What do you do if you’re barely 15 years old, you’re in high school and you’ve discovered you have superhero powers? If you’re Peter Parker in the new Spider-Man movie, you try to live like a normal teenager and be a superhero in secret. To say that’s difficult is what makes the movie fun. To say it’s impossible is what helps drive the plot.
The high point of Peter’s life was his brief experience with the Avengers. All he wants out of life is to officially join the Avengers. To his dismay, his mentor, Tony Stark the Iron Man, insists he stay in school and refuses to give him any crime-fighting assignments.
Tony Stark is quite amusing as he tries to act as a father figure/mentor. He’s terrible at it. All he does is scold, lecture and not listen to what Peter is saying. However, he does rescue him when he gets into Big Trouble, plunging into battles he is barely ready for.
Peter does get in trouble a lot. He is determined to fight crime so he goes looking for it, makes a lot of mistakes and also uncovers a genuine villain, Michael Keaton, The Vulture.
Michael Keaton is a wonderfully sympathetic villain. The movie actually opens with him. He runs a salvage company, cleaning up after the Avengers. He then is cheated by a government official, blames Tony Stark and sets off to develop super weapons in secret which he sells to anyone. Throughout, he keeps your sympathy as a man who didn’t start out to be evil and just wants to earn a living. He provides a nice twist near the end.
Peter has trouble convincing Iron Man he’s onto something important. Meantime, he keeps getting into trouble at school. He has a major crush on a beautiful girl and turns into a nerdy, awkward teenager whenever he’s around her. She seems to like him but is confused by his strange actions.
The plot gets going and is genuinely exciting. I can’t say more without spoilers. I will say that something that was very refreshing was that not once does anyone say, “The fate of the world (or the universe) is at stake.” The story stays focused on Peter and that keeps it engaging and interesting. There are lots of battles but none that involve destroying cities or planets or galaxies. The other super hero movies could definitely learn from this.
The movie is carried by Tom Holland. He is likeable and convincing. Everyone else in the movie is good, but it depends on him. By the end, we are involved in his story and ready for the inevitable sequel.
Reviewed by Marian Powell