Spider-Man: Homecoming is an action adventure film of the superhero genre. The film is the second reboot, the third reincarnation, and the sixth Spider-Man film in 15 years. It represents the first Spider Man film collaboration between Sony (who owns the rights to Spider Man) and the universe-building Marvel Studios. Homecoming is directed by Jon Watts, and stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker, a high school sophomore student who juggles the problems of his teenage life with a life of fighting crime after school, as one does. After stumbling across a piece of technology from the Chitauri invasion of New York (Avengers Assemble), Peter becomes a target of the Vulture (played by Michael Keaton), a scavenging machinist who salvages such technologies for criminal purposes. Under the not-so-watchful eye of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), Peter must unravel the Vulture’s true intentions while discovering what it truly means to be our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.
Both Marvel and Sony made the announcement of the year in 2015, when it was revealed that Sony would still keep the rights to distribute and finance Spider-Man films, but Marvel Studios would be allowed to weave Spidey into their serialised Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) of films. A new actor in the form of Tom Holland was cast as Spider-Man, a slight marketing risk considering the fact that audiences were just starting to get used to Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of the character in the Amazing Spider Man and its not-so-beloved sequel. But upon introduction of Holland’s Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, the audience response was overwhelmingly positive. Now that our favourite web-crawler is back in the leading role, can Holland swing Spider-Man back into the forefront of audiences’ minds? Or is the general public starting to suffer not just from superhero fatigue, but also Spider-Man fatigue?
If anything, Spider-Man: Homecoming succeeds in not being a rehash of previous Spider-Man films, while simultaneously being a superhero origin story and a coming-of-age tale. Next to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, this may be the best Spider-Man film we’ve ever received. From the first soundtrack played during the opening Marvel logo sequence, the film does nothing but entertain and is a joy to watch for people of all ages. Spider-Man continues to be one of the most relatable comic book characters put to screen, simply because he isn’t an Asgardian God of thunder, a genetically-engineered raccoon, or a billionaire playboy philanthropist. He’s simply the everyday high school boy, albeit with enhanced strength and reflexes. And it’s this “Peter Parker” aspect of Spider-Man that is showcased tremendously in Homecoming, which feels like a relatively small-scale blockbuster film with a big heart. Tom Holland gives an exceptional performance as Spider-Man, and Michael Keaton’s Vulture is surprisingly one of the better-developed villains in the MCU. While Homecoming loses out to previous Spider-Man films in terms of the action sequences, its lighter tone and its role in shaping the MCU keeps the film fresh and snappy. Spider-Man fans around the world will be relieved to know that Sony has given us a great interpretation of Peter Parker that is as true to his comic book origin as it gets.
With great franchises come great…
Tom Holland approaches the character of Spider-Man with the energy and youth that may see him keep the role for many years to come. It’s his natural charisma and the satisfactory writing of his character that keeps the audience engaged even though some may already be sick of seeing Spider-Man on screen. Though it’s never certain how much influence the director has on a studio’s tentpole film, director Jon Watts seems to have done a great job in guiding Spider-Man through this narrative while consistently showing us something new in a Spider-Man film. Technically, the film has noticeably better-than-average transitions, lighting cues, and music cues. Script-wise, there’s a lot more humour in Homecoming than other MCU films, which is unsurprising as the quippy Spider-Man’s wit is central to his character. What is surprising is how much of the jokes hit, from the opening scene, right to the last post-credit scene (one of the most hilarious, in my opinion). This makes Homecoming enjoyable throughout, helped further by Michael Keaton’s portrayal of the Vulture. Rarely do we see a well-developed villain in the MCU, but here we are made to understand and empathise with the Vulture, as the screenplay shows us why he does what he does, and even goes as far as to give him positive values to contrast his frustrations and anger with the world. While it’s no Loki, it certainly checks all the boxes on what a good villain should be.
Homecoming isn’t an origin story of how Spider-Man got his powers, so there’s no dated scene involving any radioactive spiders in sight. This is the origin of how Peter learns to be the hero we all know as Spider-Man. Jousting with his burning desires to tackle crime while vying for the attention of the hottest senior in high school, Homecoming isn’t just a direct reference for Spider-Man’s return to the MCU, but also represents the events leading up to Peter maturing from a headstrong, rebellious teen into a wiser, more level-headed individual. It’s this growth arc that may seem more appealing to mainstream audiences because we see ourselves in that character, wanting to do good but not always getting the outcomes we were hoping for.
High School Blues
As seen in all the promotional material, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man shows up as a supporting character in the film, but thankfully only adds to the film’s flair and personality, while not distracting from Spider-Man’s story. While the Vulture is traditionally a Spider-Man villain, it’s strange that Homecoming’s interpretation of the Vulture is actually more suitable as an Iron Man villain instead, as both characters are both tech-savvy and fly around in metal suits, differing only by their ideologies. The in-helmet communication interface for the Vulture is even reminiscent of Iron Man’s interface with Jarvis. This minor element is slightly confusing but ultimately doesn’t detract from our overall enjoyment of the film. What is slightly disappointing is the action sequences, none of which can hold a candle to the Green Goblin brawl at the end of Spider-Man, or the train sequence from Spider-Man 2. Homecoming will be remembered for its great focus on character-character interactions rather than a spectacular action scene, which is good in its own unique way, but at the same time a little sad. Save for one good reveal in the film’s third act, the rest of the film is also incredibly predictable, as the story’s backbone can unfortunately be deduced from its trailer. Still, its solid execution more than makes up for its predictability, as the pacing and comic timing are both Homecoming’s clear strengths.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is arguably one of the best live-action Spider-Man films to date, blending wit, humour and youth, while giving us a respectably good villain, something Marvel Studios on their own don’t do too often. While the action leaves a little to be desired, the film is still another solid entry in the MCU, and can serve as a positive model for its sequels and spinoffs (and there will be several). What’s comes next for Spider-Man really depends on the degree of its box office success, and what the studio(s) have planned for the foreseeable future. But with over 100 million dollars predicted for its US opening weekend, can anyone really be surprised that a Homecoming sequel was already green lit? I thought not.
Overall Score: 8.2/10