Wall Crawling With Spider-Man

Fri. July 21, 2017 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Spider-Man shoots into theaters this July and leaps right into the middle of action. There is no origin story here, instead Homecoming continues the plot a few months after the events in Captain America: Civil War. Peter Parker is currently a high school student in Queens, New York City who lands in the middle of a conflict with the villainous Vulture, played by Michael Keaton.

Spider-Boy or Spider-Teen doesn't have the same ring to it, but is a better description of this 15 year old version of the superhero.

Tom Holland, who is actually 21, brings a nerdy innocence to the part and captures the youthful bumbling nature of Parker in ways his predecessors did not. In the musical Billy Elliot Holland played the title character in London, but don't look for a movie version of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark anytime soon from him. He's signed to a six picture deal with Marvel Studios and will next appear in Avengers: Infinity War.

There is a great deal of diversity at Parker's fictional high school. GLAAD ambassador J.J. Totah, Beast of No Nation's Abraham Attah, and fashion model Zendaya are among the students. Flash Thompson is usually portrayed as a large, white, football player, but now played by lean, Guatemalan actor Tony Revolori, known from The Grand Budapest Hotel. The school principal is Asian and the gym teacher is Black. This inclusive spin on the original comics written in 1962 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko gives a breath of fresh air to the franchise. New York is the great American melting pot and it shows with the casting for this film.

It could go even further in fact. At one point Aunt May, Marisa Tomei, catches Peter Parker in his room only wearing boxers with best friend Ned, filipino actor Jacob Battalion. She tells her nephew to put some clothes on, but didn't she wonder if he might be gay? Possibly that could be the secret he's hiding? That could have given her character more to do than just make jokes at dinner and would have added to her final scene with him. On a feminism scale from one to Wonder Woman I would give this movie a seven. The female characters are a bit underwritten, although feisty and heading in the right direction.

The suit, thanks to his mentor Iron Man, is very high tech with all kinds of gadgets. It even talks to him and is voiced by Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly. That reminded me of the Spike Jonze movie Her with all the back and forth conversations. Luckily he was too distracted by Liz Allan played Laura Harrier to actually date his spider suit.

There are tons of little cameos in this film, and some are easy to miss. Throughout the picture look for Tyne Daly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Evans, and of course Stan Lee himself.

The characters are written to possibly foreshadow future movies. Betty Brant was a secretary at the Daily Bugle, but in this version she works as a student journalist. MJ is on the way, but with a twist. The production team introduce new villains such as the Shocker and the Vulture with Homecoming smartly tying in the Marvel franchise. For sequels there are numerous bad guys to choose from in comic history. A Sinister Six team up of baddies is possibly on the way judging from a secret post credit ending.

Until then we have this coming of age story with some pivotal moments in Peter Parker's life that have never been explored before onscreen. Current plans are for each film to cover a different time period of high school with the upcoming sequel covering his junior year. A unique superhero is also planned to be featured in each sequel since Robert Downey Jr. only signed up for the one picture. Jon Watts is planned to direct again with shooting to begin in 2018.

Hopefully this energetic, young version of our friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man keeps on swinging for a long time to come.