“Don’t mind me, I’ll just be hanging around.” ©Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures

I’m gonna cut right to the chase: This is easily my favourite Spider-Man movie thus far, and Tom Holland is my Spidey of choice from here on out.  I found Tobey Maguire boring and thought Andrew Garfield’s version unnecessarily dark and angsty, but Tom Holland’s performance is a nice balance of pure enthusiasm and the sheer need to do what’s right instead of what’s easy. His Peter Parker is just so damned earnest that you can’t help but like him (Commando Geek Wong Jun Heng came to the same conclusion: Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man).

After his introduction in THE airport fight sequence in Captain America: Civil War (see our review), we didn’t need much of an introduction to Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man. But Spider-Man: Homecoming does a very good job of telling the other side of the story and what Parker gets up to when he’s not in the suit. He’s got his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), training for the Academic Decathlon, and of course, his crush Liz (Laura Harrier).

After he’s told that he gets to keep the suit gifted to him by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), Peter tries to strike a balance between his normal life of school quizzes and classes with his other life of fighting petty crime in Queens. But when he realises that Adrian Toomes a.k.a. The Vulture (Michael Keaton) is selling weapons built with Chitauri technology to criminals, Peter is determined to shut it down once and for all.

Homecoming review
“Hey, can I join your super secret boy band next time?” ©Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures

I was ready for Homecoming to be disappointing, but it was seriously entertaining from beginning to end. If this is what happens when movie rights get shifted back to Marvel Studios, then someone better be working on getting Fox to give the X-Men back to Marvel.

This version of Spider-Man draws heavily from the “Ultimate Spider-Man” comic book series which updated the character and gave Parker a much-needed rooting in the modern world. It is a credit to Holland that he manages to convey the awkwardness and sheer stubbornness of Parker as a teenager without it becoming annoying, and the constant back and forth with best friend Ned is a joy to watch. In fact, I might need to watch it for a second time just because I was laughing so hard that I missed a good number of punchlines.

Despite his other famous superhero role, Keaton really shines here as Toomes, a working class guy who is sick and tired of being screwed over by the rich elites. While I won’t go so far as to say that the movie dives deep into his character, Toomes at least has an understandable and realistic motive for his villainy. In this respect, the Vulture is already far and away one of the better MCU villains we’ve seen so far. I won’t give away any spoilers, but suffice it to say that one of the scenes where he’s threatening Parker is done so simply and right that it had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Meanwhile, Batalon is downright hilarious as Parker’s best friend Ned, while Zendaya is just the right amount of weird as the social outcast Michelle. Tomei’s Aunt May is the cool hipster aunt you’ve always wanted, and just seeing Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan reunited with RDJ’s Tony Stark onscreen again is a nice treat.

Marisa Tomei
“It’s waaay past your curfew, Peter.” ©Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures

Critics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe often point out that the huge sprawling universe has gotten too unwieldy and relies too much on universe in-jokes that alienate casual viewers, but I feel that this is the franchise’s biggest asset. The anticipated Avenger name drops manage to be hilarious without becoming annoying. The Captain America PSA videos and the sight of Tony Stark attempting to be the father figure he never quite had are worth the price of admission alone.

I really appreciate that this is a movie universe that contains a multitude of characters with their own lives. Parker is just about the only Avenger left whose real identity is still unknown to the public. That tension between keeping his identity secret while wanting more opportunities to save the day is exactly what drives the character, and this is portrayed beautifully by Holland.

Homecoming also benefits from a more streamlined story with only one major plotline centred around one villain, which is a huge improvement from 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Sure, the movie does feel a little formulaic at times and never really takes a risk, but there’s still lots of fun surprises in store for both the casual fan and the MCU devotee alike. One that comes near the end of the movie in particular, had me nearly shrieking “WHAT JUST HAPPENED THERE?!” in the middle of the cinema. Oops.

If you weren’t sure about whether to catch Homecoming, don’t question that gut feeling. Just go because it’s that good. You won’t regret it. Oh, and there’s one mid-credits scene and one post-credits scene, so be sure to stay for that too.

Spiderman: Homecoming is playing in Singapore theatres and in IMAX® 3D now.