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Review: Packed With Diversity and a Teen (!) Cast, ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Soars

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Almost two years after Sony announced that the movie studio had entered into an agreement with Marvel Studios in which they would allow Spider-Man to appear in films taking place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it still feels like a fever dream every time I see the web-head interacting with characters like Iron Man and Captain America. So, I’m pretty sure you can imagine how excited I was when I saw the first trailer for “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

The sixth “Spider-Man” film, directed by Jon Watts, was hailed as the movie to right the wrongs of Spider-movies past. This was also said to be the most different of the past five movies, as there would be no mention of Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben or the franchise’s trademark villain Norman Osborn’s company, Oscorp, the cast would be diverse — and comprised of actual teenagers, with Peter Parker himself being a sophomore in high school.

Actor Tom Holland is easily the best part about this movie, and I dare say he’s the best blend of Peter Parker and Spider-Man (and yes, that means better than 2002 “Spider-Man” actor Tobey Maguire). Holland completely nails the socially awkward, geeky aspect of Peter Parker, while convincingly sliding into a witty, charismatic personality tailored just for superhero alter ego, all while still being an inexperienced 15-year old who is desperate for the attention of his hero, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man).

Aside from perfectly capturing the duality of Peter Parker, director Jon Watts goes to great length to finally show how much of a nerd Parker really is. He carries around a TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator, and you even get to see how he makes his web fluid, along with a few other things I’m not at liberty to discuss. And in case you were wondering, Robert Downey Jr. has maybe 10 minutes of screen time, so his presence doesn’t overshadow the younger cast members. He’s really just an extended cameo.

The supporting cast all get a scene to shine, and some of my favorite scenes come from Zendaya’s character, Michelle, who brings a sense of cynicism to an otherwise light-hearted tone. I was also a huge fan of Ganke, I mean Ned, Peter’s equally geeky friend who (as shown in the trailers) learns about the web-slinger’s secret identity pretty early on in the movie and serves as Peter’s cohort.

I do have one problem with Ned’s character: He’s a carbon copy of Ganke Lee from the current “Spider-man” comic book starring Miles Morales, a mixed-race kid of black and Latino descent from Brooklyn (who takes up the mantle of Spider-Man after the Peter Parker of his universe is killed). Aside from the difference that Ned is Hawaiian and Ganke is Korean, I loved the characters nonetheless.

Actor Tony Revolori, playing Peter Parker’s school nemesis Flash Thompson, is something I didn’t know I needed, and he does great as more of an antagonizing rival than a straight-up “give me your lunch money” bully. I was also really fond of the film’s use of Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) as a source of comic relief, where it became a running joke that she was more like Peter’s older sister.

In “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” we also actually get a good Marvel villain! Michael Keaton, who gives possibly the best performance in the film, plays the Vulture (aka Adrian Toomes). Not only is Keaton believable in the role,  the Vulture’s motives feel justified. I won’t say why because I refuse to spoil a movie that I was able to see early at a press screening, so you’ll just have see for yourself.

To add to my already massive love and admiration for this movie, the cast is the most diverse out of all films in the MCU, and it’s a really beautiful thing to watch. Since Spider-Man is the most profitable superhero, this movie will reach a wide and diverse audience of kids. Knowing that the casting directors went to great lengths to reflect the diversity of an American high school adds another layer of enjoyment to the film.

Now, there are a few things I wasn’t too crazy about. For starters, the female cast members don’t get that much screen time. As a result, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” doesn’t really do anything to try to shatter the notion that superhero films are a “boys only” activity. I will acknowledge, however, that the plot doesn’t really offer much room to explore other characters outside of the core three of Peter, Ned and the Vulture.

Another thing that kind of irked me was how black and white Peter saw the world. There was no moral gray area to him — either you were good or bad. One could argue that his age plays a factor. But he’s a highly intelligent 15-year old who should have a grasp on the complexities of life, especially when he and his aunt are lower middle class. But I digress. My biggest complaint by far is that if you’ve seen the trailers for “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” you’ve already seen the relationship between Peter Parker and Tony Stark beat for beat, and that’s pretty disappointing, considering it’s an important subplot in the movie.

But don’t let my nitpicks discourage you from seeing this amazing (pun intended) movie. It’s a lot of fun, and anyone can enjoy it. The movie does a great job with a fresh take on Spider-Man, one who actually looks and behaves like a kid and is still inexperienced because he just got his powers. And if you’re tired of seeing the typical superhero movie where they fight to deactivate a world-ending spiral of garbage and light shooting into the sky, don’t worry: This movie is the complete opposite. It actually has the lowest stakes in the MCU by far.

“Spider-man: Homecoming” is relatable, funny, refreshing and a bunch of other adjectives synonymous with positivity. Do yourself a favor and go see it, and as always, stay after the credits.

Kenneth, 17, attends Druid Hills High School and is still bitter about the “Amazing Spider-Man” movies.

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