Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017, USA, d. Jon Watts, 133 minutes)
As someone who fondly remembers seeing the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man film at just five years old, the character of Spider-Man has been a big part of my life. From the incredible first two Spider-Man films, to the very mixed Spider-Man 3, the generic and dull The Amazing Spider-Man and the extremely polarizing disaster that is The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it’s been an interesting couple of decades for us Spidey fans.
When Sony decided to partner with Marvel and bring the character into the MCU, fans (including myself) were head-over-heels at the idea, and from what we all saw in Captain America: Civil War, we knew we were in good hands. Now, with Spider-Man: Homecoming, rest assured, we’re in excellent hands. Spider-Man: Homecoming is not only the best Spider-Man film in over ten years, but it’s one of the best films in the MCU to date.
The film never tries to tell the same old origin story we’ve seen before. No death of Uncle Ben, no scene of Peter being bit by a spider. Everything unnecessary is left out. What this is, however, is an actual coming-of-age film. This is the story of how Peter Parker comes into his own, and manages to become the “Spider-Man”.
Tom Holland is a revelation as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. This is the first time we see Peter Parker as a young, naive and socially-awkward teenager, believably. Holland manages to nail the characteristics of a nerdy high schooler and a wannabe-heroic superhero. Some of his highlights include his anxiety at school and when he’s struck with wonder at the sight of his new gadgets. Part of my nostalgia will never allow me to think of a better Spider-Man than Tobey Maguire, but Holland almost doesn’t compare to Maguire or Andrew Garfield. This Peter Parker/Spider-Man is radically different from the previous film incarnations. It’s not just Holland who shines in the film, however.
In almost too good of casting, Michael Keaton becomes one of the best and most imposing villains of the MCU, as Adrian Toomes, AKA Vulture. What makes Keaton so menacing is that he’s given enough motivation and development to be human. He’s a man who wants to get back at the upper class for taking away all that he strives for and we’re constantly enthralled by him. In easily the films best scene, a twist is revealed and it’s Keaton’s performance that makes the scene as memorable and terrifying as it is. Not since The Dark Knight has a superhero film included such a nail-biting sequence.
Peter’s classmates get a nice chunk of screen time. Newcomer, Jacob Batalon, is comedic gold as Peter’s best friend, Ned. His rapport with Tom Holland gives the film some of it’s best laughs. Peter’s hilariously cynical classmate Michelle, (Disney Channel star Zendaya) and his school crush, Liz (Laura Harrier) all get moments to shine.
Marisa Tomei is charming as always as Peter’s warmhearted, Aunt May. Tomei brings out much of the films heart and her chemistry with Holland is rock solid. Last, but certainly not least, though, is Robert Downey Jr. who returns in a brief, but integral role, as Tony Stark, who is seen as Peter’s mentor. Downey is expectedly great as Tony Stark, but it’s the fatherly figure aspect of his character that hasn’t been seen before and adds a new layer to him.
The score by Michael Giacchino, which heavily borrows from the original animated theme song, also stands out as one of the better superhero scores of recent.
The action sequences are eye-popping and often thrilling, but it’s the direction by Jon Watts that makes them so interesting. In Homecoming, most of the action is scaled down compared to previous superhero films and that makes the stakes feel even higher. We’ve seen so many end-of-the-world scenarios that it’s become routine at this point. By keeping everything personal, we as audiences are left caring more for the smaller amount of individuals involved. The sequence involving the Washington Monument is the most memorable.
Director Jon Watts, smartly, has infused an 80’s, John Hughes-type of tone, even so far as having a moment where a character is seen watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This is a tone we haven’t seen in a Spider-Man film, which makes Homecoming feel all the more refreshing. We see Peter Parker dealing with ordinary high school problems like; struggling to talk to his crush, dealing with the school bully, keeping his grades up and making it home in time for dinner.
It’s only towards the final act where Homecoming begins to stumble. The final action sequence doesn’t carry as much weight or excitement as earlier scenes and it suffers from three endings too many, even if it is completely redeemed by one of the best final moments of any superhero film to date.
After a few hard years, Spider-Man: Homecoming reminded me why I love the character of Spider-Man so much, and will surely do the same for audiences everywhere. With a soon-to-be iconic performance from Tom Holland, a great MCU villain in Michael Keaton, a breezy and fun tone, and several terrific action sequences, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a big-hearted superhero romp that ranks among the best in the genre.
See it on the biggest screen possible, 3D not necessary, and go in as cold as possible. Trust me, do not go on IMDB as you’ll find spoilers galore!