The most interesting thing about superheroes these days seem to be the corporate structures they own and run. Apart from Batman’s ‘Wayne Enterprises’, a centerpiece of Gotham City, the wealthiest by far is Iron Man’s ‘Stark Industries’. In this film Tony Stark has bagged the contract to clean up New York City of all the advanced weapons lying around after so many superhero battles. So ubiquitous is the brand name of this corporation, that it even has internships for students, ‘the Stark internships’, at which a 15 year old kid called Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is registered as an intern.
Not surprisingly, the real action in the movie begins when there is a conflict of financial and professional interest. Supervillain Adrian Toomes, also known as ‘Vulture’ ( Michael Keaton), feels that he has been cheated of the lucrative deal to clean up New York by a corporate wheeler-dealer like Tony Stark. So he gets hold of the junk lying around and soups it up into dangerous weapons. The mission to stop ‘Vulture’ from developing his lethal high tech arms, then turns into the first major ‘internship’ exercise, as it were, for the fledgling ‘Spider-Man’.
What is different about this edition of Spider-Man is that you see an apprentice at work, a kid learning the ropes who is yet to understand the intricate weaving of power and control. There is an innocence, a naivety about the new Peter Parker. The amateurish way he goes about trying to rescue people who don’t really need to be rescued, is charming. Also, though superheroes are supposed to be tech savvy, this Spider-Man is not. He hasn’t been able to figure out all the applications of the ‘Spider-Man’ suit, and encounters surprising devices and transformations that he never asked for. He is then advised by the voice instructress on his suit to run through all applications before he goes on his next mission.
Much of the feel of innocence is due to the casting of Tom Holland as Parker/Spider-Man. He is a surprisingly small boy, even shorter than the nerdy girl in his class that he has a crush on, Michelle (Zendaya). But she responds to his shy overtures because she says she likes his intelligence and his vulnerable look. Unfortunately, every time he takes her out, he leaves her high and dry with some emergency apprenticeship duty.
There is a youthfulness to this film that is infectious. The Aunt with whom he lives, May Parker, is played by Marisa Tomei, an actress who was sought after for her hotness quotient not too long ago. She is his obsessive aunt here, fussing over him and calling every police station when he doesn’t come home for a while. Even Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) seems to take great pleasure in mentoring the kid, and there is a bounce to his ‘Iron Man’ step, and a new note to his cynical persona, whenever he interviews Peter in person, or, on one occasion, even when he talks to him on the phone from India, where he happens to be attending a wedding in full ethnic regalia.
Without doubt this is one of the more watchable superhero movies of recent times. Amongst other things, it is also about growing up in the capital city of superheroes, New York.