Gather around children, if you’re still living, and get on down with this old secret adults tried to hide from you: Spider-Man is a teenager. On some subconscious level, your brain assures you that you knew this already. But you did not. This is an Inception moment—something you once knew to be true but chose to forget.
The culprits: Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Both near 30-somethings who convinced you they were younger thanks to boyish faces and boyish-er charms. Hold that—I’m not sure if Garfield convinced anyone of anything as Spider-Man. All I remember from those movies was how Jamie Foxx accidentally blue-d himself.
Following some sly and assuredly petty negotiations, Sony has allowed Marvel to return Spider-Man underneath their umbrella. This is what allowed Spider-Man to appear in Captain America: Civil War, a probably unnecessary yet fulfilling move. The chorus that rang after that movie sang two promising notes: a) Black Panther was dope as hell and b) they finally nailed Spider-Man.
The reason? The casting of Tom Holland, a British theater kid. He is 20 years old, but you could convince me he’s 15 and I would believe you. Charismatic yet awkward, wisecracking yet self-deprecating, acrobatic yet unskilled, Holland embodies the alluring contradictions of Spider-Man flawlessly. It really just means he nails the inherent binaries of being a teenager. Because Spider-Man is a teenager. Which you forgot.
Sony Pictures debuted the first trailer to the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming on Jimmy Kimmel Thursday night. The response: mostly applause. From its first look Spider-Man: Homecoming appears more about clumsy teenagers traversing high school’s procedural social structures than about superheroes saving the world. Thank goodness. Not to go full fanboy, but that’s always been the core of Spider-Man’s appeal: He’s Peter Parker, a goofy, likable dork just trying to get by. He doesn’t really want all the powers and (*loaded word alert*) responsibilities thrust upon him. Peter worries about girls as much as Spider-Man worries about the Green Goblin. In both cases, he’s figuring it out as he goes.
But it’s fascinating how eagerly Marvel and Sony are steering into this territory. Using MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” in the trailer is like a blaring synth siren this will be an emotionally-loaded, growing-of-age teen drama. Don’t believe me? A short list of vehicles that have prominently featured MGMT’s track at some point:
– Sex Drive
– Gossip Girl
I was honestly shocked to learn Noah Baumbach hasn’t included “Time to Pretend” in four of his films. While watching the trailer, a 15-second window opened where I legitimately asked myself, “Did they let Baumbach direct freakin’ Spider-Man!?” Then a building exploded.
That scene where Peter and his buddy drool over a teenage crush in the lunchroom felt straight out of Freaks and Geeks…which shouldn’t surprise you because freakin’ Sam Weir himself co-wrote the screenplay. Who knew little Sam would grow up to write screenplays? Don’t worry Freaks and Geeks fans, Bill is here, too.
Peter Park as a boy trying to realize his potential while fitting in, Tony Stark as an emotionally-distant father figure, and that ever-looming threat to a high school boy known as “GIRLS,” Spider-Man: Homecoming is shaping to become the best teenage drama tentpole in years. Michael Keaton’s Vulture is there too and yeah he’ll have to save the people of New York again (note: great visual callback), but that’s gravy. Some suit upstairs finally remembered Peter Parker was a teenager. It’s great to see him finally act like one.
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