Spider-Man: Homecoming

Movie: Directed by Jon Watts.

Inciting Event: While patrolling the neighborhood for his “Stark internship,” Peter spots bank robbers and intercedes. He is stunned—and the neighborhood all but destroyed—by the alien tech the robbers are using.

This isn’t the greatest Inciting Event you’re ever going to see, mostly because it isn’t a distinct Call to Adventure and definitely isn’t one Peter rejects, even for a moment. It’s a nice “brush” with the main conflict, but also feels a little too distanced from that main conflict (in my opinion, anyway). Still, it does its job of setting up the main plot.

First Plot Point: While at his high-school crush’s party, Peter spots the alien weapons being used, goes to investigate, and engages with the men selling the tech to street criminals (this is the Key Event). Then, for the first time, Peter comes face to face with the main antagonist, the Vulture, who dumps him in a lake, nearly killing him (but for the intervention of Tony Stark).

From here on, Peter is fully engaged with the conflict. He is on the Vulture’s radar, and vice versa. More than that, he comes home with a “glowy thing,” which he tries to research as a clue.

First Pinch Point: While in Washington, DC, ostensibly on a school trip, Peter tracks down the Vulture in the middle of a heist, interferes, gets himself knocked out and locked up. He learns the “glowy thing”—which is currently in his friend Ned’s backpack—is a Chitauri bomb, which will explode if exposed to radiation.

This is a solid pinch point, in that it emphasizes the antagonistic force and the stakes, while also providing new info that sets up the Midpoint.

Midpoint: The Chitauri bomb in Ned’s backpack blows up while the class is touring the top of the Washington Monument. Peter heroically saves everyone, including Liz, his secret crush.

This is decidedly the weakest structural point in the entire film. Although it’s a great centerpiece scene, it’s related to the main conflict only in an ancillary fashion, and doesn’t provide a solid Moment of Truth for either the external or internal conflicts.

Second Pinch Point: Peter tracks down the Vulture’s gang aboard the Staten Island Ferry, only to discover it was a trap. The Vulture rigs the ferry to explode, and Peter struggles to keep it from sinking. He succeeds only thanks to Tony’s intervention. Furious at Peter’s irresponsibility, Tony demands Peter return the Spidey suit Tony gave him. Peter is devastated, both because he feels he’s “nothing without the suit,” and because he’s just lost the “Stark internship” and his shot at being an Avenger.

As is the trend with most modern action movies, this low moment comes early in the structural timeline. The need for time-intensive final battles forces the character development earlier in the structure. It’s not a lethal move, as we can see, but it’s not ideal either.

Third Plot Point: After the “false victory” of having Liz agree to be his date to Homecoming, Peter realizes Liz’s father is the Vulture. He abandons Liz at the party and pursues the Vulture, even without his high-tech suit.

Climax: Peter engages in a final confrontation with the Vulture, who is hijacking Tony’s invisible cargo jet.

Climactic Moment: The Vulture’s wings blow up, grounding and nearly killing him. Peter saves him and leaves him for Happy Hogan and the police.

Resolution: Tony offers Peter a place among the Avengers, but Peter makes the “mature decision” to remain “on the ground” for a little longer. Tony returns his suit.

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