To be honest…after Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 I really wasn’t looking forward to Spider-Man Homecoming. Doctor Strange was basically a remake of DC’s Green Lantern movie with Strange acting like a mixture of Tony Stark and Hal Jordan. I LOVE the first Guardians movie but I felt the second one was quite lackluster – a monster let down from the first film (even though they did bring back Howard the Duck).

The trailers for Homecoming looked decent enough but nothing really prepared me for how good the actual film was going to be. This may be my second favorite Marvel Universe movie only losing the top spot to the near-perfect Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

There is so much good here that I can talk about without even getting to the actual plot of the film.

First? No origin story. We saw it both in the Sam Raimi and Mark Webb films. Do we really need to see a dweeby Peter Parker getting picked on, get bit by the spider, then suddenly he takes on Flash Thompson and kinda sorta becomes cooler once again? No – the audience knows. Fuck – everyone knows. My mother who has never seen a Spider-Man movie knows that Peter Parker got bit by a spider and got spider powers.

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) already has his powers here (as shown in Captain America: Civil War). He is still a big time dork. He dreams of getting out into the city to become Spider-Man and to stop crime. He still gets picked on by Flash Thompson and really the only time he can be someone is when he is Spider-Man…though as Spidey he really still comes off like a big dork.

Okay let’s move to Flash Thompson. Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori plays Flash Thompson and he is definitely not some 6’4 built white guy picking on Peter like Joe Manganiello. He’s still rich, he’s still a bully, but he really is cast against type.  Revolori is of Guatemalan decent. Actually most of Peter’s classmates in Homecoming were cast against type.

Peter’s best friend is Ned Leeds played here by Jacob Batalon – an overweight Hawaiian. There’s no Gwen Stacy nor Mary Jane Watson. Actor/singer Zendaya plays an Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club type here named Michelle.

Near the end she says, “Call me MJ” which is supposed to make the viewer think that maybe she is this universe’s Mary Jane. It was a weird throw away line that made me think of that unneeded off the cuff Robin comment at the end of Dark Knight Rises.

Laura Harrier plays the love interest here though the movie really isn’t about a love story like the past films. Harrier’s character is named Liz. I presumed that she was playing Liz Allen but ….you know what they say about people who assume (they make an ass out of u and me).

I like the diversity. I really do. Anyone who goes to a high school in Midtown are going to find a melting pot of races and cultures (unless you go to some preppy private school) so those bitching about “well this character is supposed to be white” and “that character is supposed to be white too” probably live in East Jabip somewhere. Not NYC. It’s not realistic.

The movie was co-written by John Francis Daley – known for his acting roles in Freaks and Geeks, Waiting, and Bones (he also co-wrote flicks like Horrible Bosses and Vacation). He’s actually a great comedy writer but didn’t think him capable of co-writing of something this dense and amazing. Want better? Daley’s co-star from Freaks and Geeks Martin Starr has a pretty substantial role in this flick as a teacher. I was hoping Samm Levine would show up as a bad guy but, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Let me actually touch on the plot for a second: Right after the events in the first Avengers movie Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) buys a whole bunch of trucks and equipment when he lands a job with the city to clean up all the mess left from the alien invasion. Unfortunately Damage Control comes right in and takes the job from Toomes. Damage Control is an organization tasked with cleaning up after superheroes make a mess in a city. Toomes’ crew is out their job but Toomes himself is out of all the money he put out on this job hoping to recoup. This does not happen…

It’s a couple years later – and a couple months after the events of Civil War – and Peter Parker is DYING in high school. He likes this girl Liz but likes her from afar. Basically school is him hanging out with his nerdy friend Ned, getting picked on by Flash. and dreaming about being Spider-Man after school.

Toomes has built a very lucrative business stealing alien materials right from Damage Control, turning the materials into very dangerous weapons, and selling them. He has also created a bad ass flying exo-skeleton that he can fly around with and create his own crimes… as The Vulture.

When Spider-Man gets wind of what is happening he tries to spring into action. However even though he has these amazing powers he is a huge novice in fighting crime. He tries to get Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) to listen to him but to get to Tony he has to go through his point-of-contact Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), who doesn’t give two craps what the Spider-Man is getting in to.

I was shocked at how little Stark was in the movie and how much Happy was in the movie.  Favreau was in the film so much that I started to wonder if he was the director of the film.  Turns out he was not (the flick is directed by Jon Watts) so I guess Daley and his group just really like the character and shoved him on in.

Spidey’s adventures take him from Queens to D.C. to Maryland where he continuously has to balance his investigation into the Vulture’s crimes with his schooling. It rarely balances and Peter finds himself digging a hole into both his academic career and superhero career.

Here’s the problem with most Marvel movies and this is why Spider-Man Homecoming rises above the rest. There’s usually two problems with these films: the origin and the bad guy. When we are first being introduced to the hero we usually have to learn their origin. I’ve already touched on how this film just avoids that entirely.

But with Michael Keaton’s Toomes we have an honest to goodness villain. Except he’s not really a true villain. He’s not out to take over the world or some stupid shit. He is a man with a family, a man with deep motivations, and he is a baddie who the audience can actually relate to. Half of it is the writing here but the other half is an actor who really has honed his craft. Keaton has come through a renaissance with films like Spotlight and Birdman. Now? He’s really at the top of his game and it truly shows here.

There is so much intensity in this movie and it really comes down to those simple moments where Keaton and Holland are interacting with each other. There is a scene with the two of them in a car talking and you almost can’t cut the tension with the sharpest knife. This is probably the best scene in the entire film and there isn’t laser blasts or web shooters. Just the two of them talking. And it is absolutely phenom.

It’s important to have a great story. It’s important to have a great hero. But it is also great to have an amazing villain. In the Marvel Studios universe? There’s Loki. There used to be the Winter Soldier. And there is Toomes.

I should also point out that The Shocker is in the flick – at first played by Logan Marshall-Green and then played better by Bokeem Woodbine.  They are in this very minimally and only impact the film slightly.  Still – cool to see a lesser Spidey villain get some screentime.

I guess I should also point out Donald Glover is in the flick as a local thug.  A number of years ago there was a push for Glover to be on the big screen as the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man.  That did not happen…but it is very cool that the producers cast him in this new flick.  A nice little casting homage.

Was there anything I didn’t like about the movie? Yes. I didn’t like that they put Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May in some weird, funky clothing. She didn’t look like that in Civil War yet they really dressed her quite awful in Homecoming. Why dress her like this? Was she just too smoking hot in Civil War and they felt the need to unsexy her? I guess. I thought that was kinda lame.

Overall this is a Spider-Man movie that really did it right. No Spider-Man crying over Mary Jane. No Electro with his own Otis-music. No emo Peter Parker. This was just a solid tale with solid actors going off a solid script. It seems that everything came together amazingly and I really cannot wait to see this film again.

RANK: A+