Tom Holland's take on Spider-Man is as euphoric teen in super-spandex – just as it should be
Poor old Andrew Garfield. Just three years after his last outing as Spider-Man – his Spidey suit still warm – he's been replaced by a younger model. Following a brief outing in Captain America: Civil War, the Spider-Man of the MCU (that's Marvel Cinematic Universe for those out there yet to drink the Disney Kool-Aid) returns to our screens for his own standalone movie after Disney and Sony finally hammered out a deal over the character more complex than Brexit.
Tom Holland dons the new high-tech blue and red spandex, courtesy of Stark Industries, as the youngest on-screen Spidey to date. At the tender age of 15, Peter Parker is struggling to navigate the perils of high school, and at the same time he finds himself doing battle with Adrian Toomes, aka The Vulture (played by Michael Keaton as a mixture of Birdman and Batman with a touch of Beetlejuice).
Blending elements of John Hughes’ high school comedies with a super-hero-in-training plot is a canny trick by Cop Car director Jon Watts (who was also behind the creepy 2014 horror Clown), and his vast team of screenwriters. But don’t let Watts' edgy past credits throw you off. There is a charming naivety to the proceedings here, with Tom Holland regularly looking like a rabbit in the headlights as he slings through the low-roofed suburbs of NYC instead of between downtown Manhattan’s skyscrapers.
Here the stakes are smaller in every sense, but with greater impact than other Spidey movies. The world isn’t about to be destroyed – and mercifully there's no mention of Infinity Stones – but Peter has got a crush on an It-girl senior, Liz (Laura Harrier), and he’s desperate to re-join Stark and the other Avengers on another mission. Instead, Stark wants him to keep his nose to the ground and Peter has to settle for what he dubs a ‘Stark internship’, honing his super-hero craft on small-time hoods. But it is the dynamism of Holland’s excitable performance, along with spry comedy peppered with moments of action, that makes for a winning formula.
This Spider-Man film is undoubtedly the funniest Marvel product since Avengers Assemble, and mercifully we don’t have to go through another origins plot. Even better, the nauseating mantra “with great power comes great responsibility” is absent. Instead, we get a witty, innocent, euphoric teen action-drama in super-spandex that is likely to be the best blockbuster of the summer.
Released by Disney