After The War - Spider-Man: Homecoming
After helping the Avengers in a situation that caused dissension in their ranks, Peter Parker finds himself back in school, anxious to work for Tony Stark again. Stark feels the same, but not right away. Peter finds himself balancing school and crime fighting as best he can in New York in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Tony (Robert Downey, Jr.) has put restrictions on the Spider suit of Peter (Tom Holland). While on the other side of the world, Tony assigns Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) to keep tabs on the teen. Peter uses this connection to constantly check with the very busy Happy to see if Tony needs Spider-Man's assistance. To hide his crime fighting from his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), Peter says he has an internship with Tony. The teen finally reveals himself to close friend and classmate Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon), who waits for him at the Parkers' apartment one night. Ned keeps the secret.
Meanwhile, scavenger owner Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his crew have been tinkering with items they'd collected when they were contracted to clean up the wreckage of the Avengers battle in the city. Their efforts came to an abrupt halt when Stark's crew legally took over the project. In spite of being ordered to turn over everything they'd collected, Toomes and his men kept some of the parts for themselves and saw their power and potential as weapons. Spider-Man first encounters Toomes's weapons when he thwarts an ATM robbery in Peter's neighborhood. He runs across the weapons again as the Toomes crew tries selling them. Peter traces the source of the weapons to Maryland, where he's scheduled to compete in a science tourney with his classmates. While investigating, he falls into a trap set by Toomes in his alter-ego of Vulture. He escapes, but misses the tourney. However, he's on the scene to save his classmates from a Toomes attack, including Liz (Laura Harrier), whom Peter secretly likes. Back in New York, Peter again attempts to thwart a Toomes arms sale to Mac Gargan (Michael Mando). The aftermath gets Tony's personal attention as Toomes plots a heist in the nearby Avengers headquarters.
It's very unusual - and perhaps unprecedented - to have a film series done three times in fifteen years. Yet, the Spider-Man film franchise continues on a roll. Spider-Man: Homecoming succeeds, in part, because it doesn't retell some of the most familiar aspects of Spider-Man's backstory. The tragedy of Peter's Uncle Ben, for example, would be out of place here, as Peter/Spider-Man already put in a screen appearance in Captain America: Civil War. The movie also succeeds as the people Peter knows represent diverse backgrounds, as many social circles are these days. The big issue I have with Spider-Man: Homecoming is how Vulture and his associates avoided detection for so long after starting their careers in crime. Stark's damage controllers come to the scene of the ATM robbery and can see the extensive damage for themselves. This incident should have caused more concern for both Tony and Happy before they became more involved. Director/co-writer Jon Watts makes his MCU debut here, and shows a willingness to appeal to many generations of Spider-Man fans. Peter, May, Ned, and Vulture have been around since the early days of the Marvel comic, but others like Anne Marie Hoag (Tyne Daly) and Aaron Davis (Donald Glover) have not. Watts includes the history of the comic and keeps the story feeling contemporary.
Holland does very well in his starring debut as Peter/Spider-Man. It's not that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield lacked a youthful look when they played the role, but Holland is several years younger than they were - and it shows. Holland also shows how conflicted his hero can be as he tries - and often fails - to balance school responsibilities and a determination to fight crime. Even on homecoming night, Peter leaves his date to address a threat. Even though his decathalon teammates think he's their best hope for victory, he's not there when that matters to them. With Ned's help, Peter finds a way around the restrictions Stark has put on the suit. Keaton, as Toomes/Vulture, proves a worthy adversary for Peter, law enforcement, and Stark. He shows he doesn't need technology to be a threat, though he's often low-key when he demonstrates the ways he can overpower someone. Batalon is funny as a friend who often has to get creative to cover Peter. Downey, Favreau, and Tomei also add fine support. Other brief reprise appearances come from Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Kerry Condon as the voice of FRIDAY, and Chris Evans as an amusing Captain America, appearing in motivational videos aimed at youth Peter's age. New additions to the MCU include Tony Revelori as Flash Thompson, Peter's school rival, pop singer Zendaya as Michelle Jones, a quietly smart teammate of Peter's, and Jennifer Connelly as the voice of Karen, who acts on Peter's voice commands in the Spider-Man suit.
Spider-Man: Homecoming shows that coming home isn't always easy, especially when a young man feels a greater sense of responsibility than most young people. He knows a threat to all he knows has made its presence known, but he needs to sound the alarm to those who entrust him to do right as his crime fighting alter ego. The movie doesn't completely make sense, but it does present a teen trying to come to terms with his powers and his humanity. Along the way, Peter might learn to do the right things in both areas.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Spider-Man: Homecoming three stars. Still spinning a web of intrigue.