Spider-Man: Homecoming opens in the aftermath of the Avengers’ Battle of New York, with teams called in to pick up after Earth’s mightiest heroes and the Chitauri threat they destroyed.

A local contractor group led by Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is told by the newly-formed Damage Control regime that all clean-up ops are to be handled by them, and to find other work. Toomes decides to take matters into his own hands, and starts hijacking the shipments of alien debris collected by DC for his own nefarious use.

We’re (re)introduced to young spider-ling Peter Parker (Tom Holland) at school with best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), as he’s struggling not only to fill the boots of an almost-Avenger, but navigate the treacherous terrain of high school. Peter must survive Spanish, Shop, and of course, girls, as he struggles to keep his web-slinging alter-ego a secret. Following the events of New York, Peter is constantly awaiting a call from his babysitter Happy (Jon Favreau), or even adopted father figure/mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), as to what and when his next mission will be.

He’s bored of being the ‘friendly neighbourhood spider-man’, and wants to be out there with the big guys fighting interdimensional threats; instead, he’s doing homework and practising for the Scholastic Decathlon with his mates, including the mysterious Michelle (Zendaya). So when Toomes – now The Vulture – begins wreaking havoc with alien technology, Peter seizes the opportunity to an Avengers-sized job on his own, with varying levels of success.

Holland is perfect as Spider-Man. We only saw a glimpse of him in Captain America: Civil War, and he’s finally jumped headfirst into the role. He’s young enough, he’s athletic enough, and he’s quite simply adorable. He’s also a bit of a klutz as he continues to master his superpowers, which makes him even more relatable. Moreover, Holland adeptly balances Peter’s thrillseeker side with the inner torment he’s facing as an adolescent, and his angst over winning Tony Stark’s approval.

Keaton’s Vulture isn’t really menacing, but he’s not necessarily supposed to be. He’s there to provide a reference point as to what the everyman is doing following the Avengers’ planet-saving battles; ironically, he’s keeping us grounded. If this movie was Australian, he’d be called The Magpie.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best Spider-Man yet, and also the most down-to-earth Marvel movie since The Winter Soldier. It’s a spirited teen high school comedy dressed in red spandex, with the big FX set pieces on the Washington Monument and Staten Island Ferry complementing rather than overwhelming this welcome addition to the MCU. Gratuitous cameo and appearance from The First Avenger included, do yourself a favour and stick around after the credits – as always, you won’t be disappointed.

Release date: July 6, 2017
Starring: Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton
Directed by: Jon Watts