'Spider-Man Homecoming' Review
Tony Stark (to Peter): If you’re nothing without the suit then you shouldn’t have it.
Beware: spoilers may follow.
Once again, we have another incarnation of the famous web-slinger known as Spider-Man. With there already being two previous incarnations of the character that did not go out on very high notes, this would presumably be the last chance to get this character and his story right. And it's safe to say that they succeeded. This movie perfectly blends in humor, wit, suspense, action, and overall entertainment into one heck of a fun movie and yet another home run for the MCU without spending time building up for something further.
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) resumes his regular life as a high school student living with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) given that he is not ready to become a full Avenger. He is provided with a high-tech suit by his watchful mentor Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and spends his time being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man helping out his city with simple things. But Peter wants to be an Avenger and go up against something big. And he gets his chance when he stumbles upon an alien weaponry smuggling ring led by our main villain Adrian Toomes/Vulture (Michael Keaton). Fighting by his side are the AI in his suit he dubs Karen (Jennifer Connolly) and his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon).
One of the story’s strongest points is the lack of an origin story for Peter. No seeing him getting bitten by a radioactive spider, no life lessons from Uncle Ben about “with great power comes great responsibility”, no seeing Uncle Ben getting shot, etc. The movie already knows that most viewers have seen the origin story twice so we don’t want to see it again. We want to see Peter go up against some villains and spring into action and when he does the movie shines. From the witty one-liners to the humorous situations to all the action scenes each one is different and keeps you entertained.
The story also succeeds in addressing Peter’s double life as a high school student and being a superhero. It finds humor regarding this situation but also balances it out with serious moments regarding it through the interactions he has with those around him including Tony, Aunt May, Ned, and others.
The pacing is something of a mixed bag. On one hand it spends enough time on both Peter's high school and superhero life for us to enjoy them both. However there are a couple of scenes of his high school life that seem to drag out and don't add much to the story. The romance between Peter and his love interest Liz also leaves something to be desired. There certainly is something there, but it isn't fully addressed.
Tom Holland is enjoyable as both Peter Parker and Spider Man. This is something that the last two actors lacked as they played one persona fine but were somewhat flawed in the other. He captures the youthful excitement of the prospect of being an Avenger perfectly. He gets a lot of cool action, humorous moments, and one-liners. Yet at the same time he’s not fully aware of the limitations and responsibilities he has. His actions whether they be as Spider Man or Peter do have consequences not only for himself but for those around him as well, which makes him more relatable. And he does realize those limitations, responsibilities, and consequences over the course of the movie and tries to be better. The lesson of with great power comes great responsibility is shown through this character and those he interacts with and is discussed to the right amount as well. That's very effective for not only Spider-Man movies but also movies in general; to show the dilemmas and not just talk about them.
Michael Keaton as the villain Adrian Toomes/Vulture is easily one of Marvel’s best villains in a while. Something I’ve noticed in most Marvel movies is that while they portray the heroes very well the villains are not all that memorable (with a few exceptions). Even without the Vulture suit he’s still very intimidating and powerful. His actions aren’t simply to take over the world or cause chaos. He’s just a guy trying to provide for his family and is willing to do anything he can to protect them whether it is good or bad and the way he sees it (and in a sense they are) our heroes are taking that away from him. On top of that he has a sense of honor even towards his enemies. The twist about him was amazing and when he puts two and two together and confronts Peter about it, you can’t help but feel the same intensity and helplessness Peter is feeling throughout that scene.
Jennifer Connolly as AI Karen and Jacob Batalon as Ned are all right side characters. Both spend their time attempting to help Peter in his journey. While Ned at first can get a tad annoying in early scenes as the movie goes on he gets to play part in Peter’s missions and becomes more enjoyable. Karen is also enjoyable and very funny as well in teaching Peter all the features his suit provides.
When the trailers for this movie were first released there was a lot of concern among people that Robert Downey Jr. would be taking up most of the film as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Holland would be taking back seat to him. Thankfully that is not the case. He’s played just to the right amount and acts as a great mentor towards Peter and provides some tough love when necessary. He has his fair share of funny moments but not to the point that he steals the show and it works because this isn’t his movie.
Marisa Tomei as Peter's Aunt May, Laura Harrier as Liz, and Zendaya as Peter's classmate Michelle Jones are all middle of the road characters. On the one hand all these actresses give good performances and are solid characters. Each of them have some funny, heartwarming, and devastating moments throughout the movie. The downside is that none of these characters get enough screen time to fully appreciate them. As a result it's difficult for these characters to drive the film to the same extent as the others.
Spider-Man Homecoming blends humor, wit, action, intensity, and suspense into a fresh new take on the famous web-slinger. Despite some factors of the movie being average nothing about this movie is bad. It gives characters, performances, and a narrative to get invested in and it’s safe to say that we can look forward to this kind of effort on Spider-Man movies in the future without the movie needing another reboot for a long time.