Captain America: Civil War boasts a massive cast of characters, some of which are familiar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), some not so much. The movie as a whole was good, but the character who stole the show for me was not Captain America or Iron Man, but the newest incarnation of Spider-Man.
Spider-Man was what first introduced me to the Marvel movies back when Tobey Maguire was still playing Peter Parker, so the character is very close to my heart. As a kid, I really loved the wit and humor of the Tobey Maguire movies. Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of the character didn’t do much for me. The trailers seemed to show a dark, gritty side of Peter Parker that I wasn’t particularly interested in, so I skipped the Amazing Spider-Man films altogether. The teaser trailer that first introduced Spider-Man to Captain America: Civil War made me more wary than ever before. All that I knew about this new Spider-Man was that he did not sound overly articulate. Of course, this mysteriousness was intended and the brief cameo was supposed to get people to speculate. However, the moment that Tom Holland began speaking in Captain America: Civil War and it was more than just “hey guys,” I knew something magical was about to happen.
Captain America: Civil War Spoilers Ahead!
We first meet the new Peter Parker in Queens, New York, with his Aunt May and none other than Tony Stark who has come to recruit him to his side of the titular civil war. Right away, we see and hear that this Peter is very, very young. Holland himself is only 19, and Peter is a high school student. There is no suspension of disbelief: Peter is a bright-eyed, gangly kid.
Once Tony and Peter have some one-on-one time, it’s even more apparent how green and in need of a mentor Peter is by the way he babbles as he tries to explain what it is that drives him to be Spider-Man. Tony rummages around Peter’s bedroom and points out his sad, dumpster-rescued technology and poorly homemade costume, thus endearing Peter even more to me. Tony sees his potential as a competent superhero from his YouTube videos of apprehending criminals and wants to see him grow and become successful. Thankfully, Tony gives him an upgrade with a brand new suit and improved tech for going into battle against Team Cap. Hopefully for viewers, this means that we can skip the “learning how to hero” part of Peter’s story in Spider-Man: Homecoming (save for a few flashbacks or something along those lines) and get right into some character and world building.
Holland’s Spider-Man humor also hit the nail right on the head. Maguire’s Spider-Man was very sweet, boy-next-door and not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny. Garfield’s Spider-Man was too sarcastic to the point of seeming patronizing. Holland’s Spider-Man is good balance between the two. He does get a little wordy and awkward in the face of the Avengers once he joins the fight at the airport, and it is addressed during the fight through the other characters commenting on both his chattiness and youthfulness. He can go from classic observational humor about the person he’s fighting to yelling “Holy shit!” in amazement after witnessing some cool move or ability. Peter definitely stands out against the cast of mostly serious, straight-faced heroes and heroines, and that new, youthful energy provides the opportunity for the MCU to explore new character archetypes and bring something new to the table in terms of characterization.
The only part of Spider-Man’s story that I was still skeptical about as I left the theater was his Aunt May. It’s no secret that the actress portraying this beloved character has gotten younger in every iteration of the Spider-Man films. I try not to be a stickler for keeping things the way they happened in the comics because film adaptations of print media are just that, adaptations and interpretations and are not meant to be exactly the same. Regardless, I was concerned. The more that I have thought about it though, I realized that Marvel likely anticipated some questions from the fans and addressed it very subtly through Tony’s remark to Peter about Aunt May being “surprisingly young and attractive.” This little comment completely works for Tony’s character and also acknowledges to the viewers that she might not be the sweet, elderly woman everyone was expecting, but that she is the right woman for the job. She seems to be very loving and supportive of Peter, and perhaps with a younger actress, we’ll be able to see more action and involvement from her.
Right now, I’m really interested to see how the theme of identity plays out in Spider-Man: Homecoming, seeing as how that seems to be Peter’s biggest character flaw at this moment in time. He describes feeling torn between being Spider-Man and being Peter Parker, while a dual identity is something that most all of the other Avengers don’t have to worry about. This isn’t the first time that this issue has been addressed by a Spider-Man film, but there was something very sincere about the way Peter described his desire to find the middle grounds between being a hero and a typical high school student. I truly want to see him succeed and feel accepted either by his peers or his fellow superheroes, although something tells me it won’t go that smoothly.
Spoilers end here!
To put it briefly, Holland’s Spider-Man is high-energy and just downright fun to watch. I am more excited than I ever thought I would be for Spider-Man: Homecoming to see just how Peter’s character develops within his own world. Every character has to have a period of growth and development, and it doesn’t make sense for Peter’s time to be during a Captain America movie. This new Peter Parker will fine-tune his abilities and learn some life lessons in due time, but for now, he’s just an upbeat kid the viewers can empathize with who has a lot of power and a lot of heart.
Have you seen Captain America: Civil War? Check out Angel’s full-movie review here!
Author: Daftly Debonair
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