Spider-Man movies have always been somewhat of a mixed bag. The first two are generally regarded as great, while the third in that series, Spider-Man 3, as well as the two Amazing Spider-Man films that came a few years after that are considered to be poor overall representations of the character, or just bad movies. Spider-Man Homecoming had a lot to accomplish for fans of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and for Spider-Man fans. Thankfully, it manages to do so many things right, by the end of the movie they not only manage to create another hero that fits perfectly within the already developed MCU, but also create the best Spider-Man film since Spider-Man 2.
Warning: This review will contain spoilers small and large so be forewarned if you have not seen the film.
Peter Parker / Spider-Man
The past Spider-Man films have managed to usually get certain aspects of these characters right at one time or another, but I have always personally felt when one area was great, the other was lacking. The earlier Sam Raimi outings were pretty great at telling the story of Peter Parker, a bit of a social oddball with a love for science who is gifted not only the burden of power, but the burden of its’ responsibility. They use this theme a lot in those movies, playing up the death of Uncle Ben and how that affects Peter. Tobey Maguire does a great job of showing that emotion. but when it came to Spider-Man, there as never quite the wacky, fast-talking character I wanted from the comics.
Spider-Man is typically very young in his comic adventures, dealing with the pressures of school and girls, while grown men in crazy costumes try to murder him nightly as he attempts to put an end to whatever evil they bring about. Spider-Man Homecoming just flat out nails this. Peter is believably young because Tom Holland is actually young, he’s only 21 and in a lot of ways is the Peter Parker I always wanted. He has trouble saying what he wants to as Peter, but manages to talk a mile a minute when he suits up. Again, the past movies have done this well in one way or another, but never quite this well.
Despite this movie not actually covering the origin of how he got his powers, this movie does the best job so far of showing the actual transformation to becoming Spider-Man. Getting his powers didn’t make him Spider-Man, it was when he learned to use them, and the impact that could have that he became who Spider-Man really is. The entirety of Homecoming, Peter is trying to do too much, he frequently fails at capturing foes, or bangs his head and gets locked in a warehouse. He saves people when it counts most, but only barely. This is the Spider-Man I love, he has amazing potential, but is always a bit green to realize it fully. His battles are always self exploratory, he learns more about himself and his abilities the more he almost gets killed. One of the best ways they do this in Homecoming is with Peter’s suit.
Have a look above at the great opening scene of Spider-Man Homecoming.
Learning the ropes
The suit Peter got from Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War is very present the same way Iron Man’s suits are. Once Peter decides to open his suit up and remove his tracking device to avoid Happy Hogan knowing he’s chasing down criminals out of state, he finds something keeping his suits full capabilities from being activated. What he finds are all sorts of options he never knew were available, hundreds of variations of web options, under arm wings for gliding, the spider on his chest becoming a floating tracker and his own personal version of Jarvis/Friday that he dubs Karen, who helps him through his battles.
Some of the most fun sections of Homecoming happen when Peter is just learning of a new ability his suit has. Fumbling with web types and choosing the wrong one, being dropped by Vulture from the sky and having a parachute open that almost drowns him when he lands in the water. The movie uses this all very well all the way up to the point that Peter makes such a large mistake, Tony Stark takes back his suit telling him he doesn’t deserve it if he isn’t worth anything without it. This leaves Peter with just himself to finish out the final struggle of Homecoming, and watching him become what he’s been trying so hard to be the whole movie is awesome.
There’s a particular scene where Peter cries out for help, trapped under a pile of rubble crushing him. It’s a great look at how much of a kid he still really is. He’s been playing at being a hero the whole time but always had help, someone to bail him out when he was about to die. In this moment he sees himself as Spider-Man and tells himself to do it. It’s a quick scene, but one that stuck with me. Despite his fears, Peter manages to overcome it and become who he’s so desperately wanted to be. It also helps that Tom Holland absolutely sells this and does a great job the whole way through.
The Action, the Villains, the MCU connection
The Amazing Spider-Man films were not regarded very well , but one area I felt they did very well was the approach to action. What makes an action scene involving a super powered character fun, is not as simple as watching them punch things and easily win all their fights. Especially in the case of Spider-Man, things have to be done with flair, webbing foes, flipping in acrobatic fashion and and managing to humiliate his enemies while beating them. Homecoming does this extremely well. All of the action scenes are inventive and get better with each sequence leading up to a delightful fight on an airplane that’s visually amazing.
Michael Keaton is also phenomenal as Vulture. From start to finish he is a joy to watch on screen and is a real threat to Spider-Man. It’s a bummer that the trailers gave away him being the father of Peter’s crush because that scene is a great reveal in the film and leads to a great, tension filled car ride between the two. Vulture ends up being a fun character to watch as well as a real danger to Peter. Keaton’s character gets burned at the start of the film, being the head of a crew hired to clean up the mess from the invasion in Avengers. Unfortunately he’s pushed out by the foundation Stark builds to do it, at great loss to him. He decides to start making and selling weapons from the recovered alien artifacts and becomes an arms dealing villain. The overall design of Vulture is great and makes for a few great scenes of him battling Spider-Man. They also manage to include a little bit of another Spidey villain, The Shocker, that I wasn’t expecting and ended up being tons of fun.
This is the first time that Spider-Man in a solo outing has had the ability to be connected to the MCU thanks to the deal struck between Sony and Marvel. I was concerned this would go one extreme or the other, either relying too much on it, or having glorified cameos to make the connection. Homecoming definitely has both of these, but they’re all done so well it makes up for it. The Captain America cameos are hilarious, and the amount of Tony Stark they used is perfect, just enough to fill the role left behind by Uncle Ben not being in the movie, while not there too much as to overshadow this being a movie about Spider-Man.
The Future for Spider-Man Films
There was a lot to love about Homecoming, a lot of things that could be covered in detail, but are best left for you to find yourself. There are tons of Easter Eggs throughout that are awesome, some that are straight comic book references, and others that are related to the MCU. There were no real unlikable characters, Peter’s best friend is a great compliment to him and the humor between the two plays out wonderfully. The humor is another strong point of the film that’s better experienced for yourself. Stay for that second after credits sequence, it’s worth it for the laughs.
Spider-Man Homecoming had a lot to prove. Many fans felt burned by recent entries and many others couldn’t even be bothered to be excited about another Spider-Man movie. Homecoming is worth your time, being a fan of the MCU and Spider-Man being my favorite superhero of all time, I loved every second of it. This is the Spider-Man I wanted and the film he needed. More so than ever, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Spider-Man and I sincerely hope they get the chance to use him as often as possible. Hopefully in the upcoming Avengers Infinity War which is due out in May of 2018.