Spider-Man: Homecoming (4 stars)

Spider-Man: Homecoming

credit: Faye Thomas

Exuberant take on the well-explored web-slinger, featuring a charming turn from star Tom Holland

The third actor to play Spider-Man in 15 years, 21-year-old Brit Tom Holland returns for his first standalone adventure after last year's Captain America: Civil War saw him introduced into the world of Marvel's Avengers. Indeed, the very first shot of Spider-Man: Homecoming is of Michael Keaton's Adrian Toomes studying a child's drawing of Iron Man and the other heroes – and director Jon Watts (Cop Car) doesn't let us forget that Spidey is finally entering this wider universe.

Set two months after the events of Civil War, Spider-Man's high school kid alter-ego Peter Parker is coming to terms with his new identity. But with Iron Man / Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) too busy to really mentor him, he's left with little to do but swing between New York high-rises. Until, that is, he realises that somebody is selling weapons on the black market, culled from alien technology left over from previous Avengers missions.

Behind this contraband is Keaton's Toomes, aka the Vulture (he has a metallic flying suit to rival Iron Man's). The former Batman (and Birdman), Keaton is a fine choice for the villain – full of menace but never overplaying his hand. But this being the most adolescent hero in Marvel's canon, the real delights come in observing Peter at school, as he contends with prom, his feelings for fellow pupil Liz (Laura Harrier) and his loudmouth friend Ned (Jacob Batalon).

There are some great set-pieces – from Peter rescuing his friends at the top of the Washington Monument, to a Staten Island Ferry showdown – directed by Watts with the same exuberance that Holland invests in the role. Full of humour and even the odd character twist, it's certainly on a par with Sam Raimi's first two movies (and far better than Marc Webb's two film reboot). Against the odds, Homecoming breathes new life into the character.

General release from Wed 5 Jul.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 2h 13min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Jon Watts
  • Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Tyne Daly, Bokeem Woodbine, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr.
  • UK release: 5 July 2017

The first collaboration between Sony and Marvel brings Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tom Holland is the third actor to play the web-slinger, delivering a performance that gives the character a new edge, helped along by Jon Watts' fine directing. A humorous and action-packed addition to the Spider-Man canon.