Spidey still a unique crime-fighter in fun ‘Homecoming’

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Tom Holland as Spider-Man

The newest version of the wall-crawling crime-fighter returns in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” a mostly feel-good solo adventure that reiterates his importance and relatability in the increasingly crowded superhero genre.

To be clear, it’s nothing fans and the uninitiated haven’t seen before—but, the Jon Watts film still shows that this particular comic-book hero is a standout, and can be fresh for contemporary viewers.

In last year’s “Captain America: Civil War,” Spider-Man was the breakout sensation, rebooted and included in a shared film universe as part of a deal between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures (the latter has the film rights to the character).

That benefits Spider-Man, played once again by charismatic young actor Tom Holland, who—like “Wonder Woman’s” Gal Gadot or “Logan’s” Hugh Jackman—is perfectly cast. His character energetically leaps off the comic-book page and translates well to the live-action realm, thanks to that rare combination of good looks, acting ability and athleticism.

Which is why the character works well even without another retelling of his done-to-death origin. Teenager Peter Parker already keeps in mind the great power/great responsibility mantra, so it’s nice that “Homecoming” delves deeper into his current motivations, plus his high school drama and other, more human issues that other adolescents—or yes, even grown-ups—can identify with.

More eclectic world

Forget what you know about the supporting characters from the previous two “Spider-Man” series of films, as they’re reimagined for this more eclectic world. It’s a racially diverse cast, with familiar names played by non-Caucasians: Peter’s best friend is Ned (Jacob Batalon), a Lego-obsessed computer wiz; Liz (Laura Harrier) is their similarly nerdy classmate, and Flash (Tony Revolori), while not a jock here, is still a bully.

An interesting addition is another schoolmate, Michelle (Zendaya), an outcast with secrets of her own.

Going toe-to-toe with Spider-Man is formidable foe Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), aka the flying villain Vulture.

He’s not exactly the wizened crook from the comics, but he wields striking, technology-driven powers. Toomes is also fleshed out rather well—he’s incredibly flawed but relatable.

Well-timed humor

Oh, and Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is also in here, as he takes on a more active mentoring role.
Peter’s gorgeous guardian, Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), is back, as well, and often the source of well-timed humor.

The lighter tone and the younger protagonist are an improvement over Andrew Garfield’s version of Spidey, eschewing the emo, real-world seriousness and skepticism for a more spirited countenance.

“Homecoming” is sturdy, but not quite as tight as “Spider-Man 2,” although Holland feels more human, and is easily more charming, than Tobey Maguire.

There’s a back-to-basics approach to the superhero. The film impressively addresses and reestablishes what Spider-Man is about without the snazzy upgrades.

Not as exciting are two extra scenes—one is pretty run-of-the-mill, and the other’s just a little blah. Those aside, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is still a snappy, fun romp that shows the hopeful and more cheerful side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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