Third time is charming for Marvel’s latest Spider Man

Third time is charming for Marvel’s latest Spider Man

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton

Directed by: Jon Watts

Rated: PG-13


With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Marvel Studios has revamped “Spider-Man” for the third time. Tobey Maguire didn’t quite get it done and Andrew Garfield was just too morose to capture the character. But now, finally, I think Marvel has finally found what makes this character tick and it turns out just to let Peter Parker be himself — a nerdy teenager.

Tom Holland made his debut as the new, younger Spider-Man in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” with the promise his stand-alone movie would be out this summer. As such, it is destined to be one of the season’s biggest draws, along with “Wonder Woman,” which is good news for a summer that has been pretty lackluster so far.

Blessed with a writing crew of six, this movie has found the winning formula for this young superhero. At heart, Peter is just a teenage geek attending a high school for science students along with a bunch of other nerds that the writers mine for endless humor. Then there is Peter’s attitude toward his superpowers: He’s as much in awe of them as everyone else, and he’s a bit too eager to go to work saving lives without exactly knowing how to do it.

Herein lies the rub, because now as a protégé of the Avengers, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) feels Peter is too inexperienced to pursue much of anything except his high school diploma. He puts his right-hand man, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) in charge and a GPS tracker in Spidey’s newfangled suit to make sure he’s not getting in over his head.

Of course, this is exactly what happens when Peter discovers that a man named Toomes (Michael Keaton) has been illegally obtaining all the alien scrap metal from the Ultron battle and turning it into super weapons with the help of The Tinkerer (Michael Chernus). This sets up the basic plot as Toomes figures out that Peter, who is dating his daughter, is the Spider-Man.

Holland brings just the right amount of nerdy wonderment to the character, and his high school pals are also the work of some great casting like an unrecognizable Zendaya as Michelle, the introverted member of the science quiz team. Also, a nice take on Peter’s guardian Aunt May, usually played by older actresses, is the casting of Marisa Tomei, who gives May a bit of a hip factor that’s been lacking.

It’s helpful but not completely necessary to have a familiarity with the Avengers to fully appreciate “Homecoming,” which is itself a nice play on words considering Peter’s high school homecoming dance is a plot point in the feature. So many references are made to other Avengers and then there is the cameo by Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Tony Stark’s girlfriend near, the end of the movie. And look for Chris Evans as Captain America in a very funny ongoing joke throughout the movie.

It’s clear that Marvel Studios is building an empire with its characters. With overlapping stories and characters stepping across into other movies, there is a level of continuity that should please even the most die-hard fan of the comic characters.

In November, The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) will make an appearance in the next Thor stand-alone “Thor: Ragnarok” feature starring Chris Hemsworth. Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange will also turn up in what amounts to a “keeping it all in the family” approach by Marvel. Then in summer 2018, the Avengers, along with the Guardians of the Galaxy gang, will star in “Avengers: Infinity War.” World comic book superhero dominance must be the Marvel Studio goal.

Speaking of Marvel, two things can always be expected in a one of their movies: an appearance by progenitor Stan Lee (check) and a stay behind after the credits moment that may or may not preview the next feature from the studio — so do not leave your seat so fast.