Those who go see “Spider Man: The Homecoming,” and have seen the prequels, sequels and whatnot will have an advantage over me. Which is to say, I’m sure the opening scene ties in nicely with “Captain America,” (and the various dates line up perfectly too), but since the last version of this franchise that I saw featured Tobey Maguire as Spider Man, I can only describe it in basic terms. Michael Keaton is busy cleaning up with a crew after what appears to be a natural disaster of some kind. He’s soon interrupted by no-nonsense Tyne Daly and her crew, who got their instructions from no less a luminary than Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who is more or less Spider Man’s (Tom Holland’s) boss. Without further ado, Tyne vanquishes Michael, at least temporarily, who retreats to his lair of brooding evil genius to boss around his minions, who are busy crafting high-tech weapons that they hope will ultimately defeat Spider Man. But Tom has more immediate adolescent concerns, such as bullies (Tony Revolori), extracurriculars, and older girls (Laura Harrier) who seem to exist in a separate galaxy. To complicate matters, he feels patronized by Robert and his other mentor (Jon Favreau), plus his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) has become suspicious of her nephew’s frequent absences. So he has a lot on his plate.
During one mission as New York’s “friendly, neighborhood Spider Man,” Tom gets a shock when he attempts to thwart a robbery and is overpowered by some unusual high tech weapons that cause him to wonder just who and what is their source. (Hint: It’s nefarious.) When his best friend (Jacob Batalon), who is overly interested in Tom’s “internship” with Tony Stark and who manages to uncover Tom’s secret, finagles an invitation to a party at Laura’s house, the duo hopes (since Laura has a crush on Spider Man) to increase their coolness quotient, but dang, if Tom doesn’t get called away on a mission. Then it’s off to Washington, D.C. for the national academic decathalon – and oddly enough, Tom’s superheroing duties manage to get in the way of that – but there’s a happy ending. But it’s only halfway through the movie, so there are more showdowns – the last coinciding with the school Homecoming Dance. It all culminates in Tom having to fall back on his more low-tech Spidey suit, as he jumps on trains and straddles flaming laser beams heading directly for Coney Island. Basically, Tom does a lot of the stuff the lead in “The Promise” does escaping from prison camp, only without the sobering true-life backstory (and a lot more special effects).
Along the way, of course, Tom learns lessons about humility and friendship (his pal turns out to be a pretty good “guy in the chair” when it comes to providing backup during a mission). Sadly, he does not get the girl – who is extremely smart about everything except tying Tom to his alter ego, but there’s probably a sequel to come. “Spider-Man: The Homecoming,” is predictably PG-oriented fun for the whole family – even if the length it runs probably means at least one popcorn and bathroom break during it.