What are the key ingredients for a successful movie?
Into a mixing bowl/narrative, combine:
1 Growth Arc (remove the plastic wrapping/fourth wall for optimum consumer experience)
A handful of pivotal characters
A heaped tablespoon of intertextual references
A teaspoon of remorse or self-doubt
A sprinkling of spectacle
Pop into a cinema screen for an enjoyable moment and voila! You have a slice of delicious Marvel goodness.
Okay, so I’m a little late to the party, but better late than never?!
The latest footage of the Marvel origin narrative for Tom Holland’s web-slinging teenage hero brings a lot to the table, but no more than we have grown to anticipate and adore about this universe.
Peter Parker is a boy torn between two personalities: on the one hand, we have a teenager in search of an identity amidst the torrent of personalities that is high school. According to traditional conventions, Parker is awkward: the trailer shows him to be an anonymity in his school corridors, noticed only by his best friend and one sarcastic, though equally lonely, girl.
However, the flip-side of Parker’s personality is a fast-talking, fast-moving, fast-thinking hero in the making. Strong, confident and brave, the Spider-Man is the side of Peter’s being that can say, do and achieve the potential that the teenager is prevented from. He backchats bank robbers, swings from building tops, and has the strength to hold a divided ship together.
And here we reach the crux of this narrative: Peter is a boy growing into a man, divided between the life of a civilian, a Normal life, and that of the hero, a life of the Other. Though clichéd, this Realisation narrative provides the basic building blocks for any successful film: the conundrum, personal or external, that once prevented the central character is conquered in a spectacular event of self-acceptance and realisation of potential. In the situation of a young hero deemed too young, too inexperienced, and therefore too vulnerable to fight the injustices he sees his older and tougher counterparts, Peter must decide between listening to the advice of the new paternal figure in his life (a nice series of appearances by RDJr’s Tony Stark), or forge his own path and take a leap of faith and hope that his web-slinging is up to snuff.
There will be a villain in the mix, there always is, and they will represent the antithesis of everything our hero stands for. Whether there will be the sympathetic trigger that caused the corruption of the villain is yet to be seen, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some societal or political injustice pushes a civilian on the edge of society to an irrationality. We can also assume that there will be a visually astounding Final Act battle: Peter will have had the majority of the narrative to battle his inner demons, and the test of his mettle will come in the showdown between the newly fledged Spider-Man and the Final Boss. With the continued references to the Avengers group, Peter may or may not call on his allies for help, but the title of this film (Homecoming) suggests that this film will see the Graduation of the newest superhero on the metaphorical block.
This being a Marvel production, there will always be a place for light-hearted humour amidst the violence of emotion and physical spectacle. One thing I hope we manage to avoid in this latest instalment is the over-used convention of The Geek Club in every adolescent High School flick. There is bound to be a nod to these devices: the hot girl, the awkward locker sequence, the sports games which never go well for the lead, Prom Night… What Marvel will do is yet to be seen, but I have high hopes that these will remain self-referential nods rather than the principality of Peter’s non-costumed scenes.
The trailer has given us a lot to chew over: scenes of humour open the footage, but the tone quickly becomes darker as the innocence of childhood becomes overshadowed by the need to mature in the face of polluting villainy. As Peter takes on the responsibilities of the suit, so the Game changes out of all recognition. He’s not just taking on goofy car thieves or ill-prepared bank robbers: this new power is bigger, stronger, more ruthless, and it take a Spider-Man, not a Spider-Teen, to defeat him.
Watch the trailer here on the official imdb.com page.
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ comes to cinema screens in the Summer, 2017.