"Spider-Man" Goes Back to High School
By Skip Sheffield
There is a new Spider-Man in New York City, though he is more like a Spider-Boy.
British actor Tom Holland, 21, quite believably plays Peter Parker as a 15-year-old sophomore from the Borough of Queens at Midtown School of Science and Technology.
Director Jon Watts (“Cop Car”) and a team of six writers have gone back to square one to recast Peter Parker as a bumbling high school student who doesn’t quite understand his newfound powers as Spider-Man. This isn’t a regular high school. It is one for over-achievers. There are no jock bullies as in previous incarnations of Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire 2002-2007 and Andrew Garfield 2012 and 2014. Instead of a football team they have an Academic Decathlon. The closest thing to a rival for Peter is a guy named Flash (Tony Revolori) who is jealous of Peter’s superior intellect.
Peter has two mentors; Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) whom he met in “Captain America: Civil War” as Iron Man, and Aunt May, played by the younger and much more attractive Marisa Tomei.
Michael Keaton, who once played Batman in the super hero universe, has gone rogue as Adrian Toomes, who transforms into The Vulture in a magic flying suit. Toomes has stolen some high-tech weapons and is willing to sell them to the highest bidder.
Meanwhile the homecoming of the title is approaching, and like any 15-year-old, Peter is nervous about asking his crush Liz (Laura Harrier) to the prom. Cheering Peter on is his best buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon) who has accidentally discovered Peter’s secret identity. Providing a one-woman Greek chorus is Peter’s brainy friend Michelle (Zendaya), who is always dropping droll observations.
“Spider-Man Homecoming” is like a travelogue of New York City, culminating with an epic battle aboard the Staten Island Ferry. Being a knowledgeable New Yorker is a plus. As a nod to the past, Gwyneth Paltrow makes a cameo appearance as Pepper Potts.
“Spider-Man” has moved on to a new generation. A sequel is already in the works. Never mind that the whole premise of the story that first appeared in a 1963 Marvel comic is absurd, it’s a lot of good harmless fun with plenty of decent laughs.