Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, Gwyneth Paltrow
Director: Jon Watts
It’s interesting that most comic book/ super-power heroes are orphans- from Superman and Batman to Captain America and Spiderman. The last name in the quartet in Jon Watt’s take on the high school webslinger is a 15-year-old, essayed by Brit actor Tom Holland who’d won our hearts in a small but star turn in ‘The Avengers’ last year.
All of 21, Mr Holland can pass for 15 and though he may lack the handsome, wounded persona of his predecessors Tobey Maguire (now aged 42) and Andrew Garfield (33) he compensates for the deficiency in the Greek God department with an elfin charm that wins viewers and celluloid peer group alike. Underlining the unremarkable exterior of the titular hero, the screenwriters have even put a snarky, put-down in the mouth of his antagonist Adrian Toomes played by the redoubtable Michael Keaton (former BatMan) who didn’t get to fly in Birdman but whizzes around like a drug-fuelled avian (vulture, actually)
Toomes’ villainy (selling high-tech weapons to criminals) sets the serious tone of this quirky narrative when Spidey is not clowning around with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei, reed thin and fit for the catwalk). At school, he hopes to win the heart of senior Liz (Laura Harrier), an academic decathlon and a place among the elite Avengers with whom he hung around briefly with. Interestingly, the object of Spidey’s affection is a black girl who stands out in a class consisting of diverse races: African-Americans/Latinos/hijab-clad Arabs/Chinese and Indians, both Native and people ahem, like us from Bharat Desh.
Action wise, the plot is strewn with explosions and crashes; but two or three set pieces – the splitting of a ferry boat, an elevator mishap and the nail-biting confrontation between the hero and antagonist, make the film an entertaining watch. So life-threatening is Keaton’s villainy, our heart goes out to Spidey as he gets thrashed, dropped from the skies and buried under tons of rubble.
Like many fictional characters, Spidey gets a most helpful sidekick and one who knows his secret identity. No, not the comely aunt but his cute, podgy best buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon) who startles a teacher (with a lie) about watching porn when he ought to have been attending the school social. But he, as viewers know, is helping our awkward, geeky hero fight the good fight. Also doing the same is Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) aka Tony Stark who pops in and out of the narrative.
We see him at the Stark Industries HQ, mulling over Spidey’s internship, hopping in and out of limos or attending a Big, Fat Indian wedding. In India. Not the US of A. Action packed and funny, Spider-Man: Homecoming boasts a stellar cast (Gwyneth Paltrow is smashing in a bit role) but it is Spidey’s mentor Iron Man/Tony Stark who delivers messages about power and responsibility; while the film, co-scripted by director Watts, underlines the importance of bravery, inner strength, loyalty and