Spider-Man: Homecoming (PG-13)
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So, this is the start of Sony's third Spider-Man franchise, following the Sam Raimi movies (which starred Tobey Maguire) and the Marc Webb movies (which starred Andrew Garfield). This time around, the movie is directed by Jon Watts, and Spider-Man (aka Peter Parker) is played by Tom Holland. Although, actually, this version of the character was introduced in Captain America: Civil War, which came out a little over a year before this movie. (It was the first movie in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this is the fourth movie in Phase Three.) One thing I want to mention is that in any franchise, Peter Parker starts out as a teenager in high school, but in the first Raimi film, Maguire was in his mid 20s, and in the first Webb film, Garfield was in his late 20s. In this film, Holland is 21, and while that's still several years older than the 15-year-old character he's playing, I think this is the first live-action incarnation of the character that I've really found believable as a teenager. So that's a definite point in favor of the new franchise.
Anyway, the movie starts soon after the events of The Avengers, in 2012. A small salvage company run by Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is cleaning up the rubble left over after the Battle of New York, as per their contract. However, a new U.S. government department called Damage Control takes over the cleanup, which puts Toomes Salvage Company out of work, at a time when they really couldn't afford to be. However, they do manage to secretly keep some alien tech they'd taken from the site where they'd been working. The movie then flashes forward eight years (which somehow manages to be 2016, I'm not real clear on how that math works). We see Peter Parker making a video document of his part in a battle that took place in "Civil War," though of course he won't be able to show it to anyone. After that, Tony Stark sends him back to his home in New York, and makes Happy Hogan a contact for any communication between Peter and himself. Happy isn't very... happy... about that, as he seems to consider Peter something of a nuisance. Meanwhile, over the past eight years, Toomes and his crew have been using alien tech mixed with human tech to make new weapons, some of which they use themselves, and some which they sell to criminals. (Or actually, one member of the crew makes the weapons. Wikipedia tells me the character's name is Phineas Mason.) Of course, they have to keep stealing more tech so they can keep making more weapons. And Toomes himself has a weaponized suit with wings that Mason made for him, so he can fly. (In the comics, Toomes is called Vulture, but while the word "vulture" is used to describe him and his flying suit in the movie, it's never actually applied to him as a name. Personally, I'd say this incarnation of the character is more like a Skarmory than a vulture.)
Months go by, and Peter is frustrated that Tony hasn't asked him to help on any Avengers missions, so he's stuck doing small-time vigilante stuff around his city. Meanwhile, he also has normal teenager stuff to deal with. While Peter himself is a sophomore in high school, he has a crush on a senior named Liz. (Her last name isn't mentioned, but for most of the movie, I just assumed she was Liz Allan, a character I'm somewhat familiar with from The Spectacular Spider-Man.) Liz is the head of their school's academic decathlon team, of which Peter is a member. Another member is Flash Thompson (played by Tony Revolori, whom I knew from The Grand Budapest Hotel). Flash really doesn't like Peter, apparently because Peter is smarter than he is. Another member of the team is Peter's best friend, Ned Leeds. One night, Ned discovers Peter is Spider-Man, and from then on totally geeks out about it, constantly asking Peter questions, and struggling not to tell anyone else Peter's secret, and also wanting to become like a tech support guy for Spider-Man. (And he does eventually prove useful.) Another member of the team is Michelle Jones, who I thought was pretty cool, in a snarky, vaguely antisocial way. (I also want to mention that I only know the last names "Leeds" and "Jones" because I read them online. I don't think they were mentioned in the movie, and I'm not even sure it's official, but just assumptions that people are making. But I've also read that they're composites of various characters from the comics, which I wouldn't know about, since I don't actually read Spider-Man comics. Although at one point near the end of the movie. Michelle says to call her "MJ," so Jones is a believable last name. It's also obviously meant to evoke the idea of Mary Jane Watson, though of course she's a totally different character.) There are some less important characters we see a bit of, including Betty Brant (who in most incarnations is an adult when Peter's a teenager). In this movie, she's the cohost of a school news program. (The other host is a guy I've never heard of, but apparently he's in the comics.) Anyway, I think that's all the kids I want to mention.
So, um... Spider-Man happens to discover some of Toomes's guys trying to sell tech to some guy played by Donald Glover. (I don't think the character's name was mentioned in the movie, but the internet tells me it's yet another comic book character I don't know, named Aaron Davis.) After that, Spider-Man spends a large part of the movie trying to track down and stop Toomes and his crew. And at one point he finds Davis again, and gets some information from him. But Spidey also spends a lot of the movie getting his butt kicked, in all kinds of ways. And he makes some major mistakes, which leads to Stark taking back the high-tech suit he'd previously given him. (Oh, man, that suit... in the most basic mode, it was obviously way cooler than the Spider-Man costume Peter had originally made for himself, but when Ned figured out how to unlock its full potential, it was amazing how much it could do... too much for Peter to figure out how to use properly. Also, it speaks to him, like FRIDAY from Iron Man's armor. But Spidey calls the voice in his suit "Karen." I didn't recognize the voice, but then I read online that it was Jennifer Connelly, so that's cool.) Anyway, after that, Peter has to go back to wearing his old homemade suit.
What else can I tell you? A couple of the guys on Toomes's team were called Shocker, at different points. And um... eventually Toomes learns Spider-Man's true identity, but revealing how he discovers it would be way too much of a spoiler, so I won't. And... lots of other stuff happens. Of course, Spider-Man ultimately does defeat Toomes, and gets back in Stark's good graces. And gets his high tech Spidey suit back. (Or maybe it was a new one, I wasn't clear on that.) And there are a couple other cool things that happen at the end of the movie, which I want to specifically avoid spoiling, even though I really wish I could tell you. And of course, there's a bonus mid-credits scene with Toomes in prison, talking to a fellow prisoner named Mac Gargan, who earlier in the movie had attempted to buy some weapons from Toomes, before Spidey intervened. And there's a post-credits scene with Captain America, in a capacity I don't want to spoil, but it's funny. (It was part of a running gag throughout the film.)
Anyway... it's a really cool and fun and funny movie. I kind felt like Spidey's quips in this movie, while decent, maybe weren't quite as good as they were in the Andrew Garfield movies. I dunno. But while there are some serious elements to the movie (as there kind of can't help but be, with any incarnation of Spider-Man), this incarnation definitely has a much lighter feel to it than either of the previous Spider-Man franchises, and as much as I enjoy some darkness in my superheroes, Spidey has always been a character who works best in the light. So, I definitely think Tom Holland's Spider-Man is both a great addition to the MCU and makes for a great interpretation of the character in his own right. And I really look forward to the next Spider-Man film, as well as the next Avengers film.