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Review: “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

Julia Zaksek, Sr. managing editor

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I remember cheering as Tobey Maguire swung across the screen of my childhood best friend’s TV and swooning as Andrew Garfield raced to save Gwen Stacy. But, as I watched Tom Holland blush and banter as the reboot of the rebooted Spider-Man, I could only watch with silent admiration. The story of the meek high schooler with a secret has been hashed, rehashed and redone for nearly two decades. Now, for the first time, the big screen tells his story right.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” follows on the coattails of one of Marvel’s most critical and commercial successes: “Captain America: Civil War.” The 2016 hit debuted Holland as the new owner of the famous red and blue uniform and featured a cast of nearly all Marvel’s heavy-hitters, including Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Although Holland quickly became a fan favorite, the success young actor’s solo film was uncertain.

However, the uncertainty youth entails, both for Holland his character, makes “Homecoming” quite possibly the best and most entertaining adaptation of the Spider-Man comics. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is not a movie about heroes. It is a film about Peter Parker’s painful quest to become one. Seemingly trapped in the confines of dull classes, a worrying aunt and social pressure, Parker speaks to the struggles of teenagers trying to become adults, whether those adults can fly through walls or not.

The film is also marked by a subtle simplicity. Everyone knows the tale of Spider-Man’s powers, Uncle Ben and responsibility. We’ve all seen supervillains with complicated backstories, motives and plans. So when the movie tells the origin story in a quick conversation, and the villain has a coherent motivation, the whole film feels of fresh and comprehensive.

Packed with dry humor, a stellar, if short, performance by Downey as an exasperated mentor, slight nods to the heroes and plot lines of other Marvel films and a few hilarious cameos, “Homecoming” is a thoroughly pleasant delight. As the “Avengers” arc heads into its final stages and the films of its original members become increasingly somber and even difficult to watch, “Homecoming” is a much needed breath of fresh air. It reminds fans that even as their favorite characters get ready hang up their suits, there are new and eager players ready to take them up. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” more than deserves an A for a sweet, clean story about what it means to grow up.

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