This latest outing for the web-slinging superhero, with Tom Holland in the Spidey suit, gets everything just right.
Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man made quite a splash with his peppy cameo in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and he’s just as giddily entertaining in his first solo adventure.
This rapid reboot – coming a mere three years after predecessor Andrew Garfield’s last outing in the role – has no need to run through the comic-book character’s mutant-spider-bite origins yet again.
Instead, it gets right down to showing us the enthusiastically nerdy young hero’s first stabs at low-level crime-busting on the streets of Queens, and his comically inept attempts to impress weary mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). ‘Can’t you just be your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man?’ suggests Stark, rebuffing Peter’s pleas to become a fully-fledged member of the Avengers team and ensuring that the flashy new suit he provides him abides by its training wheels protocol.
However, Peter gets a chance to step up a gear when his path crosses that of a new supervillain, an excellent Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes, aka The Vulture, a working-class salvage man-turned black market trafficker in super weaponry.
This cues up some breathless episodes of derring-do and peril, including a couple of hair-raising scenes atop the Washington Monument and the Staten Island Ferry. Yet for much of the movie, director Jon Watts – making a leap worthy of his young hero from 2015’s low-budget thriller Cop Car to the world of blockbuster moviemaking – is avowedly channelling the spirit of 1980s John Hughes teen movies.
As Peter competes in an academic decathlon and tries to get a date with high-school crush Liz (Laura Harrier), it is this strand that sets the movie’s enjoyably breezy tone and gives Holland’s puppyish charm the chance to shine.