Comics books were banned in my house. My mother either thought they were too violent, obscene, or that a Bart Simpson was telling people to “Eat his shorts” in them or something. The reasons were never clear, but the cold hard rule was that no funny books (unless they were hard backed french ones*) were allowed to pleasure my eyes.
That was until my dad, buying himself a chocolate bar at our local drug store, saw me starring longingly at the tiny comic book filled spinner rack and felt pity for my tiny soul. He bought me a Woody Woodpecker (issue #7) and an issue of MARVEL TALES that had a red and blue spandex guy battling a big bald dude on the cover. The story was the end of a run in which the web covered hero learned his parents were super spies, or some hokum, and it all ended in a slam-bam climax. I read it over, and over, and over again until the pages came unstapled from their binding.
My life became consumed by Spider-Man.
I watched the pop art animated original, the 90’s serialized one (which shocked me the first time it played, because it was in the slot of my beloved groovy wall crawler) and eventually poured over every issue I got my mitts on. The comic at the time was in the pits of the nineties, filled with Carnage and Clone Sagas, but I didn’t care, all I wanted was to hang out with the wise cracking web head. And Venom, cause he was XTREME.
It wasn’t until I got a black and white SPIDER-MAN ESSENTIAL (20 bucks a pop for 20 issues) that reprinted the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run (in finger staining newsprint), that I fell head over heels in love. Here was a hero that was a geek like me (I was never a nerd), that cracked wise like, that screwed up like all of us.
Why is Spider-Man my favorite super hero? Easy: He has problems and he struggles, but he always does the right thing. Sure, his high flying antics and punch’em ups were my gateway to Hong Kong Cinema (and the Wuxia genre), but that’s web dressing. Spider-Man is relatable because he’s so wracked with fear that he cracks lame jokes, he screws up, and he still takes the hard road. He can’t go for the midnight swim with his crush cause he has to chase bad guys and it stings worse than any robotic tentacle punch, yet he still makes the choice.
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING gets it.
It’s smaller, straighter, and made up of more moving parts than the Sam Raimi films, which means it never reaches the same delirious emotional climaxes, but it nails the subtle beats. Tom Holland is Peter Parker and Tom Holland is Spider-Man. He’s got the charm, he’s got the awkwardness, and he’s got the confidence when he needs it. There’s no question in my mind that its the most true to the page web head that we will ever get on screen. It doesn’t matter that the film features a dozen cool cameos, or that the action is intricate (but brief) and that he uses his powers in ways I’ve never seen, all that matter is that with great power comes great responsibility.
And they reference the SPIDER MOBILE!
P.S: If anyone says that Michael Keaton is “the same old boring Marvel villain” they have no idea what they’re talking about. They should stop watching these movies.
*which were ironically more violent and obscene (racism was rampant) than the American comic code approved counterpart.