One of the surprises in Captain America: Civil War last year was the addition of Spiderman in the superhero melee, following the character being lost in the corporate purgatory between Sony and Marvel. Fans were finally treated to seeing the webslinger make his long awaited debut in the MCU, and now, we have his first solo MCU outing, Spiderman: Homecoming.
Spiderman has seen several reincarnations within the last decade or so! So comparisons will be made, will it live up to the charming Sam Raimi trilogy (well first two anyway, the less said about 3!) or will Homecoming be more like the divisive Amazing reboots of the early 2010’s?
As the title suggests, Homecoming is set during high school, and the run up to homecoming dance (spoiler alert!). There is no origin story in this film, which is great, every Spidey fan knows about that, and it would be wasted time. We really don’t need to see Uncle Ben die for a third time! The film picks up pretty much right after his antics in Civil War (with his own personal videos from his travels to Germany!), we follow Peter Parker, as he gets to grasp with his entire new found suit and his social struggles at home & school.
Homecoming thankfully is another fine notch in the ever-growing MCU repertoire. Homecoming gives the audience a plucky young Peter to root for, supported by a mentoring Tony Stark (and Happy Hogan!), and for the first time in a long while, a villain which feels fleshed out and threatening. This makes a nice change from the villains who are bad because……….they are bad.
Tom Holland is excellent as Peter, as well as Tobey Maguire & Andrew Garfield were, they were both well into their 20s when playing the role. So it always felt a bit awkward seeing them play high schoolers. Holland is 21, so looks far more convincing as a young teen, and has the acting chops to pull it off too. The appearance of Ironman has been well publicized in this film, and Robert Downey Jr. is as always awesome in the scenes that he has. I was a bit worried beforehand that the film may have too much Ironman in it, taking away Spidey’s time to shine, but luckily it’s not overdone. The moments that he does appear, are pretty much already revealed in the trailers, which is a shame.
The real stars of the supporting cast are Ned (Jacob Batalon), Parker’s best friend, the enthusiastic best man, who is more than happy to just be involved with Spiderman and be ‘the guy in the chair’, and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), the long standing right hand man of Tony Stark (his been there since the very start!) who has to reluctantly be the chaperone of the eager Parker. Both are always a welcoming presence to any scene they are in.
Michael Keaton as The Vulture is superb as a character, you understand his motivations for his actions, and he isn’t simply a maniacal villain. He is conflicted by his actions, but well aware he has to do it for personal reasons. He also has wonderfully intense scene with Peter in the final act, which was great to watch! It also has a nice tie in to the events following Avengers Assemble.
The film is downright hilarious. Peter’s interactions with Ned & Happy always bring a few laughs. The fact the new Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is attractive is mentioned on numerous occasions throughout the film. Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), Peter’s rival at school, who was the type cast cocky jock, is now more of a smug rich kid. His smugness while annoying, works well at gaining sympathy for Parker, while also having a chuckle on both their behalves! Michelle (Zandaya), one of Peter’s reclusive and enigmatic classmates randomly pops up every now and again, to drop a sarcastic one liner, which could have been cheesy, but actually fits in rather well. There’s also an appearance from actor/rapper/funny guy Donald Glover, fans of his work will revel in his cameo! Peter also has some witty exchanges with his suits AI, who he names Karen. One of the jokes the film makes at itself is regarding what happens when there aren’t any high rises for Spidey to swing between? Well, he just has to run on foot!
The movie has it’s fair share of action set pieces. with the highlight being the ferry scene. This does though feel like a very poor imitation of the train scene in Spiderman 2, and just doesn’t feel as momentous. The scenes in the Washington Monument may be a little less chaotic, but feels far more fresh and original.
What did let the film down for me was the frankly generic final showdown. It becomes somewhat of a CGI mess, involving a chaotic battle outside a plane, then a flaming beach. It feels somewhat numbing and just too much is happening to really take it in properly. It doesn’t help the scenes take place at night! The main love interest Liz (Laura Harrier), is also particularly bland, her only characteristic is being one of the popular girls at school and a plot device. Another bugbear in the run up to this movie was the sheer amount of material released in the trailers and other clips in the run up. I was already aware of several key scenes. A franchise like Spiderman doesn’t need to release so much material to get the anticipation up, just a personal annoyance, but that’s more to do with the marketing and studios, and not the movie itself!
Homecoming spins a web of fun, and if you’re a fan of the hero, or just enjoy an enjoyable superhero film, will love the characters, cast and humour. Personally, I still believe Spiderman 2 is still the most best movie out of the collection, but Homecoming does a stellar job is reintroducing the character and getting him entwined in the Avengers saga! Though I still can’t forgive Marvel for that horrendous Homecoming poster with near every character thrown onto it!