In certain respects, writing a love song is harder than writing a song about trash collection. So much has already been said about love that there’s a vanishingly small chance of saying or doing something truly original. This invites a level of expectation – love songs give me goosebumps – and comparison – that song was good, but not as good as that other love song – that challenges the most talented of artists.
Not up for this challenge? Simply opt out. All else being equal, an artist is far more likely to “win” if the competition is shifted to a topic, say trash collection, where nobody else competes.
There is both a relief and pride in discovering a place devoid of competition. Understood by anyone who has discovered a band before anyone else, pioneering ownership feeds the ego spectacularly.
But markets are smart. The overwhelmingly likely reason one has unearthed an area devoid of competition is because that area isn’t worth competition. Love, unlike trash collection, is an inherently interesting topic – an artist may struggle to stand out, but that artist is also guaranteed great starting material.
It’s easy to scoff at the currently oppressive run of Marvel movies. It’s easy to scream for original scripts. It’s easy to see all these Marvel movies as the behavior of loathsome capitalists who care about money and nothing more.
Just don’t forget this fact: Spider-Man is great starting material. So like the topic of love, excelling will be hard, but if you manage to, the end product is favored to beat out the end product of lesser starting material.
Spider-Man: Homecoming does excel. It brings us the most enjoyably earnest version of Peter Parker, and that fact alone drives a wonderfully entertaining viewing experience.
This earnestness fits snuggly with high school life. Everyone is trying to find his/her place while oscillating between moments of confident joy and crippling doubt. These oscillations are surely a part of all life, but Peter Parker, like teenagers everywhere, must juggle the particular acuteness associated with life’s coming-of-age period. This vulnerability makes Parker loveable in ways infallible superheroes can’t be.