This article contains mild spoilers specific to Spider-Man's role in [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409). You won't find any major plot spoilers here. Still, if you don't want to know anything about Spider-Man's role in the story, relationship with Aunt May or how his backstory is handled, now's the time to duck out.
I was lucky enough to see Civil War this week on the day of its European premiere, and although this truly superb movie excelled in many areas, making each of its heroes sympathetic and giving them a strong motivation for the titular war, one particular newcomer emerged as a clear audience favourite.
Spider-Man elicited the biggest laughs from the audience. His role in Civil War is basically comic relief, but it also does the job in terms of effortlessly establishing this teenage take on the wall-climber. Although tonally quite a serious movie, the middle section is peppered with comedy - and that's where Spidey comes in.
This is not an origin story
As pretty much everybody who's ever seen a Spider-Man movie (or five) can attest, Peter Parker's origins have been done to death. Thankfully, the Russo brothers don't make us relive that.
Tony Stark, assembling a team to go head-to-head with Cap in Germany, flies to New York to pay a visit to somebody he's had his eye on for a little while. Tony's banter-filled first meeting with Peter and Aunt May is properly hilarious.
First impressions are that Tom Holland has total command of this character. His Spider-Man is a little unsure, a little shy, a little cocky, and very determined that his Aunt doesn't find out what he's been getting up to after school. Naturally, Tony can't help but quip about the sex appeal of the youngest-ever Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), who is a total blast as the cool mom stand-in. It's awesome.
"I've got homework!"
Spider-Man's backstory is pretty much limited to two comments made off-hand. The first reveal is that he's been doing this six months. His suit is pretty basic, and he keeps it stored in the loft. Which is cute. Of course, Tony has an upgrade at the ready for the kid who seems destined to become his protege.
Secondly, Peter makes what could be interpreted as a reference to Uncle Ben, telling Stark, as a means of justifying his street heroics, that having powers and not using them makes it your responsibility if somebody gets hurt. It's a very naive attitude that feels perfectly suited to a young and still-unjaded superhero.
Although all of the Avengers (besides Ant-Man) have a character arc, Spider-Man is mostly just fan service, and that's cool. His role in Civil War does a superb job not just of setting up Homecoming, but also establishing the very funny, mutually affectionate relationship between Iron Man and Spider-Man.
The biggest takeaway from Spidey's scenes is that there's a lot of potential to explore his dynamic with Aunt May, who presumably is still grieving for Uncle Ben, and with Tony, whose own troubled relationship with his parents (which is explored in a big way in Civil War) could be the reason he jumps into this mentor/father figure role with Peter Parker so readily.
So, it's good news on two scores: you will not be disappointed with Civil War, and you will almost definitely love this totally re-energised take on the wall-crawler. Oh, and make sure to stick around for the second post-credits scene. It's worth it.
Captain America: Civil War hits the US next Friday, May 6. Before then, tell me...