Strategic observation

Spotlight: Spider-man comes of age in Marvel's latest

2017-07-17 06:04:08 (Beijing Time)         English.news.cn

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by Julia Pierrepont III

LOS ANGELES, July 16 (Xinhua) -- "Spider-Man: Homecoming" over-performed Sony's expectations to ensnare the top spot on its opening weekend in the U.S., pulling in 117 million U.S. dollars, the second highest-grossing Spider-Man movie after Toby Maguire's "Spider-Man 3" opened at 151 million U.S. dollars in 2007. The second reboot of the Spider-Man film have brought in more than 208.2 million U.S. dollars after just 10 days in North America to date through Sunday.

China, too, has showed a steadily increasing appetite for all things Spidey, weighing in with a box office of 5.6 million U.S. dollars for "Spider-Man" (2002), 7.2 million U.S. dollars for "Spider-Man 2" (2004), 19 million U.S. dollars for "Spider-Man 3" (2007), upped to 49 million U.S. dollars for the "Amazing Spider-Man" reboot (2012), and a whopping 94 million U.S. dollars for "Amazing Spider-Man 2" (2014) just two years later. China's current summer line up of homegrown-movies-only will push China's "Homecoming" premier to late August or early September, but forecasts are running high.

The entire six-title "Spider-Man" franchise has amassed 3.9 billion U.S. dollars globally to date, one of Sony and Marvel's most successful franchises.

"Spider-Man: Homecoming" diverges from the darker-skewing Marvel Universe fare of the Avengers, Iron Man and X-Men to bring us a refreshing coming-of-age story, with a twist. Centered around a 15 year-old Peter Parker (first seen in "Captain America: Civil War"), it brings us back to the familiar struggles of when High School meets puberty.

But, this engaging coming-of-age tale quickly spins into a more rarified realm where the typical, kindly, avuncular mentor is replaced with a skeptical, uber-mech, billionaire superhero who clearly has doubts that Parker can make the grade.

"Don't-give-a-damn" playboy, Tony Stark, is hardly a mother's top choice for a role model, but Robert Downey Jr.'s seasoned cynicism is the perfect foil for Tom Holland's unspoiled worldview. The "Salty & Sweet" combo hits just the right note. And Marisa Tormei's Aunt May is a mother-figure anyone could love.

Tom Holland revealed that his on-screen, co-star mentors mirrored their roles off-screen: "I got to witness the best of the best, I loved watching them work, and learned so much from them," Holland enthused.

Grappling with the raging hormone-storms and cringe-worthy awkwardness of adolescence takes it's own kind of superpower. But throwing in an errant arachnoid genome and spanking new superpowers makes for an especially heady mix in the panoply of pubescent pitfalls.

Holland manages to muddle his way through every embarrassing glitch and gaff with endearing grace. He plays Parker as a quintessentially ordinary teenager and therein lies his charm. Parker is affable and awkward - something most viewers can relate to - and full of youthful hope and energy.

This characterization dovetails nicely with director Jon Watts' light-hearted vision for the film. While many franchises are going darker and more angst-ridden, Watts chose to celebrate a more innocent time in a young person's life.

Watts revealed at a recent press conference that he had been writing his own coming-of-age story and was thrilled when the opportunity to direct "Spider-Man: Homecoming" came along: "I got to take many of those themes and unique moments I'd planned explore in my smaller film and use them in Spider-Man instead."

With only three low budget indies under his belt, Watts' promotion to directing a 175 million US. dollars studio superhero franchise film came as a surprise to many. But he nailed the landing.

"I had no problem relating to Peter Parker," the director joked. "He feels like he might be in way over his head, but is desperate to prove himself. I mean - no similarities, right?"

Holland and Watts'young, hapless Parker, in search of his identity, striving to become not just a man, but a superhero worthy of the name, is a fitting addition to the Spidey lexicon.

The training montage of Parker trying - and trying and trying - to master his new powers is not just comic relief, it's a crucial device that propels us with him on his wall-crawling telemachy. The path of a superhero can't be too easy - he can't spring fully-formed from the head of Zeus. He has to earn his web-mastery with blood, sweat and an occasional tear. Stark himself underwent the same laughable transition in the first "Iron Man," and audiences loved him for it.

Jeff Gund, founder/CEO of Infolist.com and host of Hollywood's top Comic-Con party to toast the latest superhero movies, Sci Fi TV series, and comic book releases told Xinhua, "Spider-Man: Homecoming is a cool combination of superhero and coming-of-age story. It takes us all back to high school to get in touch with our inner child. So, thanks to Marvel and Sony for letting us be a kid again."