Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker in the final movie of Marvel`s Phase 3 and I’m pleased to report that, finally, on his fifth outing in the MCU, he delivers the perfect Spider-Man for this world.
Better than Tobey Maguire? I'd have to say so now, yes. He adds depth to the role and tones down the youthful enthusiasm as the awkward teen now possesses an unspoken maturity to anchor his emotional journey as the web-slinger comes to terms with the death of Tony Stark and his love for MJ (Zendaya).
Set about six months after the events of “Avengers: Endgame” the screenplay wrestles with the aftermath of Thanos’ snap (now referred to as The Blip) which is why this has to be viewed as an epilogue to that rather than a stand-alone adventure. It’s a confused world trying to piece itself back together.
Director Jon Watts melds two usually disparate types of film seamlessly: the superhero action-adventure and the coming-of-age teen comedy. By focussing on the uneasiness of Parker`s teenage years and in particular the relatable teenage trials of passage we see our hero caught up in, it isn’t a stretch to say this is quite possibly the most faithful screen adaptation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's creation to date.
This is about a teenage boy first, and a superhero second, enabling it to offer not just a larger sense of reality than any other film of the genre, but also an endless sense of conflict as the two will always inevitably clash.
We see this from the get-go as Parker packs his suitcase and heads off on holiday. Note the initials “BFP” emblazoned on it, referring to Benjamin Franklin Parker, his uncle whose death motivated him to become Spider-Man. There's no room for the Spidey suit, however, and he leaves it behind. True he wouldn’t wear it on the beach anyway as he wouldn’t get a proper tan, but rather than a dilemma over his white bits I think the point being made here is he just wants a break to be a normal teenager. The perfect opportunity to tell MJ how he feels perhaps?
That being said it is a superhero film so it’s pretty inevitable that this ain't going to be no two hour highlight reel of him travelling around Europe. Alas, his school trip is interrupted by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who needs his help to battle the Elementals alongside the terrific Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio.
Parker and Mysterio are kindred spirits, both sensitive reluctant heroes with extreme intelligence. The connection between the pair drives the film, far more than the special effects wizardry and fight scenes Marvel always seem ever so keen to bombard the audience with.
Character development will always trump CGI and thankfully the signs are promising going forward. Unlike “Spider-Man: Homecoming” this is a Spider-Man film that takes place in the MCU, not an MCU film that happens to star Spider-Man, and that’s the way it should be. It signs off on one era, sets up the next and whets the appetite for phase four.
And yes, to answer the question that gets asked with all Marvel films, you need to stay to the end! The bombshells come during the closing credit sequence so stay in your seat until the lights come on.