Lashes fan to hide crush filled stares. He notices her smile, the way it lights the room, the way it brightens the mood. He wants to ask: Will you go to the dance with me? Will you be my girl?
But he is just a boy, a few zits here and there, unsure and kind of small. Yes, Peter Parker is just a boy.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” begins with Peter Parker ending his Avengers adventures in “Civil War”. He was a superhero, a super man, but he returns home, and again becomes a mere boy, bound to the rules of the teenage existence: authority figures, negotiating friendships, managing his level of social cool…and girls.
Another fallout from “Civil War” is the alien particles left behind from invasions. Stark Enterprises, representing the filthy rich, takes responsibility for alien-waste disposal. This responsibility hinders the common man from his economic gain. It nearly financially cripples Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a man with a family who has spent his savings purchasing equipment to fulfill this contract, when his team is fired from the project.
An always-timely dynamic of “big business versus the little guy” gives birth to the movie’s villain, Michael Keaton’s “Vulture”. Razor wings, incredible speed, bullet bouncing metal, all fueled by alien energy and vengeance. That is Vulture. That is who Peter Parker believes he can best.
Now, Peter is burdened with addressing those questions: Who am I, a hero or a kid? Where do I fit, at home or with the Avengers? And how do I get the girl, with my intellectual powers or my Spidey senses?
Then here swoops in a bad guy to confuse the whole hormonal mess even further!
“Spider-Man: Homecoming,” directed by Jon Watt and starring the impeccably cast Tom Holland as our friendly neighborhood superhero, is closest to what lovers of the character might envision. Coolly self-aware and irreverent, “Homecoming,” pits a hero in danger against a boy in school, a boy in trouble with his aunt, in an academic decathlon, a boy in love.
Where this movie misses the web is the exact same place from where it swings into success. The presence of Iron Man means Spider-Man is relatively unnecessary. Iron Man can take care of the Vulture. But, it’s Iron Man’s very presence that allows Peter to explore his adolescence in an authentic and, ultimately, relatable way not offered by the previous incarnations of the web thrower.
Vulture, especially in these politically and economically ambiguous times, represents everyman below a certain tax bracket. The man who is jilted by the wealthy without a second thought, the man who works hard for years, works his hands into the ground and still comes up with nothing. This is the man who watches the prince get fat while he fears for his own family. He just wants to feed them.
Even with the built-in empathetic plight, because the structure of the movie is beholden to timing rather than relationships (the crux of storytelling), viewers will remain apathetic to the character. That much is a shame.
Yet, it is Vulture’s antagonism (coupled with Tony Stark’s ice cold wisdom) that spirals our hero into a heartbreaking moment of truth. Peter Parker is a boy with all the staples of pubescent transformation. These material times challenge him to look toward adulthood and maturity. But no matter what…right now and forever he is always Spider-Man.