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.
Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.
It’s been a long time coming, but Spider-Man finally has his own film at Marvel Studios with a proper introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man: Homecoming has a lot to because of this, but director Jon Watts and Spidey actor Tom Holland are able to craft a fresh take on Spider-Man than still honours the source material while melding well with the long continuity of the MCU.
The best thing about Spider-Man: Homecoming is Tom Holland’s portrayal as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He’s funny, relatable and extremely energetic. Much like the character himself, Holland relishes the opportunity to play Spidey and be with the MCU’s heavy hitters. He does a commendable job bringing Peter to life, capturing the essence of the character and his struggles to balance life as a high school student and crime fighter.
Holland has a nice ability to hold his own alongside veteran actors like Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton and Marisa Tomei, especially during the emotional scenes. His chemistry with all of them, particularly Tomei, is believable and makes you feel for Peter when he messes up in their eyes.
He certainly sells what its like to be teenager desperate to be taken seriously by the adults, though its also a bit surprising that his backstory is never brought up. While it may have been exasperating to see Uncle Ben die or hear yet again “great power comes great responsibility”, the film seems to focus on his motivation as impressing Iron Man and the Avengers. While that is a significant part of his development in the movie, it somewhat shortchanges his overall reason for being Spidey in the first place.
Keaton is no stranger to the comic book genre after Tim Burton’s set of Batman films. Now in the villain role, Keaton turns in a very good performance that has a threatening presence in his confrontations with Peter, but also comes across as almost a sympathetic villain with some solid motivation. Keaton knows when and just how much to pull back from the villainy to express Vulture’s point of view.
The supporting cast does well with the material they’re given. I was a bit hesitant on Jacob Batalon’s Ned, but he actually is a fairly likable character, though at times maybe a little too awkward. Laura Harrier delivers a good performance as Liz Allen, Peter’s primary love interest, who shares good chemistry with Holland and sells Liz’s likability and intelligence (its also nice that the film’s climax doesn’t revolve around Peter saving his love interest from the villain yet again). And for how much the marketing promoted him to an obnoxious degree, Downey Jr. is thankfully not in the film more than he needs to be and portrays Tony’s growth into a stern but fair mentor well enough.
Homecoming’s story is a nice balance between a high school coming-of-age tale and the usual superheroics from the genre. You might expect the tones to clash, but Watts strikes that balance well. Its also refreshing that Spider-Man: Homecoming doesn’t revolve around some big threat to the city, but to Spider-Man stopping Vulture’s string of heists and weapons deals that separates it from the other Marvel and past Spider-Man films. Even then the threat comes secondary to focusing on Peter’s personal life and how he deals with the responsibility of being Spider-Man, though there’s not really a lot of resolution between Peter and certain characters by the film’s conclusion.
One of the hallmarks of the MCU, to the point where even saying it is beating a dead horse, is how Marvel is ‘fun’ and has lots of jokes. Makes no mistake, Spider-Man: Homecoming is certainly fun and funny, but unlike some of Marvel’s other films, the comedy is very natural and organic. Watts again finds a good balance between the comedy and dramatic moments, knowing when to pump the breaks on jokes or gags to deliver a nice serious and emotional moment.
Overall, Spider-Man: Homecoming delivers what a lot of fans have hoped for and is the best Spider-Man film since 2004’s Spider-Man 2. Holland imbues the character’s essence and youth while Watts displays his capability at directing a big summer blockbuster that manages to focus on character, story and comedy very well. As Spider-Man’s official entry in the MCU, this was certainly a welcome homecoming.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★