Whether you’re a super-hero fan or not, you’ll no doubt be fully aware of Spider-Man – so having the iconic web-slinger back for a solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was always likely to be one of the big events of the year.
Tom Holland’s Peter Parker made his much-anticipated MCU debut in last year’s Captain America: Civil War and was an immediate hit with fans, while his strong chemistry with Robert Downey Jnr’s Tony Stark/Iron Man was also an obvious highlight.
Of course, we’ve seen both Tobey Maguire (2002-2007) and more recently Andrew Garfield (2012-2014) play Spidey in recent years, but (after Marvel struck a deal with Sony) Holland’s version now exists in the MCU alongside the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Ant-Man et al.
Marvel make the smart move of not re-doing the bitten by a spider/murdered uncle Ben origin story, choosing instead to use Iron Man and his chief of security Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) as his handlers/mentors.
The appropriately named Homecoming fills in the blanks from Civil War in typically stylish fashion, showing us how Stark recruited him as something of a secret weapon, but also advised Peter to lay low and hone his skills as a “friendly, neighbourhood Spider-Man”.
That’s at odds with 15-year-old Spidey, who wants nothing more than to become the newest member of the Avengers.
He instead finds himself staying at home win his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and at school with best mate Ned (Jacob Batalon) and not-so-secret crush Liz (Laura Harrier).
However, being part of the school quiz team or attending parties just doesn’t have the same pull for a torn Peter, who instead finds himself on the trail of Michael Keaton’s villainous Adrian “Vulture” Toomes and his crew (which includes Fargo’s Bokeem Woodbine).
Toomes is a relatable bad guy whose origin stretches back to the original Avengers film, with the Chitauri’s attack on New York putting him on the brink of financial ruin.
He opts instead to pinch some alien tech and start selling weapons on the black market. His change from a blue collar everyman to murderous villain does take place off screen, but he’s a solid bad guy for a young Spidey to take on as he bids to hone his burgeoning skills.
And that’s what Homecoming is all about. All of the MCU characters have been built up superbly over the years, so it’s only right that Spidey gets the same treatment.
As we all suspected from his cameo in Civil War, Holland is a great Spider-Man. He’s great as geeky Peter and has great charisma in the costume, while his intelligence and strong moral compass also shine through.
Likewise, best pal Ned helps bring plenty of comic relief (especially when he finds out his secret), while Harrier’s Liz is portrayed in a much better manner than Peter’s usual love interests.
Tomei’s take on Aunt May is also refreshing, making this version of Spidey stand alone from the recent iterations of the web-slinging teenager.
Downey Jnr sprinkles some star power on proceedings from time to time, but this is very much Holland’s show.
It’s a street-level story more akin to Netflix’s Daredevil or Jessica Jones than the MCU altering offerings such as Captain America, but that feels right here.
There are some impressive action sequences and plenty of humour as ever, but Homecoming is a very grounded way to bring Spider-Man into the fold.
One for all of the family or even non-MCU fans, it deserves to be seen on the big screen and sets the stage for the inevitable sequels.
Voice Verdict: 9/10 (reviewed at Boston’s West End Cinema)
Boston’s West End Cinema (Fri, July 14 to Thurs, July 20)
**CARS 3 (U)
2D – 10am (Sat/Sun), 3pm (Sat/Sun/Wed/Thu), 5.30pm (not Thu), 5.45pm (Thu)
3D – 12.30pm (Sat/Sun/Thu), 3.30pm (Fri/Mon/Tue)
**WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (12A)
2D – 11.20am (Sat/Sun), 2.20pm (Sat/Sun/Wed/Thu), 5.20pm (daily)
3D – 8.30pm (daily)
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (12A)
2D – 12.15pm (not Fri/Mon/Tue), 2.40pm (not Fri/Mon/Tue), 8.20pm (daily)
3D – 5.30pm (daily)
DESPICABLE ME 3 (U)
2D – Noon (Not Fri/Mon/Tue), 4.20pm (daily), 8.45pm (daily)
3D – 10am (Sat/Sun), 2.10pm (not Fri/Mon/Tue), 6.30pm (daily)
BABY DRIVER (15)
3.30pm (not Tues), 6pm (not Tue/Wed/Thu), 6.15pm (Tue), 8.40pm (not Thu)
TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (12A)
2D – 8pm (daily)
Sat/Sun 10.15am – Smurfs: The Lost Village (U)
Wed 11.30am – Churchill (PG)
Tuesday 6.20pm – Despicable Me 3 2D
**FREE LIST SUSPENDED
South Holland Centre
(Fri, July 14 to Thurs, July 20)
WONDER WOMAN (12A)
2D – 2pm (Wed), 6.30pm (Wed), 7.30pm (Tues)
3D – 8pm (Mon)
WHISKY GALORE (PG)
2pm (Tues), 5.30pm (Mon)