Prepare to feel way better about your embarrassing teen years, thanks to the newest Spider-Man. We’ve anticipated the third reincarnation of Spidey ever since his appearance in Captain America: Civil War, and, let’s be honest, we were real nervous about it. However, Marvel answered our concerns with a surprisingly fresh take that shows a Spider-Man in transition. I’m not just talking about the typical arc of an impatient young guy who learns from his mistakes and finds his “inner strength” and whatnot (though that’s definitely there). I’m talking basic, practical, visceral teenage-hero awkwardness.
Let’s start with this: the costume change. Deadpool gets the credit for first pointing out the cumbersome costume change that every other superhero film skips over, but Spider-Man also tackles the challenge in an alleyway as he struggles to shimmy into his costume. (You’d think that Stark would have figured out a way to make that easier.) Worse yet, he loses his backpack afterward. While Deadpool’s costume change intends to satirize, Spider-Man’s simply portrays the less graceful side of a superhero-in-training. This is a Spider-Man who tumbles through backyard bushes, falls from rooftops, and crashes into pools. This is a Spider-Man who stumbles over everything and apologizes profusely as he’s doing it. He’s not the smooth, wisecracking web-slinger that we have seen in the comics. At least not yet. And that’s the cool thing about Spider-Man: Homecoming. It shows us what Peter Parker was probably like when he first started out.
We had a taste of Peter’s youthful excitement in Civil War, but apparently it was more extensive than we thought. Homecoming reveals that Peter was taking behind-the-scenes video footage from the moment Tony recruited him to seconds before Peter was called into duty at the airport battle and beyond. His curiosity and enthusiasm is endearing, and it makes so much sense for Peter to feel that way. He’s young, and he wants to save the world as soon as possible. Even my best friend, who’s a hardcore fan of Spider-Man, hadn’t seen this happy-go-lucky version of Peter before. He’s silly in the best possible way.
The movie never lets us forget that Peter’s a sophomore in high school. All the tropes are there to remind us of our own high school days. Unrequited crush. Invited to the cool kids’ party. Homecoming gone wrong. Peter’s best friend Ned also provides a fun dynamic. On one hand he’s the confidant that reminds Peter that “you are a kid” as Peter gripes about Tony treating him like a child. On the other hand he’s asking if Peter can lay eggs and summon a legion of spiders. Boy, please. Summoning insects is Ant-Man’s job.
Thankfully, Tony doesn’t dominate the movie like I was afraid he would. Peter obviously aches for a father figure in Tony (I could think of better role models, honestly, but that’s a post for another time). Tony pops in just often enough for the “fatherly” arc to make sense while still letting Peter come to his own conclusions and find his own path, which creates a nice coming-of-age narrative that we haven’t seen in the MCU yet. Not only was Spider-Man: Homecoming a new, interesting take on Peter Parker, but also on Marvel movies as a whole. I happily welcome the new Spider-Man, and I look forward to seeing the other ways that he develops in future films.