I don’t usually write about super hero movies although I am a fan of many Marvel and DC Comics super heroes. However, after watching Spider-Man: Homecoming I knew I had to write about it. This movie brings a refreshing note of diversity that is worth talking about. Homecoming also stands out by the depth of its narrative, which paints a rare and realistic portrait of the world. On top of it, it remains a fun movie for the whole family.
1 – An Amazing Character
Peter Parker – The Man
For those who are not familiar with Spider-Man, it’s a character from Marvel Universe. It’s about a gifted teenage boy called Peter Parker who loves science, but like most gifted kids is shy and as a result is bullied at school, particularly by Eugene “Flash” Thompson, another well-known Marvel character.
Peter has known his share of difficulties. He lost his parents as a baby and was adopted by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May who did their best to raise him despite hard financial times. To make matter worse, Uncle Ben died following a robbery, and it turned out the killer was someone Parker could have stop but didn’t for selfish reasons.
After life has taught him such a hard lesson, Peter Parker decided to take a job as a photographer to help aunt May and use his spider ability to help others.
Spider-Man – The Heroe
At age 15, his love for science took Peter Parker to a public science exhibit where he got bitten by an irradiated spider, which ‘granted the high-school student incredible powers’. Powers so great that Spider-Man has several aliases including ‘Spidey‘, ‘the Amazing Spider-Man, the Sensational Spider-Man, and the Spectacular Spider-Man‘. However, ‘Peter vowed to use those abilities to protect his fellow-men, driven by his uncle’s words: With great power comes great responsibility!’ (Marvel Universe)
2 – Spider-Man: Homecoming – Unprecedented Diversity
To say that this Spider-Man movie has changed the Spider-Man story is the least. Some critics even argue that Spider-Man: Homecoming ‘doesn’t feel like a Spider-Man movie’. They depict Peter Parker (Tom Holland, an England-born actor) in Homecoming as an Avengers fanboy and complain that the movie was not filmed long enough in New York city where Peter goes to school or that the spider-man suit is too high-tech and has nearly killed Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s personality.
Marvel actually did a terrific job with Homecoming. The movie is portraying a younger Peter Parker, a teenage boy who just got his power, just lost his male role model, uncle Ben, and is trying to fit in. Young Peter is learning how to fit as a teenage high school student and how to be a superhero, how to be Spider-Man.
Of course, the young boy is looking for a new role model and who better fits this position than Tony Stark. He conveniently lives in New York city and is the famous superhero, Iron Man. He seems like the perfect ticket to become a full-time superhero, an Avengers since he has money and tech.
Homecoming differs from other Spider-Man movies by the large cultural and ethnic diversity of its cast. Never before a superhero movie had placed so many different ethnicities in leading roles.
African-American, Polish-American, Haitian-American, Filipino-American, Guatemalan-American are some these ethnicities. Among those are Zendaya (Michelle), Laura Harrier (Liz), Jacob Batalon (Ned), Donald Glover (Aaron Davis), Tony Revolori (Manuel).
– Diverse love
Vulture’s wife, Doris Toomes (Garcelle Beauvais) is played by a black woman, a Haitian-American. She is the mother of Liz Allen, Spider-Man’s dreamed girl. Liz of real name Laura Harrier is from Polish and African-American descent. Her love story with Peter Parker is a bold and beautiful move that adds to the charm of this movie.
Interracial relationship is one popular subject that triggers so many mixed feelings. Bringing such a young interracial love story to the big screen is smart and hopefully will help shed lights on the true meaning of love.
– Diverse friendship
Peter Parker’s best friend, Ned is played by Jacob Batalon, a Filipino-American actor. Ned and Peter, two ‘not-so-cool teens’ have developed a solid friendship over the years, leading them to numerous exciting adventures. When Ned learns that Peter is Spider-Man he keeps his friends secrets and helps him in battle, even saving Peter’s life once.
They are two inseparable friends who look out for each other even when things are though. Ned describes himself as ‘the man in the chair’ as he became Spider-Man’s right hand.
– Diverse Nemesis
Peter’s main protagonist Manuel, AKA Flash is played by Tony Revolori, an American actor of Guatemalan descent. Although the original character was a white blond-haired boy, Marvel boldly goes beyond the exterior aspect of the original Flash while adapting the character to today’s reality.
The new Flash is not a bully, but more like a guy who like showing off and belittle others as he did many times with Parker and other classmates. With this change, Marvel shows that comic characters are not static and can evolve and adapt to new reality.
3 – A very Entertaining Movie with Important Messages
From Peter’s first visit to the Avengers’ headquarters to his last battle with the Vulture, Spider-Man: Homecoming takes the viewer on a fantastic journey where the line between right and wrong is extraordinarily thin. In a clever twist of turn, the viewer is left compelled to sympathise with the villain: Adrian Toomes AKA the Vulture.
Toomes values his family above all. His choices are therefore recalculated when his quarrel with Spider-Man got a little too close to home. These blurry lines that both Spider-Man and the Vulture are forced to cross add a human touch to the movie that most of us can relate to. Homecoming forces viewers to rethink the whole world of heroes and villains.
SOME OF THESE MESSAGES
- Blurry Line between Right and Wrong
Adrian Toomes, a family man with a beautiful wife and a charming daughter, had a government licensed contract to collect Aliens’ rubble and transform them. A bigger shot got the contract and managed to shut Toomes’ operations down despite Toomes’ plea to try staying in business for the sake of his employees and their family as well as his own family’s. As a result, the Vulture is born, a super villain who flies under the radar and sells illegal weapons.
- Social Inequalities
Tony Stark AKA the Iron Man may not be such an angel after all. When Toomes finally discovers Spider-Man’s identity and his affinity with the Iron Man, he tries convincing Parker that Tony has not made his money the old fashioned-way, but rather gather his wealth by preying on ‘little guys’ like Toomes and Parker. The movie opens a window on the way our world is shaped, on important issues like daily injustice, unfairness, inequality, and poverty. About the way those at the top sustain their wealth.
- Relationship Is a Complex ‘Work in Progress’
Vulture’s daughter Liz is in a relationship with Spidey, oblivious that Spidey and Peter Parker are the same person. Liz is dying to meet the superhero without knowing that they go to the same high school and frequently talk to each other. Even after Spider-Man saved her life. When Vulture finally knows who Spidey is he decided to spare his life because he wanted to protect his daughter and spare her feelings.
- Social Racism and Slavery
Michelle (Zendaya), an Afro-American girl, one the most intelligent teenage students and a friend of Peter Parker refuses to go along with her classmate to visit the Washington Monument. She explained to her teacher that she does not want to pay a visit to an attraction that will remind her of the pain of the slaves who built it. The teacher, a white male, was looking for an answer to her student’s logic, but either could not find any or decide not to discuss such topics.
The scene reminds us all too well of nightmares Black people went to and are still going through as a result of slavery and racism. It also shines a light around the common awkwardness that arises among groups of different ethnicities, particularly Black and White when topic of racism and other prejudices are brought up.
4 – Need more reasons to go watch Spider-Man: Homecoming?
Watch the last official trailer.
photo credit: Gage Skidmore Tom Holland, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Jacob Batalon, Zendaya & Jon Watts via photopin (license)