There are many things that set Spider-Man: Homecoming apart from the legion of other Spidey movies. Tom Holland is both quippy and endearingly vulnerable, the plot manages to balance multiple villains without crowding the film, and above all Homecoming is an uplifting Spidey flick after we were forced to watch poor Peter sob his way through most of the original and Amazing Spider-Man franchises. But even before Homecoming was released, many people were already praising the movie's diverse cast as accurately representing what a New York City high school would actually look like.
New York is one of the most diverse cities in the USA, but you wouldn't know that if your only experience of the city was watching the movies and TV shows that are set there. From When Harry Met Sally to Friends, the popular view of NYC is represented by a group of white twenty-somethings hanging out in coffee bars. But the reality is very different — and Spider-Man: Homecoming did the city a solid by reflecting that.
From the start, Homecoming was slated to be a John Hughes-esque high school movie shoved into a superhero-populated world. Director Jon Watt really achieved this aim, and this is thanks in no small part to the realistic characters, as the cast themselves told MTV:
Zendaya: "We love to represent what New York is really like and what the world is really like. Everybody can relate to being an awkward teenager."
Zendaya's Michelle is one of the most interesting and grounded characters in the film, with her dressed-down looks and anti-establishment attitude. Forget the picture-perfect kids (played by adult actors) in the previous #SpiderMan movies, the characters in Homecoming are much closer to the teens you'd see wandering the halls of a typical NYC school.
Jacob Batalon, who plays Peter's best friend Ned, stressed the importance of having such a diverse cast when it comes to Hollywood making progress:
Jacob Batalon: "We're part of like, that stepping stone process where it's not just buffed up dreams that people put out there, it's really just grounded people like what they see [in real life]."
Tom Holland: "Jon did a great thing in casting who was best for the role rather than" [Jacob intersects]"who looks best" "yeah, who was [airquotes] correct for the role."
Holland also praised the casting as a "smart and brave move," as director Jon Watts resisted the Hollywood trap of whitewashing the movie.
The #MCU has faced criticism in the past for whitewashing, with most of its heroes and supporting characters being white. #Marvel especially came under fire for cultural appropriation with Doctor Strange, so it's refreshing to see Homecoming make strides for representation in the MCU.
Holland went on to say that he made friends for life thanks to Homecoming, and that the set felt like a real high school. This no doubt contributed to the fact that Homecoming finally feels like a genuine portrayal of what it would be like if a teenager suddenly got superpowers. Put that together with the easy chemistry the young cast have with each other, and this explains how Jon Watts really did manage to make a John Hughes style superhero movie. Which honestly, is what Spidey always deserved.
Tell us in the comments: Which Spider-Man movie is your fave?