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Published on April 24th, 2018 | by Lauren Bycroft

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The Road To Infinity War: Spider-Man Homecoming

Though it takes place in a world that is incredibly familiar to us, New York in the present to near future, Spider-Man Homecoming follows in the footsteps of MCU films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange, opening up the universe in a new way.  This is the first time we’ve seen Peter Parker in any Spider-Man film act like an actual teenager just as it’s the first time we’ve seen the MCU deal with a kid and a kid’s world in a real, in depth way.  Spider-Man Homecoming is a really well crafted high school movie, most notably in the way it’s so bittersweet.  Peter is a literal superhero but still struggles with all the kinds of things audiences did in high school – crushes, feeling like he’s more mature than he is, academic responsibilities, meeting the parents of your date.  Again, it’s familiar in so many ways, but watching through the lens of the MCU it feels almost revolutionary.

Another familiarity is Michael Keaton – iconic for playing Batman.  As Adrian Toomes, Keaton gets a lot of room to be a fun, slightly over the top villain while also, similar to Loki, being someone we can totally indentify with emotionally speaking.  The film’s opening scene where Toomes sees his post Battle of New Year clean up contract revoked without warning is the kind of thing that rips your heart out.  It’s completely unfair and screws the little guy – something we can all relate to.  It also fits perfectly into the MCU as yet another instance where Tony Stark, in his never-ending quest to be a better person, ultimately creates a monster.  Without even meeting him, Stark starts Toomes on his path to becoming the Vulture.

Toomes is the perfect villain for Homecoming and one of the best MCU villains to date to be honest, somewhere beneath Killmonger and Loki.  The film, despite its really dazzling action set pieces, and travel to DC, the Avengers compound, and a quick revisit of Berlin, feels very intimate and personal.  Perhaps its best scene is not the incredible Washington Monument rescue or battle on the Staten Island Ferry, but a scene in a car between our hero and villain.  Tom Holland is great in the exchange but Keaton is truly excellent.  Watching him slide from protective, intimidating father, to villain who understands his foe is sitting in his backseat, is one of the most remarkable scenes in the whole of the MCU.  Toomes then, putting his family first, gives Peter the opportunity to walk away because he’s grateful Parker saved his daughter’s life.  It’s something we’ll see later in the mid credit sting as Adrian protects Spider-Man’s identity from Mac Gargan (possibly the Scorpion) when they meet in prison.

But before Toomes small act of redemption we’ll see him try to kill Peter, which leads to another of film’s key, intimate moments.  I vividly remember watching Peter Parker struggle under the rubble watching the film for the first time in the theater.  Those few moments are so raw and emotional, and even as he finds a way to lift the rubble off himself, we still feel how much of a kid he really is.  Though he’s no longer panicked and looking frantically for help he’s psyching himself up, referring to his alter ego in the third person, “c’mon Spider-Man. C’mon Spider-Man.”  A normal kid might do something similar before a school play or class presentation.  But Peter has the unique challenge of being both a teenager and a superhero and there’s really no separating the two as the scene so beautifully shows.

And so, it’s really fitting the film ends in part, with Peter making a really mature decision and choosing not to grow up sooner than he has to.  It’s another bittersweet moment in the film as we know Infinity War is coming and he’ll be fighting on another level sooner rather than later.  But it’s nice to see the film pay off not with his heroic saving of Toomes but with a quiet decision to live as normal a life as he can while he can.  It’s these small, human moments that define the MCU and the legacy of its first ten years as we near the end of phase 3 and the unknown of Infinity War.


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