Spider-Man: Homecoming, 2017.
Directed by Jon Watts.
Starring Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyne Daly, Michael Barbieri, Abraham Attah, Hannibal Buress, Kenneth Choi, Angourie Rice, Michael Chernus, Michael Mando, Logan Marshall-Green, Jennifer Connelly, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Chris Evans.
Following his Avengers experience in Germany Peter Parker must go back to school and learn to juggle his secret identity and learn how to be a superhero.
Marvel Studios managed to do the near impossible over these last nine years of films, making a wider audience care enough to watch a bunch of its more second tier characters and make it the biggest franchise in movie history. These films have become more and more about huge, planet saving situations so I’m glad to say that in Spider-Man: Homecoming the stakes are character driven and it feels so much bigger because of it.
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is back home following his brief time with the Avengers, and is being groomed by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) with the help of Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) to become a new Avenger – by taking care of his neighbourhood first, much to Peter’s chagrin. Telling his few friends at school, where he and his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) are very much losers, that’s he’s part of the Stark Internship, Peter looks to help but it’s not until the discovery of some highly advanced alien weaponry that he becomes entangled in something far more dangerous.
An underground illegal alien weapons group, led by disgruntled former city contractor Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) as the Vulture in an advanced suit, leads Peter into some much dicier situations than giving an old lady directions. One of the film’s multiple achievements is showing the audience how much Peter has to learn. He seems outmatched by the smart, powerful and determined Vulture and his group even if he feels confident enough to take them on.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best balanced and most interesting film in the MCU since Captain America: The Winter Soldier, another film where the personal stakes felt bigger than the overarching Universe as a whole. Tom Holland’s casting was a masterstroke at the time and it has shown here again, with Holland portraying a believable teenager who is awkward, funny and fumbling his way through trying to figure out who he is. Michael Keaton chews up every scene he’s in with aplomb and the Vulture is one of the best Marvel villains to date. He genuinely feels like a man railing against Tony Stark’s elite and just trying to get his piece of the pie, with a nasty enough streak to be threatening and a level of confusion about Spider-Man himself similar to Norman Osborn.
Little-known director Jon Watts and the writing team do a great job of giving all the various characters their moment in the sun. Tony Stark is used sparingly and every time we see him it feels like there’s a purpose, the same with Happy Hogan. Peter’s teenage friends especially Michelle (Zendaya) and Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) have a couple of the funniest moments in the film. Marisa Tomei is underused in her role as Aunt May but is set up for more in the future.
This truly feels like a film that sits within but also apart from the rest of the MCU, with the small parts of fan service handled well, without them ever detracting or turning off the casual cinema goer. Even the action is toned down compared to what we’ve seen previously, being more coherent and watchable for it. Marvel Studios have taken all the best parts of what they are known for, and brought together a perfect cast with a script that is full of energy, wit and peril to make for the best Spider-Man movie to date.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Matt Spencer-Skeen – Follow me on Twitter