July 29th 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The rise and rise of Old King Coal

EDITORIAL Behind Donald Trump's endorsement of Poland

CANBERRA OBSERVED Cory Bernardi claims strong flow to his ranks

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Liu Xiaobo's extraordinary courage remembered

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Why we must fight for freedom: Trump in Poland

HEALTH Gardasil(R) and the man upon the stair, Part II

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Death of caliph will hasten end of Islamic State

MUSIC What's in a tune: minor change makes a major difference

CINEMA Spider-Man: Homecoming: Reboot on a domestic scale

BOOK REVIEW Moves that may push our constitution over

BOOK REVIEW Exposing the transgender agenda


GENDER POLITICS Edmund Rice Education Australia proposes transgender sex-ed

GENDER POLITICS Melbourne mum goes viral on 'Safe Schools'

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Spider-Man: Homecoming: Reboot on a domestic scale

by Symeon J. Thompson

News Weekly, July 29, 2017

Most comic books superheroes are not relatable. People might like Iron Man or Batman, but their secret identities are super rich guys with serious problems, the sort of people you’d like on your side, but wouldn’t necessarily want to be. And God-like aliens like Superman or Thor are cool, but are not really role models.

But there is one superhero who’s popular precisely because he is so relatable – Spider-Man, who’s secret identity of Peter Parker is a very bright but otherwise normal teenager. He’s a kid who ended up with superpowers as the result of an accident; who, in addition to fighting crime, is also fighting the typical adolescent problems of schoolwork and social anxiety.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the latest big-screen reboot of the character, this time within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We were first introduced to this version of Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in Captain America: Civil War, where he is recruited by Tony Stark (Robert Downey jnr) to help deal with the problem of a rogue Captain America (Chris Evans). Peter is young and enthusiastic, a keen fan of the Avengers, and in particular Tony Stark, and is desperately trying to play it cool when he’s with the heroes but is so elated by everything that he can only just contain himself.

On returning to New York, where he lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), Peter returns to school, which he is finding increasingly dull, and returns to “fighting” crime, such as stopping a grand theft bicycle, or helping an old lady with directions. He’s a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man who really wants to be an Avenger.

While out on patrol, Spider-Man comes across a group of bank robbers using high-tech weapons. He stops them, but in the process they cause immense damage. When Peter tries to explain to Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), Stark’s head of security, Happy brushes it off. This leads to Peter being even more determined to prove himself by finding the source of the weapons and destroying them. All the while having to deal with high school, and a super-curious best friend who’s discovered he’s Spider-Man.

The man behind the weapons is Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a salvage worker who was initially contracted to clean up after the New York alien invasion, and who was strong-armed out of the deal by a joint U.S. Government /Stark Industries agency. A decent, hardworking, but quick-tempered family man, Toomes thought the contract would be his ticket to a better life for himself and his family and his workers and their families. Angry that he’s been rejected, he sets himself up as a low-level arms dealer, providing criminals with weapons hybridised from alien and human technology.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the third big-screen version of the character, and is probably the most accurate depiction of the teenaged web-slinger. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy was a masterful exercise in popcorn mythology, but Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker, while superb, was a lot more angst-ridden than the source material, and the series has a distinctly darker vibe. Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man films had a lighter touch with a great performance by Andrew Garfield in the title role, but didn’t hang together that well. Homecoming brings Spider-Man back to the Marvel Universe and does a brilliant job of it.

The movie is one of the funniest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a universe that’s been getting progressively darker as the stories continue. Homecoming brings back the joyful enthusiasm of superhero-worshipping childhood. Since the stakes are not planetary destruction, there’s more chance to deal with the human element, things like Peter’s awkward relationship with his crush, Liz (Laura Harrier), or how he deals with the arrogant, bullying Flash (Tony Revolori).

Moreover it shows how hubris plays out at a smaller scale, and how seemingly little things can matter a great deal. Stark’s disregard for the little guy is the reason Toomes turns to crime. Peter’s disregard for his own immaturity puts his friends in danger, as well as his own future. He’s so caught up with wanting to be a hero that he forgets he’s still a boy.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a delightful incarnation of the beloved character, one that deftly portrays the ordinary heroism of everyday life and growing up.

Symeon J. Thompson is a member of the Film Critics’ Circle of Australia (FCCA).

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm