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Man-crushing on Tom Holland: The perfect Spider-Man

By Zachary Chan - on 02 Jul 2019, 6:17pm

Source: Sony Pictures Entertainment

So I just watched Spider-Man: Far From Home at the Singapore premier last night and here’s what I have to say. GO. WATCH. IT. It’s THAT GOOD.

That’s it really. There’s nothing else I can possible say about the movie that’s not in the trailers, and will not reveal too much. Oh, there are two post-credit scenes, and unlike other MCU movies where you could possible skip them if you really need to go pee after the show, both scenes in Far From Home should not be missed. There. That’s my review.

The rest of this article is basically me fanboy-ing hard on Tom Holland.

For the longest time, my relationship with Spider-Man has been one of ambivalence. I find myself liking the supporting cast, his rogues’ gallery, and the many other Spider-people more than the main, original Spider-Man: Peter Parker. And Sony’s past movie attempts just deepened my dislike for the character.

You see, the both Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man reboot put heavy focus on Uncle Ben’s death and the emotional toll it had on Peter’s character growth because of his perceived role in it. That made for a dark and moody Spider-Man for more than a decade and five movies. I absolutely hated it.  

Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man was such a whiny crybaby I wanted to slap him in every scene. Andrew Garfield’s portrayal took Peter to the opposite end of the spectrum into full-on hipster douchebag, and I also wanted to slap him every chance I could. Now I’m not disrespecting their acting chops, but in both cases, Maguire and Garfield were also just actors playing a part.

Every once in a while, Hollywood casts someone that’s so suited for a role, they are the embodiment of the character. We’ve seen this before. Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool. Hugh Jackman is Wolverine. And I actually want to point out that the mediocrity of the standalone Wolverine movies doesn’t diminish this fact, which proves that it’s not just about having a good script or just being suited for the role.

In the vastness of the MCU, there has only been one actor that has achieved this status. And that’s Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. And I am willing to fight you on this. Chris Evans is a great Captain America, Chadwick Boseman is an excellent Black Panther, but they’re not Steve Rogers or T’Challa. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor comes close, but the character has gone through massive changes tone-wise since the first Thor movie, and it wasn’t until Thor: Ragnarok that we got the version of Thor that everyone loved.

Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. It was his portrayal in the original Iron Man that kick started the entire MCU. He was the centerpiece of the entire Infinity War saga, and he ended it as only Tony Stark could, proclaiming, “I am Iron Man”.

In Homecoming, we had a first taste of what Tom Holland’s Spider-Man would be. But as an origin story, it was undeniably lighter in tone, a meticulous product of Phase 3 MCU. This Peter was young, carefree, idealistic and reckless. The seeds of a younger Tony Stark was planted, and whether by chance or design, I felt it was really smart for Marvel to first tackle the ‘great power comes great responsibility’ part of Spider-Man’s character development first, instead of burdening the character with a death from the get go like the past movies.

And then Endgame happened.

Source: Sony Pictures Entertainment

As you go into Far From Home, the vast vacuum left by the death of Iron Man becomes the main theme of the movie. There is expectation and pressure from all corners for Spider-Man to succeed Iron Man. If you distilled it down, it is essentially a classic Uncle Ben story (there is a subtle nod to Ben Parker in there if you’re eagle-eyed enough to catch it), except the Uncle Ben figure in Peter’s life in the MCU is of course, Tony Stark. 

It also makes more sense to the wider non-comic reading audience as the Peter-Tony relationship is more fleshed out. The emotional investment has been grounded in multiple movies since Civil War in 2016. Has it been four years already?

Despite the loss of his mentor and father figure, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker isn’t reduced to a two-dimensional emotional wreck. There’re a bubble of emotions on display, from the sadness of loss, the pressure of high expectations, the insecurity of self, and the giddiness of puppy love. But above all, Tom Holland manages to retain the core character trait of being an adorable dork as Peter Parker, and everybody’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man once he dons the mask. Throughout the movie, there are further parallels drawn between Tony and Peter; why he is fit to fill Iron Man's shoes.

But what really secures him that spot as the next Tony Stark in my book is the fact that Tom Holland, the actor, is just as dorky in real life. If you watch all his public appearances and interviews, it feels like you're watching Peter Parker right there. He’s got that same bubbly attitude to his rise to fame, his fumbles and constant leaking of secrets during interviews is legendary, and he’s got real athletic ability.

Tom Holland isn’t just another actor to have taken on the role of Spider-Man. He is Spider-Man.

Image Source: Sony Pictures / Invision

TL;DR : Tom Holland made me a fan of Spider-Man again.

Zachary Chan

Zachary Chan / Editor

A geek, a gamer, a crazed individual. Zachary has been working in and around the media circuit covering consumer electronics, components and videogame industries for the past 5 years (or so), giving him a unique view on all this...'stuff'.