‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ embraces diversity

Don’t you just love the new Spider-Man – the story, the lead actor, and most of the cast members? 

Well, this is subjective. But obviously, Jon Watts, the director of the latest Spider-Manmovie starring Tom Holland as Peter Parker, has learned from “some” of the mistakes or should we say the little things but equally significant details overlooked by his predecessors. And I am not just talking about product placement.

Most superhero movies are like the annual Oscars. It’s very white. But Spider-Man: Homecoming assembles a refreshing cast that is composed of actors of colors like Laura Harrier as Liz, Zendaya as Michelle “MJ” Jones, Jacob Batalon as Parker’s best friend Ned and the students in decathlon team, which Peter Parker is part of.  Although they are relegated to bit roles, the inclusion of these non-white actors is more than commendable. It may not be the blueprint for future superhero movies, but this move created a message more powerful than any imagined superpowers known to Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

DIVERSE CAST. Tom Holland (first from right) leads the cast of millennial actors namely (from left) Angourie Rice, Tony Revoroli, Laura Harrier, Jacob Batalon, and Zendaya

Spider-Man: Homecoming is very grounded just like how Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) wanted Peter Parker to be. It touches reality in many senses. Set in one of the most diverse cities in the world (New York City), the movie depicts a lead protagonist whose concerns are practically just what ordinary teenagers are confronted by on a regular basis – bullying, some shallow romantic attachment, defying rules and orders from adults, and that phase when you are limited to do simples tasks because you are perceived as someone too young to be entrusted with big stuff.

This gives our screen hero the license to act stubborn as the movie, which heralds Spider-Man’s entry to MCU, describes him as a determined 15-year-old juvenile who got so many abilities, superhuman abilities to be exact, but is only told to stay on the ground, literally.

Unlike the previous Spidey movies, Homecoming is not so much an origin story as it is a continuation of Captain America: Civil War (2016). It is a teen action comedy drama, which makes it more enjoyable to watch.

Tom Holland as the web-slinging Peter Parker in the latest Spider-Manmovie

Given its genre, it has an enough amount of action, from a Staten Island ferry splitting in half to high-wire heroics atop the Washington Monument. And it has relatable comedy enough to make the audience sit through its whole 130-minute run.

The story begins with Peter Parker starting as an intern at Stark Industries. While waiting for his tasks, the teenager roams the street helping out people and busting small-time criminals. When in school, he walks the hallways with best friend Ned, who accidentally discovers his secret and eventually helps him track the sinister flying super villain known as Vulture (Michael Keaton). Along the way, Peter learns that the Vulture is the father of Liz, the girl he’s been crushing on whom he also invited to be his prom date.

Logically, the twist doesn’t make the story complicated since Peter Parker is determined to be a hero rather than a romantic lad. And Holland is able to paint this picture with his believable portrayal of the character.

Just like its title, the new Spider-Man movie is really a homecoming film reintroducing Spidey to a whole new generation of viewers. It’s a revival of the image Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield established during their time as Peter Parker only Holland is more refreshing and more suitable to be young-looking and young-acting superhero who doesn’t want to take the credits and don’t want to be identified – it’s a subtle advocacy admirable about the film apart from its simple effort to embrace diversity.

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