Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
In recent years, Spider-Man has had a bit of a rocky road when it comes to his big screen outings. Following the disappointing Spider-Man 3, Sony hit the reboot button and cast the very talented Andrew Garfield in their attempt to create a larger universe (The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2) resulting in mixed to frankly quite terrible results.
Enter Marvel Studios. Make no mistake, Sony still owns the rights to the wall crawler, however, it is no part of a cinematic universe, just as they wanted. Beneficial for both studios, Tom Holland now steps into the Peter Parker role, in his first solo film after his back-door pilot in Civil War.
It is an incredibly light-hearted film, as it should be; we are following teenagers after all. Heavily inspired by John Hughes (his less problematic features, at least), it has a distinct coming-of-age feeling, with the difference being that our protagonist can spin webs and swing from building to building. However, his superhero antics aren’t really the focus of the film, but rather establishing the relationships he has in his life, for example, Liz (Harrier), his school crush, and Aunt May (Tomei), a far looser, care free version of the character.
Not to say there are no super moments; if that were the case then there would be many disappointed Spider-Man fans in the world and we wouldn’t be here. It is perhaps the most fully realized iteration of the character, with most of the comic-book characteristics present – he is at once nerdy and regularly bullied by Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) but incredibly intelligent with enough charisma to attract the attention of Liz. Holland is, once again, excellent in the role, with an adorable energy lasting for days. He is puppy personified.
Much can be said of Michael Keaton as the film’s villain, Vulture. The set-up is neat and provides excellent motivation for the antagonist, one of the few good villains the MCU has displayed. Following the events of The Avengers, Adrian Toomes’ salvage company is attempting to clean up the city when they are stopped by the Department of Damage Control, a partnership between the government and Stark Industries. Worrying about providing for his family, Toomes salvages one bit of alien technology and uses it to further create weapons with which the team sell to criminals. There is nothing more compelling and understandable than a villain who makes perfect sense, and one can comprehend the distaste Toomes has for Stark, essentially and indirectly responsible for withdrawing his livelihood. Keaton is excellent in the role, at once both sympathetic and menacing (particularly during a drive to the titular Homecoming), whilst Zendaya proves her ability for straight-face comedy, with a potential for darkness lurking underneath.
All of the supporting cast is great, in fact, however, few get much to do. With the exception of Harrier and Batalon, as Parker’s best friend Ned, the likes of Aunt May, Happy Hogan (Favreau) and Zendaya’s Michelle are given short shrift. This is a small nit-pick (we are, after all, here for Spidey), but it is a shame to waste such potential, and not the most fun to have to wait for sequels to see them fully developed.
An enjoyable, fun, teenage action movie, it is pleasant watch before the wrath of the next few in the MCU. It may not fully lean into the potential of the larger Spider universe, but it is perhaps the closes we’ve gotten to a perfect Spider-Man yet.