Spider-Man Homecoming is the 16th entry into this well-oiled machine known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it is a unique entry, as it’s the first joint venture between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures. A deal was struck two years ago to allow our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to interact with and appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War wowing audiences. He returns in his own solo venture with Homecoming, and this is probably the most fun I’ve had in the movie theater in a very long time.
To start things off, Tom Holland as Peter Parker was nothing short of phenomenal, as I really believe that he encapsulated the essence of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man; the nerdy, insecure but endearing nature of Peter and the courageous yet somewhat reckless personality of Spidey. Putting Peter back into a high school setting really allows us to see the innocence in the character, and allows us to see this innocence mature towards wisdom and virtue throughout the film and in further movies. There were many scenes where we got to see a more dramatic side to Peter as well, and Holland really sold me as being a truly talented actor with his performance. There are many inventive and seemingly unconventional ways that we see Peter express his character that we’ve seen in the comic books that don’t necessarily rely on him saving people, and I believe that this was handled very well and allowed for some variety in the Spider-Man story we’ve seen quite a bit.
The rest of the cast was amazing as well, with Michael Keaton as Vulture being the best villain in the MCU behind Loki. He brought a sense ferocity and grit to the character, but what really set him apart from the other villains in the MCU were his motivations and overall character. He doesn’t have the typical villain motivation of wanting to take over the world or ridding all of humanity, but he has very reasonable qualms with certain events in the MCU and society as a whole, but he just goes about rectifying these problems the wrong way. The events of Avengers and Civil War really play a part into the story, and it provides some fairly good social commentary that lets us confide with Vulture just a little bit. We see that he really is just a “normal guy” but wants to right the wrongs done unto him and those around him. Another standout was Jacob Batalon as Peter’s friend Ned Leeds. His comedic timing was pinpoint, and he did a great job as the “sidekick”. As shown in the trailers, he knows that Peter is Spider-Man, and this also gives us a look into the perspective of high schoolers in a superhero world. Ned sees this as “the coolest thing ever” and thinks of Peter as a sort of celebrity, constantly bugging him about the superhero life.
If you’ve been a bit apprehensive about the film, believing it to be Iron Man 4 rather than a solo Spider-Man film, you needn’t worry as Tony Stark is utilized very well in minimal screen-time. I’d say that he has about as much screen-time here as Spider-Man did in Captain America: Civil War. In this time we get to see both Peter and Tony grow as characters, and their chemistry on-screen is pretty fantastic. The father/son dynamic is furthered upon and is quite endearing and real. We also see and hear about other landmarks in the MCU, as little nuggets are shown here and there with shots of Avengers Tower, the New Avengers Facility, and nods to various characters and locations all give this sense that we are living in the Marvel world. Nothing seems to be too overt (*cough first season of Agents of Shield *cough) and these nods seem to be more to establish to the average movie-goer that Spider-Man is in the MCU.
The overall setting of the film was fantastic as well, as with a more intimate story we get a more grounded look at New York. Queens seems to be the perfect place to see Peter start out his journey as Spider-Man, as he fights the battles for the “little-guy” in the streets and alley-ways, as opposed to swinging across the gargantuan sky scrapers of Manhattan. We get to see Spider-Man in environments that we haven’t really seen him in, a more suburban setting, a ferry-boat, and Washington DC, all locations that limit his web-slinging ability.
I can’t really find too much wrong with the film, as it is tightly paced, insanely fun, and is smart and refreshing in its story-telling. One gripe that I do have though, is making the time-line of the MCU a bit wonky. I guess SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH if you don’t want to know absolutely anything about the movie, plus this is going to get quite confusing, but the spoilers are very minor to the plot so proceed if you please. The film starts out with the immediate after-math of the Battle of New York in The Avengers and then flashes forward eight years to catch up with the events of Homecoming. The problem with this is that Avengers came out in 2012, and the events of the MCU usually take place in real-time. However, the events of Iron Man 2, Thor, and I believe The Incredible Hulk (don’t quote me on that one) all take place within the span of a week, and they take place a few months after the first Iron Man in 2008. The Avengers would then have to take place in 2009, which kind of muddies when the events of Iron Man 3 take place (Tony has PTSD over the events of New York, and Pepper just learns of his disorder, something that probably wouldn’t be unknown to her for four years if Iron Man 3 takes place in 2013, the year it was released). I understand that general audiences aren’t necessarily concerned with this, but to those that follow the continuity kind of extensively, things have gotten a bit confusing with just one line of text.
SPOILERS ARE GONE Something that was missing with the two previous incarnations of Spider-Man (Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films and Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man films) was the “fun” aspect that surrounds a kid being a superhero. Homecoming dives right into being this bright, fanciful romp that puts us in the shoes of a high schooler that lives his dream of being like his heroes in Tony Stark and Captain America. This movie was all that I wanted in a Spider-Man movie, and it’s probably too early to say whether it’s my favorite Spider-Man movie, as Spider-Man 2 still reigns supreme, but it’s definitely my second favorite for the time-being. I absolutely loved this movie and am so glad that we have Spidey back in the Marvel Universe.
Favorite Scene: Coney Island Fight
Images courtesy of SuperheroHype, Digital Spy, Polygon, and Looper