incarnation had been judged a misfire, so he was reintroduced as Holland in Captain America: Civil War for an extended cameo designed to drum up anticipation for a version of the superhero who would be improved, a mixture of fan service and populist moviemaking that Marvel enjoyed.

Naturally, when Homecoming was released there remained grumbles that the studio had sold out their most famous character, but in the main it was well-received, and there were no doubts a lot of thought had gone into fashioning him just right for whatever plans they had in the future, concentrating on Parker's high school background for what was a self-proclaimed tribute to John Hughes movies of the eighties. Nothing original in that, and it had to be said those points where the Hughes references appeared were not exactly subtle, but at least it was a concept as the better Marvel movies of the era had been courting, and there was a dedication to representing the teenage milieu in a manner that was universal as only those eighties movies could be.

After all, the world was in love with American teen flicks back in that decade, just as they were apparently in love with superhero movies in the twenty-tens, so you could see it made sense for director Jon Watts (one of those helmers hired for a blockbuster after an indie hit) to make the comparisons, and Holland was nicely chosen with his mixture of enthusiasm and close to the surface emotions of the more despondent variety. He had the schoolboy crush, he had the pressures of getting good grades, the peer pressure of expanding his circle of friends beyond nerdy Ned (Jacob Batalon), the worries at home with his guardian Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) who is more vulnerable than he or she would like to admit, and so forth. But then he had the problems any teenage dreamer would like: he had to be a hero and save the day, thus winning adulation.

Iron Man himself, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), takes him under his wing, but he's a busy man and can't persuade Peter that going after Toomes, who has styled himself as technological supervillain The Vulture, is beyond his capabilities right now. What satisfied here was that Spider-Man was not out to save the world as most of the Marvel movies would encourage their heroes to do, it all remained on a relatively small scale where Parker's emotions were the grandest stage rather than some "Fools! I shall destroy them all!" mega-powered monster tearing up the city: it was a neat change of tone. Also interesting was the subject of class, as in a few Hughes efforts, where The Vulture was the working-class variation of Iron Man, and he is furious he is not being given his due which leads him to break the law to gather his influence, whereas Iron Man jetsets around the world, dropping in occasionally but plainly with too much on his plate for anything but token benevolence; at least he's not evil. Peter is down the social scale as well, and has to find his own path - if anything, Stark's enhanced Spider-suit was a step too far in that it made him run before he could walk, acknowledged here but not entirely well dealt with. That aside, and an overstuffed quality to boot, Homecoming was the best Spidey instalment since Sam Raimi's second. Music by Michael Giacchino.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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