SPOILERS obviously for Civil War, but this film’s Spider-Man was so well done I want to scream it to the heavens. See just how he makes every other version look like shit…
Captain America: Civil War is an incredible rollercoaster of a film in its own right. It’s like a summer comic crossover brought to the big screen, with huge fights paying off years of backstory, as well as having something to say about how heroes would coexist with the world’s government. It’s everything Batman V Superman wishes it was – seriously, they have so many similarities, only Captain America not only lives up to its potential, but exceeds it.
Right now, after a careful SPOILER WARNING, I want to focus on just one small chunk of it though. Civil War gives a nerd like me something I never thought I’d see: the perfect live action Spider-Man. I’ve read (no exaggeration) thousands of Spider-Man comics – hell, I’m the leading authority on why Spider-Man loves The Mets!. And as a fan, I had gotten used to the idea that every film Spidey I’d see would be compromised. I’d see moments of brilliance in his previous films, but Tom Holland’s version of Peter Parker made any previous version of him null and void.
I felt like I was finally seeing onscreen a Spider-Man that had jumped right off the page. Here was a Spidey not compromised by studio executives or wasted on a contractually-obligated reboot. This was Marvel Studios chance to make a Spider-Man of its own and nailing every important thing about the character. Not just getting the big things right, like his powers and his costume, but it was the little things too. And you only need to look at previous versions of Spidey to see just how obvious the changes were.
7. Peter Parker is actually a science nerd
In previous films: I get it, film producers – you want your billion dollar movie to have a relatable main character. You want a guy who is a bit of a nerd, but who grows into a guy people can like and who is as confused as them about science. That’s how you end up with a Peter Parker who, in Amazing Spider-Man 2, has to watch YouTube videos to figure out how a battery works. A global audience doesn’t want to see a Spider-Man who is smarter than they are, so he has to inherit tech from his parents and buy web fluid online, like a regular person does.
But the new Spider-Man: Instead of carrying a god damn skateboard like Andrew Garfield stupidly did, we meet this Peter Parker as he is carrying home some found technology to experiment on. He’s a poor, amateur scientist who (like Tony Stark) is brilliant enough to build his own tech with almost nothing to help him. This Spider-Man apologetically built his own web shooters, without any fear of believability, and his connection to Stark is immediate, as he’d obviously be a fan of Tony’s work. And this also looks like the type of guy who’d be bullied by Flash Thompson, who I hope appears in Homecoming.
6. Spidey never shuts up
Above: Why so serious, Spidey?
In previous films: Admittedly, Spider-Man in both Raimi and Webb’s films did some talking, gabbing with guys like Doc Ock as he punched him or telling Lizard he looks dumb. But more of the time the films are obsessed with Spidey looking sullen. He’s silently reflecting on his mistakes, thinking on that other time he could’ve helped someone and didn’t. If not being silently guilty, he’s watching as a super villain explains something, or grunting in pain as he gets beat up. We get it – it sucks to be Spider-Man!
But the new Spider-Man Tom Holland shares his first ever scene as Peter Parker with Robert Downey Jr., which necessitates a whole lot of improv-ish gabbing to keep up with all of RDJ’s cross talk. But even after that scene Spidey is a constant talker in just about every moment onscreen. It’s believable that it’s just Peter’s way of dealing with the anxiety and nervousness he’s feeling when working with The Avengers to fight The Avengers. And his talkativeness makes him stand out from the dozen other, more established heroes around him – Falcon reminds him folks don’t talk that much in MCU super brawls, which is what makes Peter unique in this fictional reality. That talkativeness is even better because…
5. And Spider-Man ACTUALLY says funny things
In previous films: Yes, Tobey Maguire’s Spidey definitely said funny things from time to time, usually before webbing J. Jonah Jameson’s mouth shut. And Andrew Garfield’s Peter did the unfunny bit of pulling down Paul Giamatti’s pants while humming his own theme song. But Tobey was more interested in crying, or showing the world how super duper hard it was to be Spider-Man, while Garfield did his best to look pensive while fucking skateboarding ! [Side note: Ignoring Tony Hawk games, Peter Parker should NEVER own a fucking skateboard.] It was like every film had a scene where Spider-Man was funny just to get it out of the way for more drama. Honestly, I love the train fight in Spider-Man 2, but the film is more interested in turning Peter into a Christ figure than it is in making the audience laugh.
But the new Spider-Man During Civil War’s giant battle in the German airport, it felt like every moment was driven by Spider-Man saying something funny. He’s commenting on Winter Soldier’s cool cyborg arm, he’s calling Empire Strikes Back an old movie, he’s goofing on people throwing stuff at him, he’s even nervously joking about how scary it is to be on the verge of battling Captain America until it’s time to throw down. The MCU Spidey will have plenty of time to feel guilty about stuff, but in his debut, the Marvel folks made Spider-Man’s sense of humor a top priority.
Keep going to the next page to learn all about Spidey’s new sense of responsibility and his return to high school…