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“Spider-Man: Homecoming” Welcomes iconic hero home

courtesy IMDb

courtesy IMDb

Trevor Tyle, Staff Reporter

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Spoiler alert: This review contains minor plot spoilers.

To most people, Spider-Man is one of the most iconic superheroes of all-time. However, despite his universal hero status, the iconic character has always been a victim when it comes to cinematic adaptations.

Within a 15-year timespan, the “Spider-Man” franchise has been rebooted twice—despite the films’ general critical and commercial successes. Following the qualitative shortcomings of 2014’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” plans for future “Spider-Man” films with Andrew Garfield were cancelled in favor of a more direct entry for the character into the continuously growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite initial controversy, the decision ultimately spawned “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which may be the best “Spider-Man” film to date.

From a nostalgic standpoint, Tobey Maguire is and always will be Spider-Man for many, and rightfully so. Maguire brought the character to life in a way that seemingly could not be duplicated, although the 2012 and 2014 films desperately tried.

Then Tom Holland came along.

Unlike previous portrayals, 21-year-old Holland brings a childlike energy to Peter Parker that has been missing for the past fifteen years—probably because Maguire and Garfield were far too old to realistically embody Spider-Man in the context of the comic books. Holland, on the other hand, brings something fresh and exciting to the table with his take on Peter Parker, who is depicted as a 15-year-old facing the challenges of both a normal high school student and a superhero. While previous portrayals often felt larger-than-life, Holland brings Spidey back down to Earth, making him far more relatable and accessible to viewers.

The entirety of “Homecoming” dares to be different. For starters, it doesn’t rehash the same boring backstory of Peter Parker, which has been told so many times that no one wants to hear it anymore. Instead, Marvel introduced Holland as Spider-Man in last year’s “Captain America: Civil War,” setting up this film for the aftermath of Spider-Man’s beginnings. The film also embraces the generally lighthearted nature of the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe rather than attempting to replicate the thematically darker nature of its DC rivals in a way that feels forced.

Likewise, instead of relying on previous adaptations, which primarily maintained many of the same characters, “Homecoming” introduces some of the more obscure characters from the comics, many of whom previously did not appear in live action films. Among the more intriguing new additions are the evil Vulture (Michael Keaton) and Peter’s friends Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Michelle (Zendaya).

The film does, however, suffer from its unsurprisingly large amount of cameos. Though most of the new faces to Marvel are promising, it is ultimately the old ones that wear the film down.

The film features appearances from Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and his bodyguard, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). While both characters’ roles are purposeful, the former’s presence quickly becomes overbearing, making “Homecoming” feel more like an “Iron Man” anthology film at times, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s seemingly pointless appearance as Stark’s love interest, Pepper Potts, at the end of the film further supports this statement.

Regardless of the film’s few shortcomings, it is overall a well-executed introduction for Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With a charmingly well-crafted protagonist, strong storyline and entertaining—though sometimes hard to follow—action sequences, “Homecoming” allows Spider-Man to find his place among the Avengers and finally welcomes him home.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Oakland University's independent student newspaper.