There are plenty of reasons to be excited for Captain America: Civil War, aside from it being the biggest Marvel movie project since the over-inflated Avengers: Age of Ultron. It juggles a huge cast of amazing characters without ever feeling overcrowded, and it not only pushes the Marvel cinematic universe forward, but wisely refocuses on what made the movies so engaging in the first place: the characters.
However, for many fans, there's one character who has absolutely stolen the show. Peter Parker, better known as his alter-ego Spider-Man, is finally making his Marvel cinematic universe debut. It's a risky move - the wall-crawler has appeared in five movies since 2002, and only two of those movies were actually worth watching. Spidey has the potential to be one Marvel's biggest movie stars, but the studio will actually need to do the character justice first.
Thankfully, Spider-Man's debut in Captain America: Civil War is amazing. Not only does he steal every scene he's in, but Tom Holland's take on the character is easily the best one that movie-goers have seen yet, and that's because it's so different from every other version we've seen thus far.
We'll be discussing everything about Spider-Man's role in Civil War, so if you haven't seen the movie yet, bookmark this page and come back when you have!
The first major difference between Tom Holland's Spider-Man and Tobey Maguire's is that, in Civil War, Peter Parker is just a kid. He's in the middle of high school, living with his Aunt May in a tiny apartment in Queens. It may sound like a small change (Maguire's Spider-Man entered college in the first movie), but it ends up making a big difference: not only do fans get a far less experienced web-head (which leads to quite a few comedic moments), but one that contrasts and stands apart from the rest of the heroes in the film. In a way, he represents the audience, what with his wide-eyed adoration of Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers - an interaction that Maguire's Spidey never had a chance to do.
Civil War also wisely implements a relatively new origin story for the wall-crawler without relying on the same old 'with great power' speech. In the Marvel cinematic universe, Peter's already been Spider-Man for about six months, and the movie wisely skips over any mention of Uncle Ben. It makes sense: no one needs to be told how Peter became Spider-Man for a third time. Instead, the movie focuses on how Spider-Man is introduced to the larger cinematic universe, skipping over all of the unnecessary narrative fluff and getting straight to the good stuff.
And - let's be honest - Civil War is the first movie to truly nail Spider-Man's personality. Maguire did a good job of introducing the character to a larger audience, but looking back, his performance relies too heavily on traditional nerd stereotypes. It's almost cartoonish in the way that Maguire has to tape his glasses up and sit by himself in the cafeteria - Tom Holland, on the other hand, manages to characterize Peter as a "nerd" without relying on such outdated tropes.
This is best reflected in Spider-Man's dialogue throughout the airport sequence. He's constantly trying to learn about and analyze the other heroes' abilities and tech, even if he's in the middle of a fight. Peter is a nerd because he's curious to a fault, hoping to learn everything about the people he's discovered regardless of what's actually going on around him - not just because he likes building computers.
There are a number of smaller, more nuanced touches that help round out Holland's character: Peter's spider sense isn't some magical auto-pilot anymore, and he actually takes a number of good hits during the airport sequence. Also, much like in the comics, Holland's witty banter isn't just a series of asinine jokes - they're more of a coping mechanism, a way to process the craziness that's suddenly surrounded him. Again, it's a subtle touch, but one that helps round out Holland's version of the character.
Again, Spidey isn't on screen for all that long, but Holland's short time as the wall-crawler has already made an impression. While no one can argue that the first two Spider-Man movies from director Sam Raimi are bad, they haven't exactly aged well. They're a product of the time, where studios had to prove that comic book movies weren't just for nerds - now, with Marvel currently sitting on a box office throne made of money, the studio can focus on what makes the character special instead of simply marking off boxes on a checklist.
Let's just hope that Spider-Man: Homecoming can live up to Marvel's strong first showing, and doesn't succumb to the same fate as Andrew Garfield's ill-fated time as Peter Parker.
If you want to see the newest Spider-Man in action, Captain America: Civil War hits theaters on May 6.