Marvel is just hitting it out of the park with every installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Just this May “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” turned a $146.5M opening weekend into an $857.7M total worldwide gross. Now “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is looking to replicate that feat, with an opening weekend of up to $117M that now puts it number one in the box office.

Already that makes it the most successful first weekend out of the other initial “Spider-Man” films by Sony-Columbia Pictures alone that had a new actor taking up the role; “Spider-Man” (2002) starring Tobey Maguire achieved $114.8M while “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012) with Andrew Garfield managed only $62M.

Sony can, therefore, be thankful for the partnership deal they had with Marvel Studios, which had the latter handle the production while Sony profits.

The third actor wins

Spider-Man Homecoming” is the third iteration of a live-action Hollywood film adaptation starring Marvel’s iconic “friendly neighborhood” superhero in only 15 years. The fact that the producers were able to get away with revamping the story yet again from the relative beginning of the character’s crime-fighting career – despite concerns of “franchise fatigue” – is a testament to Marvel’s Studio’s complete mastery of their element in making superhero flicks.

After all, they need to make it good both as a way to integrate the formerly separate Spider-Man into the MCU but to drum up interest in further solo movies in addition to team-ups.

The gamble worked. The opening weekend made it the second most successful Spider-Man premiere behind 2007’s “Spider-Man 3” which earned $151 million. But the Sony-Marvel Studios collaboration starring Tom Holland tops the last entry of the Sam Raimi-directed trilogy in another way: critic response.

Despite its large earning, the swan song of Tobey Maguire’s tenure as the wall-crawling do-gooder was a critical flop comparable to the later duology with Andrew Garfield, a misstep that convinced Sony to work together with Marvel Studios, a direct Disney subsidiary, to revitalize their franchise for both fans and critics.

Hit with critics too

In fact, the year 2017 seems to be shaping up as the year of critically-acclaimed superhero movies, something that doesn’t happen quite often.

Past months have seen premieres of hero flicks from both Marvel (Disney and Fox) and Warner-DC that have gotten both solid box office numbers and the unabashed respect of professional critic circles. Examples of these movies include “Logan” this March, “Guardians of the Galaxy” this May and the fantastically feminist “Wonder Woman” just this early June.

Spider-Man: Homecoming” sees Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man trying to balance his high-school life with his superhero “responsibility” while mentored by Tony Star/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and opposed by Adrian Toomes/the Vulture (Michael Keaton).

Sony Pictures president of worldwide marketing and distribution Josh Greenstein calls “Homecoming” a triumphant return for Spider-Man, and for Sony Pictures as well following flops of their recent films including the all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot.

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