Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review
Ever since 2002, we’ve gotten a hefty abundance of Spider-Mans. With two standalone film franchises plus a second animated TV series in the works, it goes without saying that most people have a solid grasp on the Peter Parker story. And it’s no surprise that many have grown tired of the hearing that story over and over again. When Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios struck a deal to hit the reset button and build a new franchise, they ran the risk of piling on to the fatigue. So they had no choice to do something different, something fresh. The Spider-Mans of the past have ranged from colorfully campy to realistically gritty. And instead of settling somewhere in the middle, Spider-Man Homecoming takes a more innocent approach.
The film takes place directly following the events of Captain American: Civil War. Peter Parker, played wonderfully by Tom Holland, is waiting anxiously for the next big mission. Meanwhile, he’s having trouble balancing life as a normal teenager with his duties as a neighborhood superhero. Things get even more complicated when a new threat emerges (Michael Keaton), and, operating under the watchful eye of his mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Parker has figure out a way to prevent his world from dissolving into chaos.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is an origin story without being an origin story. The film doesn’t retread what we already know- Peter’s radioactive spider bite, Uncle Ben biting the bullet, and so on- but rather it focuses on an early stage in the life of Spider-Man. His heroic feats aren’t very fine-tuned. He’s sloppy- constantly running into things, destroying people’s property, being not the best at interrogation, and he continuously tries to take on more than he can handle. You really get the sense that this is a hero struggling to break through his training wheels.
And the reason it works is due to Tom Holland’s heartfelt portrayal of the character. For one, he looks like an actual teenager. I’ve heard a lot of people complain that he’s too young for role, but I’ll argue its only jarring because we’ve grown accustomed to seeing the high schooler being played by thirty-year-old men. But Holland does a fantastic job at conveying the geeky awkwardness of Peter Parker and the passionate naivety of a hero who just wants to do the right thing. And the father-son relationship he had with Tony Stark- once again played by Robert Downey Jr. – was one of the highlights of the movie.
Another bright spot is Michael Keaton as the villain, Vulture, who’s by far one of the more interesting villains I’ve seen in a Marvel movie. He’s intimidating, but sympathetic. You understand where he’s coming from and understand his motives. And the way they weave him into the narrative is hugely entertaining. The rest of the cast (Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Laura Harrier, Bokeem Woodbine, etc.) does a pretty good job as well. Granted, some performances were a little blander than others, though they’re strong enough to make the characters feel like real people.
The one glaring issue I found has to do with Peter’s arc. The story is about maturity. It’s about Peter learning how to be a better hero and rely on himself rather than his suite. He does end up learning a lesson at the end but it doesn’t feel like the character had changed much. But maybe that’s not what director Jon Watts was going for. The movie is small in scale. I’m guessing it’s supposed to be more of a fun ride rather than emotionally staggering. But I think it could have been stronger.
All in all, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a triumph. Anyone who loves Spider-Man will love this movie, and be appreciative of the fresh perspective it brings. It’s a coming-of-age Marvel movie with a John Hughes flavor to it. It’s funny, it’s entertaining, it’s charming. If you give it a chance, I’m sure you’ll have a great time.
Cosmic Grade: 4.5 out of 5 Stars