Joy. That's what I felt when I left the theater. Yeah, I really liked this version of Spider-Man. But here's where I'm coming from... Spider-Man 1 and 2 are great. The first one got the origin just right, and the second one gave us one of the most perfect comic book villains we've ever seen with Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus. This one (finally) does away with the origin story ("I got bit by a spider."), and focuses completely on Peter Parker in the days, weeks, and months following his appearance in Captain America: Civil War. And Peter is itching to do something as epic as that. Instead, he's spending his time as Spider-Man stopping bicycle thieves, and helping old people who are lost. But then he stumbles upon a group of bad guys (led by Michael Keaton) who are using leftover alien technology to create weapons. And Michael Keaton plays the Vulture, completing his avian trilogy of Batman, Birdman, and now the Vulture.
What's interesting about this version of the character, is that there are long stretches without any sort of action. It's a lot of character and world building business. We find out who Peter hangs out with, who he has a crush on, and what all the cool toys are that Tony Stark put into Spider-Man's costume. Because of this, I was more involved in all these characters than most of the other films.
What's great about the movie, is that it really is a hero's journey. Peter has a lot of lessons to learn. They're not insurmountable, but he has choices and decisions that he has to make, and because Spider-Man is arguably one of the best superheroes out there, he constantly makes the right ones. And that's actually a bold move. There are no real moral quandaries for Spider-Man. He just has to do the right thing. In an age where there's so much gray, it's nice to have a hero who is this true.
And while Tom Holland continues to craft a fantastic Peter Parker, Michael Keaton does an equally excellent job as Adrian Toomes, The Vulture. He is a bad guy, no doubt. But unlike, say Spider-Man 3's The Sandman, while he believes he's doing what's right for his family, he also has no illusions about how bad he actually is.
I could write about all the cool cameos, the twists that had the audience (and me) gasp in the theater, how Spider-Man's spider sense is essentially non-existent, or how the very last post-credits sequence is one of the funniest things ever. But, instead, I'll just say that I liked the movie a bunch. It swept me up pretty quickly. It finally gives me the hero vs. the villain straightforward fight that I have been waiting for. I just had a good time.