Just when you think the Avengers have assembled, the folks over at Marvel give us some new blood, and just in time. Following his glorified cameo in Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) gets his own movie. And Spider-Man: Homecoming is a welcome chapter in a canon that could use some fresh faces every once in a while.

There’s no denying the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced some quality entertainment over the years, but in today’s crowded comic book movie world, you need to constantly be shaking things up. The addition of a high school kid who is prematurely bursting at the seams to help out his costumed colleagues is just what the doctor ordered. And it makes Homecoming a blast.

Unfortunately, Parker’s mentor is the no-nonsense (at least with Spider-Man) Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who has turned over the day-to-day babysitting of Spider-Man to bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Content to just let the Avengers lay low in the wake of the events of Civil War, Stark gives Spidey a new suit, but it’s still set to “training wheels” mode, leaving the aspiring superhero with nothing to do but help old ladies cross the street. Literally.

But a new villain is on the rise. After losing his contract to run salvage operations following the Battle of New York, the bitter Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) turns to arms dealing. But he’s not interested in world domination or exterminating the Avengers; all he wants is to make a living—a mission that makes him a perfect complement to Parker, who, yes, just wants to become a superhero.

Because Toomes isn’t even on the Avengers’ radar, his nefarious ways provide a perfect opportunity for Parker to prove his worth, but, as you can predict, things don’t go as planned. And it’s not entirely because of Parker’s inexperience or his misguided gusto, it’s also because he’s just a fifteen year-old high school kid. He’s crushing on a girl, he has homework, and he has Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) to answer to.

The story by Horrible Bosses scribes John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (and the screenplay by a committee of no less than six) never lets us forget that, wisely often reminding us that even though he’s a young man with superpowers and a very rich playboy friend, Parker can’t just become a full-fledged Spider-Man overnight. It’s an essential plot point that makes Homecoming a smart and ultimately believable movie (not counting, you know, all the superhero stuff).

Director Jon Watts (Cop Car) inaugurates himself into the world of comic book films with a first at-bat home run, seeming a bit like a kid in a candy store himself. He doesn’t try to do too much right out of the gate, and that restraint helps make the movie a fun, thankfully un-overblown ride.

In less than a year, every (and I mean every) Marvel superhero will converge for the first of the two Avengers: Infinity War films, and it will no doubt be the biggest and loudest, and did I already say biggest, Marvel flick yet. In the meantime, Homecoming is a nice tide-you-over intermission of sorts, a refreshing break before the eagerly anticipated return to gonzo craziness.


4/5 stars

Worth the 3D glasses?

At one point, Parker’s high school Academic Bowl team heads to Washington D.C. for a competition, and while there he must become Spider-Man and scale the Washington Monument to save his classmates. That one scene is enough to justify chipping in the extra few bucks for the 3D glasses.