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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fun, tween-friendly take on one of Marvel's most enduringly popular characters. Starring an actual teen (Tom Holland) as web-slinging high schooler Peter Parker, its spirit is very much in line with the original comics. While there's no shortage of peril and action violence, it's not as unrelenting or large-scale as in many of the other Marvel movies. Death is minimal (a supporting character is disintegrated), and even sequences like that in which a ferry boat splits in half, causing panic and mayhem, aren't too scary. Spidey does get in brawls with the main villain in which he's bashed, buried in rubble, and dropped from heights, and there are some explosions and fiery crashes (including a plane strewn along a beach). There's a bit more salty language than you might expect (including "s--t," "bastard," "dumba--," and more), but it's not constant. Teens flirt, and adults kiss and make a few suggestive comments. There's one jokey reference to porn, and Peter is shown shirtless a couple of times. A house party scene shows teens holding red cups (the contents are unspecified). As always with Spider-Man, there are messages about power and responsibility, finding strength within yourself, being brave, and persevering. And the cast is impressively, realistically diverse; Peter's friends, classmates, and teachers represent a wide range of races and body types.
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What's the story?
In SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, 15-year-old Peter Parker (Tom Holland) can't wait to help his new mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), with any superhero work the latter might have available. But Stark wants to keep his young protege safe at home in Queens, living with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and going to high school with friends like his good buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon). Peter chafes at being sidelined, so every night he goes out looking for crime to stop around the neighborhood. One evening he comes face to face (well, face to mask) with a group of ATM robbers armed with powerful, high-tech weapons. Eventually Peter traces the dangerous gear to a gang run by Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), who's long harbored a grudge against the Avengers and the secretive agencies that work with them. Peter's quest to put an end to Toomes' dangerous game leads to peril and surprising revelations, as well as one very annoyed Iron Man.
Is it any good?
Clever, funny, and true to the Spider-Man spirit, this take on everyone's favorite web-slinger is thoroughly entertaining. The world was understandably skeptical of yet another Spidey reboot, but in this case, it was the right call. Even more than the Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield takes on the wall crawler -- as good as those were -- Spider-Man: Homecoming really captures the tone of the original comics. A large part of that is thanks to the fact that, for the first time on the big screen, Peter is being played by an actual teenager. Holland is believably eager, gawky, and geeky as Peter, who's almost as excited to work on Ned's Lego Death Star as he is to fight bad guys. Also, because it's (mercifully) not an origin story, director Jon Watts can get right to the action.
It's not a perfect film; the plot doesn't always have a totally clear trajectory, and there's no real fall-out (other than Tony Stark's punishment) for the fact that half of the scrapes Peter/Spidey gets into are, frankly, his own fault. But it's so fresh and relatable that it doesn't matter. It's great to see such a diverse group of teens playing Peter's friends and classmates; in addition to Batalon, Laura Harrier and Zendaya are stand-outs as, respectively, Peter's crush and a laconic, enigmatic classmate. And while Tony and Peter's lack of communication/mutual frustration brings to mind Harry's relationship with Professor Dumbledore during some of the Harry Potter saga, their dynamic brings something new and powerful to the Marvel-verse as well: true mentorship.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Spider-Man: Homecoming. How does it compare to what you've seen in other superhero movies? In other kinds of movies? Do different types of violence have a different impact?
What does Tony mean when he tells Peter, "If you're nothing without the suit, then you shouldn't have it"? What does Peter learn from having to go without his suit for awhile?
How might the story have been different if Tony (or Happy) had listened to Peter better/sooner? Can you think of other movies in which beloved mentors have fallen short in a similar way? (Hint: Prof. Dumbledore/Harry Potter.)
Do Peter and his friends feel like genuine teenagers to you? How does that compare to previous versions of Spider-Man?How does his group of friends reflect the real-life diversity of Queens, NY? Why is that important?
- In theaters: July 7, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: October 17, 2017
- Cast: Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Michael Keaton
- Director: Jon Watts
- Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 130 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
- Last updated: December 04, 2019
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