Spider-Man: Homecoming ***

The latest “Spider-Man” is a joyful thrill ride and fitting installment into the MCU. 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the third iteration of “Spider-Man” in the last 15 years, which is ridiculous and surprising and kind of sad. It’s also irrelevant to whether or not “Homecoming” is any good, and thankfully, because of a strong villain and a winning lead performance from Tom Holland, this is the best “Spider-Man” yet.

Far too often, superhero movie villains are underdeveloped, lack motivation, and are more caricature than character. Not so in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” The villain is Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), who eight years ago was tasked with cleaning up the mess of New York City left behind by The Avengers. That is, until a government bigwig (Tyne Daly) fired him and his staff, leaving them jobless with families to support. In the present, Toomes takes the alien technology found in the wreckage and makes black market munitions, which has led to a pretty comfortable life. His motivation is clear: He needs to provide for his family, and there are few other jobs available. So he becomes the Vulture, a winged creation that steals alien weaponry and combines it with human technology, then sells it to low-level hoods.   

Every villain needs a hero, and it’s not long before 15 year-old Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) stumbles upon Toomes’ shady dealings. Peter has multiple problems: His guardian Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is the protective and worrying type, and his mentor Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) doesn’t think he’s ready for Avengers-style crime fighting. His worst, most debilitating and paralyzing problem, however, is that he has a crush on classmate Liz (Laura Harrier) and has no idea what to do about it. His friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) is the endearing big-mouth type who thinks he has the answers and knows nothing. Peter is an outcast from his peers, but not more so than Michelle (Zendaya), who hates everyone and everything for no clear reason.

A quick look at the credits reveals six screenwriters, which is never a good sign. Usually more than two means the script was passed around multiple times and it’s a hodgepodge of ideas that will not mesh together. Thankfully that never shows in director Jon Watts’ film (he’s one of the six writers), as the story is clear and flows well. All main characters are properly developed, everything is explained with clarity, and the pacing feels right at 133 minutes. Just as importantly, the action is imaginative and never feels trite. When you couple Watts’ competence with Holland’s charmingly innocent turn as Peter, a positive audience reaction is inevitable.

Without reservation, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the best Spider-Man movie we’ve had. The humor, action, visual effects and the story’s place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are exactly what they should be. If you’re a fan of Spider-Man and/or the MCU, this is a must-see.

Did you know?
There are two scenes during the credits: The first may be important in the future, while the second most definitely can be skipped. In fact, it will literally make you feel like a fool for staying for it.

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