Peter Parker’s Spider-Man is arguably the most famous Marvel hero (and one of the most iconic superheroes) of all time. Yet, cinematically he became the most tiresome. In 2002, Sam Raimi started a lackluster Spider-Man trilogy with Tobey Maguire holding the torch as the web-shooting high schooler and ten years later, Marc Webb directed Andrew Garfield in two films, with the latter being such a disaster it caused for Sony to cancel any future plans with the reboot. The idea of another Spider-Man reboot is cause for trepidation for these reasons, yet the introduction of the character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was secretly exciting.
Tom Holland’s portrayal of Spider-Man was first introduced in last year’s brilliant Captain America: Civil War, directed by Joe and Anthony Russo. Holland had a very small role in the film, but he shone brilliantly and perfectly introduced Spider-Man. Holland’s performance was exactly how Spider-Man should be, an awkward, excited and authentic teenager. He certainly stretches this into Homecoming.
The film, firstly, is hilarious. This feels perfectly fitting for a Spider-Man film as all superhero movies need a theme that is necessary for their central character. Just how Captain America’s trilogy has been politically charged and Thor’s films are full of theatrical wonder, Spider-Man: Homecoming uses youthful humour and bashfulness to create its heart. The humour is wonderfully distributed across the board of characters, instead of their being just one or two stock characters who deliver misguided one-liners. Stand-outs on the comedy front are Jacob Batalon’s Ned and Zendaya’s Michelle.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is perfectly pitched and this is mainly due to the authenticity of the film. At the center of this is Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter Parker. Parker is exactly how he should be, a 15-year-old boy who actually acts like a 15-year-old boy. He excitedly films everything on his iPhone, he gets excited over Star Wars Lego sets and he bashfully mumbles around beautiful girls in the years above him. The actors playing the high school students are all young themselves, and look like actual high school students, instead of a bunch of 31-year-old beautiful (and white) actors with only a backpack to indicate that they are pretending to be 17-years-old.
Another amazing slice of authenticity in the film is the antagonist. Michael Keaton bounces back into the superhero universe as Vulture in this film. Keaton shows just how much of a powerful actor he is in this film and creates an extremely authentic and almost empathetic character. Since antagonists are one of Marvel’s few weaknesses, it is certainly a triumph to see Keaton in this film, a man whose life is put into peril due to the Avengers’ reckless abandon, similar to Zemo in last year’s Civil War. However, Keaton’s Vulture differs in that he becomes involved in the action, which is economically used in the film yet perfectly thrilling.
One of the best things about Spider-Man: Homecoming, and another main factor in its success, is that it isn’t an origin story. The film picks up where Civil War left off and, sans an opening flashback that gives intel on Keaton’s character, is entirely a continuation of the MCU story from Peter Parker’s perspective. There’s no tired-out orphan story, no Uncle Ben, none of the radioactive spider malarkey, there’s not even a Mary Jane or Gwen Stacy (although it is heavily hinted that Zendaya’s “Michelle” is, in fact, Spidey’s Mary Jane). We know all of that, and Jon Watts and Marvel know we know that. This Spider-Man story is completely fresh, exciting and wonderful.
After watching this film, Spider-Man feels already brilliantly integrated in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His dynamic with Tony Stark (Iron Man) is wonderful to watch, as the latter treats Parker like a naïve and reckless child – which, he is – whilst Parker gets repeatedly frustrated over his paternal instinct. Robert Downey Jr’s presence in the film feels a lot more natural and less irritable than that of his presence in Captain America: Civil War, yet his performance is – as always – enthralling.
Moreover, his few cameos are not particularly necessary to the plots, but Captain America’s appearances in the film are another factor in the film’s endless entertainment. He appears in hilarious motivational DVDs that – despite them feeling slightly unseemly considering the Cap’s current political state at this point in the MCU – are marvellous to watch, particularly the hilarious post-credits scene.
There are very few flaws in Homecoming, and the few that become apparent are easily ignored. One being the under-use of Marisa Tomei as Aunt May. In previous adaptations of Spider-Man, Aunt May has been cast as a much older and maternal figure, however in Homecoming, Tomei perfectly encapsulates a young and slightly fearful guardian to Peter, who is able to help her nephew when she can yet still holds a sliver of unease as the guardianship (as we know) was thrust suddenly upon her after Peter’s parents’ death. Tomei appears quite a bit in the film, but not enough. On a similar vein, Zendaya’s character Michelle appears way less than expected, when the marketing for the film is considered, and her wise-cracking attitude and hilarious pseudo-nihilism is a perfect pitch for the film that isn’t taken advantage of enough. Homecoming does feel almost over-stuffed with famous faces (a problem that Marvel often has), with Hannibal Buress, Donald Glover and Martin Starr to name a few, yet at the same time it is blissfully entertaining to see a character pop up only for you to whisper, “Hey! That’s ____!” to the seat next to you.
All in all, Spider-Man: Homecoming has suited up to be one of – if not the – best blockbuster of the summer, all thanks to its brilliant direction, stunning sequences, authentic screenplay and mesmerizingly fantastic characters and performances.
Spider-Man: Homecoming result: A*