The movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been getting darker of late but with Spider-Man: Homecoming we get a true comic-book movie with lots of action, light-hearted fun, and character growth.
Starting with Peter Parker’s shaky cell phone video of his involvement in the battle at the center of Captain America: Civil War, Homecoming focuses as much on Peter Parker (Tom Holland), the high school sophomore who has eyes for popular senior, Liz (Laura Harrier), as it does on Peter Parker, the budding web-slinger and Avenger-in-training.
With the suit designed by Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), Peter spends his after-school hours helping out around Queens catching bike thieves and helping little old ladies, one of whom buys him a churro as thanks. He dutifully reports to Happy (Jon Favreau), Stark’s friend and chauffer who is tasked with keeping an eye on him. To his high school friends and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), he explains his absences by telling them he’s busy at his Stark internship. Some of his exploits result in success but sometimes they don’t as when he “captures” a guy trying to break into his own car.
Things turn dangerous for Peter when he tries to stop an ATM robbery with his un-perfected superpowers. The bad guys have advanced weapons and in his mission to find out what they are and where they come from, Peter runs into the guy who calls himself Vulture (Michael Keaton). Vulture, a.k.a. Adrian Toomes, came into his villain-ness after his contracting company got kicked off clean-up duty after the Battle of New York (earlier in the MCU). Stealing some of the alien tech left behind, he and his cronies develop it into high tech weapons and start selling on the streets.
When Peter’s frantic calls to Happy go unheeded, he decides to face Vulture on his own with disastrous consequences. He learns the hard way that he’s way out of his league when it comes to dealing with bad guys on an Avengers level. When Stark tells him that he’s taking away the suit, Peter says, “I’m nothing without the suit.” Stark replies with the film’s most memorable line, “If you’re nothing without the suit then you don’t deserve it.”
Spider-Man: Homecoming is all about a boy trying to find his way in life. He needs to know who he is as a person before he can take on the mantle of Spider Man. Sure, he has great power and the corresponding great responsibility, but he’s also a regular teenager who builds a Lego Death Star and tries to gather up the courage to ask Liz to the homecoming dance. When Peter complains to his best bud, Ned (Jacob Batalon), that Stark is treating him like a kid, Ned responds, “you are a kid.” Tony Stark, mentor and father-figure, suggests to Peter that maybe, for now at least, he just needs to focus on being a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man.
In one way or another, we are all trying to find our way in life, just like Peter. Jesus is the Way for us. He is Way, Truth and Life. As followers of Christ, we find our way by seeking God’s will through prayer and discernment. We trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit but also other people who have walked the way of Jesus before us. Just as Peter had to work in “training wheel mode” for a while, we will spend a lifetime learning and growing into holiness, step by step.