With his reintroduction into the Marvel Universe during Captain America: Civil War, fans have been waiting for Spider-man: Homecoming with excitement mixed with a bit of scepticism. Unlike the previous instalments, the faithful will be pleased to know that his superhero spider-bite origin story does not make an appearance and he is not left alone to find his way with his new skill set. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) works to mentor the newest Avenger as he discovers what it is like to be more than the friendly neighbourhood Spider-man (Tom Holland).
In amongst the rubble of New York after the battle with the otherworldly creatures in The Avengers, Adrian Toomes sees an opportunity to salvage the special technology. The only problem is when the salvage expert’s plan is usurped by a new partnership between the US government and Stark Industries for the U.S. Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.) which takes over the project. This sets in motion a new plan by Toomes and his team to get their hands on the alien tech by less than ethical means and then to sell them to the highest bidder.
This illegal operation goes unnoticed until the high school hero with spider skills manages to thwart one of their heists. During Peter Parker’s training with his new suit, he unknowingly establishes The Vulture (Toomes) as one of his first arch enemies. Unaware of the eventual battles that were to come with the flying villain, the teen-aged hero is merely trying to figure out what he is supposed to do with his life. High school is hard enough without having to keep his abilities a secret from those closest to him. Peter has to figure out how to battle evil while attempting to maintain his grade point, to rise above his nerd status and determine who he should take to the homecoming dance.
If there was a word to describe the new version of the web-slinging crime fighter it would be invigorating. With the relatively unknown director Jon Watts behind the camera, we see portrayed a Spider-man unlike any that have preceded him. Tom Holland is the right choice for the innocent teen who houses the physical and mental strength to eventually become the much loved hero. The seasoned actor has the youthful vigour to be convincing as a 15-year-old student, but has the presence of character to be convincing as Spidey. The brilliance of including Ironman/Tony Stark as his mentor gives the film the father-figure that is needed to mould the young crime fighter’s character. Both student and mentor prove to be imperfect in their roles, but this adds a humanity that provides the refreshing spin needed for the newest outing for the teen from Queens.
This coming-of-age super hero film shows how Marvel seems to have the right formula for a successful franchise. For a film within this genre to work, it needs the right counter balance of evil to make the whole thing come together. Even though Michael Keaton has played various winged creatures on both sides of the law in the past, his abilities as The Vulture make for the right spin. He delivers a performance that shows that that sin resides in all of men’s hearts, but that even the wicked can have a vulnerability and heart for others. The veteran actor proves that a supervillian does not have to be steroid ridden to truly be a force to be reckoned with on screen.
Spider-man: Homecoming does have to overcome a certain level of superhero and Spider-man fatigue, but it makes it across the line. As was mentioned before, it is an invigorating lift to the Marvel Universe and for a re-boot, Holland and company will keep us looking for the next chapter.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another – Proverbs 27:17 (Yup, we did that!)
What is the value of a good mentor? At the heart of Spider-man: Homecoming is an example of superhero mentorship. Tony Stark bringing Peter Parker under his iron-clad wing and directing his path for his development and for the benefit of mankind. Even though their relationship is not perfect, it does lead to some of the most endearing elements of the film.
And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also – 2 Timothy 2:2
Mentorship and training is seen throughout the Bible. Jesus had his disciples, but a fascinating study can be found in the coaching relationship between Paul and Timothy. Some of the most personal letters were written by the apostle to his trainee. These men set a precedence for the value of an older individual investing in the life of someone younger. Not unlike the relationship between Ironman and Spider-man, the allegiance between Paul and Timothy benefits trainees today and do lead to the very thing that truly benefits mankind.
Letters that show the mentoring role of Paul to Timothy: 1 & 2 Timothy