Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review
The last time we saw our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, he was nursing injuries he received at the hands of Steve Rogers’ team in Captain America: Civil War. He’d gotten his first glimpse at what it was like to be an Avenger as well as to be mentored by Tony Stark a.k.a Iron Man, which comes with its own perks, a la the holographic UI emanating from his web shooter, featured in the end credits scene. In Spider-Man: Homecoming we actually pick up behind-the-scenes of that adventure by way of a video diary. I won’t spoil it, but it is extremely funny. Once that adventure is over, as is to be expected, the hum-drum, day-to-day life of Spider-Man in Queens, can’t compare to the adrenaline-infused, globe-hopping fight sequence he was a part of, side by side with the biggest players in the superhero game. Instead of jumping on a private jet, Peter is back in the classroom, two months later, with dreams of becoming an Avenger.
Just as important, however, is the movie’s villain—Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton). Flashback eight years to the “incident” in New York that saw the world introduced to not only the Avengers for the first time, but extraterrestrial life and technology. Toomes’ crew is a part of the clean-up, but before they can earn an honest dollar, the Department of Damage Control, along with Stark Industries, swoops in to safeguard the alien technology. Toomes, having spent money he didn’t have to begin with, in order to get his crew and equipment together, is left out to dry. He decides to take matters in his own hands, and over the course of eight years, slowly but surely steals hi-tech equipment, creates weapons and sells them. Back in the present we find a head-in-the-clouds teenage hero seeking to prove himself and become a full-fledged Avenger, run afoul of Toomes and his crew.
While this is the most recent iteration of the web-slinger, it’s definitely not the first. We’ve had the titular hero played by Tobey Maguire, as well as Andrew Garfield, in two separate incarnations of the character. In the first trilogy, directed by Sam Raimi, we saw a much more “apple pie” version of ol’ web-head, while Garfiled’s version, directed by Marc Webb, brought the hero into the emo-hipster, hoodie wearing future. Both franchises had their pros and cons. For instance, the original Raimi trilogy (I should stop saying trilogy, I know), made you believe in people. His movies were very hopeful, with crowds of people sometimes getting involved to help the wall-crawler. It wasn’t just a hero saving a weak and indifferent populace. They also captured the heart of the Peter Parker that was introduced in the 60’s. Garfield’s portrayal was more nuanced. It was powerful and modern and had a bit of edge to it. Both franchises showcased two things: Peter's struggle accepting the weight of his responsibility, and showing what that responsibility actually was--hope. Compassion—using what you have for the betterment of mankind. For all their flaws, these movies had a soul. Spider-Man 2 (Raimi) is still considered one of the best superhero flicks of all time, with a 94% on the tomatometer. This will be the seventh time we’ve seen Peter Parker’s antics on screen, including Civil War. Four of those films happened in the last five years. One would think Spider-Man fatigue would set in, but director Jon Watts’ fresh take on the character, coupled with minimally invasive MCU connections allow this Spider-Man to stand on his own. In fact, standing on his own is a big part of this film, for those of you who thought it would be too Iron Man heavy. So how does this new Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland stack up, now that he’s had his own movie to carry?
I’m happy to say that this iteration of Spider-Man is my favorite yet. Spider-Man 2 was very good for what it was, but it goes against my sensibilities. I’m not a fan of campy things and if Raimi’s trilogy is anything, it’s campy. That didn’t take away from the quality, but this new Spider-Man doesn’t need to be campy to be funny or to have that superhero feel. It has the MCU tone written all over it, but, at the same time it’s very much its own thing. It is absolutely a high school movie that happens to have Spider-Man in it, while also being a Spider-Man movie set in high school. A lot of the trademark Spider-Man humor fell flat in the older films because it was coming from 46-year old men. The fact that Peter Parker IS a child is very much at the heart of the film so the humor feels at home, or in-place. His youth being such a major factor leaves you with that pleasant feeling of overall growth during the film. I even enjoyed the other kids in the film. I hate kinds on TV. I’m sorry, but I do. The whole youthful angst garbage with everyone being angry at the world because they have a 2 bedroom home instead of 4 bedrooms just really annoys the shit out of me. The kids in this film were funny, and aided the story as far as Peter’s high school connection is concerned. All of that said, the film wasn’t without its flaws, like every other film. Some of the humor was forced, and, in particular, the character of Flash Thompson did nothing for the film, in my opinion. He was a minor annoyance, instead of an obstacle leading to Peter’s growth as a person. Lastly, there was one scene, a turning point, that I didn’t see coming. It wasn’t because it was so well executed, it was more because it shouldn’t have happened the way it did. It was way too on-the-nose. It was so obvious that you would never think about it being a plot point. However, it wasn’t enough to get upset over.
Tom Holland and Michael Keaton give tremendous performances. We’ve been reading how Keaton’s Toomes is menacing and the best MCU movie villain since Loki and it’s true. He’s multi-dimensional, charismatic and scary at the same time. Holland stands out because he embodies the character. He plays the “in over my head high-schooler” to perfection and makes you believe you’re going to watch this young man grow into an adult Spider-Man. With confirmation from Marvel’s super-producer Kevin Feige that this Spider-Man has a 5-movie arc, as well as the sequel to Homecoming being the first movie in Phase 4 of the MCU, this iteration of the character is not in any kind of jeopardy. With Marvel at the helm instead of just Sony, the wall-crawler has the power of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe’s halo effect to sustain him, not that he needs it after what I just saw. This was one of the few MCU movies that expanded the universe without feeling beholden to it. I enjoyed it immensely. Also, if you’re a fan of the comics there’s a scene near the end that will bring all the feels. You’ll know it.
Yes, there is a mid-credits scene and an end-credits scene. Neither move the universe forward, but they were fun to see anyway.