Spider-Man: Homecoming review: a celebration of smallness that makes the stakes personal

The “homecoming” in the title of Spider-Man: Homecoming has two meanings, and they both speak directly to the movie’s small focus. The film is a literal homecoming, as Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man (aka Tom Holland), returns to Queens after the epic Berlin battle in his last Marvel Cinematic Universe outing in Captain America: Civil War. But Peter’s sophomore homecoming dance also plays a significant part in the story, as he sweats over whether to confess his crush on his senior classmate Liz (Laura Harrier), the head of his school’s Academic Decathlon team. Even though Spider-Man went toe-to-toe with Captain America and the MCU’s other biggest heroic power players in Civil War, Homecoming is a constant reminder that he’s a newbie hero and a 15-year-old kid, dealing with Spanish tests and chemistry classes as much as he’s dealing with criminal throwdowns. The refocusing — part of Sony’s effort to bring its Spider-Man stories in line with the MCU while creating a separate, smaller cinematic universe — should seem like a comedown after Civil War. Instead, it feels like a joyous celebration, not just of the MCU’s usual crowd-winning balance of humor and action, but of a little guy’s ability to make a difference, even when, for once, the fate of the world isn’t on the line.

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